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STALINGRAD ROADS   FROM NUTS PUBLISHING What's in the box Stalingrad Roads has been a game that I have been waiting for with great anti...


For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

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What's in the box

Stalingrad Roads has been a game that I have been waiting for with great anticipation and enthusiasm and, I confess, some trepidation about its eventual realisation, as it continually seemed to be coming...but not yet.  So, at last, with a resounding cheer, it's a reality and I must give a big thanks to Nuts Publishing for not just sending me a copy to review, but a bonus of the neoprene map...only the second one that I've ever owned.  Stalingrad Roads is the third in a series that began with Liberty Roads and was followed by Victory Roads.  These first two were published by Hexasim, another games company I greatly admire, though with them my focus has been on their excellent Napoleonic series.   
My knowledge of the first two Roads games is purely of their physical appearance which, in both cases, was lavish with vibrant colours on the map and counters. Nuts Publishing has gone for a much more austere map and counters that in their simplicity of layout and contrast of ochre and grey have a distinctly retro feel to them.
This is a major aspect that may divide players.  I’m certainly in the camp that favours the austerity of the pale wintery palate of the map that suits the span of November to March deep in Russian territory. With the counters I have mixed feelings, not so much for colour, but size. In fact, I found the multiplicity of badges on the units in the first two games distinctly distracting and one For those with the modern gaming taste for the larger and more lavish the better, they may be too small and too simple.  Nonetheless, they are totally practical and clearly readable with the standard three number sequence: attack strength, defence strength and movement.

In all other respects, the contents should be uncontentious.  The game contains a substantial number of double-sided Play Aids, all on thin, glossy card.  An item I wish all games provided is an identical terrain, combat and weather chart, one for each player.  Thumbs up to Nuts Publishing for that.  So much easier than passing one backwards and forwards across the table and much more appealing than one player having a photocopy.  
Both players have double-sided charts that explain the many individual Support markers each side may potentially have in the course of the game.  Three more contain set-up charts for the different scenarios and a final four combine a variety of functions.  One side of each presents a variety of other play aids, from holding boxes to player specific charts, while the others provide more set up displays and one contains a mini-map for the introductory learning scenario, Wintergewitter.
Wintergewitter mini-map

...and how it appears if played on the full map
The rulebook (partially seen above) is a similarly attractive, glossy product of 22 pages of rules, 4 pages of scenarios and a 1 page index. It’s very compact and functional and, though the print size is fairly small, I’ve found it easy to read.   Illustrations are limited, but focus extensively throughout the excellent, detailed examples of the central elements of Combat, Retreat and Exploitation.
The rules themselves are an interesting blend of the familiar and the unusual.  The core of the system is a fairly basic one common to even early hex and counter games of  the igo-ugo format with the Soviets having the first half of the turn and the Axis having the second half, founded on supply check, movement, combat and reinforcements and replacements.  

However, a level of added complexity derives from both players having a Support Phase as well as specific individual Phases.  These latter Phases apply mainly to the Soviet player and for that reason I would recommend that a more experienced player take the Soviet side at least for the first few games.
Combat and Weather Charts on back of the rule book

A number of points looked daunting, but in reality weren’t. The first such was the weather table and its rules.  My one complaint here is that the explanation of the lettered code used in the table is given in the reproduction of the chart in the rule book and on the back cover of the rule book, but not on the Play Aids - an odd choice!  When I saw that Snow and Mud are the only two weather conditions, I feared I might be in for a mass of complexity.  However, as Snow predominates, it has been largely been dealt with by factoring it into movement rates and other data on the terrain chart; as a result it turned out easy to handle.  Apart from obvious ground features, especially rivers, being dealt with through the weather table, so too is cloud cover which affects air support markers.  Both sets of conditions have handy tracks and markers on the map as reminders - a welcome help.

Explanation of Weather Effects on Cloud Cover and Rivers

Perhaps surprisingly, weather does not affect supply, though supply itself is handled in a novel and interesting fashion.   Apart from a direct trace of 4 hexes to map edge supply hexes, roads and rails are the key.  This is a familiar rule; what is unusual is that you check HQs first for being in supply and then those that aren’t are removed from the map.   They will return to the map in the Reinforcement and Replacement Phase which is the last Phase of each player's turn.  Unfortunately, as the rules don't clearly specify, it must be assumed that they return by the same process as unit reinforcements arrive.  In the final step of the Supply Phase all combat units are checked for whether they are within command range of an HQ on the map.  If not, then they are marked as out of supply. 
Close up on the Combat Table

The other intriguing feature is the Combat Results table.  Though it is the standard CRT with an odds ratio and 2D6 roll, unlike the very conventional single columns for each ratio with either an Attacker result or Defender result or a split result for each, there are three columns.  The first column gives step losses, strangely in the rules labelled under the heading Application of Attrition Results, but then referred to from then on by the more familiar phrase "step loss."  The second and third column respectively provide what are called Attacker Tactical Results and Defender Tactical Results.  At first sight, several of these look familiar - AR, DR, DR1, DR2, DR3 and Eng - but the last one Eng definitely does not mean the well known Engaged Result which normally is much the same as "no effect." Here the Attacker has to roll 2D6 again and apply only the Attrition Result i.e. more step losses.

And now for something completely different
On top of these are several new results: E, F, S and R.  Unlike "E" usually meaning Eliminated, here it means Exploitation and its effect is influenced by a surprising number of additional rules for a single CRT result.  It is a Tactical result only found in the Attacker columns and allows a limited number of units to make exploitation and attack moves in the Exploitation Phase that immediately follows the Combat Phase.  The number of Attacking units allowed to take part is changed by such things as whether an armoured attack had been declared and terrain.  Added to that, the type of units chosen may mean that some can only move, while others can both move and attack.  Again an interesting and new approach replaces what is usually handled by the standard, conventional Exploitation Phase of many games.  On the other hand, the F, R and S are all Tactical Results that can only occur for the Defender and mainly add extra choices between retreats and additional or reduced step losses.
The final and crucial development in the novel twists to well known war game tropes is the Support Phase - what I might call the Good, the Bad and the Ugly (well, ok the last adjective doesn't apply) of the rules.  The fact that it is given its own separate Phase and both players get a double-sided aid to explain the use of each support marker signals its importance.  First of all, there are far more potential Support Markers in this game than I have come across before in most games.  Then the Soviet Player has four separate Available Marker holding boxes, while the rules for Support markers take up almost a full page of rules and unfortunately several other Phases separately contain details that affect the use of Support Markers.  At this point when learning to play the game, I began to feel that a little less might have been a lot better.   When mastering the information about the markers and the rules that govern them became far heavier to memorise than the whole Combat process itself, I felt a little overtaxed.  However, though they do add quite a bit to the learning process and to the complexity of game play, they also add a lot of chrome and historical feel to the game which I enjoy and appreciate.

