I learned to play D&D with the chits from my first box set.
Just curious ... white box or blue box? The only D&D that I can recall with chits included was the blue "Holmes" version.
The CAR WARS reference is a good one! I was OBSESSED with Car Wars for years. As all the Supplements came out, I bought the ones that seemed cool, and ignored the rest. I remember people saying things like "Boat Wars?! They're RUINING Car Wars!!!" How? Don't buy it. They make rules changes you don't like? Use the old rules.
I fall into this trap all of the time. I never played CAR WARS, but I have this habit of buying a game then buying supplements before I ever actually get my full play out of the original, then more supplements before I get to use the supplements I own already, and so on.
I agree that 2E is where real "rules bloat" happened, and it's been an issue with every edition since. Expansions are often released just a few months after the main rules and it's like the companies don't want to sell a complete game and are working on expansions at the same time as the core. I'm glad that GG isn't planning on this.
The other end of the spectrum, by the way, is Amber Diceless. The main rulebook came out in 1991 and first expansion in 1993. Fans have been begging for additional expansion books for 19 years and counting. There was one expansion that went into preorder then vanished, and several which were promised but never even got as far as preorder, but fans were left with money in hand and no product to buy.
I think that GG has chosen a fine line in the middle. One core rulebook, several modules ready for release early on, steady product support thereafter, third party license for folks who want to add onto the game, and potential annual supplements with expansion material at a slow release rate. (Although there is so much fine 3pp support at the moment, one has to wonder what GG will put into an annual.)