04 December 2016

Another Small Anniversary. . .



No, not the Battle of Leuthen, but the origins of an idea that became the Grand Duchy of Stollen, which turns 11 years old on or about December 5th. 

The Grand Duchy of Stollen was born on a Sunday in early December 2005.  The university semester was almost over, there was already a bit of snow on the ground, and the Grand Duchess was baking a Dresdner Stollen to share with her German language students in the kitchen of the apartment we shared together at the time.  Meanwhile, I was across the hall in my old office, "the purple room" as we called it, having a long think about what the next wargaming project would be.  

Surprisingly, I had become worn out and driven to the brink of madness by a lengthy 15mm Waterloo project that had grown boring after 20+ years.  Yes.  There.  I said it.  A few weeks before, I had come to the conclusion the the mid-18th century sounded more do-able, and, thanks to a paperback reissue of Charge!  Or How to Play Wargames that I had purchased and enjoyed periodically since 1994, along with recently stumbling onto the Yahoo Old School Wargaming online group, which was a much more active place at that time, I had decided to take the plunge into a new period.

Anyway, as I sat with a cup of coffee and enjoyed to yeasty aroma of the baking stollen across the hall in the kitchen, the name came to me like a bolt out of the blue. . .   The Grand Duchy of Stollen!  The blog followed in August 2006, and here we are as they say.


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For those of you who are more recent visitors to the GD of S blog, of who have simply forgotten (Imagine!  The nerve!), The Grand Duchy of Stollen is a semi-fictitious territory, more or less contemporary to mid-18th century Prussia, Russia, and Austria, covering a few hundred square miles of territory across what is today Lithuania and Latvia along with a slice of the Russian enclave that used to be part of the former East Prussia.  Stollen, it's arch enemy The Electorate of Zuchenau, and the tiny surrounding principalities were the poor cousins of Frederick's Prussia, Maria-Theresa's Austria, and their cronies.  Stollen and Zichenau were, somehow, largely ignored  and remained on the political and military sidelines during the War of Austrian Succession, The Seven Years War, and the later War of Bavarian Succession.

Nevertheless, both Stollen and  Zichenau offered to send troops to assist with the latter conflict, but those offers were politely declined, or simply ignored.  Blame it all on being small, of little consequence, and, well, silly.  They walk funny in this region of Europe after all.  In any case, Stollen, Zichenau, and the others finally disappeared from the maps of Europe with the third partition of Poland in 1795 and haven't been mentioned much, or even thought of, since.  Except in the driest, most mundane, most arcane, and esoteric volumes of European political and geographic history.  Sad really, but there you are.



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Things have been quiet hobby-wise in recent months thanks to a busier that usual semester with personal and professional commitments of one sort or another, but I did manage to sit down for about an hour last (Saturday) night to attached several unpainted drummers (RSM and Minden) and standard bearers (Minden) to temporary cardboard bases for painting later this month.  All of these have been in the pile of lead for two years or more with the intent of adding drummers to my existing infantry units and replacing old MiniFig standard bearers with pairs of those by Minden, which are a better match in height. proportion, and general appearance.  I'll also take the opportunity to rationalize my flags, basing these on fairly simple historic regional flags rather than actual standards carried by the Prussian and Austrian infantry of the period.  

Existing cavalry units too are slated for eventual reorganization, rebasing, and the addition of second guidon or standard bearers.  These will be reconfigured from three small squadrons and regimental command to. . .  two large squadrons with regimental command.  Then, of course, there will be the addition of a few more Minden and Eureka cavalry units plus the small Von Hasenpfeffer Freicorps that I babbled on about right here several days ago.  Realistically, all of this will probably take a couple of years before it is done, but the constant tinkering is something that is fun, keeps the fires burning, and likely is familiar to many of you who partake in wargaming and model soldiering, or its cousin the model train hobby.  

No, no.  Don't worry.  I'm not headed down that road although it looks mighty interesting, but there is only so much time. . .  Unless of course the Young Master begins to express an interest, and then we might try out model trains in a small way to test the waters.  So far, though, it 's all Star Wars, light sabres, Lego Millenium Falcons, and tie fighters along with talking Darth Vader tooth brushes at bedtime, so I feel relatively immune to the pull of highly detailed model train layouts. . .  for the moment at least.  I must admit, building the old Western Oslo Station, which closed in 1987 when the new Central Station opened in the Norwegian capital, or the train station in Bergen, Norway have crossed my mind.  Dangerous butterflies indeed.

But back to model soldiers!  One thing that will take place during the coming Christmas break is a solo refight of a Charles S. Grant scenario, a holding action I believe, following on the heels of The Battle of Doltz that took place last summer.  I took delivery recently of  some felt roads by Hotz Artworks in Canada, and they look great, so it will be fun to lay out everything on the table, set up the troop, and try out those plagiarized old school rules that I pieced together in September or October.  So, lots going on. . .  or about to here at Totleigh-in-the-Wold where we have been now for almost exactly one year, and that anniversary will be on December 14th.  More on this latest tabletop battle and playtest of the rules anon.

In the meantime, I've taken the opportunity to share a few less commonly seen Richard Knoetel illustrations that I like.  Enjoy!

-- Stokes



8 comments:

Stryker said...

I can't believe it's 11 years - well done! I look forward to seeing more of the unfolding saga of the Grand Duchy.

Steve J. said...

For a new visitor like myself, I found the background 'history' to your project very interesting, along with the reasons for it starting. I too have moved more towards Imagi-Nations gaming just because it is far more flexible and, IMHO, more fun in the long term.

Fitz-Badger said...

Congratulations and thanks for sharing Stollen with us! Looking back it's a bit surprising how many years it has been, isn't it?

My own hobby life has been rather dormant for a while now, but that should be changing early in the new year, with retirement and relocation coming up soon.

Conrad Kinch said...

Great to see you still at it Stokes. It hardly feels like that long at all. Here's to another eleven years!

Wellington Man said...

11 more years of Stollen splendiferousness please! I've only just passed my second wargaming anniversary, Stokes, so I am still a hopeless newbie.

I've been waiting for a sight of your new roads with great impatience. I've yet to work out how I'm going to tackle these (or, indeed, the rest of my terrain), and its leading to complaints....

Archduke Piccolo said...

It nice to find a locale for these fictitious countries, even if they do violence (as mine do) to the historical geography. Your Grand Duchy of Stollen seems to be close to, if not altogether sharing a border with the Margravate of Jotun-Erbsten...

Big Andy said...

The internal logic of your creation process is interesting of itself, Maintaining the creation for 11 years is almost awesome- not sure I'd have the patience myself.
Nice One Dude !

Allan Tidmarsh said...

Congratulations on the 11th year of the Duchy of Stollen. Looking forward to future developments.

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