Just a few of the many and varied Support Markers
So far, I've concentrated on what I would call the expected generic areas of rules as well as some of the intriguing individualities of the "Roads" system.  The last part of the rules that I want to consider are those designed specifically to simulate historical elements of this campaign, Operation Uranus.  Considering that this was a major and crucial Soviet offensive, it's not too surprising to find in the Sequence of Play a Soviet Offensives Phase.   The Soviet Player starts the game with one Soviet Major Offensive marker and will gain two Minor Offensive markers as reinforcements.  The conditions for launching a Major Offensive are closely bound up with the Support Markers just discussed, though the player is at liberty to choose the moment of launch whenever those conditions are met. 
Also highly important is the Stavka Phase.  This covers rules for releasing Reserve units generally during the course of the game and none of these reserves could be more important or valuable than for release at the beginning of the Major Offensive!  The Stavka Phase is also vital for withdrawing units and rebuilding them.  So far, these are all areas of the rules that help to give the Soviet Player both their characteristic feel and specific punch for this campaign.  The final element of specifically Soviet rules should be equally familiar to students of this period of the war and that is Soviet Lost Momentum.  The negative effect of these rules is closely bound to the number of times Soviet HQs move - a good incentive for ensuring that your HQs stay in supply and so don't have to execute lots of movement to return!
The final special Soviet Phase is the grand sounding Operation Mars Progress Phase.  This is designed to cover how a parallel Soviet Offensive launched by Stalin in another sector might have impacts on Operation Uranus.  It couldn't be easier to apply, as it is abstracted into a simple 2D6 each turn, from Nov IV to Dec III.   Depending on the dice roll, the marker on the Operation Mars track will either stay still or move on the track.  Possible outcomes may be a Soviet Collapse or a Soviet Breakthrough.  If neither has happened by the Dec IV turn, this Phase no longer occurs.  
All in all, these rules work together very well with a minimum of effort and plenty of flavour, as do the brief rules on German Superiority and Major Soviet Successes.  The very last section to consider is the Fortress Stalingrad Supply Phase.  This can be declared by the German Player, if both hexes of Stalingrad are German occupied and these units are out of supply.  It brings with it a substantial level of extra rules and is cancelled if the German units in at least one Stalingrad hex regain normal supply and, of course, may recur if both hexes again are out of supply.  It is obviously highly historical and again strongly adds to the game's "feel."  Whether it is worth the extra complexity and rule commitment will, I think, be dependent on the individual players and I would suggest that players discuss its implementation.  I'd expect more experienced gamers to go for it, but less experienced might like to leave it out until they felt comfortable with the overall system.
Finally, there are the Scenarios which offer a very good range in both length and complexity.  Without doubt the Wintergewitter Scenario is truly "introductory", as the rule book says, aimed at getting to know the basic, underlying "Roads" system. 
The three shorter scenarios range from 3 to 7 turns and use a reduced section of the full map.
Operation Uranus - a 3 turn blast that sees the campaign kicking off, using part of the full map.  Be careful to note the reminder that you use the set up for the full campaign, except for those units whose hex placement is in red.  The rule book advises playing this, above all, to familiarise yourself with the rules that pertain especially to this game's situation and I would go along with this suggestion.  Its brevity allows you to learn and make mistakes and try it out again.
Operation Star and Gallop - seven turns.  This has the advantage again of fewer turns and units at their last gasp.  It also follows on from the fall of Stalingrad and so helps again to experience situation rules specific to this game without having to master the added depth of the Fortress Stalingrad rules.
Backhand Blow - 5 turns.  It too has the same advantages as Operation Star & Gallop and having encountered this in several games devoted wholly to this part of the war, I greatly relished having this to play as a scenario.  In my view a great bonus.
Finally, it's the main attraction, the full campaign game scenario:

On The Brink of Disaster.

Soviet forces poised to launch their envelopment

A substantial 17 turns.  Fairly modest on map counter presence at start, with plenty of reinforcements to follow for both sides.

Initial Soviet Set Up Forces

Inevitably the full campaign for me remains the major draw in any game, but it's always pleasing when there are several shorter scenarios, as here, which all provide a solid play session.

 VON MANSTEIN'S TRIUMPH FROM NAC WARGAMES Initially, I was drawn to Von Manstein's Triumph purely by the bold dynamic box art.  It ...


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Initially, I was drawn to Von Manstein's Triumph purely by the bold dynamic box art.  It may be good advice not to judge a book by its cover, but I'm more than glad that this striking picture caught my attention and made me explore further! 
The game is published by NAC Wargames, itself a branch of the Spanish Publisher, Ediciones MasQueOca.  Up to now, the latter company's focus has been on providing Spanish and Portuguese language versions of well-known designs. The company's avowed intent now is to focus on historical wargames that relate to the history of Spain.  
Though Von Manstein's Triumph may geographically and in terms of nationality lie outside this intent, I can only express my delight that this superb design from Francisco Ronco has been one of their choices.  It's also warm thanks to NAC and Ediciones MasQueOca for providing this copy for me to review.
First of all, its components live up to the extremely high standards of the company's past publications and secondly, the design brings a series of new twists both to the field of block units, area movement and card-driven games.
Though Manstein features in the title of a fair number of wargames, including at least two that cover the siege of Sevastopol, all those that I am aware of utilise the standard hex and counter system that is the basis of much wargaming design.
Starting with the components, every item ticks the box for excellence.  The map is a deluxe mounted version sporting a Spanish text version on one side and an English version on the other.

This direct, overhead view picks out clearly the sombre relief, the trench defences, clearly marked VP flags, ferry points and heavy soviet shore batteries, along with all necessary charts and a simple combat display for transferring your units to.  Your forces are wooden blocks of first-rate smoothness.  I mention this because of the tendency of several more recently purchased block games I possess to have slightly ribbed or striated surfaces - not as good for sticking power. 
An additional point in this attention to quality is the inside of the sturdy box, which instead of the usual plain white cardboard is printed with similar details to those on the Playbook.

