A single shot rings out during the advance aimed to recapture a small village. The feldwebel goes down and the whole squad hits the dirt, desperately seeking cover. Nobody is now interested in what their initial objective was. They are fighting for their life against an unseen enemy.
This is a regular scene from a computer game I played a long time ago - close combat. This unseen enemy was obviously a well placed sniper that could break up an assault in a matter of seconds, especially when he was supported. But are snipers in FoW able to do the same?
First of all let us have a look at the rules:
- they are independent teams that cannot join other platoons and are always rated confident veteran.
- they are always equipped with a 16" ROF 1, FP 4+ weapon.
- you do not deploy them at the beggining of the game. Instead, you can choose to reveal them at the start of any turn in your deployment area or the no-man's land.
- once on the table, they can attempt to switch positions on a 4+. If they succeed, they go back to the sniper pool, ready to be placed somewhere else in the following turns.
- they are gtg and concealed when they shoot but cannot shoot if there is a friendly team within 4".
- they re-roll to hit.
- when they take a hit that would kill them, they still get a 4+ roll. If they succeed, they go back to your pool of snipers.
- when somebody tries to assault them, they roll a 4+. If they fail, the sniper goes back to the sniper pool.
- they cost 50 points per team.
They even get 3 warrior sniper teams I know of: Vasiliy Zaytsev, Simo Hayah and Bruno Koenig (a fictional character as far as I understand).
- costs 90 pts and is F/V
- teams hit by Vasiliy re-roll successful saves
- costs 80 pts and is F/V
- has range of 24".
- can re-roll to hit (legacy of 2nd edition - BF forgot to update).
- if for some weird reason there is an enemy sniper team in his range that fired on their turn they do not count as gtg.
- costs 65 pts and is F/V
- 3+ to switch positions instead of 4+
- when assaulted, shoots 3 dice and then the enemy rolls to capture him
With the switch from 2nd to 3rd edition, it seemed that the snipers would get substantially better. They are so great, because now they are so hard to kill.... and .... this is about it. Annoying might be the right word actually.
They would pop out to harrass advancing infantry platoons, pin artillery batteries. But all of these come with a big 'if'. Sure they have the re-roll, but first of all: the enemy still assigns the hits (so in most cases a regular guy will get hit), teams still get their saves and if dug in, the sniper still has to pass the firepower check. A lot has to go according to plan to kill just one, single team. Good thing is that no matter what happens, you get the pin with just a single hit. And there are those cases where they would do absolutely nothing - for instance, when the enemy's company is fully made up of armored units or when you have to attack a veteran infantry company and you never roll your 6 to hit.
As they are now, snipers are a purely defensive tool with very limited capabilities. In fact, the only possible use I can see for them is to target artillery so that you can eliminate guns in a scenario where one casaulty reduces the size of the template or the AT/FP rating of a combined bombardment. If they get very lucky, they might even take out a staff team or pin an infantry platoon in a crucial moment. But this is about it.
So how would I fix them then?
There could be 2 ways actually: update their rules or reduce their cost.
As far as I am concerned I might consider actually fielding a sniper team if it would cost 20-25 points. As for the warrior teams, 30 points is the maximum.
There could be tons of possible updates so I will just give one example:
- increase their range to 24" (32" for Koenig)
- let them choose which teams are hit
- teams shot at by snipers never count as gtg
- teams shot at by snipers re-roll their saves (Vasiliy would ignore saves like BTG)
Whatever happens to FoW snipers in the future, I hope we will see more of them as they are the iconic weapon of war and it is a reall pity that currently, they are so useless :(
Do you have any other ideas on how to fix snipers?