First Watch

Brief Description Fast play rules for all theatres of WWII, including basic and optional rules. Extensive data tables for all combatants. Includes tactical airpower as well as armor, infantry, and artillery.
Period WWII
Scale Tactical. Ground scale is 1mm = 1 yard. Each turn represents 1-2 minutes. Each miniature represents an individual vehicle. Four rifle/smg soldiers compose an infantry stand, and may be represented by counters. Special infantry stands (leaders, machineguns, etc.) may represent one or two individuals. Intended for use with 1/285 or 1/300 scale miniatures.
Basing Individual (vehicles and aircraft), unspecified group (infantry).
Contents 28 pages in protective sheetholders within a looseleaf binder, transparent artillery template. [A "pocket size" edition is also available.]
Designer Robert A. Yarr
Publisher Second edition published 1993 by Armchair Generals.

Picture of the game in play

detailed description of First Watch is also available.

What You Think

Bill MacVicar (wzaidi@przm.com)
This is quite possibly the game that I have had the most fun playing in the 17 years that I have been playing miniature war games. The pace is fast and the realism, while not exactly right on, is close enough that the feel is still there. Most people will tell you that WW2 miniature games are slow and tedious, but with this system I was able to hold a game with more that 3,000 units on a 8' x 16' table and do it in less than 12 hours. The average speed of a turn over that 12 hours was about 1 every 15 minutes, including firing. I have been very impressed with Robert Yarr's work and will continue to use it for many years to come.
Dan Higdon (hdan@fc.net)
I just ordered this ruleset, and I must say that I'm a happy gamer. I hope to put a more complete review up once I've had a chance to play a few more scenarios, but here are my first impressions:

First, I'm a sucker for ring-bound materials. Each page is stuffed into a holder, so this book should last forever, and easily withstand any spilled drinks.

The detailed description gives a good account of the rules, so I'll refer anyone interested in particulars to that link. Suffice it to say, First Watch is a very fast, simple game that lets you replay your favorite armor battles or invent new ones. (I've had some success converting Easy 8's Panthers East! scenarios - another excellent product if you're into tanks.)

This game also includes more vehicle data than I've ever seen in one place. Granted, there isn't much data (move, armor, weaponry, date introduced), and the player is expected to use some common sense and refer to the miniatures (to tell, for instance, which units have turrets) for certain information. But with this game, you don't need any more information. Another side effect is that "rules lawyers" don't have much room to abuse rules. If you don't have an opponent who can graciously handle making judgement calls without rules to back them up, you may need a referee to play this one.

The warts - page layout isn't this game's strong suit. There are some rules (artillery supresses infantry that it doesn't kill, for instance) that are only mentioned in footnotes to the tables. Also, there is no morale. You might find this to be a blessing :-). However, due to the simplicity of the system, I suspect that cooking up a morale rule would be pretty easy, if you really wanted to add one.

All in all - a very nifty game, and quite a respectable entry into the fast-play corner of the microarmor world.

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Online Resources

First Watch Errata and Updates
Publisher's website (includes open top vehicle guide).
Rules Questions
The designer answers a few of our questions.

If you know of other resources for this game, please let us know by sending email to the editor. If you have material you would like to make available to the Net, also let us know.

Last Updates
14 April 1999comments by Bill MacVicar
Mon Apr 05 01:21:48 PDT 1999comments by Dan Higdon
13 May 1997link to publisher's website
18 January 1997updated scale information
30 November 1996link to designer's webpage
Comments or corrections?