I think you have hit upon a good lesson, not only for Blender, but for life.
I feel like you have a tendency to over-think things. I’m the same way, so if you’ll allow me, I think I can save you a lot of consternation:
Just do stuff and experiment and learn. You aren’t going to create much worthwhile on your first or second or even tenth project, so just have fun with it and don’t worry about doing it right or getting good results, let alone “ideal”. There are a dozen ways you could put those spines on that dragon, and all of them have trade-offs to take into account, and at your skill level (no offense) you aren’t equipped to even distinguish between them, let alone determine which one is best for your project. Try a few different approaches, see how you like them, move on to another project.
Or, if you really want to get good results, you’re going to have to really do your research. Learn how armatures function. Do storyboards for the animation you want this character to perform. Run a few dynamics tests. Make some material studies, and an animatic or two. And then, when you actually know what you’re trying to do, come back to the question of how to optimize your geometry for minimal rigging hassles, or fastest response time, or best dynamics in quick motion, or most realistic texturing, or whatever other of the multitude of criteria you may want to optimize on.
I know it’s tempting to try to solve the problem and learn the One True Way to do things, but it turns out that whatever works is generally good enough. So yeah, try something, and if it doesn’t work, revert to your backups and try something else.