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Saturday Afternoon Painting with The Young Master. . .

Still a long way to go, but the are starting to look a little better.  Young Paul and I feel that fleshtone and horseflesh should be next. F inally managed to get a little painting time in with The Young Master late this Saturday afternoon (I cannot compete with TV following the evening meal it seems).  We managed to get two coats of grass green on the bases in fairly short order, and I cleaned up a few things for Paul on the 24 figures he takes care of on the right after he spun off into left field and another activity in another area of the house. I'll be back to the painting bench this evening after his bedtime to work a bit on my own nine Austrian horse grenadiers and regimental staff.  Lots of small details now, but some of these go pretty quickly, so I feel like things are in the home stretch at this point. -- Stokes
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Lest We Forget. . .

  The coat of the grey must be finished, and there are still numerous small details to address, but these last nine figures for that large regiment of dragoons begun last May (2020) are not unpleasing at this point.  The French trumpeter will wear a made up uniform.  I prefer for my cavalry to have trumpeters, and wanted something showy, gaudy even, for this particular figure.  Like his eight fellows, he's not yet finished either, but so far, so good.  I've used a brand new #1 round to add the scarlet highlights and gold on the raised details atop the darker red undercoat, and the new eye glasses for close-up work have been very helpful.  I suddenly find painting a pleasure again.   P lugging away with those nine Austrian horse grenadiers and dragoon staff in the evenings after my young painting partner has retired for the night.  By Jove, they are getting very close to being finished!  And it has been just over a month since I began with them in earnest.  This must be some kin

A Sunday Session with the Young Master. . .

Still quite a way to go, but the basic blue uniform and the black hats are finished. A productive hour or so painting with Young Master Paul this Sunday afternoon.  Snow on the ground outside, but not enough for satisfactory cross-country skiing [The Grand Duchess and I agree that we need about 6" on the ground at least for  good glide.  Our snows so far this year, and unusually, have been mere dustings.], so what better way to spend some time together on a winter afternoon?  Our plan is to do the black cartridge pouches, gaiters, and shoes next, followed by the fleshtone areas, and green bases.  Basic brown will follow for the musket stocks, and then we can begin addressing the numerous smaller details.  Tally ho! -- Stokes

Painting with the Young Master. . .

  A couple of different projects going at the same time!  We've got two good thin coats of the white acrylic gesso applied and have move to blocking in the basic dark blue uniform color.  As time has presented itself, I've also continued adding details and piping to the nine horse grenadiers and regimental staff for that three-squadron MONSTER regiment of Batthyanyi Dragoons painted between May and October 2020.  Covid lockdown painting!   T he Young Master and I have been having a blast with base-coating and applying the basic dark blue -- a very nice shade of navy blue -- to his battalion of Prussian garrison troops.  It's been slow going, but priceless for the calm, focused effort and wargaming-related conversation that takes place as we work side by side for about 30-60 minutes in the evenings.  Not unlike the quiet chat I remember from trout fishing and camping trips in the woods of southern Missouri with my father when I was four and five years old.   Anyway, pa

Busy Boys at the Painting Bench. . .

  The Young Master, some weird middle-aged guy, and the thumb of The Grand Duchess in the midst of base-coating figures. W ell, we finally managed to sit down together earlier today, to apply an initial coat of white acrylic gesso to the 40 or so Minden Prussian musketeers that comprise Young Paul's first ever batch of his own figures.  Contrary to my expectations, we breezed through 'em fairly quickly.  He is already a dab hand with the brush and did more than half of the figures himself.   We plan to check 'em tomorrow (Sunday) to see if they need a second thin coat before pressing on with the initial dark blue under coats for the coats, waistcoats, and breeches.  I'll take care of the faces and hands before we move on to the black hats, gaiters and shoes as well as the cartridge pouches, and then we'll see what to address next. Paul mentioned several times during today's session how excited he is to be doing this with ol' Dad, so I am hoping he might want

The Rescue at Zichenstadt. . .

  The village of Zichenstadt where the gouty General von Bauchschemerzen is being held prisoner in the house to the left of the village church.  During the middle of the night, Captain Paul von Stollen, Oberfeldwebel Klatschen, Heinie, and Gustl 'The Kid' Goshen make their way from the edge of the woods along the table edge at right toward the village to attempt their rescue mission. T he Young Master and I played out our rescue scenario in just under one hour this afternoon.  Amazingly, his luck held out and his men managed to escape detection during their approach to Zichenstadt, their rescue of General von Bauchschmerzen, and their escape back to the safety of the woods well before daybreak.  Equally amazing, the band of four rescuers managed to carry out their mission without interference from enemy sentries or curious villagers.   We used a D6 for random movement each turn for the Young Master's four figures and 2d6 after each move to see whether or not Paul von Stolle

A Raid-Rescue Scenario. . .

