I can definitely relate to the impulse to check out the analog side of the world, especially as there is so much to be drawn from the designs of companies like MakeNoise. Personally I started with the 0-Coast and then expanded to a small case (with an ES-8). Then I expanded to three eurorack cases and have been working my way back to one small case.
This was not the most financially responsible course in retrospect. Most of the modules I bought were the result of extreme curiosity about what I could do if I had ____. So first I would build a facsimile in Audulus, buy the actual module, refine the Audulus version, then cool off on using the module to and begin fixating on the next module and buy another case to make room for it. If I had it to over again, I probably would have stuck with the small case and just rotated through modules of interest while keeping a core of my favorites. My core of favorites includes an ES-8, Maths, Mutable Instruments Plaits, Turing Machine, and some Distings. The reason for this is that ES-8 with Audulus kind of absorms the role of a lot the utilities people have in their cases. Trusting that Audulus will carry the load for logic, generative sequencing, and most sound effects I feel free to part ways with interesting modules that do more or less the same.
I still occasionally use my 0-Coast, and for a long time it was my main piece of modular gear. It’s a great stand-alone synth for pairing with a DAW for creating sounds reminiscent of huge complex patches through layering. But I think it’s safe to say that modular is about more than the final product, and the 0-Coast is a great sidekick to a system with more patchpoints as well.
Also, if you are seriously considering taking the plunge into modular because you enjoy the creative freedom, I strongly recommend joining a local meet-up. Seeing and using some of the gear available in a candid surrounding will help satisfy some of the curiosity that watching youtube demos cannot.
So to summarize:
0-Coast - A great self-contained system that works well with others
ES-8 - A quantum leap in controlling gear, allows me to part ways with modules because I know I can do something similar in Audulus.
Going full modular - Join a modular meet-up, see other people’s systems and gauge if that’s the right creative path for you.
Getting a small modular case - A small or medium-sized (~104 HP) case is the sweet spot for patching. An underappreciated advantage of modular if the ability to rotate modules while keeping the modules that you like the most.