A touch of box quality
 As usual there is the familiar set of adhesive labels to apply, though as the photo shows this is a relatively low block count - so not an onerous task.  The units are based on divisions that possess from 2 to 4 individual blocks identified by colour-coding and a number of  independent units identified by white colouring.  It is this colour coding which brings my single criticism of the presentation.  First, the typical black dots that indicate the strength of a unit are very small and hard to make out against the generally dark background of the labels. but the major problem lies in distinguishing the colour-coding of the divisions when playing under artificial lighting.
Having initially played in normal daylight, they were perfectly identifiable and attractive, but later play on a wintery evening revealed the problem of clearly differentiating units, especially as divisions begin to intermingle.
On the other hand, praise goes out for the sheet of counter stickers containing two identical sets.  Although I've never had a problem with ones peeling off other games, this is always a nice sign of a company's careful attention to potential player needs.
Next up is a single sheet of cardboard markers, ranging from the obvious turn marker to a colourful range of assets, including bunkers, anti-tank guns, armour and pioneers, as well as minefields, area control markers for the German player, and trench destroyed markers.

They all punch out perfectly with the much appreciated, rounded corners that are becoming a more familiar item from many companies.

At the heart of game play are the two decks of cards, one for each nationality.  I find the backs of the cards particularly appealing, with their strong feel of wartime propaganda posters.  

Included with them are similar-sized cards giving each player's card manifest, terrain effects, counter and marker effects, a very useful short-hand list of modifiers to the number of dice thrown in combat and finally the Sequence of Play.  All these and the larger Play Aids, one for each player that summarise the usage of all the different cards in the Player Decks, are helpfully printed in Spanish on one side and English on the other. 
Play Aid detailing usage of cards in the Player Decks
All in all, an admirable package, completed by what's becoming almost the norm in board wargames, a separate rulebook and playbook.  Both are very glossy products with an abundance of illustrations.  The Playbook starts with 5 pages of photographs that show the Set-Up map section by map section; a very useful asset indeed.  Next is a page and a half of Design Notes and slightly more than a page of Player Notes, followed by six pages of Historical Commentary.  All this is rounded off by a five-page example that takes you through the first turn of the game - once more a feature that is always welcome, however easy to understand the rules are.

These two photos show the consistently high level of illustration used throughout.

The Rulebook is supported to the same degree with pictorial examples and, basically, the Sequence of Play is ultra-simple.  Apart from a preliminary German Bombardment on Turn 1, each Turn follows two identical Phases; the German Action Phase and the Soviet Action Phase.  Each Player's Deck of cards contains four different types: Assault, Reaction, Order and Combat Support.  Though essentially simple, play is by no means simplistic and what might, at first, seem an igo-ugo system has a degree of back and forth play that means that both players are totally involved and engaged.
Another distinctive feature that helps the game to shine is the asymetrical design of the decks.  Both players have a core element of Assault cards, but even here there are distinct differences, as the German player has far more of these that are dual action allowing them to interrupt the Soviet Action Phase.  In the same way both the Order and Combat Support cards include a mix of near identical cards and those specific only to one player. By these means the decks create the appropriate emphasis between the attacking besieger and the defensive besieged. [Here I would love to see the system adapted for ancient or medieval siege warfare.]  A final point to make about the cards is that both players draw to full hand size at the end of each Player Phase rather than at the end of a complete Turn.  This adds greatly to keeping both players constantly absorbed in the game play
Player Aid summarising the effects of all the different cards
As the cards are the very heart of the system, I can think of few games that go to such lengths to make sure that you both understand them and then can use them with the minimal amount of effort and rule checking.   First of all, they are introduced in detail, step-by-step early in the rule book and then a three-page section at the end of the rulebook summarises each one.  As shown above, each player has a player aid that sums up the use of both his cards and his opponents, as well as most of the counters used in the game.

One of three pages summarising each card's usage

Oddly there are one or two German counters not included on the large player aid, though they are all clearly explained in the rule book and covered by the three small playing-card sized aids that cover Terrain effects, Counters and Markers and Combat dice.  Finally, each card in your Action Deck pictorially shows how to use it.  Consequently, after a few games, you'll find yourself playing smoothly with each card's use easily fixed in your head.  

Front cover of the Playbook

So, how does the game play out.  Being the besieger, the drive and onus of the action is naturally on the German player.  They have certain advantages, the most obvious being hand-size which is 8 cards as against the Soviet player's 6 cards.  They also have more cards that can inflict hits as opposed to the Soviet ability to place bunkers and minefields and, though both sides start in defensible trench areas, predominantly it's going to be the German player who's leaving their own protection behind to advance into the Soviet trenches.   As mentioned earlier, the German player also has more double-use cards that allow an immediate reaction during the Soviet player Phase.
Generally, the German player will be seeking to soften up areas with air strikes and heavy or superheavy artillery in order to weaken Soviet blocks and destroy the fixed coastal batteries printed on the map.  The Soviet player for their part has field artillery and the power of those coastal batteries, as well as the ability to place bunkers and minefields.  Other abilities from card play cover ATs, Stugs, fighter cover and fighter escorts and mortars, while the map itself includes those powerful coastal batteries that are so important for the German player to destroy, ferry crossing points an anti-tank ditch and a plethora of trench lines.
It is, like any siege, a difficult grind forward for the attacker, but the variety of action and play and counter-play of cards, all so simply, but effectively introduced whether as Actions, Orders or Combat Support, makes the experience a continually dynamic and tension filled one.   Whichever side you play, you'll find yourself fully engaged and immersed the whole of the game.

Klotzen! Panzer Battles From Maxim Games/Available on the Steam Platform     Wargamers have been playing Panzer General and its spin-offs s...

Klotzen! Panzer Battles Indepth Game Review Klotzen! Panzer Battles Indepth Game Review

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

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Klotzen! Panzer Battles

From Maxim Games/Available on the Steam Platform


Wargamers have been playing Panzer General and its spin-offs since the first game was released by SSI in 1994. The entire series has been aptly described as "wargaming lite," which may be a dubious distinction for some of AWNT's readers.