  The tranquil village in question. . . Y oung Master Paul and I took a few minutes this afternoon to set the table for our forthcoming raid-rescue.  He will lead a small band of soldiers, who have been tasked with finding and rescuing the gouty General von Bauchschmerzen from the nefarious Zichenauers, under the command of that most notorious cad and bounder General Phillipe de Latte.   What my son does not know is that there will be a logic and deduction component to the game.  Before he can rescue von Bauchschmerzen, he must work out in which of the six buildings the good general is held.  I also plan to throw in a wandering sentry or two just to keep the Young Master on his toes.  Play is slated to begin following school tomorrow (Monday) afternoon. -- Stokes

Items on the Early January 2021 Agenda. . .

  Young Master Paul's forthcoming Prussian garrison regiment all tacked down to their temporary painting bases and ready for base-coating.  I am toying with the idea of mixing lots of dark blue into the white acrylic gesso to combine the first couple of steps into one.  Not sure if that's the way we'll go quite yet though. H appy New Year (properly)!  It's actually already January 3rd, but I've taken a few days away from the hobby as we have de-decorated and put the house back in order.  The Young Master has been occupied with other things too, so we have not yet had our planned New Year's Day raid-rescue game, but we'll do so later this  afternoon in a few hours. The two of us have also discussed what to do with his Minden Prussian musketeers that he received for Christmas, and have figured that either Frederick's 1st Garrison Regiment, or 3rd Garrison Regiment will fit the bill for relatively simple uniforms that don't require too much facing color

Happy New Year from the Grand Duchy of Stollen!

  A reprise of our Christmas Week game at the end of Turn Seven when it became crystal clear that The Young Master was going to with this battle too.   H appy 2021 everyone!  Here's to more toy soldiering during the next 12 months in whatever form that might take.   In the Grand Duchy, we'll continue plugging away with adding to our mid-18th century armies and playing the occasional game.  Since Young Paul seems to have been bitten firmly by the bug, the incentive is stronger than it has been for several years to set up scenery on the table and unpack the figures for games more often than has been the case in recent years. Besides that, I have no lofty new aims,or goals for my hobby.  As I mentioned when we discussed our plans for the coming year in a breakout room session during the December 19th meeting of the Virtual Wargaming Club , I plan on more of the same as and when time and life permit.  It's a very comfortable mental space to occupy  I must admit.  As much as I a

Our Christmas Game: Some After Action Musings. . .

My gun opens fire during Turn Four.  And misses!  A 1/56th (or 1/60th, or 30mm) harbinger of how most of the rest of the game went for General von Drosselmeyer and his hapless Stollenians.   T hinking about our Christmas Week game just concluded and talking it over with The Young Master, there are a few additional thoughts to share.  In no particular order, these include:    The Forces The Army of the Electorate of Zichenau (General Phillipe de Latte -- Young Master Paul) Flickenhoffer Fusiliers Ernestine Sachsen Regiment Kurmainz Grenadiers Zichenauer Garde Croats  Von Trumbach Dragoons Electoral Artillery    Losses Casualties = 33   The Stollenian Army (General von Drosselmeyer -- aka Bad Dad) Zeller-Schwartzekatze Militia Battalion O'Malley's Irish Grenzers Leib (Grand Duchess Sonja's Own) Grenadiers 1st Garrison Battalion Hanseatic Regiment Bosniak Squadron Corps of Jaegers Captain Merczerski's Half Battery   Losses Casualties = 58 Prisoners Taken by Enemy = 2 Equi

Our Christmas Game Concluded: A Sad End for Ol' Dad. . .

The conclusion of our Guilford Courthouse refight quickly went from bad to worse during the hour or so we played after lunch earlier this afternoon.  My gun crew promptly ran away after firing a final ineffective shot into the approaching Flickenhoffer Fusiliers of young General de Latte leaving theeir gun to be captured.  Their mounted officer suffered a less pleasant fate.   On my right flank during Turn Nine, The Young General's company of Croats basically wiped out my squadron of Bosniaks.  Clearly, my numerous six-sided dice do not like me.  I don't think I made a single saving throw during the final two turns of our game as General de Latte meted out gleeful punishment across the battlefield.  He takes real pleasure in my crummy saving throw rolls.   Meanwhile on my left flank, the Irish Grenzers rout after retiring shaken at the end of Turn Seven and sitting out Turn Eight.  There ought to be a law.   The dastardly General de Latte gnashes his teeth, twirls his mustache,

Our Christmas Game: Turns Six and Seven. . .

