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And Now for Something Completely Different. . .

  Metacognition from a Frequent Commenter -- Stokes    P.S. It's got nothing whatsoever to do with military history, toy soldiers, or wargaming.
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Um. . . Oh, Blogger???

  F or several days now, Blogger has not allowed me to type comments into the pop-up comment window on others' blogs.  Might anyone out there have any suggestions to fix the issue, please?  A cursory web search on Sunday did not yield information pertinent to this particular situation.  Grrrrr. . .  -- Stokes 

A Tangled Mass: Bingo Chips and Unit Morale. . .

  B ingo chips are a highly suitable play aid for those of us who don't mind our tabletop (historical) wargames being a bit more on the gamey side of things.  They add color and provide a useful reminder of the morale and/or status of our units.  Plus they are cheap and can be purchased in bulk through a retailer like Amazon. Long time visitors to The Grand Duchy of Stollen will know already that my painting, collecting, and occasional gaming continues to be informed by The Greats of the hobby, among them Gilder, the Grants, Featherstone, and Asquith.  Large shiny units, stylized scenery, and fairly simple rules based on those of my predecessors and using the venerable D6.   Or, for those times when I am living out there on the bloody edge of life, 2D6! In any case, my outlook continues to have a decidedly late 1970s to early 1980s feel about it.  Not surprising since this is when I entered the hobby via Dungeons and Dragons before finding my sea legs a couple of years later with 1

Veterans' Day 2021. . .

  My late maternal grandfather, David Lewis Stokes.  I idolized him as a small boy.  Still do.  A tall, quiet, southern gentleman of the old school, he was drafted pretty quickly after Pearl Harbor like so many others.   He began his military career as an anti-aircraft gunner in a Pennsylvania National Guard unit where many of the men still spoke Pennsylvania-Dutch (a German-English patois).  After time guarding Dutch oil fields on Curacao in the Caribbean, he later volunteered to become a paratrooper, jumping out of the old DC-3.  He also trained as glider infantry.   Miraculously, however, he, his two brothers, and three brothers-in-law all managed to make it home from corners of various theaters of war.  Many others did not.    At some point in all of this, my grandfather witnessed a friend's death nearby, something that I suspect troubled him for the rest of his life now that I look back on it.  I asked about it as a small boy one time after perusing his division's memory

Next on the Painting Table. . .

  Familiar Mollo illustrations of period specific Russian troops.  The plates from this particular book just have a certain something about them that I actually prefer to more recent book and online sources.    G eneral Paul von Stollen and staff were received well by our son on his 12th birthday last week, so I have started on the next phase for his planned Christmas gift: a two-gun battery of Russian artillery.  Six Minden crew each and a mounted officer for good measure.  Fairly simple, easy uniforms to paint although I have taken my time applying washes of scarlet over some very dark red to a pleasing blend of highlights and lowlights. The black hats and gaiters are done as are the black facings and turnbacks on seven of the figures.  Once I finish that, then I'll take care of the fleshtone (doing things a bit out of order this time).  And then the smaller details.  Years ago, I painted some Revell Austrian SYW horse artillery as Russians -- Some of you old timers might rem

Paul von Stollen Is Finished. . .

        A nd just in time, since Birthday #12 is just three days away.  I give you General Paul von Stollen ab und zu Hasenpfeffer!   As explained in my previous post, the combination of a Russian general with Prussian officers is unorthodox, but von Stollen (in Russian green) is of Baltic German extraction and currently in the service of The Grand Duchy of Stollen (in Prussian blue).  An inveterate trickster, he thumbs his nose at the czar in nearby Saint Petersburg by continuing to wear his Russian uniform. This was an especially fun vignette to paint!  Three coats of gloss yesterday and the groundwork last night after the Young Master's bedtime.  However, I was in such a hurry to take, edit, and share photographs here that I neglected to take a large, soft brush to brush off stray bits of the Woodland Scenics turf material from the figures.   As always, I have spotted a few tiny areas, looking at the photos, that need some final touch-ups.  But that will take only a few moments,

Birthday #12 Is Fast Approaching. . .

