Just to define my position, there are a handful of decent forum or community software packages on the market. vBulletin was at least equal to the best of them until recently. IP.Board is certainly at the top of the pile. Xenforo is another that's up there, as was SMF. There is free forum software, like phpBB, but it's less secure. At this point in time, the AACA made a good choice IMO.
Right now, I feel IP.Board is the best of the bunch. It's so highly configurable it's silly, and I can't believe any other company has better support.
Keep asking questions. IP.Board isn't fully intuitive. If you don't go exploring and clicking on things to see what happens, it will take you a long time to fully appreciate its functionality. And on the admin side, it takes a long time to fully understand what can be done.
Just to follow up, below is a screenshot of the notification email the AACA forum sent me to inform me that Layden had replied to my PM. It does include the content of Layden's reply within the notification.
Also note that it warns me not to reply directly to the email because Layden was not the one who sent the notification email, thus a direct reply would not reach Layden.