If so, a more in-depth treatment of the classic game - with a greater emphasis on supply, leaders, and air operations (among other things) - may very well be a welcome addition to the more hard-core board wargamer's digital library. In fact, this is one of the reasons why developer Zoran Stanic of Maxim Games and his team created Klotzen! Panzer Battles (Klotzen!), which released on the Steam game platform on April 27, 2022.

"The idea for Klotzen! was to provide fans (like me) of the old Panzer General with a design featuring similar game play, but more depth," says Stanic. "In addition to a deeper supply system and an improved simulation (and on-map resolution) of the air war, the 'replayability' of the game has been significantly increased, with the addition of many what-if scenarios and campaign events that can change the course of World War 2."

As far as the meaning of "Klotzen," it is a rather complex, intransitives verb in the German, with several possible connotations depending on the context. So, we'll leave that for readers to discover for themselves.

Panzer General Revisited?

To answer the question above, we need to fast-forward almost three decades to the latest spiritual successor to the venerable Panzer General series entitled "Panzer Corps 2." The game is published by Matrix/Slitherine and developed by veteran studio Flashback Games. It debuted on Steam just two years ago and is a solid success based on Steam player feedback. Order of Battle:World War II is another Matrix title, this one from 2015, which is slightly more complex than the Panzer Corps series and has also enjoyed mostly positive reviews on Steam.

While Klotzen! clearly stands out as a unique gaming experience, it may be instructive to make some comparisons with Panzer Corps 2 in this article for several reasons.


The huge Battle of Kursk (northern salient) courtesy of Panzer Corps 2 (with fog-of-war off).


An earlier start of the Battle of Kursk in May 1943, again showing the northern pincers, courtesy of Klotzen!.


Comparing Klotzen! with Panzer Corps 2 makes sense because experienced AWNT wargamers may have been holding out for a game of somewhat greater complexity than Panzer Corps 2.

Second, because dedicated Panzer Corps 2 players may be intrigued by this newcomer and its ability to offer wargamers a different level of challenge.

And third, although Klotzen! is designed to be an unofficial, yet significant successor to the Panzer General series of games, a comparison with a product released in 1995 would only do our readers a disservice. Panzer Corps 2 is arguably the latest and greatest of the General Series and can be had at a similar price point with Klotzen!

Beer With Your Pretzels

Titles like Panzer Corps 2 can easily be seen as the American "Budweiser" of the beer-and-pretzels game genre, whereas Klotzen! is definitely a micro-brew.

Taking this analogy one step further, there's also a small price to pay when going with home-grown. For example, the user interface and various game menus are not immediately intuitive in Klotzen!, but the learning process can be part of the fun.

In fact, Klotzen!'s design is original enough that discovering the inner workings of the game is another element of the challenge. Even without referencing the 90-page manual, most players will be able to get on quite well, with few frustrations in the process.

Most important, we need to address the bottom-line right up front: If one is satisfied with the Panzer General/Panzer Corps series of games and doesn't want to go any deeper, then keep playing those games. For the rest of us, who both enjoy and yearn for a somewhat different approach to Panzer Corps game play, Klotzen! should be seriously considered.


Klotzen! showing Kursk from the south. The prized city is in the northeast corner. Also, notice the airfield further west.
Axis forces point toward Prokhorovka in Panzer Corps 2's version of the Battle of Kursk.

The Scenarios and Campaigns

There are an impressive 65 scenarios and two full-length campaigns included with the game. This represents at least three full DLCs of content and a $70 investment if this were a Panzer Corps release. This surely makes the $40 U.S. asking price for Klotzen! quite reasonable, and the $35 release-week sale a bargain.

And yes, we're going to list all of Klotzen!'s campaigns and scenarios right here, in order to give readers an idea of the length, breadth, height and depth of the historical and what-if content available. The campaigns and scenarios can be played from either side. On release, Campaigns 3-8 were playable directly, but currently this option is undergoing some revisions. The scenarios are listed in alphabetical order:

1. Prelude (The Spanish Civil War, circa 1936, followed by Poland, and beyond)
2. Eagle Rising (The Axis effort through the fall of France)
3. Africa (or should we say "Afrika Corps"?)
4. Early East (beginning in the Balkans)
5. Barbarossa (a late start in 1942)
6. Defense of the Reich East (Kursk in 1943 until the bitter end)
7. Defense of the Reich West (Italy through Berlin)
8. Operation Tannenbaum (the German plan to invade Switzerland)

1. Alexander (October 1942 - A hypothetical battle featuring the Allies attempt to topple Franco.)
2. Algeria (Tunisia)
3. Aragon Offensive (Spain 1938 -  The Nationalists Attack)
4. Ardennes
5. Bagration
6. Balkans
7. Barbarossa '42
8. Barbarossa Center
9. Berlin
10. Bruderkampf ("Brother Fight" - The German invasion of an intransigent Austria; a unique offering that forces players to use some finesse and limit Austrian losses.)
11. Buran (Eastern Front 1943)
12. Case Blue
13. Catalonia (Spain, of course)
14. Condor (German invasion of Britain, May 1942)
15. Crete
16. Crusader
17. East Ukraine (March 1944 - a large map and painful reminder of the current crisis.)
18. Fall Weiss
19. Felix (An Axis-led Spain attacks Gibraltar in March 1941; the British land in Portugal, and France holds out in Morocco!)
20. Fortress Germany (November 1943 - An early Allied attempt to capture the Ruhr.)
21. France (the historical battle in 1940)
22. Gazala
23. Germany 1945 (the attack on Berlin by the Allies in the West and Russians in the East.)
24. Italy (September 1943)
25. Javelin (June 1944 - The Allies land in southern France)
26. Kiev (1941)
27. Kursk
28. Libya (March 1941 German Offensive)
29. Low Countries (May 1940)
30. Middle East '41 (Afrika Korps attacks)
31. Middle East '42 (El-Alamein)
32. Moscow '42 (September, with a Soviet counterattack)
33. Moscow Summer (August 1941, Army Group Center attacks)
34. Moscow Winter (October 1941)
35. Norway (April 1940)
36. Operation Rurik (August 1943 - a what-if "final" German assault on Moscow)
37. Operation Solstice (February 1945 - Germans attempt to cut off a Soviet bulge outside Berlin)
38. Operation Tannenbaum (August 1940 - German and Italian forces attack Switzerland)
39. Ostwall (May 1943 - Luring the Russians out of their Kursk defenses)
40. Overlord
41. R4 (April 1940 - Britain and France intervene in Norway)
42. Romania (August 1944)
43. Romanian Bridgehead (The Wehrmacht purses the defeated Polish army in 1939)
44. Roundup (April 1943 - Overlord kicks off early)
45. Sealion
46. Sicily
47. Siegfried Line (September 1939 - The British and French attack Germany's vulnerable Western Front at the start of the Polish campaign.)
48. Spring Awakening (March 1945 - German counterattacks in Hungary)
49. Stalin Line South (May 1942)
50. Stalin Line (May 1942 - larger version)
51. Stalin's Gambit (March 1942 - No Barbarossa, Soviets attack through Poland, hypothetical)
52. Steppenwind (May 1943 - Axis offensive into the Crimea)
53. Teutoburger (July 1943 - German counteroffensive to retake Paris)
54. The Fall of France (June 1940)
55. Toledo (July 1936 - The Spanish Civil War)
56. Ukraine '42
57. Ukraine (June 1941 - Barbarossa South)
58. USA (May 1945 - Germany and Italy win Europe and invade the U.S. East Coast!)
59. Wacht am Rhein
60. Wall on Dniepr (August 1943 - Soviet offensive across the Dniepr)
61. Waltz on Volga (August 1943 - Axis offensive into the Urals, hypothetical)
62. Western Defense (August 1944 - Falaise)
63. Winter Offensive (December 1941 - Moscow has fallen; the Guards counterattack)
64. Winter Storm (December 1942 - Attempted relief of Stalingrad pocket and Soviet offensives)
65. Desert Dash ( This scenario is out of alpha order, and features a strong Axis attack toward Egypt in May 1941)

