I had to comment because I don't want to see tactical combat ruined by "gamey" mechanisms. The initiative system is already pushing that boundary as it is. Combat should "make sense" and work, not be an arbitrary system of balances which are constantly modified when people complain that a certain unit is overpowered.
I completely and utterly agree with a previous post: the hard counter to kiting is light cavalry. Run those archers down! This is historical and realistic. A slow melee unit's only defense against an archer is heavy armor, or else having faster units in one's army. But let me list all counters I see to kiting archers:
- Light cavalry - close the gap instantly. The archer's only chance is getting a shot in before the horse reaches him, then he's dead. Horseman vs. archer in melee = no contest.
- Your own archers, and better. You no longer need to close the gap! Magic also fits in here.
- Heavy cavalry. Will take longer to arrive than light cavalry, but should have heavy armor, in order to take less damage. Also can carry heavier weapons, which might kill off the archers even faster.
- Very fast, light infantry. This infantry must be so light that they can run faster than archers, who must both shoot and run, while light infantry only must run. Will take losses, but then wipe out the archers on arriving, due to both better melee weapons and melee training.
Horse archers? They were considered dishonorable in the Middle Ages in Europe, hence their limited use. But the unit was successful when used by the Huns, Mongols, etc. The counters are a bit harder, but still exist.
- Your own archers! They must be trained to hit faster-moving units, however. But it's harder to shoot a bow accurately while on a horse, versus standing still. A longbow also has more range than a bow used on a horse. Bows on horses are worse than regular bows! Magic also applies here.
- Better horse archers! Obvious.
- Light cavalry. These horsemen must dodge the arrows, having the great mobility of a horse to do so. You need to spread your unit of horsemen out, such that they can surround the unit of horse archers, not allowing them to escape. But a good unit of light cavalry, with fast horses, should be able to dodge the arrows of horse archers, and take out the cavalry in melee. A spear would help here, as a sword will make it harder to land a hit on that horse archer.
Make sure all of these types of units actually work as a counter, and there will be no need to resort to gamey mechanisms. And if your army simply has none of these units, and is up against a group of archers, you should die. You, as a general, failed to adequately defend against an effective counter to your army, and must suffer the consequences. A slow melee unit cannot defeat a mobile archer. This is a fact of life, and a legitimate tactic. Guerrilla warfare IS kiting.
A few concepts listed above that require new game mechanics:
- Different kinds of horses: speed of the horse, versus strength, power and size.
- Different types of bows, and limited effectiveness of traditional bows when used on a horse.
- Armor and weapons carried having a real effect on movement speed. Initiative seems a little contrived, but you could make it work with this system as well.
But what I don't understand about initiative: why do I get a whole turn extra just due to higher initiative? It doesn't make physical sense. I should get more actions than you. I can move faster due to my faster horse. If I'm an archer, I move slower than a fast melee unit, because I have to shoot and run, while he just runs. So why can't you make both shooting and running take up actions, and an archer simply has less time to take a shooting action, if he also wants to run?
Limited arrows? I agree with what was said earlier: it's silly. You can limit my arrows I can shoot to 6 by killing me before I can manage to shoot off the 7th, not by declaring that a quiver can only carry 6 arrows, and than I can only carry one quiver, etc.
That's all for now.