Long War 2 Class Builds - Sharpshooter
I hope you don't mind that I put down in words, how wonderful life is while you're in the world.
Everyone’s favorite kind of shooter, the sniper, is beautifully realized in Long War 2. For some reason, the class is named Sharpshooter, but this is a Sniper. A nasty, long range, one shot one kill, bastard. This is my favorite class, and the most powerful against boss enemies. Sharpshooters are the answer to one question: How do I kill that guy? Here is how I build Sharpshooters to kill that guy.
Death From Above
Death From Above:
The ability you select at LCpl rank is extremely significant. Perhaps the most significant choice at any rank for all the classes. DFA allows the Sharpshooter to chain steadied shots together, when shooting with a height advantage and making a kill. It is incredibly powerful, and when paired with other Sharpshooter abilities will usually allow your squad to remove the most dangerous enemy on the board, each turn. In flat terrain, and when your squad needs to move, this ability can be meaningless. Also the Sharpshooter’s line of sight can be obstructed by trees or buildings leading to a frustrating situation where there are lots of enemies, but none can be targeted by your best killer. However, on the longest and hardest missions of the campaign (HQ, Psi Gate, Forge, Invasion) DFA is almost always going to count, and count big.
Alternatives: Rapid Targeting and Snap Shot.
Rapid Targeting: This allows your Sharpshooter to use the Holotargeter without consuming an action every 4th round, and also not ending the turn. This is great, but not nearly as good as DFA. The reason to choose this ability is because you intend to take the 4 other abilities that improve your Holotarget skill, which will eventually be comparable in effectiveness, if not better than DFA, given that they are not so terrain dependent. You are not so much picking an ability here, as you are picking your entire build track. So let’s discuss the Holotargeter build. With all those abilities your Sharpshooter can Holotarget an entire pod, giving your squad +20 aim, +20 crit, +2 damage against all of them for 2 full turns. Not bad. On the negative side, the best ability in this track (Multitargeting) conflicts with Kubikuri, which is a critical skill, that all Sharpshooters should acquire. Other Holotargeter skills conflict with Precision Shot and Aggression, which are also significant compromises. The bonuses are great but will become less meaningful as your aim increases. The biggest issues I have with the Holotargeter build is that it means I am not shooting with my shooter, but instead buffing the rest of my squad, which is composed primarily of non-shooters.
Snap Shop: This will allow your Sharpshooter to move and shoot, keeping up with the squad. This is great on timed missions when you need to move fast. However, it is more important to build Sharpshooters so you win the toughest battles, not the skirmishes.
This ability adds a point of damage, which is very good. It will lose significance as you acquire weapons with higher damage, but is still nice, and can sometimes make the difference, keeping your chain of steadied kills going.
Alternatives: Damn Good Ground or Phantom.
Damn Good Ground looks great, especially when paired with DFA, but it suffers from the same problem as Center Mass, falling off in value as the Sharpshooter gains aim. Quicker than you would expect, the Sharpshooter will have guaranteed shots on most uncovered enemies from elevation. By the end game, the Sharpshooter should have an aim of ~115 with equipment. With elevation that would be 125. If steadied with a Superior Stock; 150. Damn Good Ground might matter when you are not steadied, otherwise it won’t matter at all. Well not exactly, as it still gives you +10 Defense, and if your steady chain is broken by min roll on damage, it may help you get back on track. It is a perfectly good choice here, seeing as how Center Mass falls off in value as well. One consideration is that Center Mass helps at all times; Damn Good Ground only when you have elevation.
Phantom doesn’t make any sense to me.
This ability will often guarantee the crit against an uncovered enemy, and adds some damage as well. It usually allows the Sharpshooter to one shot kill even the top tier enemies throughout the early and middle of the campaign. It is incredibly good.
Alternatives: HiDef Holo or Lone Wolf.
HiDef Holo is great if you are going the Holotargeter track. Otherwise it is near worthless.
