As I just happen to be a huge fan of the “Panzer General” series (and turn-based strategy games in general), I simply couldn’t help to reach out to Maxim Games for an interview about their upcoming turn-based WWII gameKlotzen! Panzer Battles“. Well, Maxim Games picked up on my interview request =) So I talked with Zoran Stanic (the CEO of Maxim Games) about “Klotzen! Panzer Battles” and Maxim Games past, present and their plans for the future.

So without further ado, please enjoy our interview with Maxim Games =)

zoran stanic maxim games

Zoran Stanić is the CEO of Maxim Games and the creator and visionary of the “Klotzen! Panzer Battles”.

Robin TGG
Would you be so kind to give us a brief introduction of yourself =)

Zoran Maxim Games
Hi I’m Zoran Stanic, the creator of Klotzen. I guess my story is as cliché as it gets-I had a great passion for military history from the very early age and I’ve been reading everything related I could get my hands on. I have a master in physics, but I ended up working as a programmer. After a few years I realized I had huge creative streak (unsatisfied), with lots of ideas for various games and I realized I need to make one. I told you – cliché =)

Robin TGG
What’s the history of Maxim Games? I mean, how, when, where and why did the studio happen? And what’s your game plan for the future?

Zoran Maxim Games
This started as a personal project of mine and about two years ago I realized I would need help in order to deliver a professional-looking game. Maxim Games is currently more a collection of individuals with a passion for making games. We are true, self-funded indie and as such people work and leave depending on the needs of a project. We work remotely, and I haven’t met in person most of the people I worked with. Our goal is for Klotzen to be enough of the success to be able to hire full-time crew. I would say only then can we consider ourselves a true game studio. I would like to make RPGs as well, but that will depend on if we can secure sufficient funding.

maxim games

Maxim Games is a small Indie Game studio from Zagreb that’s really passionate about strategy games (thus their current strategy project with “Klotzen! Panzer Battles”).

Robin TGG
Could you perhaps tell us a bit about what “Klotzen! Panzer Battles” is all about? I’m also rather curious to know how did that game come to be? And why did you choose to make turn-based game of this kind right now?  

Zoran Maxim Games
Uh-oh. Another cliché coming =) So I was playing Panzer General around 2009, and I was getting very bored with it, knowing the layout of all the scenarios, having played them too many times. What fascinated me that game from 1994 kept me entertained in 2009. Panzer General simply has one of the best gameplay experiences of all strategy games, striking the perfect balance between modeling what ww2 was all about and ease of play.

Around that time I bought Guderian’s “Memoirs of a solider”, and realized Panzer General left out cutting off supply from game mechanics, which Guderian wrote was the primary motivation behind Blitzkrieg concept (and what the whole ww2 was all about).

I was also a bit irritated by the fact planes needed to refuel only after couple of days and also could fly some 200km per day. The same problem was with ships, with ship battles taking days instead of hours. And I thought I would like to play game with more scenarios, with proper supply system that allowed battles on encirclement and with as realistic air and naval battles as possible. So in a least original business idea ever, I decided to make a game I would like to play =)

panzer general

The very first “Panzer General” game launched for MS-DOS back in 1994, and I used to play the game all the time as a kid (thank you Strategic Simulations, Inc. for all the memories!).

Robin TGG
Is it true that you aim to make “Klotzen! Panzer Battles” the next successor to the long reigning Panzer General series? If so, how do you hope to achieve that? Furthermore, how has the feedback been so far?

Zoran Maxim Games
Well there has obviously been a successor, Panzer Corps, which – thank god – came out in 2011 and filled a gap between the time I got bored with Panzer General and publishing of Klotzen =) From the all that I have said in the previous question, it follows that Klotzen will be an evolution rather than revolution of the genre. I love the mechanics of Panzer General and Klotzen will feel familiar in many things to any fan.

Which either tells of my limitations of game designer or of the genius of the Panzer General design =) My goal was to make game that will appeal to players used to the mechanics of Panzer General, Panzer Corps and Order of Battle.  And then build on top of that, adding systems that I feel will make the whole experience fresh and challenging to the players. People overwhelmingly like the idea and the feedback really helps me get going.

klotzen panzer battles ww2 awaits

“Klotzen! Panzer Battles” is a WWII turn-based operational strategy game that focuses on the battle fields of Europe and North Africa. You can fight great tank battles of Ukraine in 1941, or defend in Normandy and beyond in 1943, for example.

Robin TGG
As I used to play the old “Panzer General” games a whole lot as a kid. I feel like I need to ask you what the main difference is between your game and “Panzer General”?

