Really glad you enjoyed the ABL and HBL! Wow so many great questions! Well let me get started then…
HBL’s heart is ABL. We took all of the information garnered from feedback gathered at convention games, local games, staff games and online discussion forums and made changes, additions and removals that are now in HBL. Some of these removals may show up again in specific time period data books as they are released.
There is definitely going to be period data books. We are going to cover all of the time periods that were in ABL, AWI, War of 1812, Texas War of Independence and, Mexican American War. We are also going to cover the Napoleonic War and a few others as we get time and requests. The new Data Books, when released will contain much more info on the time period covered to include a more inclusive list of infantry and cavalry regiments, artillery regiments and/or batteries, additional/optional rules for the time periods (this is where time period skirmishing rules will be specified) and any other time period specific info. Note that each data book may take a little bit of time to get out as the detail involved is rather extensive. This is because ODGW wants to provide players with the most comprehensive data and information coverage of each time period to allow them to game any battle or campaign within that time period. Currently ODGW is working on the ACW Data Book and the status of it is it is … coming along. The weapons, artillery and naval stats are done for both combatants. The Union chapter has been formatted with all of the game stats inserted. Currently work on the Union Army list is in progress which is where the bulk of the time, for both sides, will most likely take getting this book done. The Leaders table will be after that. Bonuses may include significant battle list and a notable Brigade list for each side (think Iron Brigade, The Louisiana Tigers, The Wolverine Brigade, Texas Brigade, etc.) depending upon time and info available.
Weapon data, artillery data and army data in the HBL rule book is the same as ABL. We purposely reused this data to expedite getting the book out with the idea that it wouldn’t change. However, when the ACW data book was started it was found that the formulas used in ABL were missing. So the formulas were reverse-engineered and the data was updated.
The Extreme Range was removed for two reasons; 1. It was rarely used when the player found out that the actual probability of hitting anything was nil or next to nil, 2. Playability as the rare times it was used it tended to slow the game down a lot as the player(s) were using entire regiment to snipe instead of engaging the enemy.
As I mentioned earlier, the artillery data will be changing a little in all of the data books with the revamping of the formula. Here is a teaser example of the change comparing the present 10/15mm 12-pdr Napy to the 10mm ABL version:
Napy Gun Compare.JPG 17.49KB
The new formula for artillery uses gun charge, shell weight and shell type and range and game playability tables to calculate the stats. The stats for all of the guns are relative to each other and should provide good comparability and differentiation between guns. As to how the old FF was calculated, I know that the data I mentioned was used in the older formula, whatever that was, as I used it for the basis of the new formula. Other than that, I cannot honestly say. Suffice it to say, I do like the looks of the data I have generated with the new formula.
Finally, yes, do use the ABL stats, army tables etc. from ABL. They will do well until the data books are released.
Hope this answers all of your questions and raises your anticipation a little for the coming ACW Data Book.