  The Young Master, aka General de Latte, scrutinizes the front lines of the respective armies as an intense firefight is about to begin in Turn Six. At the start of Turn Seven, General de Latte declared charges for the two infantry units in his front line, which had already managed to inflict considerable damage on my two front line units opposite during Turn Six. A rather diabolical portrait of General de Latte during Turn Seven.  He asked what the term 'cad and bounder' meant earlier today, in relation to de Latte's character, and I had to attempt an explanation of men who toy with women's affections.  We have reached the handfuls of dice stage of the game!  During Turn Six, General de Latte's company of Croats came within range of my squadron of Bosniaks on the right flank and managed to inflict two casualties after my saving throws. By the end of Turn Seven, my Irish Grenzers had taken considerable casualties and failed a morale test, falling back shaken and in

Our Christmas Game in Progress. . .

  By the start of Turn Six, The Young Master, aka General Phillipe de Latte, is moving his squadron of dragoons toward his left flank, presumably to engage General von Drosselmeyer's Bosniaken in the distance.   W e began our Boxing Day +1 game just before half past one this afternoon.  This time, Young Master Paul wanted the to play the role of the invading Zichenauers, commanded by that most notorious cad and bounder, General Phillipe de Latte.  His small army (mostly A and B class units) has entered the unwitting Grand Duchy of Stollen and is moving swiftly northward to engage a larger, but generally poor quality enemy army (mostly C and D class units) commanded by the timid General von Drosselmeyer.   The Young Master asked for a break after five turns and a bit of six, so we'll return tomorrow afternoon to see how things shape up.  He suggested we play through ten turns altogether, assuming one side or the other does not dissolve in the mean time due to poor morale rolls,

Happy Feast of Stephen!!!

  By Christmas Morning 2020 (yesterday), it was clear that Santa Claus/Father Christmas and the reindeer had indeed made a quick stop at our house sometime in the night.  Now, call me superstitious, but I strongly suspect that ol' Saint Nick is anxious about stepping on the scale today.   A lovely, relaxed Christmas Day yesterday here The Grand Duchy of Stollen all things considered.  A fire on the hearth, quiet German carols in the background along with other festive music throughout the day, far too much good food to enjoy, delightful company of The Grand Duchess and Young Master, Christmas crackers and charades, and so forth.   And of course a few gifts.  Highlights include some Fife& Drum Hessian musketeers and grenadiers given to me by The Young Master, and (Surprise, surprise!) Minden Prussian musketeers given to The Young Master by yours truly.  A toy soldier Christmas indeed.  It reminds me of the time that my sister and I each gave the other a copy of the album Parall

'Tis Christmas Eve in the Grand Duchy. . .

An old seasonal favorite of mine.  You don't see magical Father Christmases like this anymore sadly.   T he ground is white with fresh snow east of the sun and west of the moon in the far off Grand Duchy of Stollen. Billowing, silvery drifts are piled throughout the country. The rivers and lakes are frozen solid. The woods are still but for the distant jingle of sleigh bells in the bracing air. The sky is slate grey, and heavy coal smoke hangs over the villages and towns. It is Christmas Eve here in the Grand Duchy, somewhere very near to Frederick’s Prussia, sometime during the mid-18th century.  Citizens of Krankenstadt bustle to and fro through snow-covered streets of the small capital city of the Grand Duchy, running last minute errands before the Christmas festival begins in earnest. The red brick North German Gothic storefronts feature special Christmas items and treats like the marzipan for which the city is known, and the happy faces of children peek in through the frost

Der Stollen 2020 Ist Da!!!

Freshly cooled from the oven and dusted with powdered sugar. . .  The 2020 stollen is here! T he Grand Duchess Sonja pulled out all the stops last night and baked one of her authentic Dresdner Stollens.  Once cooled and dusted with the powdered vanilla sugar, we joined each other by the fireside about 10:30pm with some coffee and heated gluehwein to enjoy a couple of small pieces.  Date-filled, buttery, crusty, and it just melts in your mouth.  The Young Master will enjoy some with his breakfast when I wake him in a little while.  And then the rest is mine, mine, mine!  All mine! (Diabolical laughter).   Sorry.  I got a bit carried away there.  I'll be better directly. Long-time visitors might recall that the name for my fictitious campaign setting came to me in a flash one Saturday afternoon way back in early December 2005, possibly on or around Leuthen Day on the 5th, as the Grand Duchess baked a stollen for her German students.  Classes had ended for the semester, Finals Week wa