Cougar's Sharpshooter Guide

Jagged Alliance 2 v1.13 Sharpshooter guide

Introduction

About me

Since you should not be listening to some random idiot on the Internet here is some information about my Jagged alliance history: It started on the 27th December 1996 (yep, soon 11 years ago at the time of the writing of this guide) I was out shopping with my parents and I checked out the game room, and there I saw this odd looking box with Jagged Alliance Deadly Games written all over it, so I asked my father if we could get it and he said “Sure” and we went home and I immediately installed the game and started playing it, and as expected I loved it. In 1999 we got a new computer and I miraculously found the last copy of JA2 and once again the adventure started.
I quickly found that the sniper rifles (at the time we had two, the M24 and the Dragunov) didn't stand a chance against a fully equipped FN FAL. However JA2 is very modable, especially since the source code was released and worked on by the community, and from this the v1.13 “community patch” was developed and with it came a bunch of new features and weapons. The mod team changed the way the weapon system worked and they managed that very well. Without going into technical specifications, it means that the choice for long range combat is no longer a battle rifle from the fifties, I will explain more later when we come to the weapon part.

Why did I make this guide?

Well first of all I felt that I wanted to share my knowledge on the subject, secondly this kind of stuff is the thing that makes the JA community so great. We help each other out and share tips and tricks eight years after the game came out, even longer in the case of JA1 and Deadly Games.

Who did I make this guide for?

For every player who has played, are playing or will play the game. It is mostly aimed at newcomers to the game (yes we still get them after all this time) or people that feel that sharpshooting is too hard or too boring or simply never found a use for it. So no matter how long you have played or how good you are, read it and you might find something interesting. I also hope that you will share your own tips on the subject, it might be different from mine but I would love to hear from you.

How the guide is organized

In the guide I will use the following “classes”, there are however no classes in JA2 but for the purpose of this guide I will use these two: Sniper and Designated marksman. These will be explained later in this guide. When I say sharpshooter I mean both sniper and DM, if I want to make it easy for me or in tables I will use SN for sniper and DM for designated marksman. For the purpose of this guide He and She means the same thing, a merc. The term Advanced Marksman will also be used, and by that I mean a merc with a particularly accurate (by means of a battle scope and perhaps other attachments) assault rifle, however I don't consider him/her to be a sharpshooter.

What you “need” or rather, what I use.

You don't need anything to read the guide but this is the setup I play my games with and subsequently what I write the guide for. The setup are as follows: Jagged Alliance 2 patched to 1.12 with the 1.13 mod and also the beta version of the mod New Inventory that changes the way the merc's inventory works, so that might be why it looks different than you are used to but in my opinion this is how it should have been from the beginning. Note that I might use both the old and new interface in pictures, but the guide will be made with the New inventory since I only play that now, it probably won't make that much of a difference when reading, but just keep that in mind, if I say for example “I use this LBE vest” you know I am talking about the new inventory.

The guide

Background

The purpose of the sharpshooter

The primary role of the sharpshooter is to provide the squad(s) with long range fire and to some extent long range visibility. They accomplish this by using special equipment, weapons and tactics. As the sniper and the designated marksman accomplish this in different ways the tactics, equipment and weapons will differ.

The sharpshooters

The sniper

The sniper is what most people will think of when they hear the word sharpshooter. The sniper rifles have the longest range of all weapons (except mortar) and the best accuracy attainable on the battlefield.
He can hit with nearly every shot and most of the time he will aim for the head which usually results in instant elimination of the target. He will usually use a bolt-action rifle since these rifle have unparalleled accuracy and damage, which is offset by the time it takes to manually reload each shot. This also includes the very heavy caliber rifles which are best used from a stationary position. The sniper will almost always work alone or with another sniper, he will never work in a squad but rather work with your squads. The upside of this is that he can provide fire from another angle than your assault squads and the sniper pair can be more independent. The downside is that they, if discovered by the enemy, could be in an exposed position far away from the main force.

Pros of the sniper:
*He can lay down accurate fire over a very long range.
*He can work independently of your main force, scouting ahead and provide your squads with information on enemy movements.
*Since the sniper team is small it is also very mobile and stealthy.