Zoran Maxim Games
There are quite the few – We have a new supply system, where units can be cut off from the supply either by a maneuver or bombing.

Air units are completely reworked – Planes can attack any hex in range around the airfield, and they can bomb towns and bridges. You can bomb enemy airfields to gain air superiority, and put planes on patrol to destroy any enemy units moving in the patrol zone. This drastically increases the role of the air power and basically adds another whole game on top of the Panzer General.
With this, supply and bombing of airfields both players will have a lot of options on how to wage war and surprise the enemy.

We are putting lot of effort into making AI feel alive. So no more sitting in the trenches and waiting to be overrun. Of course, weaker player will often have to do just that, but AI will be constantly on the lookout for exposed flanks, isolated units and weakly defended rear to exploit. We are still testing it, but it should give players a much more dynamic experience that will make them feel like real ww2 generals, meaning hating surprises =)

Commanders and generals with custom skills and flaws will add a lot of customization to the experience – both for the whole army and each unit.

There is also a plethora of smaller changes that ease gameplay, like buying veteran units in 1944 or speeding up development of any unit, so having Me-262 jets ready in 1943 for example. Another is adding of the maneuver, which will allow for lighter units to gain an edge over heavier ones in some situations. This will of course be very important for dogfights.

klotzen panzer battles winter is here

The weather and season can change in “Klotzen! Panzer Battles”. So that means that you will experience everything from warm summers to cold winters.

Robin TGG
How historically accurate, realistic and authentic will “Klotzen! Panzer Battles” be? For example, will weather day-and-night cycles and well-known pros and cons of military units play a huge part in the game? And how much of a big role will sea and air battles play in the final version of the game?  

Zoran Maxim Games
We are attempting to be very close to the real thing in terms of equipment, although we are making some changes to make game more balanced and fun for the player. By that I mean we might postpone the introduction date of some reconnaissance vehicles to have a more natural progression of equipment for example. But what we will try is to have units perform in the game the same as they would in the field. I like military equipment and we are trying to accurately present each unit.

I must warn the players that I don’t consider German Tiger tanks and Russian IS-2 nearly that good as the were depicted in Panzer general/Panzer Corps. I believe in that old saying that tank engine is as important a weapon as it’s canon, something Germans seem to have forgotten late war.

We are less accurate with scenarios – in lots of cases we bent/increased chances of some interesting battle to occur, Sealion being the best example. French invasion of Germany in 1939 is another example – we have 40% chance of it happening, while in reality I think it was pretty close to zero.

I was thinking of having both night and day turns but decided against it – I feel it would complicate game without bringing enough new to the table. As for the sea and air battles, air will have a much higher impact than in other games of the genre, and will be much closer to historical. So this time you can really have army movement paralysis like in Normandy in 1944.

Sea battles will be of secondary nature, simply because of the nature of the battles in Europe. But we have quite a few naval operations, and they are incredibly fun to play. We have ship damage instead of hitpoints, so you will see burning ships, flooded ships, ships with knocked-out turret… The gameplay is the same, but I’m hoping the feeling will be much more realistic.

klotzen panzer death from above

You can customize each unit’s commander by choosing from over 100 different skills and traits to match your play style.

Robin TGG
It’s said that “Klotzen! Panzer Battles” will include a total of +600 different units. So, will there be a big difference between each unit? And how many units can there be on the world map at the same time? (the max limit) I would also like to ask what graphics engine that you’re using for “Klotzen! Panzer Battles”, because I think that everything looks really great and smooth.

Zoran Maxim Games
Thanks! Our game is full 2D, so tanks are rendered to images. Idea was to allow Klotzen to be played on low-end machines as well.

Regarding the number of units, we don’t have an upper limit, but I was trying to limit the biggest maps to a max of 60 player’s units. Usually there should be less than 100 units in total, with 200 as extreme when defending Berlin from both sides. As for the differences, some subtypes use the same graphics, but we have some 450 unique models and each unit has significantly different characteristics. In some cases, only armor is slightly stronger in newer type, but that could lead to 30% lower losses for example, so that’s significant influence in pitched battles.

klotzen panzer battles the german forces

Germany is just one of many nations that you could play as in “Klotzen! Panzer Battles”.

Robin TGG
I could be wrong now, but players are able to play both as the Axis powers and Allied forces right? So does that mean that you get to pick and play as any nation you want? (from those who were a part of either side of the WWII conflict). 

