Two main ways. You can get the new 2 player set for £38, it only has 3 models per side so if you like the game you'll want to add more figures soon. Or you can also get a new starter set for £32, they usually have 5 models which is a good size.
If you buy older stuff they'll most likely come with cards for the previous edition.
My stuff has arrived, I picked up the Savage Wave starter. Spent this evening preparing the starter for painting tomorrow.
Going through the replacement cards I noticed Rice Farmer doesn't have Faith in monks anymore. This kinda messes up my limited Temple selection, I guess I'm going to have to get their starter so I have a better selection of monks.
Wait what? *dashes to check rice farmer card* sounds like it does...I'll ask on the FB group 'cos the old way that Faith worked was worded weirdly too. Most Villagers don't have Ki Feats that are expensive enough (or good enough...) to bother buying them a buff model in the first place!
Now very much. Basically a faction starter box gives you 5 models (or 2 factions at 3 if you buy the core starter) and the game usually uses between 3-6 models per side. So faction starter + 1-3 single model blisters for some variety would cover you for any given faction and give you options for building your team each game. Plus a character card pack for each faction.
The game is played on a 24x24 inch space so is easy to fill with a small amount of terrain. I grabbed 3 buildings and a scatter terrain pack from here https://ttcombat.com/collections/eastern-empires which set me back ~£30 and that's...everything I need to be able to play and have variety in what I take every game.