Cons of the sniper:
*He will usually lack in short range firepower.
*He may be far away from the main force and the firepower and supplies that means, for example qualified medical care.

The designated marksman

The designated marksman is, in contrast of the sniper, embedded in your assault squad, much like a machine gunner or a grenadier. He will move with the squad and provide them with fast and reliable long range fire that works in sync with the squads riflemen, grenadiers and machine gunners. He will be protected by the squads firepower and at the same time protect the squad from enemy sharpshooters and heavy weapon teams, unless they are way too far. He will usually use a semiautomatic rifle, sacrificing accuracy and power for speed.

Pros of the designated marksman:
*Enjoys the full support of a squad, with grenades, suppressive fire and medical care.
*Moves with the squad thus his weaknesses is offset by the other squad members.

Cons of the designated marksman:
*May become dependant on his squad, if he gets separated from them he may be in deep trouble.
*Being in the middle of the battlefield he won't be able to get the overview the sniper has, and at the same time he may have to do
his job while getting shot at from near and far, something the sniper usually won't have to deal with.

The equipment

The rifle

The rifle is by far the most important piece of equipment your sharpshooter(s) will use, without it he is just a normal rifleman, and the whole point of the sharpshooter goes out the window. As you may know there are three different kind of rifles in JA2 1.13, if we are gonna be picky there's more than that, but we will focus on three in this guide. Currently there's 36 sniper rifles in the game (I think, I ordered them all from Bobby Rays, please correct me if i'm wrong), 17 bolt action, 17 semiautomatic and 2 crazy rifles, the VSS and the VSK-94, they are classified as sniper rifles but they can go full automatic and they are silenced, someone crazy must have invented those.

The assault rifle

The assault rifle is, as the name suggests, a weapon primarily used by assault teams, it has a high rate of fire, good damage, high magazine capacity, can be fired in automatic and it's accurate over short to medium distances. It does however have some drawbacks, it's range isn't the best and it's accurate over long distances, another serious drawback is the weapons inability to mount the most powerful scopes. Carbines, shorter versions exists, as well as battle rifles, usually used to refer to older, higher caliber weapons (FN FAL is a great example of a battle rifle).

The bolt action rifle

The bolt action rifle is the opposite of the assault rifle, it lacks the high rate of fire but makes it up by it's incredible range and accuracy, it's the most accurate weapon on the battlefield and also one of the most powerful. The most serious drawback of the bolt action rifle is, that's right, the bolt action, it requires you to chamber a new round after every shot, as you can imagine this takes time and often the sharpshooter may only be able to shoot one shot per round (turn based round that is). This rifle is usually associated with the sniper.

The semiautomatic rifle

The semiautomatic rifle is a compromise between the bolt action rifle and the assault rifle, it retains most of the bolt action's accuracy and it fires faster since you don't have to chamber a new round after each shot. However it lacks the automatic fire of an assault rifle. Usually associated with designated marksmen.

Conclusion
When you have decided on the kind of rifle you want (bolt action or semiautomatic) the main factors to consider when choosing a specific rifle is; accuracy, range, damage, action point usage and weight. You want a perfect balance between those.
However there´s a few more things to consider, first if you need a silenced rifle or not (note that those have shorter range and makes less damage than the more powerful ones).
Another thing you need to consider is the caliber you want to use, now you may ask “But caliber doesn't matter since the damage output is important, right?” Right, the caliber doesn't matter as far as damage goes, but it does matter if you consider the availability of ammunition, for example 7.62 is common, whereas you will have to buy 12.7 and .338 Lapua (you will find some but usually not enough).

The ammunition

As mentioned above the caliber you choose is important, and another consideration you have to take into account is the type of ammunition you want, for some calibers (for example 12.7mm, 338 lapua) you only have one type, the .300WM have two types, hollowpoint and armor piercing and 7.62x51mm and 5.56x45mm have all types available:

Normal ammunition/FMJ

Your garden variety standard ammunition, the most common type and also the cheapest, they are shown in red numbers and have red "tape" on the magazine. Good for sharpshooting because it drops alot and is cheap.