Zoran Maxim Games
We are identical to Panzer General there – Each scenario has two of the three sides, Allies, USSR or Axis, and each side has one or more nations. Each nation has its own equipment, but only Germany, UK, USA, USSR, France and Italy had significant number of original equipment. Other nations usually just received equipment from the mentioned nations. So when you play a scenario on one side, you play all the nations who fought on that side.

Any map can be played as both sides, but campaign is only played as the Axis. This is because if you defeat German attack on France for example the war is over in 1940. So it’s hard to make an allied campaign before 1943., simply because you don’t have a recurring villain that survives =)

klotzen panzer battles tank rush

There are over 600 unique unit types to pick from in “Klotzen! Panzer Battles”.

Robin TGG
What could you tell us about the maps and map sizes of “Klotzen! Panzer Battles”? And is it correct that the players will be able to create their own scenarios using included editor? If so, could people then share their creations with other players online? And speaking of online, there is a single player and online mode for the game right?

Zoran Maxim Games
Map sizes vary. I initially planned for a strict 10km-per-hex rule but it proved unworkable. Maps were simply too big and you would need hundreds of units to make it interesting, which would make for an hour-long turns =) We also vary the unit sizes – Invasion of France involved over 250 divisions, while in Africa it was less than 20, so we needed to make some unrealistic adjustments. Editor is included in the game and making new scenarios should be really easy, and including them in the game is simple. We currently don’t have a multiplayer, but we will try to include it before the release.

klotzen panzer battles desert rats

I can’t help to think about the game “WWII: Desert Rats” when I see this picture. “Klotzen! Panzer Battles” is of course a turn-based strategy game, but I think you get my point.

Robin TGG
I’m aware that the battles of “Klotzen! Panzer Battles” focuses mainly on Europe and North Africa right, but is there a chance that we might get to play through other WWII located battles? (like Japan’s many battles, for example) I would also like to know if it’s correct that one will get to customize each unit’s commander by choosing from over 100 skills? If so, that should allow players to create a pretty unique play style right?

Zoran Maxim Games
We had initially planned for including some of the Japan’s campaigns but our initial map count was 100 WITHOUT Japan. So we had to cut and Japan was not considered after that. I am hoping for a DLC with Japan in the main role, but that will depend on a lot of factors, most important being the opinion of the community.

I would like to point out that I don’t consider turn based games a good match for representing naval operations. Especially since turns in land operations should take days, and probably 10-30 minutes in naval operations. Pacific campaign is not likely with Klotzen game mechanics, but we are eyeing covering Japan’s land operations in the future.

As for the commanders, that’s right, we have around 100 skills and I think players will enjoy customizing their units. We were very careful not to overpower them, since this is one man commanding 15,000 individuals that are usually more important, but I would say very powerful commander can increase unit efficiency by 50-100% which is huge influence since with Klotzen mechanics small differences lead to large difference in losses.

And since lots of skills are situation-based (like bonus when attacking towns for example, or increased patrol radius during plane interdict) players will be able to make each unit specialized based on their own preferences.

Robin TGG
“Klotzen! Panzer Battles” release is said to take place sometime this summer for PC, is that correct? If so, is there any plans for a console release in the future? (PS4, Xbox One and Switch).

Zoran Maxim Games
It will be a tough fight to get there, but yes, the plan is to release this summer. We plan doing PC, then Linux, then mobile. Console ports will depend heavily on the situation after the release and I am really not sure if we will have a console port.

klotzen panzer battles logo

“Klotzen! Panzer Battles” is said to launch to PC (Windows) sometime this summer, and a Linux and mobile version might become a reality in the future.

Robin TGG
What is your plans, hopes and expectations for the rest of this year? And is there anything else that you would like to say to our readers?

Zoran Maxim Games
I hope players will find Klotzen everything I wanted it to be when I started – a game all fans of Panzer General to enjoy, and a game which newcomer to the genre can use to learn to enjoy strategy games. So a game that is easy to learn but difficult to master. I am also hoping that strategy enthusiasts will appreciate all the changes we are introducing, and that people will keep playing it for a long time. We made a game with replayability in mind, so people should be able to get a new experience on each playthrough. I hope people will find maxed out AI too difficult and keep it on middle difficulty settings =)

I have tons of ideas and I’m also really hoping to have enough resources to be able to put a small studio together and make great games.  If you’re a strategy enthusiast, or simply intrigued by Klotzen, come join us at our Steam community page or subscribe to our newsletter to keep up to date with our progress. Thank you for reading!

tgg author avatar robin ek
Robin “V-Act” Ek
Editor in chief
The Gaming Ground
Twitter: @TheGamingGround

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