Before 7th edition I enjoyed utilizing my sniper drone team. They were not super amazing but for me they were fun to use and people didn't had to respect them, not fear them. Since 7th and 8th edition taken away their rail rifle and swapping it for the Longshot Pulse Rifle, their ability for use and respect disappeared. My friends would always tell me why are you using them, they are horrible and useless. With only having a 36" range they felt more like a unit with DMR's instead of snipers.
So with that I will add my thoughts to such a unit that I would enjoy and use in almost every game keeping in line with what has already been discussed. If I overstep the OP or the rules I apologize in advance.
*I will repeated use the term over watch in my explanation below. I want to state ahead of time that it is not to be mistaken for the ability to shoot in defense of an assault charge.*
1) I would increase the range to 48".
- To mean this would give Tau the feel of the advance technology they are continuingly developing and allow them to support the Cadre as they advance across the board. Tau rely on our ability to shoot with concentrated team work and overlapping fields of fire verse bludgeoning someone to death. Having the team with that range to me would represent their ability to find their advantage point ahead of time, remain there to cover the approach of the Cadre and remain as the Cadre arrives and moves ahead. Thus they could provide intelligence and "over watch". Lore/Fluff wise a pathfinder team is never along as they are working together with other teams in the area.
-Eldar sniper rifles are range 36" but to me are a mid-field type of army. Most of their weapons are 8" to 36" until you get to the anti-tank weapons of the bright lance at 48", heavy wraightcannon at 48" or the Prism Cannon at 60". However, they are more mobile and deadlier then Tau at close (excluding a few specific designed units).
- Astra Militarum sniper rifles are 36" as well. BS varies depending on which unit they are equipped to but they are design to cover that mid-field range in between where their number of weapons overlap drops before getting closer for it to increase again. Outside of 36" they have their heavy artillery, autocannons, and tank weapons that can out gun us.
Therefore, the 48" range would add to the feel of the Tau to reach out and touch the enemy as the ranged over watch instead of being more of a close support unit.
Change their type to Heavy 1.
-Would match all other listed snipers currently in 8th edition.
-Would match more to Tau fluff as they would make each shot count. As rapid fire would match semi-auto rifles version used by the pathfinders, were the design of the rail rifle for the snipers would have a slight alter to allow for the increased precision over range. Additionally adding to the lore of the how the pathfinders who would be selected to field such weapon are trained and deployed. Fine the enemy, relay information and provide fire support when the Cadre advance to their position.
Give the sharpshooters a modified version of the marketlight. Aka a Priority Markerlight.
-This markerlight would have the ability to target characters and support the sharpshooters carrier the Sharps Rail Rifle. However, due to the design and purpose of the sharpshooter, their rifle would only be able to pick up the Priority Markerlights. ( Could add to much complexity to the markerlights but makes sense to me)
This would represent the spotters picking the highest priority for the shooters, filtering out all the other battlefield data that would be filling the area. Most sniper are given a target and block out all other noise/enemies until their target is gone. This rule would also remove the chance or ability to overshadow other units design to support the Hunter Cadre as a whole with a unit that has better ballistic skill.
-Addition, the Priority Marketlight would get a range increase to 48" to effectively support the Sharps Rail Rifle.
This would create a sniper team that is able to preform their job without overshadowing other units or causing them to become overpowered. Thus they would remain a glass cannon, ability to throw out the pain, but can't take intense retaliation. However, that is what a sniper team is suppose to be. They depend on the rest of the Cadre to back them up after the information has been transmitted and the fighting starts, or sadly be called to show the ultimate choice for the Greater Good.
Besides, even with them being a deadly but fragile unit, the enemy should not be having an easy decision to target them as the rest of the Cadre should be generating threat to help support them in return for the ranged over-watch.
Please let me know what people think and if this would generate more of an issue for the unit or not.