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Showing posts from December, 2019

It's New Year's Eve in Krankenstadt Palace. . .

The New Year's Eve costume ball in full swing at Krankenstadt palace.

Back in the capital city of Krankenstadt after 10 days away at the country house of Aunt Irmgard to celebrate Christmas, Grand Duke Irwin-Amadeus II has organized a masquerade ball for New Year's Eve.  Or rather his man Hives has done so.  

 Already in full swing, the guest list read's like a who's who of Krankenstadt and Stollenian society.  While guests continue to arrive and wait to be announced, up in his chambers the Grand Duke struggles to fit into his fabled lobster costume.  But he has indulged rather a bit too much during the Christmas festival.

"I say, Hives!  Pull the laces tighter!  Pull the girdle laces tighter.  We're already an hour late, and I've simply got to fit into this costume."

"Sir, I'm afraid I'll have to call for your tailor Monsieur de Bob├Ęche to make some last minute alterations."

"Oh, blast Hives," The Grand Duke despairs, "He …

Reins, Bridles, Harnesses, and Saddlecloths. . .

Lots of white trim left now on these 14 Minden Bosniaks plus some other tiny details like the stirrups and other assorted metal sparkly bits.  Horse and musket era cavalry, you know.

I've spent the last several days since Christmas working in short painting sessions as and when time and family permitted, but we're getting there.  Mostly dark brown on the reins, bridles, and harness followed by a lighter red-brown highlights and then dark red for the saddlecloth edges followed, this afternoon, with scarlet highlights.  

Tomorrow, New Year's Eve 2019, The Grand Duchess and Young Master have something planned out on the town during the middle part of the day at a local science musem that is a favorite of Paul's.  So, I'll have my solo refight of Hook's Farm then and, hopefully, I can get in another painting session tomorrow evening.

And what of our New Year's Eve plans?  Easy, gents and ladies.  The Grand Duchess and I, as usual the last ten years or so, will be…

Mulling Things Over Instead. . .

A rousing illustration of Prussian infantry charging toward the enemy lines.

Chilly, wet, and foggy here today in Mid-Michigan.  Much like the weather in Southampton, England many years ago (1988-1989) when I visited newly married ol' Mom and Stepdad for the Christmas and New Year's period.  I've delayed the planned game until New Year's Eve in favor of more painting (harnesses, reins, and bridles are now painted and highlighted) and a nice long walk with The Grand Duchess and Young Master earlier this afternoon.

But one can always mull over possible rules, right?  So, let me bounce this latest idea off of you.  Does it seem reasonable to give the option of firing first before then charging toward the enemy to line infantry units for which a charge has been declared at the start of a turn?  As always, I'm interested in your thoughts on the matter.

-- Stokes


Hanover infantry this time, making, if not an out and out charge, then at least a menacing move toward the enem…

And the Winner Is. . .

The initial troop dispositions around Hook's Farm, courtesy of Mr. Wells.

Just a quick post today since I am on the way to the painting table to continue undercoating all harness, bridles, and reins on 14 Bosniak horses in dark brown.  I've decided that a refight of Hook's Farm is in order for tomorrow's Christmas Week solo game, using the latest version of my Call It Macaroni 'old school' rules in which our old friend the humble D6 figures prominently when it comes to determining hits, saves, and morale checks.  Be sure to tune in for a post-game report and some (hopefully) decent photographs.

-- Stokes


And no mention of ol' H.G. in a wargaming context would be complete without this illustration!

'Disorder' in the Horse and Musket Era?

Not a snowy Christmas image, but the 11th Hussars in among the Russian guns during the Battle of Balaklava, October 25th, 1854.

A question for the readership, who are better versed than I in military concepts and related terminology.  For the horse and musket era, how do you understand the term 'disorder'?  When do troops -- say a battalion of line infantry in a firefight, receiving (or running from) an enemy charge, or a squadron of cavalry about to engage with a unit of charging enemy cavalry -- become disordered?  At the moment, I associate the term with retreat (temporary disorder) and a rout (permanent disorder).  Is this in the ballpark?  I'd really appreciate some clarification and related explanation, if you please.  Thank you in advance.