The game is played in campaign mode, following one nation from scenario to scenario, or standalone mode where the player can choose either side.

Although we have only scratched the surface of actual game play thus far, we should point out one significant difference between Klotzen! and Panzer Corp 2 before a potential purchase: The older game features standard Multiplayer and Coop modes, while this new game is single-player only at this writing but does include a hot-seat mode. It's important to remember, however, that most wargamers prefer to play against an AI, and the artificial opponent in Koltzen! is a decent one.

The Possibilities are (Nearly) Endless

As one can see from the alternative-history engagements included with the game, players can delay Barbarossa by one year to deal with the UK; fight in Normandy in 1943; attack Norway with the UK already landed there; win in Africa and attack the USSR from the Caucasus; and, quite a bit more.

The maps vary from 200 to more than 1,000 km in size, with hexes divided into 20 km chunks. Armies consist of a historical mix of more than 600 unit types, further divided into 22 different unit classes. Included here are all types of infantry (militia, paratroops, SMG, etc.), tanks, armored cars, artillery, fighters, bombers, submarines, battleships, and more.

As far as map size, Crete appears to be the largest at 6,000 hexes total; albeit, most are ocean terrain. The Eastern Front Wall on Dneipr offering is about the largest land battle at almost 5,000 hexes. With Overlord, one gets 3,600 squares and up to 130 different German units to deploy based on the purchase points available.

  The full Battle of Kursk deployment screen in Klotzen! with no fog-of-war.

There are some rather lovely surprises included with this game, such as Operation Felix in January 1941, whereby Spain has joined the Axis and helps launch an attack on Gibraltar. Most of us have a few hundred wargames in stock, but would be challenged to find such a scenario ready for play. No less one with a huge, 83x43-hex map and the Spanish AB '41 armored car ready for deployment.

And while we won't get ahead of ourselves regarding the editors, all it takes is an adjustment of the "influence" points and unit caps inside an original (or saved-game) scenario text file, and the player is allowed to deploy a virtually limitless number of units on an existing map. Rest assured, attempting this process with Panzer Corps 2 is difficult at best, even when using the "cheat" codes available with that game.

 Graphics, Sound and User Interface

As the screen shots may illustrate, this game resembles Panzer Corp 1 more than Panzer Corps 2. And this is a good thing in this writer's questionable opinion.

A zoomed-in view of Klotzen! shows that the game resembles Panzer Corp 1 much more than Panzer Corps 2.

While we are always hesitant to inject the reviewer's personal views into a game article, the fact remains that this wargamer has struggled to come to terms with Panzer Corps 2's graphic icons, as they relate to the game's approximate map scale.

For example, Panzer Corps 2's armored vehicles feature a unit detail level almost akin to the Combat Mission series when zoomed all the way in. And yet, when viewing an objective town/city occupied by an infantry unit close up, one sees tiny buildings and fields with three huge infantry figures sitting on them. It can affect the immersion for some people. In contrast, Klotzen! has more of a Steel Panthers graphic vibe and may be closest to the excellent Panzer Corps 1 Modern Conflicts mod. However, this newest game allows one to zoom in much closer to the action than Panzer Corps 1.

The excellent Panzer Corps 1 Gold Edition Modern Conflicts mod resembles Klotzen! in some respects.

There is no doubt, however, that some of Panzer Corps 2's maps are quite beautiful. How they would look using NATO counters and proper company/battalion/regiment designations we will probably never know, as that's not what the game is all about.

As far as music and sound, Klotzen! could hardly be better. While it's easy enough to replace the vanilla .mp3 files with custom choices, it may not be worth the effort. In fact, the background tunes straight out-of-the-box are unobtrusive and perfectly set the mood. It's rare that "AAA" titles get this right, no less an indie effort like this one.

As far as the UI, once the player realizes that he/she needs to select textual prompts that highlight when moused-over to access the various game menus, it's smooth sailing for most wargamers.

The primary interface is the main map screen, which is fairly straightforward and neatly arranged. The large command panel on the right features scenario data, such as date, weather, turn number, and influence points. We should point out, however, that the end-turn "button" is actually a lever, with the main menu "M" button (load, save, etc.) directly above it.

This image shows the Klotzen! main map screen, with the user interface panel on the right.

Below the top-most panel are nine "control" buttons that conveniently feature informational tool-tips. However, only the commands possible at the moment light up. The selections include unit information, replacements and upgrades, sleep mode, an undo button - and, in the upper right - a bent blue-arrow signifying the embarkation command for airborne or naval transport modes.

