I wanted to give the Altar of Freedom rules a bit of a try out so set up a division apiece from each side at “First Bull Run”.
Some manoeuvre, shooting and close combat. Shooting is at 2 inches unless you are artillery (10 inches). Cannon are pretty nasty at close range as you can imagine. Since the game uses factors for combat effectiveness (from +3 to -3) for each unit (brigade) in the game, then a factor of +2 for artillery defending makes it a tough nut to crack for weaker troops (and not so clever for strong troops!).
Basically you roll a d6 for shooting and make some modifiers. The resulting number gives you the effect. It usually involves the fired on unit retiring the odd base depth and taking a fatigue point. Close combat is similar but the difference in scores is what happens. Again, this usually results in a retirement and a fatigue point. Serious results in close combat tend to give mean the unit is broken immediately. Friendly units that are unengaged and in base to base with you can strengthen you as well.
Once you have more than four fatigue points then you break. Broken units are sent to their HQ piece. If your HQ has been captured/destroyed then the unit is automatically destroyed. Otherwise, at the end of the turn you can make a rally roll (adding +1 if the general is close by and in site. If you rally (hard without the general as you need a 5 to stand and try again next turn or a 6 to return to duty).
In all I tried several situations and found that even a slightly weaker division can take quite a number of turns to either gain significant ground or lose ground. The tendency is to swing back and forth as fatigue points mount up. You can only shake off these points if there is no enemy close by at the end of the turn (so pulling out of the line and/or having another division ready to fill your vacated slot is advised unless you want to concede a significant amount of ground). Cavalry have a part to play as they move more swiftly and can keep the pressure on ene,y units with fatigue. They can also scout out enemy strength (if you are close enough to enemy units with your cavalry you can see their rating by peeking at the back of the base to see how good or bad they are).
In all, I think the rules around combat are good. They are easy to pick up, require some thought on how best to mount an attack or defence and need some careful thought about when to “go for it” and when to hold back or even retire to regroup.
I am really liking this game so far and hope to try a full game as soon as the scenery is completed.