Contrary to my expectations, I found a little time to playtest yesterday. The table was still set up from the last game but I thought the armies and Oberhilse & Faraway needed a rest. This was mostly for the sake of narrative, I didn't have the energy to invent a reason for them to refight the battle and am increasingly reluctant to bring them out if I can't fit the battle into the over all narrative. My ACW armies are free of all compunction, after all ACW battles are still happening! You can go see them. OK so the armies are smaller and they don't use live ammo but then neither do my "boys".
Anyway, after about 1/2 hour I found myself think "ahhh 1/72nd ACW, a near perfect mix of figure size, game size, look and style, I could do just this and be happy". I had exactly the same feeling when playing with the 40mm 1840's toy soldiers, and with the 16thC ones, and the 25mm ancients. Good thing I have no philosophical problem with diversity!
Back to the rules, at first I was quite happy with the looser restrictions on who can shoot when. Used right it can feel quite natural. Soon though I found that it circumvented the maneuver rules and that it seemed odd to have a unit charge into melee, beat their opponent then fire a parting shot at them. The fact that I have read memoirs of troops that did just that makes it feel no less odd. The current rules have also re-opened the door to the cheesy tactic of waves of troops passing through each other and firing, like the British in the movie "Zulu". That needs to be fixed.
I see 2 possible paths before me. Loosen up, get rid of some of the admittedly artificial maneuver penalties, (going back to the tried and true distance penalties instead and don't worry about it or add a bunch more restrictions. Adding restrictions just seems to add to the gaminess and leads to more contradictions so I am leaning more towards loosening up.
I had gotten rid of drawn melees for a while but then brought them back. They made sense to me when units standing 3" away were "in melee" since it meant a prolonged firefight. Now units an inch away are having a firefight but those in contact are supposedly resolving something even more intense. I think I may give another try at the charger backing up 1" when there is a draw.
I liked dropping the break point restriction, stands seemed to disappear quickly enough without it but the other changes meant troops didn't have to stop shooting to rally, of course it was harder to rally under fire but there is no penalty to trying. Not sure that's bad, as I said stands were dropping quickly where there was lots of fighting. Still, reintroducing a straggler result might encourage troops to wait until they're safe.
Flank attacks are still a problem. Why do troops making flank attacks always seem to roll a disproportionate number of 1's? I didn't like the fixed automatic 1 hit per stand but its better than the +1 to the die roll. I may experiment with using the new panic test with flank attacks and broken squares.
Sorry folks. Stay tuned.There'll be something tonight.