The next panel down shows abbreviated unit information for the hex/unit highlighted on the map. It includes the formation name, a 3D graphic, unit level, leader name and other data. Four icons with tool-tips show attack, defense, scatter (distance from HQ) and supply source (usually Town-based). This allows one to access important unit information without consulting the dedicated unit information screen.

Another nice feature is the split-screen capability within this small panel. The left side shows information on the unit selected on the map, as previously discussed. The right side shows mouse-over information on another friendly or enemy unit or terrain data for an empty hex. This allows the player to quickly compare key data between any two units on the map by selecting one and mousing-over another one. Clearly, serious thought was involved in the design of the interface, although it will take the player a bit of experimentation to adjust.

Below the unit mini-panel is the HQ menu, which allows players to review/purchase/deploy units; switch between ground and air map modes; display the supply overlay; and, cycle between units.

Two other important functions are included here - specifically, the Personnel and HQ Help menus. The first item allows one to hire and fire unit commanders and top generals, while the second button controls special HQ functions relating to overall supply, production speed increases, scouting of the enemy, and the purchasing of transport vehicles, all of which require influence points to use.

The HQ screen in Klotzen! contains important functions that are generally not available in Panzer Corps 2.

The final/lowest panel in the command menu is the mini-map.

In addition, all of the aforementioned panels can be expanded or collapsed to reveal a larger portion of the game map. However, experience has shown that condensing the various panels is usually not necessary to get a good view of the battle areas.

Runs On a Potato

The game's demands on the average computer are very much on the light side. The game was reviewed using an Intel i7-4790 CPU @ 3.60GHz with 16 GB of RAM and a 64-bit operating system, coupled with an under-powered GeForce GTX 745 graphics card with 4 MB DDR3 of memory using a 1920x1200 native resolution.

Even using these laughable specs, the largest of scenarios only took a few milliseconds to load. In contrast, Panzer Corps 2 loaded scenarios quickly but lagged heavily when it came to inputting "cheat" codes using the game's chat menu or multi-tasking.This was due to the fact that Panzer Corps 2 fully maxed out the GPU function on this reviewer's lower-end test machine.

It's likely that most players with modern hardware won't have a problem with either game, but Klotzen! is a much safer bet for those with weaker graphics cards.

Panzer Corps 2's UI does an excellent job of exploring terrain effects using a simple mouse-over mechanic.

Got Stats?

Panzer Corps 2 has unit stats - 23 of them. Klotzen! also has unit stats - around 21, unless we counted wrong. Panzer Corps 1 has far fewer (12), and the screen display for them is much less attractive than the two newer game systems. In fact, Panzer Corps 1's stat page isn't even worthy of a screen shot. Okay, we're kidding here - almost.

 Klotzen! shows off its stats. (Quick reference screen courtesy of our friend Diarrhea Cactus on Steam.)

One significant difference between Panzer Corps 2 and Klotzen! is that the latter game relies on graphics icons and a tool-tip display, whereas Panzer Corps 2 spells everything out for the player. It's also important to note that in the screen shots, we are comparing the Panzer Corps 2 stat page (displayed using the "i" keyboard shortcut) versus Klotzen!'s unit purchase screen in order to make a direct comparison a bit easier. Panzer Corps 2's dedicated purchase screen is a bit less detailed.

Comparing the two newest games' unit stats also shows that several of the parameters are different. This is where the games' manuals come in handy, but we'll look at a couple of differences here. Panzer Corps 2's "close defense" stat seems important, but what it actually means depends on who you ask. Both games feature a "ground defense" stat, which simply means a unit's defense capability versus ground units.

Klotzen! has a rather odd unit stat called "aim." This is probably equivalent to Panzer Corps 2's "accuracy" stat, which is displayed as a percentage - 50% for infantry in the screen shot below - while Klotzen!'s aim stat is displayed as a numeral - or a "2" for German Regulars in 1940. In this case, Panzer Corps 2's accuracy stat is easier to understand at-a-glance.

Panzer Corps 2's unit display also features two full columns of stats for units which are embarked on a transport plane or landing craft. In the latter case, the attributes for "ferried" infantry can be seen in the screen shot below.

The Panzer Corps 2 unit stats page is accessed using the "i" keyboard shortcut.

Klotzen! also has a few attributes that actually change color (the text is highlighted in green) to show a potential stat increase if the player decides to upgrade the unit.

Comparing the two games will also illustrate several other differences when it comes to unit stats, but both products appear to have the most important attributes well covered.

The Air War

This is one of a few aspects of the Klotzen! game engine that may offer players a breath of fresh air when it comes to Panzer Corps 2-type air combat resolution. In fact, on-map fighter and tactical bomber units move the game from a turn-based to a WEGO-style approach during combat resolution.

Rather than spoil the fun for first-time Klotzen! players, let's just say the AI has an uncanny - and excellently programmed - ability to stop your units dead in their tracks when moving them during a turn. Enemy air units will automatically intercept your forces as they move, with the Western Allies being particularly adept at disrupting friendly panzer formations.

A free JU-188A courtesy of an in-game event that should help prosecute the air war in Klotzen!.

The odds of air/ground intercepts appear to be realistically simulated in Klotzen! based on weather conditions, and yet it can be quite disconcerting (in a good way) for the player who is used to the Panzer General/Panzer Corp version of the air war.

When it's the AI's turn to play, turn resolution moves very quickly - even on slower computers - and most players will find it necessary to dial-back the speed of AI movement and combat using the Settings menu.

Klotzen!'s combat resolution is modest - at best - but quite sufficient. A smallish window is available to track every engagement in textual format. Let's assume a friendly Tiger I unit is ordered to attack an adjacent Soviet T-34/43 formation (in the Bagration 6/24/1944 scenario).

First, any enemy artillery - in this case a supporting enemy Katyusha artillery battery - fires first; it gains some experience but causes no measurable losses to the Tigers. The Tigers than attack their intended target, causing some losses to the T-34s and gaining experience. In addition, any commander/general skills are used in this phase to good effect and documented in the text box. The Tigers use the "Once more into the Breach" skill and attack the T-34s a second time. The T-34s are then wiped off the map and their commander killed, with the Tiger unit gaining additional experience. (The Tigers were defending in a minefield, hence they did not move forward and occupy the hex previously held by the T-34s.)