  Paul von Stollen ab und zu Hasenpfeffer along with staff all basecoated and ready for painting. O ne benefit of amassing a pile of unpainted lead, or in my case a drawerful, is that very often you can root around and find just what you're looking for without too much trouble or thought when it comes to that next painting project.  And so it has been with the latest smaller effort before diving back into another large unit of infantry. The Young Master will have his 12th birthday at the end of the month (Can you believe it?), and I thought it would be fun to present him with his very own tabletop avatar: General Paul von Stollen ab und zu Hasenpfeffer , an officer of the Baltic German nobility who served in the Russian army during the Seven Years War but has more recently transferred to the Stollenian service.   So, Thursday evening after his bedtime, and before my own, I stole back down here to Zum Stollenkeller , opened the Drawer o' Lead, took out my plastic organizer boxes

All Glossed and Awaiting Flags. . .

  A nice, shiny, and cheery unit of toy soldiers ready to take the field. N ot yet affixed to their permanent bases, but here they are!  My version of the Schaumburg-Lippe- Bückeburg Infantry.  Flags are pending of course given our recent and ongoing internet issues here in The Grand Duchy, which have thrown my cordless printer out of sync, so I have not yet printed the flags to overpaint in my 'paint by numbers' way.  Shortly, I hope.  As for the unit shown above, I painted them based on three sources: Mollo, Kronoskaf, and Digby Smith, so their appearance, while in the ballpark, is not quite identical to any of the three references noted.  I am not sure if I should put all three NCOs in the third rank, or place one of them at the far right of the line looking along the three companies to check their alignment.  What do you think? As always, the figures are not perfect, but this unit is one of the nicer bunch of line infantry I've painted in some time nevertheless.  They

Glossing in the Grand Duchy. . .

  Anticipating their first coat of acrylic gloss, the 1st Company of the Schaumburg-Lippe-Bueckeburg Infantry march toward the brush.   W ell, we're finally to that point.  Making 'em shiny.  Here are the things I use to do that.  I've always wanted to try boat deck varnish, as used by the late Peter Gilder (I read that somewhere), but I suspect that the stuff would smell bad and kill billions of brain cells in the process.  At this point in life, I need to hold on to as many reasonably well functioning brain cells as possible, so acrylic varnish it is.   I took care of the mounted colonel, officers, flag bearers, NCOs, and drummers yesterday (Saturday) and set them aside for safe keeping.  Today, I'll start on the first batch of 16 privates pictured here. Glossing here in the Grand Duchy is always a slow and somewhat laborious process in that I apply it with a brush and a small one at that.  I have found in the past that using a really large brush to apply gloss invari

Officers, NCOs, and Musicians in Progress. . .

  The number of small details to attend to with musicians, officers, and NCO's is always surprising even though they do not carry muskets or kit. S omewhat more sporadic painting this last week due to the start of the fall semester/term, but the long Labor Day holiday weekend here in the U.S. has permitted a number of 30 to 60-minute sessions in the painting chair thus far.  So, we're getting nearer to the glossing and permanent basing stage.  I need to check what I have in the way of bases and put in an order to Litko if necessary. A few tiny touch-ups to make here and there, but I'm relatively pleased with the way the drummers are shaping up.  For the red, white, and blue drum hoops and white cords I reached for a very, very tiny sable brush that has not seen use in at least 20 years.  Consisting of just a few hairs (12?  24?), it certainly helped although I don't think the results will win any painting awards.  But they look about right at arm's length and give a

Fooling with Fotor. . .

  A cropped close-up of a previous shot shared here several days back.  Not perfect painting by any stretch, but good wargaming quality figures with some added tiny details. A sunny, hot Sunday here in The Grand Duchy.  The Grand Duchess and Young Master have headed off somewhere in the car, so yours truly is left with a good chunk of unstructured quiet time in which to paint and write (hobby-related stuff).   Before that, I've messed a bit more with the new Fotor photo editing and graphic design subscription to experiment a both with cropping and close-ups.  The application seems to do very nicely adjusting the raw images as you go along.   And, of course, highlighting not only your painting successes, but also the minute flubs and gaffs with the brush that you never notice at the time, but spot in an instant when looking at later photos.  Ah, well.  Being a slave to perfectionism means nothing ever gets done.   En masse, the figures will look fine once glossed, based, and arrayed

Officers, NCOs, and Musicians. . .

