Now before you argue that snipers are in fact effective in large units (e.g. 10-man units of Eldar Pathfinders), and that you need to choose targets that are specifically weak against snipers (e.g. Eldar Dreadnoughts)... What I'm talking about is the typical "real world" sniper employed as he would be in the modern battlefield, supporting friendly units and having a psychological impact on the enemy. In practice this would mean shooting at a frontline unit to pin it down, or shooting at high value targets, such as heavy weapons teams, or officers. (I'm deliberately leaving out one of the sniper's primary roles, that of observation)
One of the biggest advantages to the sniper is the psychological impact he can have on the enemy. This is shown in the game by the pinning rule. I did some math (I was going to show all my work, but then my browser crashed and I lost all the work), and for the typical troop choice in any army, it was a less than a 10% chance of pinning them with a sniper shot.
The chances of a typical sniper to kill an MEQ are 5/6 x 1/2 x 1/3 = 14%, which means in a typical game of 6 turns, if you manage to kill one, you're doing pretty well. If you're going against an enemy with multiple wounds, it's even harder.
As an Imperial Guard player, I'm attracted to whatever "realism" I can derive from the game, while still enjoying the fact that it is fantasy. Oh, right, I forgot...this game is about fun stuff, like this guy:
Rather than boring stuff, like this guy:
I think snipers in 40k face similar discrimination. Players want carnage, not units that get pinned and do nothing for a turn. So the rules are deliberately designed to maximize the killing, and maximize it in a fun way (i.e., in the Assault phase)
But if I could "fix" snipers, how would I do it? I would do the following:
- Snipers cannot be targetted until they fire, or until an enemy model approaches within Initiative distance in inches.
- Snipers hit on a 2+
- Sniper rifles are R36" S7 AP4 Heavy 1 Rending, Pinning, and deliver D3 wounds
- Against vehicles they are still strength 7. Anti-vehicle rounds already exist--they're no reason to think that equivalent or better rounds wouldn't exist in the 40k universe.
- Pinning - I think the Pinning test should have a modifier of at least -1--testing on straight leadership is ridiculous when half the units in the game are fearless or stubborn anyway...