And then we have Panzer Corps 2's turn resolution phase. No WEGO air combat here, but a nice surprise: With only 30 hours playing the game, this inexperienced writer was unaware of the power of the "L" (log) key (lower-case) during and after the combat phase. Each battle is documented in a scrolling window in excruciating, grognard-level detail. Suffice it to say that Panzer Corps 2 will never be the same now that this hot-key function has been discovered.

Leadership Matters

This writer has always felt that on-release, Panzer Corps 2 was rather stingy when doling out leaders (Heroes) during the game, and this tended to minimize their affects on overall strategy. The latest Panzer Corps 2 DLC (Axis Operations 1943 East) ups the ante when it comes to the number and affects of commanders in the game, which can also be adjusted in the Settings menu.

In contrast, Klotzen! has a dedicated leader (and portrait) attached to every unit in the game. And there are hundreds of them. Coupled with the myriad of attributes available to each commander, this indie effort has greatly enhanced the leadership portion of the product.

An elite unit commander, who has managed to achieve Level 8, along with his associates, in Klotzen!.

Matrix/Slitherine's recent Decisive Campaigns: Ardennes Offensive digital wargame put a larger emphasis on both command and leadership, with historical commanders possessing a variety of skills.

Klotzen! doesn't directly address battlefield command-and-control per se (supply serves admirably in that role), but there isn't a digital wargame in recent memory that includes both the variety and flavor of each unit commander's skill set. There are also more than 1,300 sepia-toned portraits of the 23 nations represented in the game, from Australia to Yugoslavia, included to represent each leader. Their names, however, are fictitious.

The game's designers' have included a plethora of skills, traits and flaws for each unit commander that are, at the same time, both creative and impactful.

Here's a sample of traits discovered in one play-through, each with it's own little on-screen tool-tip:    

Audacious - "Overcoming fears is the first step in becoming the better commander. This commander has learned that taking the bold action will land a quick victory in most cases. And only rarely kill most of the men under his command."

Mentor - "You're good at defending, but I'm good at attacking, so I can help you achieve perfection."

Press Friends - "Who cares who took the town, if you are in the first picture? 30% more influence per level when taking the objective."

Studious Preparations - "Plan everything up to the smallest details, and it can't fail. Too bad no plan survives first contact with the enemy. 7%/level less losses when attacking."

Closed Terrain Specialist - "If 300 Spartans held Persians for three days in a mountain pass, imagine what you can do with modern weapons. Never mind the end result of that battle. 5%/level to initiative, attack and defense (rounded up) in closed terrain."

And then there's the naval attribute "Pattern Evasion," described as "(A) better chance of not ending like Titanic. 10% level increase in evade chance." The whit exhibited in documenting these skills in this game is the cardinal rule, rather than the exception.

A unit commander "levels up" in Klotzen!.

Much like a recent Matrix/Slitherine favorite, Campaign Series: Vietnam (, this game exudes a loving attention to detail that will not be lost on wargamers.

Would-be strategists also need to pay attention to the skills and traits they choose for each formation. One must assume that certain attributes favor certain unit types, and the game program filters in or out these skills/traits accordingly.

For example, while all units (ground, air or naval) can benefit from the "Audacious" trait, the "Acrobatics" skill (avoiding a successful enemy intercept) seems tailor-made for friendly bombers. OTOH, my Ju-87b boasts the "Marksmanship Level 3" skill, which features a bonus-to-attack during air intercepts - a role one would not anticipate a tactical bomber playing.

Rather than belaboring this point, let's just say the game contains a huge variety of tactical nuances and unit customization values - far beyond the scope of Panzer Corps 1 or 2. And let's also remember that this is the first effort from an indie wargame developer. For those of us who appreciate this level of detail, our hat's are off in salute.

Panzer Corps 2's leader screen is arguably more attractive, but the number of traits, skills and attributes available to each unit commander pales in comparison with Klotzen!.


The Generals

Separate from unit commanders, Generals are included in the game to lead various army groups. Obviously, there are only a few in action at any one time, and the variety of their attributes are more focused on personality-type skills than the tactical or operational combat-oriented talents earned by field commanders.

"Generals with unique personalities and traits (are available) that can reduce the cost of reinforcements, speed up unit introduction, or give you that extra turn needed to win." This quote comes directly from the Steam-page game description.

Generals can be created, replaced, renamed and leveled-up based mostly on the victory level achieved during each scenario within a campaign.


Each General in Klotzen! commands an Army Group and can be leveled up just like unit commanders.

The game designers have also included a variety of interesting personality "flaws," and all of these details are well-documented in the manual. One favorite is the "Cautious" flaw: "There is a fine line between caution and cowardice, and you are crossing it." -1 to Initiative.

Besides the unit Commander and Army Group (General) promotions, the units themselves increase in experience levels over time,

It's also worth noting that units are penalized if they are manually fed "green" reinforcements by the player and become over-strength (above 10). According to the developers, a unit strength of 14 requires a fourth-level commander. There are also special commander skills that can mitigate over-strength penalties. It's the details like these that elevate the complexity of this game beyond what's found in the Panzer General/Panzer Corps series of products.

The use of minefields is another example of a fleshed-out game feature, and we'll take the liberty of quoting a player who put up a Steam review of the game on their use: "Minefields are done really well, and I love the directional impact, and the way they deprive the enemy of an 'approach' as they were (historically) intended to do. They take a significant toll when employed liberally along with bunkers. But mostly, they just slow you down and make the game more of a race against time."

And for players who don't like playing "beat the clock" when it comes to victory, one's saved game file can easily be edited to add or subtract to the scenario's length. Few wargames offer players this level of flexibility when customizing their in-game experience.

There's quite a bit more detail about how minefields work and how they can be removed, but that's what the game's manual is for.

The Supply System

While the developers' verbiage on the Steam product page describes the Klotzen! supply system as one that can "lead to epic triumphs…or catastrophic losses," this reviewer did not experience anything as dramatic when playing against the AI in his relatively short (45 hours) with the game.

This may well be due to the specific scenario and difficulty levels chosen when testing the product. However, the game does force players to pay some attention to supply ramifications. 

The player always starts with at least one supply source, which is usually a rail hex from one's home country. However, the supply hex(es) can also be represented as a port or a supply fleet; the latter of which can be destroyed by the enemy. If you are defending your home country, than the supply source(s) are usually major cities.

The supply modeled in the game can spread over railroads indefinitely - or at least until an aggressive enemy unit blocks the route. So, for a supplied town, the goods can extend for up to 24 hexes, but less in rough terrain or over rivers. Keeping rail and road hexes open is then vitally important to unimpeded supply.

