Know what you are getting as it is hard to change.
Roy M Nuzzo
The differences between 3DS Max & Maya are, in many ways, token. So much so that the rumors that 3DSMAX & Maya are to become a single combined entity ought to have been true - ought to have been true several years ago. You pay a lot to be disallowed certain key things. Now if you can neatly say "I am a game maker." or "I only make movies" then the 3DS/Maya divide - maybe - works for you in that you don't get burdened with 'features' to wade through.
But if what you do goes places off the big money frozen-in-place categories then what you can't quite get at is just plain annoying.
So I think 3ds MAX is a very well constructed program suited to teams working on massive projects, well envisioned, of the usual kinds. I don't find it to be a place to free associate. It is like German engineering at it's best but not Salvador Dali even at his least.
There are kinds of people. If you bring carefully scaled sketches to a drawing activity marked out with dimensions and lists of things to include then you are a 3 DS MAX person.
Sometimes I am that way so sometimes I use 3DS MAX.
As to MAX vs Maya, you can't swap if you discover you made the wrong choice. It is a start over (*$$*).