Fotor is my new online editor of choice.  Not completely free (US$39.99 per year), but fairly intuitive and nice, bright results.  Better even than Pixlr X.  You get what you pay for I suppose.   M aking time for painting in and amongst all of the last minute preparations for the new semester, which kicks off next Wednesday, September 1st here at MSU.  Working on completing my version of the Schaumburg-Lippe infantry with officers, NCOs, and musicians.  The flags will probably be the final cherry on top before glossing and permanent basing. The 48 infantry privates have, by the way, been stowed away in a plastic carrier for safe keeping until the later glossing stage.  My work area was becoming too crowded, and I feared cats, 11-year old fingers, an errant spill or drops of paint would inadvertently spoil previous brushwork. But anyway. You can see that I am really making the effort to keep the highlighting more subtle than on units of the past, really just touching the brush to high p

48/62 Completed. . .

  Just 14 human figures plus two flags left to pain.  And a horse.  His name is Trigger.  Of course.  I wanna be a cowboy! U p very early today (5:15am) for two hours of quiet 'me time' before waking The Young Master for his first day of 6th Grade with breakfast and other related early morning activities.  Paul will turn 12 in a little over two months!  Where does the time go? Anyway, following a mug of coffee and email down here in Zum Stollenkeller , it occurred to me that I might as well spend an hour finishing the white hat trim on the remaining eight figures in the forefront of the photograph above.  With the exception of a few very minor touch-ups and cleaning up a few edges, I've now completed 48 figures for my version of The Schaumburg-Lippe-Bückeburg Infantry regiment.   The back of this particular project is now well and truly broken although drummers and flags always make me a bit nervous in the run up to tackling and completing these important components of a li

Nearing the Finish with Batch #3. . .

  H aving a "No Day" this Saturday, as my late mother would have put it.  Just saying no to everyone, everything, and enjoying some me time.  What better way to do that than to continue brushwork on the current batch of 16 figures?  I thought you'd agree. This time around, I tried taking pictures with my iPhone.  I think they are marginally better than those taken with my now venerable Sony Cybershot although I am not quite sure.  In any case, PixlrX still is not cooperating and refuses to open any of my images, so these are the raw pictures without any autofix, adjusting for brightness, or cropping.   Still, they provide a reasonable idea of where things are at the moment. Remaining tasks include the queues at the back as well as highlighting visible hair and curls at the temples, mustaches, and metallics (musket barrels and firelocks plus brass fittings, cartridge pouch badges, and the few visible buttons), plus the inevitable touch-ups.  And then I will be free to forg

Too Many Irons in the Fire. . .

  The third batch of 16 musketeers is well underway. T oo much 'real life' on my plate lately as the relatively free months of summer wind down, but I've still managed to find some time here and there for painting.   Playing with the order in which I do things this time to avoid later mistakes with the brush as I try to maneuver it into tight spots.  So, for example, I've decided to paint the dark brown undercoat for the figures' hair as well as the dark red undercoat for the neck stocks and coat collars BEFORE applying the fleshtone to faces and hands this time around.   Those two steps will come this evening.  Right now, the painting approach has been sort of backwards.  Usually, I prefer to paint the flesh areas sooner.  But you get to know the road, so to speak, when painting many of a certain figure pose. So, it made sense to modify the usual approach after completing the first 32 or so of these wonderfully detailed castings.   As with so much else in life, a d

A Tangled Mass: Pared Down Close Combat Rules. . .