Hollowpoint ammunition

Nearly useless against heavier armor and should be used in the beginning of the game. Limited use for sharpshooting, if you aim at the head, but you can't count on penetration everytime. Use when you don't have anything else.

Glaser ammunition

Everything I said about hollowpoint is true with glaser x2, can't really see a use except for bloodcats or the Hicks. Wouldn't even carry this with me unless I haven't got anything else.

Tracer Ammunition

Seem to have the same characteristics as FMJ except it gives you burst bonus, since you're not going to do any bursting with that rifle of yours that doesn't matter. Also has a tracer effect where you can see the bullet, I haven't tested this out properly but the enemies don't seem to find you easier.

Cold loaded FMJ

Silent but deadly, this is your first choice if you want to keep the volume down, goes well with a silencer, does less damage than FMJ though.

Cold loaded HP

Not much to say, silent and very deadly, IF you can penetrate the armor your enemy is wearing otherwise just silent and annoying.

Match ammunition

Expensive but the best ammunition available for sniping, it gives you a bit more range on your rifle (which equals to accuracy), but truth be told it doesn't matter that much, except if you use it on the shorter ranged rifles. Use it if you have an abundance of money or if you find it laying around or if you need a little extra range for your C7CT or scout.

Conclusion

My preference is the match ammunition, if I have the money otherwise I usually go for the FMJ ammo and I also use tracer if I find it. Cold loaded has it advantages but my sharpshooters usually won't use silencers, and if they do I use the rifles that are designed for that.

The sidearm

In addition to the rifle you should also have a secondary weapon, it should be fast firing, light and preferably silenced, long range is not really an issue here, it certainly doesn't need to have a range larger than 25 (you have your rifle for that). There's a few alternatives you can choose from and I will give you a quick rundown and list the pros and cons. The most important feature of the sidearm is that it can be silenced so you can take out enemies that come too close to your position quietly, or make your way to your firing position without waking every soul in Arulco.

Pistol

Everything from .38 peashooter to the wildley survivor, desert eagle and automag hand howitzers. Now none of those mentioned would be suitable for the role of a sidearm, and the reason is that .38 is too weak and the howitzers are too hollywood and too heavy and you might as well carry an assault rifle. So let's take a look at the middle range pistols, here we have, among others, the USP, the G11 PDW and the Five-seven which also happens to be my favorite. Ofcourse the choice is up to you but I usually use the Five-seven with LAM 200 and a suppressor for the penetration, good damage and good range, the ammunition can be a restriction though. My suggestion is that you atleast have a suppressor on your pistol, which would require you to carry it in a machinepistol thigh holster (new inventory only). Match ammunition is available for the less excotic calibers reducing a drawback of a pistol, the range. The more common pistols have pretty mediocre damage if you use standard ammunition, you want to use AP or preferably AET ammunition which does incredible amounts of damage when used for headshots.

Machine pistols

Machine pistols could be called large pistols or small submachineguns and they are basically a compromise between the two, lighter than a fullsize submachine gun but unlike the pistols have the ability to fire burst and fullauto. The king of this category is the H&K MP7A1, you can choose one of the others but let's talk about the MP7A1 abit. The attachments this weapon can take is crazy, it can take ALOT, this is in my opinion the best attachments you can use: reflex sight, LAM 200, suppressor and a trigger group to make it fire bursts (if you don't play sci-fi take a small scope), load it up with AET ammo and you are set. I think they went over the top with this gun and rarely use it because it's so powerful, the result of the above mentioned is a weapon with 40 rounds that can fire a burst of 3 rounds for 4 action points or a single shot for 3 AP, in addition to that it does incredible amount of damage and it is very accurate. The cons of the machine pistols include short range and the fact that they can't be carried in a MP holster when suppressed.

Submachine guns

The submachine gun is a shorter and lighter assault rifle that fires pistol rounds (or specialized ammunition, similar to pistol rounds), the ammunition is widely available (with some exceptions), cheap and they are pretty light and quick firing. The weapon of choice here is the FN P90, it takes a few nice attachments such as a suppressor (unlike the magpul and metalstorm, magpul can use an assault rifle suppressor but it isn't effective), laser, small scope, trigger group and the range is decent, it does not take a reflex sight (it have one integrated, firing at 4 AP for a single shot). The combination of firepower, weight and speed makes the submachine gun my first choice as a sidearm, they do however have some drawbacks, the most powerful ones use strange (read rare and expensive) ammunition and they have a tendency to go through alot of it. They also have to be carried in the sling slot.