It's also important to note that there are no "permanently" blocked hexes. Supply can be reestablished by having a unit regain control of the supply hexes in question. The supply situation can be immediately and clearly accessed (graphically on the map) by using the Supply toggle on the main UI menu.

Axis supply is clearly shown in Klotzen!'s Siegfried Line (9-12-39) what-if scenario against French and British "invaders."

How's the AI?

An in-depth assessment of the capabilities of the AI opponent in Klotzen! would almost certainly require more than 100 hours of game play.

And honestly, this isn't a cop-out; the large number of scenarios, each with widely varying objectives (and playable by both sides), would require a dedicated beta-tester to fully sort out. The good news is there are 10 levels of difficulty (Panzer Corps 2 "only" features five), which should be more than enough for players to tailor the challenge to their skill levels.

The Klotzen! difficulty-level 5 is generally equivalent to Panzer Corps 1 Gold Edition Modern Conflicts Mod ( median level three (Colonel level) or the Panzer Corps 2 vanilla game level-four Field Marshal setting.

In fact, all of the campaigns/scenarios used for this review were played at difficulty-level 5, and all showcased a rather formidable AI opponent. It is hard to imagine most players blowing through the campaigns at a significantly-higher level of challenge. (Axis players tackling Norway (1940) should hang onto their helmets).


It's March 26, 1945, and Germany is ready to deploy its forces in defense of the Reich via Klotzen!.

With that said, the AI occasionally vacated an objective hex or two to get at its enemy's throat and wasn't always capable of making grand/sweeping maneuvers to cut off the human player's supply. But it's likely that scenario hasn't been played yet.

And that's where the single-player, bang-for-the-buck aspect of this product comes in. If one is comfortable with the UI and general game play of this release, the content available with the base game - assuming there will be no immediate need for a DLC - is satisfyingly deep.

Although we're not yet on the subject of the game's editor, another way to quickly fine-tune the difficulty level in Klotzen! is to slightly ramp-up - or down - the amount of "influence" or purchase points and/or core slots available to the player and the AI.

The most expedient way to accomplish this is through simple text editing of an existing scenario or save-game file. This process is much quicker than delving into the powerful and arguably more complex Panzer Corps 1 and 2 game editors and offers the flexibility of customizing saved games on-the-fly. Of course, the ever-handy Panzer Corps "cheat" codes serve pretty much the same functions.

Another commendable feature of Klotzen! is the ability for newbie modders to simply open up the game's "unitTypes.json" file (located in the SteamLibrary/steamapps/common/Klotzen! Panzer Battles/resources/worldData folder), and after backing up the original, begin to modify unit data to one's heart's content. Amazingly, these modifications can be safely made in the midst of a campaign scenario.

 Editing the stats of the illustrious JagdPanther V using the ubiquitous Notepad++ text editor.

The Official Klotzen! Game Editor

We've opened the Operation Overlord Allied invasion of Normandy scenario using the Klotzen! game editor in the screen shot below. All of the editing functions can be found in the upper right-hand corner of the screen, but we've found only limited need for them thus far.

  The Klotzen! game editor is quite powerful but for most purposes text-editing of scenarios/save games works equally well.

For more than 90% of game players, the text-editing functions described above should suffice when tweaking a scenario to their specifications. Otherwise, the editor buttons in the official Klotzen! scenario editor are generally self-explanatory.

There are two things to keep in mind, however. First, immediately back-up the Scenarios folder (C:/SteamLibrary/steamapps/common/Klotzen! Panzer Battles/resources/Scenarios), which is only about 117 megs of data. This is because when using the game editor, any saves will immediately overwrite the original scenarios. There is no "save as" function here, and the game will warn you of that fact. Beyond that, knock yourself out. The intricacies of this game's editor are far beyond the scope of this humble review.

The Killing of Bugs

The extermination of these little buggers is moving along quickly, thanks to the determination of the developers and several devoted players, who are logging onto the Steam Discussions page with their findings. A couple of the more serious roadblocks, which prevented the continuation of campaigns, were dealt with swiftly by the developers, in as little as a few days.

There were also a few hiccups with wide-screen support, but those issues apparently have been addressed. We say "apparently," as this reviewer was not able to test the game using higher resolutions. Of course, any serious hardware problems players may have had with the game are covered under Steam's generous refund policy: If it's broke, you get your money back until it's fixed.

It's Only Money

And now we come to the often delicate topic of value for one's gaming dollars. Board wargamers already have a high tolerance to the often-hefty "price of admittance" for a favorite physical game. After all, there are all those detailed cardboard (not to mention, plastic) unit counters to fondle, and a lovingly crafted historical map on which to place them.


The Eastern Ukraine in March 1944, with Kiev in the upper-right corner, using the Klotzen! game engine. The image is a sad reminder of the conflict raging in that country at press time.

Unlike board wargames, which are rarely on-sale, digital media are often heavily discounted. Unfortunately, the tactile feel is completely lost, and the PDF rule book adds insult to injury.

All of this may mean that for the average AWNT reader, computer wargames are the ultimate example of discretionary purchases. If that holds true, than the choice of picking up Panzer Corps 2 and its DLC as part of a discounted bundle, or opting for the 65-scenario Klotzen! base game, becomes a question of serious financial import.

There's no arguing that some of the custom maps available with Panzer Corps 2 are simply lovely to behold.

Assuming that both games weigh equally heavy on readers' wallets, we would be negligent not to mention the availability of a wide range of professional-grade modifications available free-of-charge for the Panzer Corps 1 and 2 game engines. We must also credit Matrix/Slitherine and developer Flashback Games for allowing players to download, for example, a comprehensive Spanish Civil War (SCW) modded campaign without actually buying the official SCW DLC.

The truth is that the choice between purchasing Klotzen! or Panzer Corps 2 shouldn't really be a choice at all. Both games stand out in their own right: Klotzen! shining in its myriad of what-if battles and easy modification, while Panzer Corps 2 offers some unique historical mods and more modern graphics. AWNT board wargamers should derive some pleasure from both of these games.


Victory in Poland, September 1939, in our first Klotzen! campaign.


A victory on the Eastern Front using the recently released Panzer Corps 2: Axis Operations - 1943 DLC.