Another rousing engraving by Adolph Menzel, showing a clash between cavalry and Infantry at The Battle of Leignitz  1) Declare charges at the start of a turn.  Move the charging unit half of its charge move toward the enemy target.   2) Place a purple Bingo chip behind charging units, as a reminder, before attending to other matters on the table during the turn.   3) Once events elsewhere have been seen to, check to see if charging  units actually close with intended targets for close combat.  Both players roll a D6 and move their units according to the following situations:   a. Charging Infantry versus Infantry in the Open Close combat occurs if both players manage to roll the same number on their respective D6s.  If not, the unit(s) facing the oncoming bayonet charge 'retire at the double' (Retreat!) directly to the rear while the charging infantry occupy and hold the vacated space if possible.  Lower quality troops (D. or E. class) facing an oncoming charge might rou

A Saturday Schaumburg-Lippe Painting Update. . .

  Just a few buttons and touch-ups to do before glossing.  I must admit to feeling very pleased with the way the white highlights atop the light gray undercoat have turned out.  Kind of inexact washes, which give a nice, slightly variegated look to the figures.  T he first 32 musketeers for my version of the Schaumburg-Lippe-Bückeburg Infantry are just about done save for the buttons, a few small touch-ups here and there, and the usual two coats of gloss before basing.   But no rest for the wicked!  I'm getting ahead of myself.  Still another 16 musketeers, three musicians, several officers and NCOS, and the colonel's horse before the regiment can take the field.  And the flags of course. Parenthetically, wouldn't that be a terrific name for an English pub in a village somewhere?  'The Colonel's Horse.'  It almost screams Midsomer Murders , Richard Jury, or Lord Peter Wimsey.  Digression seems to be a way of life around The Grand Duchy of Stollen lately.  As I w

A Tangled Mass: Evolving Close Combat Thoughts. . .

  Another atmospheric Menzel engraving, this time showing a Prussian infantry attack at The Battle of Leuthen.   A bit of an edit here since this was first posted earlier this week after a couple of comments and a bit of rethinking. . .      This particular facet of tabletop historical miniature wargaming, close combat, can get complicated fast.  But I have tried to keep things pared down enough to avoid getting bogged down during games and hold my son's interest (another reason for our fairly contained games with just a few units per side thus far).  Here goes: First, any charges are declared at the start of a turn.  We move the charging unit half of its charge move toward the enemy target.  Whether the charging unit can close with the enemy target, or not depends on a morale check at this halfway point. We place a colored Bingo chip (Paul likes these) behind charging units, as a reminder, before attending to other matters on the table during the turn.  Once those have been seen

A Tangled Mass: Cannon Fire. . .

  Another Menzel engraving, this time featuring Prussian horse artillery in action. I n keeping with simplicity and ease, here are the rules for artillery that Young Master Paul and I use currently. Cannon Fire (D6 per gun.)  Close Range -- D6 = # of hits  Medium -- D6 –3 = # hits  Long -- D6 –4 = # hits Once again, very simple and easy to recall without straying into overly complex territory.  We do not differentiate between different sizes or calibers, and at close range cannon are assumed to be firing canister, case shot, or similar.   We use the usual saving throw table here too with each figure 'hit' allowed to roll a save.  Actual kills are recorded on the order-roster sheets that I print out before each game  Although my batteries typically feature two guns and about 13 crew, including a mounted officer, The Young Master and I usually just have one gun and crew each since most of our games have been modestly sized up to this point.  As I mentioned in the previous post,

A Tangled Mass: Skirmish Fire

Not a Menzel print, sadly, but these pandours from 1742 (by Knotel) do nicely. H ere are some very simple rules for skirmish fire between light infantry formations.  As with the previous rules for volley fire by line infantry regiments, The Young Master and I use saving throws for each hit scored.  You win some, you lose some as the saying goes.  Anyway, here is how we figure out individual aimed skirmish fire:   Skirmish Fire (D6 per figure firing) Close Range -- 4, 5, or 6 hit Long -- 5 or 6 hit   Saving Throws for Skirmish Fire (D6 per figure hit) Close Range -- 5 or 6 save Long  -- 4, 5, or 6 save   Probably not scientific, super realistic, or statistically sound but easy to remember, quick, and fun nevertheless.  As Charles S. Grant has advised in his rules and writing, Young Master Paul and I do not include much light infantry in our small games here in The Grand Duchy since these troops were relatively few in number during the mid-18th century.  Although I have more ligh