while you've not bought the packs yet, this is what you should consider:
1. Price difference is very great between 1.16 packs and 1.17+. So much so that it's almost double the price. If you don't have the same level of ability as the other person using the 1.17V pack, there is no point matching him in terms of expenditure. Might as well buy 2 lower grade packs and get extra practice. This way your experienced and skills gained are doubled.
Of course, some might say, what the heck if i'm gonna splash some money, might as well go all the way. Well, there are many rich peeps out there who own ferrari's but never really reach 150mph.
2. What is more important for the performance of the pack is the Internal Resistance (IR). Try to make sure your packs are matched according to run time and IR 1st.
3. When you've had the packs at hand, make sure to assemble them well. NEVER,NEVER leave the soldering iron on the cell for more than 4 secs. If you can't make it in 4 secs the 1st time, move on to the next cell and let the previous one cool 1st. Also, make sure the bars are in direct contact with the cells, dont leave a gap between cell and bar with solder/tin in between.
4. Tray them b4 the 1st charge. Use lower current on the 1st charge. Monitor the temps.