agreed, there is very little need on sets larger than 29-pc.
pls get all metal tips, Wilton or Ateco. The inexpensive plastic ones are not very precise, and sold everywhere starting from grocery stores.
The only plastic ones that are precise would be the Matfer set, clear polycarbonate (mentioned in Cake Bible, available at La Cuisine, JB Prince, and Pastryitems.com), runs about $75 for a small set of about 20 tips, I will get this when I have more $$$ to spare. IT IS NOT a set you want to start with.
A must is a couple of plain round tips. From #1 to #10 or so, get the #3 which is perfect for writing, then get something close to #10 to make big dots, and if you like something in between for smaller dots. Smaller than #3, like #2 or #1 maybe if you dare to make such tiny dots or string work which is seldom. Actually, anything larger than #5, I prefer the “large” tubes, which Ateco sells. Large tubes are easier to use, wash, and handle, but they don’t come as small as #3, so you know.
The second group to get would be a set of stars. Open stars is my favorite. Follow similar sizes to the plain round tips above (the numbers are different thought): a tiny size, a medium, a large. And again, I absolutely love the “large” tubes. I find vital to have a large open star tube. You can get closed stars, and French stars, too, if you want to have all the star types, but the open stars is the very first to get and most used.
THAT is all you need. You could perhaps add some rose petal tips and leaf tips. The leaf tips are very nice because you can make nice ruffled borders and not just leaves.
Again, pls read The Cake Bible, equipment section, it mentions the perfect tips to get for a nice beginners/intermediate set.
So you know, there is a German brand of metal tips, made of brass/steel, they are so strong and don’t rust AT ALL. Available at JB Prince, and mostly used at commercial bakeries. My wilton and ateco tips do rust, if I am not careful washing them and drying them well.
Happy cake decorating.