|This is not a sniper's weapon|
Those of you who read the 40K forums and blogosphere will have probably come across the idea of barrage sniping. For those of you who have not - here is a brief summary. People who already know - hush now, let everyone else catch up.
In usual shooting attacks, casualties are taken from the closest model to the firer. The two exceptions to this are precision fire and barrage weapons. Precision fire is meant to represent both individual characters and snipers' abilities to pick out a particularly dangerous individual and shoot them. It works if you roll a 6 to hit.
Barrage weapons - that is to say, indirect fire weapons which use a blast marker - take their casualties from the centre of the blast marker, and not from the closest model to the firer. There are two "hit" markers on the scatter dice, so this allows barrage weapons to select the person to take the hit first twice as often as snipers and characters. This is even more effective as it means that every hit caused by the template is applied first to the model hit - so the melta gunner has to survive maybe four to six hits.
The intent of the "from the centre of the blast marker" was clearly to make it look cinematic and cool. Instead, it means that massive artillery pieces at the far side of the battle field are, mathematically, more effective than precision snipers at picking off an individual model.
Don't get me wrong - the United States government has been showing for quite a while that a cruise missile or air strike is a perfectly effective means of long ranged assassination - but currently, it seems just too disproportionately good. It shouldn't be a precise weapon - it should be something that achieves long range assassination by reducing everything in the target zone to a fine red mist.
There are two possible fixes I've considered. I'd love it if a few people who use barrage weapons a lot could have a go with them and give some feedback - I sadly don't have much in the way of heavy artillery painted up yet, and my glacial painting speed means that won't be fixed soon...
- Use your blast markers as usual to determine the number of hits. Then, randomise who takes all the hits. Assign every hit a barrage weapon causes to a random model in the unit.
- Use your blast markers as usual to determine the number of hits. Then, randomise who now counts as the "centre of blast", then apply the rules as normal from then on.
I suspect the first option will be much too slow, and the second option is "just right" - but I would like people's opinions on that. The third option would have been to randomise who the blast marker is centred on to start with, then scatter as normal and apply from the centre of blast. That, however, reduces the ability of the firer to maximise the number of models they are trying to hit, and reduces people's abilities to aim blast markers to aim for the "centre of mass" of a unit in the hope of getting the most casualties.
What do people think? Is anyone willing to give it a go?