It has gotten cold – really cold – in the last few days. The grey squirrels have stopped their chittering (some say chattering) and are, quite sensibly, hold up in their warm dens. My sense is that “chitter” is squirrel talk, just as “twitter” is bird talk (among other things!), making a single phrase of Squirrel a “chit”.
The etymology of “chit” is very complex as can be seen in this Wiktionary entry. It is the fourth definition in the third etymology that has drawn my interest. Thanks to Britain’s long experience in India, a fair number of loan words have come into the English language from Hindi and chit is one of them.
So – what is the point? I have extolled the virtues of using playing cards in FK&P. I like their looks, plain and simple. But with all the joy they bring, they are hard to handle in the smaller sizes necessary for a 10cm grid and, although I have improved the shuffling a good deal, it is still the rate limiting step in a game.
Andrew Brentnall, the co-author of FK&P, uses chits instead of cards in his games at the 10mm and 6mm level. I finally had to allow that he probably was on to something. I spent a good portion of the day of Christmas Eve making 120 chits (twelve each of ones through tens, 25mm diameter). I am now a believer!
First they take up significantly less space than cards and are ridiculously more easy to handle. I never minded the appearance of the cards on the table (in fact I liked them!) but I had to take them up for most photos which meant I had to wait until the end of a turn. The chits to my eye are much less intrusive and I can now photograph at any point.
The great epiphany in using chits in play is the velocity at which games can now proceed. Now when I get ready to resolve firing or a melee, I grab a handful out of their box and slap them down as needed (both sides using the same set). They are immediately thrown back in the box and the box tumbled. Draws are still dependent on previous draws (since the activation chits remain on the board until the end of the turn) but odds calculation is now even more problematic than either cards or dice.
I have set up (and taken down) Trow Green several times using different troop mixes. This would not have been possible without this method of using chits to vastly accelerate the game play. I am now sold on this approach (although sometime I’ll need to look at the mathematics of the thing). Yes, I will give a summary report of the battles, but the rebels have generally been doing rather well against the professionals.
Incidentally, Simon Miller has sets of chits for the parent rules, To The Strongest!, and I suspect that when the dust settles he will have some available for FK&P as well. I would lobby for a set of 160 numbered chits, for which I would be the first customer (his looking way better than my quick and dirty ones!) 😀
To celebrate I have re-purposed one of my other blogs, Signa et Portena, to begin the documentation of a new pursuit, wargaming the SIXTEENTH century in the British Isles.