I've also never used a scope, so I plan on buying one that comes with a manual. But as an electronics novice (no formal education) is this something that takes a lot of knowledge? Or can I just probe around and see a waveform pretty easily?
Seeing a waveform is easy, accurate *measurements* of said waveform can entail a learning curve, and I understand it varies from scope to scope. I have old tube driven Tektronix scopes, the front panel controls are relatively easy to understand intuitively, but I've a hunch that calibration is orbiting a distant planet, so they are probably only good for comparative analysis as opposed to solid measurement.
A manual will be your friend, and a many are available online.