Lone Wolf is ok. As with Damn Good Ground, this ability falls off in value as the Sharpshooter gains aim. It doesn’t rely on elevation, but instead requires you to fiddle with soldier placement. Separating the Sharpshooter from the squad can be dangerous, and could mean denying elevation or high cover to a squadmate in order to gain this bonus. Its tricky to use. In my limited experience with Lone Wolf I’ve found that it steals my focus away from more important concerns, and tempts me to make bad compromises.
This ability is okay, granting a bit more defense for a low HP soldier. Rooftop ledges mostly give half cover, so the Sharpshooter will often find this ability useful.
Alternatives: Independent Tracking or Long Watch.
Independent Tracking: Great if you are going the Holotargeter track. Otherwise near worthless.
Long Watch: Allows overwatch shots to trigger at squad sight, which is terrible. This can activate pods you had no intention of activating. If you have DFA you will almost always want to be steadying when you are not shooting. If you are a Holotargeter, you will take Independent Tracking, not Long Watch.
This is a great ability for a DFA Sharpshooter. Steadied shots already have a bonus to crit, and with Talon Rounds and Aggression a crit can usually be guaranteed on uncovered enemies. It also works well with Precision Shot. But the main reason to grab Aggression is to help Kubikuri.
Alternatives: Deadeye or Vital Point Targeting.
Deadeye is a skill I have never tried, and probably never will.
Vital Point Targeting is great if you are going the Holotargeter track. Otherwise near worthless.
This is one of the most powerful abilities in LW2, capable of killing any enemy in the game. However, it is finicky, usually requiring your squad to set it up, first by injuring the enemy, then boosting your Sharpshooters crit chance. There are not a lot of ways to boost crit. The most obvious one, equipping a laser sight, won’t help against Gatekeepers. This is because your crit chance is penalized if your hit chance is below 100, and it will be against a Gatekeepers if you take a laser sight instead of a scope. Fun little mechanical issues like this will frustrate those new to Kubikuri. To help, here is my crit bonus cheat sheet:
Sniper Rifle: 10
Talon Rounds: 10
Get Some: 20
Mind/Soul Merge: depends on Psi Ability; ~15/~25
Alternatives: Multitargeting or Hunter’s Instinct.
Multitargeting is great if you are going the Holotargeter track. Otherwise near worthless.
Hunter’s Instinct is a great ability, that I stopped taking once I learned how Kubikuri worked.
All of the abilities at Master Sgt. rank are incredible. You cannot pick wrong here. Double Tap will give your Sharpshooter a steadier boost in power. Having one extra shot every other round. This sounds simple, but with DFA it gets tricky. You need to make a kill on the 2nd shot (which will not be steadied) in order to keep your steady chain unbroken.
Alternatives: Alpha Mike Foxtrot and Serial.
Alpha Mike Foxtrot is great. +4 damage on every shot, and another +2 on crits; usually enough to kill any tier 3 advent soldier and most aliens in the late game. This ability works more smoothly with DFA, than Double Tap, but it limits you to one kill per turn, whereas Double Tap enables 2 kills on lower HP targets.
Serial is reminiscent of Long War’s In The Zone, as it refunds your actions if you make a kill. Unlike ITZ this happens even if the enemy was in cover, which means it is easier to use and extremely powerful. Sadly, this ability has a five turn cool down. In my first few successful campaigns I chose Serial exclusively. Here is the big problem I have with it. To get the most value out of Serial you need to chain a lot of kills. Typically this means starting with the highest HP target where you have a guaranteed kill and working your way down. But late game enemies have a ton of HP, so getting numerous targets down to where you can guarantee a kill is hard. Usually I am tempted to start with a shot that needs to crit in order to kill, because my Sharpshooter is steadied and thus the first shot is the most likely to crit. If I miss, the chain breaks before it has even begun. Serial seems designed to create “That’s XCOM baby!” moments.