Shotguns

Shotguns can be used as a sidearm, but my opinion is that they are better off as a secondary weapon in the assault team, they are quite heavy, slow and most important of all they can't be silenced. On the other hand they dish out heavy damage at short range and they have the lockbuster ammunition which can be nice to have sometimes. Could be good as a sidearm for a sharpshooter since he will be close to his enemy most of the time.

Other weapons as sidearm
I can't see why you would want to use a rifle, assault rifle or another sniper rifle as a sidearm, it just doesn't make sense. Of course some assault rifles are better than submachine guns, but I prefer to play the game a little realistic, I don't want to make my sharpshooters assaulters with a sniper rifle.

Conclusion

Pistols, machine pistols or submachine guns are the way to go if you want a sidearm, you will regret it if you don't carry one, my personal choice is the FN P90 or the Five-seven pistol, they should be outfitted with a suppressor and a laser sight of some kind.
It might seem like the P90 is the number 1 choice everytime but I disagree, the Five-Seven is good since it won't take up the sling slot if you find a nice rare weapon you want to bring with you. Another plus is that the ammunition take up less space and you won't go through ammunition so fast.

The armor

The designated marksman will be almost smack down in the middle of the action so it should be natural that he have armor on par with the assaulters. The sniper however have another choice, the ghillie suit, which doesn't provide much armor, the highest rating you can get is 33% and that is with ceramic plates and leg protectors attached, but it provides 100% camo (though I think it is only woodland camo) and with the new inventory the vest camouflage will disappear if you wear a LBE vest. So my suggestion is that you stay away from the ghillie suit (atleast for now, the new inv team is working on it, I think). That leaves us with normal armors, and the best rating you can get is 168% with the EOD suit fully equipped with plates and leg protectors. But that suit is heavy like hell, and in reality it is even heavier so I never use it.

I prefer a treated Dyneema suit with plates and knee pads, it has the same rating as spectra but is a bit lighter. You also have the option of using a helmet cover and an underarmor shirt which provides camo rating along with your LBE vest, just attach them to the vest or helmet like you would with the plates. If you play with the old inventory consider using the zylon vest and pants, they can be modified to suit your needs but provide less armor. If you play sci-fi mode you can get coated armor which gives extra protection.
In the later NewInv releases the team have included the ability to attach a ghillie suit to the armor. The suit consists of three parts and attaches to the helmet, the vest and the pants and gives you 100% camouflage.

Load Bearing Equipment

In the New Inventory a new kind of item was introduced, LBE (Load Bearing Equipment) including vests, pouches , panels and holsters.
A sharpshooter will probably use most if not all of the available LBE items. Note: some pouches are actually pockets, but they are all called pouches in newinv so I will use it here too, the word pocket will be reserved for the pockets of vests and other LBE gear, not the piece of gear itself.

I will not go into the details of the LBE gear in this guide (I intend to write a guide on the NewInv system, in fact I have already started, stay tuned), only mention what I consider important and leave the choice up to you.

The most important thing for a sharpshooter to carry is ammunition. The main pockets for this is the magazine pockets, depending on the vest you will have 2-6 magazine pockets. Of course you can also carry magazines in the large "TNT pocket", but in my experience you will carry other stuff there, such as gas masks or first aid kits, and they won't carry much more than one magazine pocket anyway. If you have a rifle with single round "magazines" or small magazines you will be able to use the small pockets too.

Don't forget the other gear you have to/want to carry, gas masks, wire cutters, pistols, first aid kits and so on, make sure you use a vest with enough pockets.

Another thing to consider, not that important but still, is that the vests gives a camo (woodland) bonus, from 5 to 25% as mentioned before a LBE vest will remove the camo bonus from the armor vest so it may might be nice to have.

Next update: Accessories

This guide will be inactive for a while. The reasons for this is that I want to spend my time writing new guides and I don't play with snipers and especially not DMR's that much anymore.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License