-- Stokes



Happy Feast of Stephen!

A thoroughly charming and thought provoking title.

Or, Happy Boxing Day if you prefer.  I hope your Christmas Day was happy and surrounded by friends and loved ones.  Or maybe quiet and calm?  Whichever you prefer.

Today, the wonderful Grand Duchess (assisted by Young Master Paul) will prepare and bake her annual Dresdner Stollen!  I cannot wait (something of an understatement).  In the meantime, a large piece of chilled pumpkin pie with fresh coffee for breakfast in a few moments I think.

Yesterday was a toy soldier Christmas for yours truly and included the title above, a lovely large format book on German armies from roughly 1740-1945, featuring mostly previously unpublished Herbert Knoetel watercolors, and a small box of Minden Miniatures (various French Staff figures and some Austrian dragoons).  The Grand Duchess tells me that some Hessian infantry are on the way once they are back in stock.  

I felt like a child again for a few hours yesterday, but the best part was spending Christ…

Christmas Calm. . .

Another vintage image of Santa Claus/Father Christmas this Christmas Morning here in The Grand Duchy. . .

There is something wonderful about that first mug of coffee on Christmas Day.  Checking email from absent friends and family, chuckling quietly over their messages, and listening to seasonal jazz renditions of old Christmas favorites playing softly in the background.  Merry Christmas!

-- Stokes 

It's Almost Christmas Eve in The Grand Duchy of Stollen. . .

Longtime visitors might recall my fondness for for Victorian and Edwardian illustrations of Father Christmas and Santa Claus who are dressed in colors other than Coca Cola red.  This image fits the bill rather nicely.  And he is German, which is fitting given the Grand Duchy of Stollen's own Germanic footing.

A Pre-Xmas Bosniak Update. . .

Here is where things are for December 23rd.  Look closely, and you'll notice different browns on the hooves depending on whether a leg has a white marking, or not.


As a reminder, here is what the squadron looked like back on December 1st.  So near, and yet so far, eh?
Well, here it is December 23rd already.  The deadline of the friendly painting challenge between myself and a number of friends around the world.  I have not managed to finish my pledged 14 cavalry above, but I have made some terrific progress toward that end.  Look very closely, and you'll spot a number of small details, including a tiny dot or line of dark gray highlighting the tips of boot toes on the 14 riders.  Yes. I know.  I know.  Something only detail freaks will care about, but there we are. 

While I hope for another session in the painting chair for this evening, that might not happen since the Grand Duchess needs my table here in Zum Stollenkeller to finish her Christmas wrapping this evening.  We'l…

Some Lovely Horse and Musket Figures. . .

A photograph of Marvin's delightful Mistletoe Guard, recently finished and showcased on his Suburban Militarism blog.

After a round of gift-wrapping, and during a coffee break, I stumbled across the blog entitled Suburban Miltarism that features loads of 1/72 horse and musket-era figures painted to a lovely standard, so I though I'd share a link here for your viewing pleasure.  I'm not sure that the blogger is a wargamer, but his painting is topnotch.  Check it out!

-- Stokes

A Detailed Painting Update. . .

Now, we're beginning to get somewhere!

As and when I was able to snatch 30 minutes or an hour this afternoon and again this evening after The Young Master's bedtime, I began addressing some of those many details that always, always, always bring us crashing to earth whenever we begig to feel smug about our painting.  Know what I mean?

It was white markings on the horses, stirrup leathers and girths using the usual hobby acrylics today, finished this evening with oil-based Winsor & Newton 'Silver' thinned with a drop or two of Liquin Original, which makes the paint a bit easier to apply and helps it to dry by morning.  For metallics, you simply cannot beat the brilliant sparkle of oils.  Much else to do on the 14 riders and horses, but the squadron of 14 is starting to look more like, well, Frederick's Bosniaks.

Tomorrow, Sunday, I'll fix a large breakfast for The Young Master and myself about 10:30. Eggs, sausage, English muffins, orange juice, butter, French …

Bosniak Noir. . .

Taking a close look at the figures, these seem to be the various small details that need to bee addressed moving forward.  Oh, and of course the white markings on the horses.

