I was actually referring to the cloning portion of the OP's question; not for the deployment portion.
What I meant was that after the computer OS is loaded and drivers, applications, etc are set up, I would recommend creating an image based backup. That way if a fresh load is needed (be it from infection or failed HD) than pulling from the most recent backup would get you back up and going as though nothing every happened. If you go the StorageCraft route you can even spin up the backup as a VM.
In regards to volume licensing I wish I had a better grasp on that myself. I know the basics but for the company I work for we just do regular OEM licenses one-by-one for system builds. As you had said earlier one can always learn more. That is what I love about this field!! Having a better deployment process would greatly benefit me. I just haven't made time to study that more.
I'd be open and looking for what others have to say about deployment strategies. I think what you said was correct; that is my understanding as well. I just don't have enough know how on that portion to give recommendations.