Most people say to buy cheap as a fair number of people will loose a paddle when they start out.
That being said, love the analogy of your paddle is your engine and is directly related to your experience. 6'3" and have been paddling only werner paddles over 200 in length. Last year I bought my first 197 and I have been happy with it. I was not going to buy it until I brought in my old paddle and compared it to the 197. Went with the Werner Sho Gun and love it, also in a Karma L as my big boat. I wish I had multiple paddles for types of boating, something I should work on I guess.
I would go the somewhat middle ground if I were you and get a fiberglass werner powerhouse or something similar and always remember to hold onto it