Never underestimate the importance of a good brush, personally I have a Simpsons Chubby (Anniversary gift from the wife) I have been using for a few weeks now and I have noticed a difference in how easily my cream lathers, the quality of the lather and the softness of the hair/stubble when I shave. I have also used a good number of the English creams and found all to be comparable in terms of lather and effectiveness. In my case it boiled down to scent and I prefer the Taylor Sandalwood, for whatever reason it reminds me of father, grandfather, and trips to the old barber shops when I was a child. So far as the blades go I found I prefer the Mekur blades, but I'm an against the grain shaver who shaves daily, unless I'm spending a week/weekend at the family ranch.
Having a good brush is absolutely essential to building a lather. You will definitely want a badger hair brush, and although the difference between each "grade" of badger hair (silvertip, best, etc.) is not super, super pronounced, there is a difference. I personally use a Best Badger brush by Edwin Jagger.
My cream of choice is TOOBS Jermyn Street, although I also like their Rose scented cream a lot. Jermyn Street, for whatever reason, builds the best lather for me.
I greatly prefer Feather blades. They're very thin and very sharp, and I've found are only at their best for your first 2-3 shaves, but they're the best in the game. I also use, and have no problem endorsing, Derbys.