Coming from hardware synths with rather more predefined routing one of the appeals is the flexibility of a modular, yet that’s also daunting. Choice is great, but too much of it can be daunting. I mean the principles are clear, but do you guys/gals generally noodle around or do you go in with a clear vision of what you want patches to sound like?
I’ve just started playing around to see what I can do with each module, but I’m wondering if it makes more sense to start with a simple patch first when building a patch. That is, sequencer, sound generator, Envelope, filter, and VCA and adding modulators and attenuators sequentially. I could see how working systematically could work well. Noodling around to get unexpected sounds can be interesting, too. I’m doing the latter, as I am still exploring my new modular system.

Usually I have a fairly good idea of what a given patch needs to be. But then, I've been doing this a while.

Probably the best way to proceed is to start with a very simple signal chain: VCO -> VCF -> mixer. When you arrive at something that seems to suggest "add x" or "tweak y", then do so. Lather, rinse, repeat. As this process continues, you'll notice that the core sound you'd started with has grown in complexity, as has the patch itself. And while that sounds pretty simplistic, it does work; this is how I was taught to patch on my undergrad school's ARP 2600, more or less. Feed a VCO to the VCF, turn up the VCF's direct out, then start screwing around with that basic path by degrees. The other benefit of proceeding this way is that you get a really good overview of what the various modules can do, how you can make them behave in ways that work for you, and so on. Over time, you wind up with a really good mental picture of the synth, and you can patch pretty rapidly...and then going beyond that, you'll notice that you can structure the basics of a given patch in your head, before even picking up the first patchcord.

Takes time, any other musical instrument, fluency implies practice.

There is no wrong way to build a patch. Sometimes you start with the audio pathing... sometimes you start with the CV. It depends on your idea or mental sketch.

Once you have a bit of experience, you'll start coming up with interesting ideas... AWAY from your case. Maybe there's a feature you haven't explored. Maybe you have this crazy CV routing idea that might or might not work the way you've envisioned it.

Just be prepared for happy-little-accidents that take you away from your original goal. Don't be afraid to explore something accidental or unintended. That's the beauty of modular.

Precisely, Ronin...some of the best work I've done started with simple patch-noodling. I'd hit a sound that suggested something, work toward that something, then something else gets into that and I head that direction. This then says "add these", and the compositional process is off and running. There does seem to be a certain set of synths that this is more prone to happening with, though; certainly my modular setup, but also my JP-6, CS-80, Wave 2.3 (when I had that) and MS-20 are all ones that've played a key role in several pieces apiece. When you have ALL the sonic variables at hand, so it seems, this method works well...perhaps not so much with the single-data-entry ones.