Well, here is where things stand as of December 21st, the winter solstice and shortest days of the year here in the Northern hemisphere.  I've been painting these 14 riders and horses as part of small painting challenge that a few friends and I have been running since 'round about the 1st of the month.  

Our agreed deadline is December 23rd given how things tend to get very busy for many with last minute things, family commitments, church services, visits from Santa Claus/Father Christmas, and so forth.  And for most of us, I think the goal has been not necessarily to get the figures finished but at least to make some painting headway.  And indeed, headway is being made although I'll have to continue with the smaller details once things quiet down a bit during Christmas Week.  

I'm also aiming for a …

Dark Blue Highlights. . .

Here's where things stand now after numerous washes of Scarlet and a dark blue wash to highlight the black coats.

The scarlet highlights, while time-consuming, have turned out reasonably well, but the highlights for the black coats have slowed things down the last couple of days as I had to find a better way to bell that particular cat.  Initially, I tried my usual dark gray 'Zinc' on four riders and was disappointed with the results.  Suddenly, the coats looked gray.  Casting around online, didn't really yield anything helpful either, and then I thought about trying some very dark blue from a more than 20-year old bottle of Ral Partha 'Dark Blue.' 

I've mentioned that bottomless little vessel occasionally here over the years, so longtime visitors might remember it.  It was purchased way back in the late 1990s from a long gone gaming store along State Street in Madison, Wisconsin when I was a graduate student at the mighty UW-Madison (Go Badgers!).  You can j…

Some Scarlet Highlights. . .

Slowly, very slooowly the 14 riders and horses are coming together.

Managed to squeeze in a couple of hours yesterday, in two separate sessions, to begin applying Scarlet highlights to my large squadron of Bosniaks.  Between seizures that are brought on by the warbling of Mariah Carey, who is more difficult to avoid at this festive time of the year than at others.  But let's talk figure painting!

I'm not yet finished with applying the acrylic Scarlet, but so far it's really helping to make the figures look like something.  After I finish this particular step later today, it's onto a very sparing highlight for the black areas.  In this case I'll use 'Zinc,' a very dark, silvery shade of gray that nevertheless is light enough not to disappear into the black undercoat.  

The trick is to use very little of the Zinc and resist the temptation to overdo it.  A tendency that, according to The Grand Duchess, I tend toward in certain respects.  Like large units of figur…

The Bosniaks: Whites & Some Reds. . .

Starting to look a bit more like something you might want on your tabletop.

Today's title sounds almost like an 60-minute television, Amazon, Hulu, or Netflix dramedy.  An Eastern European family of limited means makes good and moves to the upscale suburbs outside your city of choice where problem assimilating ensue as cultural, political, and social differences clash.  You'll laugh.  You'll cry.  You'll identify with the easily relatable characters.  You'll marvel at the cleverly penetrating and ironic commentary.  Sales of track suits and shoes with five-inch heels will surge as will ratings.  And a second season will follow in short order.  Right.

My television treatment aspirations aside, brushwork continues apiece on the squadron of Minden Bosniaks as and when time has allowed this weekend.  I went ahead with applying a sparing coat of white atop the tan undercoat for the turbans and plumes, taking care to allow the tan to show through in places.  Finished that …

Bosniak Bases. . .

Nice, bright green bases!  My favorite color for painting figure and movement bases remains Citadel 'War Boss' Green.  I have used it for most of my figure bases since the Grand Duchy of Stollen project first came to life in 2006 although sometimes I have painted the Litko three-ply bases with a similar shade of 'latex' interior house paint by Olympic.  I believe that latex paint is referred to as 'emulsion' paint in the U.K.

Plugging away, and there is still much to do. but the green bases are basically done.  Like fleshtone, which I STILL must apply -- Usually one of the very first steps I tackle. . .  I don't know what my problem is! -- taking care of the figure bases helps clean up any previous painting splotches and make the figures look a little less rough.  This Saturday morning, I see that a few of the Litko ply bases that I like to use for my units require another coat, but basically this step is finished.  I used #4 and #6 round brushes to apply th…