That's not really fair to ask me how important steel is and I have to be careful in this regards to. I've tried too many kitchen knives and I have to put my place in yours to recommend a knife because if I were buying a knife, it wouldn't be for the same reasons you are.
If I were in the market for a knife today it would be for a specific something that I wanted to try/see/feel/etc. A new steel could be one of those, so to me what steel a knife is made of is likely paramount...a deciding factor if you will. If I don't like the geometry, I can change it quickly.
As someone new to these knives, you should be more concerned with other aspects of the knife. Maker, his knowledge of heat treating a knife, the geometry of the knife, the profile of the knife, and the handle long before what steel it uses. Yes, steel is important and even as a newbie you could tell the difference between many of them. But, assuming it's at least a good steel with a good heat treat, those other things will make you like/love/hate a knife so much more than what steel it acutually uses (unless you rust a carbon knife maybe).
I don't know of a table like the one you're after, but that's not a bad idea. Maybe I should make one.
ATS314 doesn't exist that I know of.....I believe Mark made a typo and it should be ATS34. Its a good steel that is the Japanese made version of 154CM.
A discussion about the benefits of a through and through damascus blade (or lack there of) will never end.
I'll say virtually none, but if you really want to have that discussion, perhaps start another topic.
Yes, some stone's work better with certain steel types.
Don't worry about it though....all stones work with virtually all steels....seriously, don't worry about this.
The general rule is to double the grit.....so 500/1000/2000/4000/8000. However, it's not set in stone. You could theoretically only have a 10,000 grit stone.....it would just take a REALLY long time to sharpen. The closer together the grits are, the quicker the next stone goes. But, the more stone you use, the more likely you are to mess up. I like the 500/1200/4000/10000 I use now. It works very well for me. It might, or might not for you.