If you submitting to a farm why would you be bothered about MR licences, surely its up to the company to provide the licences for you to use, IF they want you to use MR, if the company dosent want you to do the bulk of the work with MR then thats up to them, softwares your only option.
It's not that confusing, just spend a little time with it, the results IMO make it worth the little extra render time it takes.
Then again if you use software most of the time it wont really bother you with MR materials anyway.
I prefer to use MR over software, not that I cant use software I just find MR a lot more versatile, without needeing to resort to tricks.
On a side note if its not a mia I generally use blinn's for everything.
"No pressure, no diamonds" Thomas Carlyle