Sniper (EU2012)

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Sniper Squad

A class able to inflict massive long range damage on enemy targets from a position of safety. They are good at inflicting critical hits, and can augment the chances further with their special Headshot ability. Special training can allow the sniper to provide long range cover fire, disarm enemies or reconnaissance. The drawback being a Sniper can't move and shoot except with the Snap Shot talent.

Primary Weapon: Sniper Rifle, Laser Sniper Rifle or Plasma Sniper Rifle.
Secondary Weapon: Pistol, Laser Pistol or Plasma Pistol.

The Sniper relies heavily on positioning, favourable terrain and the cooperation of squad mates to locate their marks. The Sniper is otherwise a poor close range combatant. Rank promotions will give Snipers the biggest increase in Aim when compared to the other classes (+40 points total). Their drawback is that upon reaching Colonel rank a Sniper will also receive less 1 Health Point than any of the other classes (+3 total) but the same Will (+14 total)


Rank Ability
Fire a shot with +30% critical chance and extra damage on critical hits based on the tech level of the sniper rifle. 2 turn cooldown.
Snap Shot
Removes the sniper rifle's restriction on firing and Overwatch after moving. Any shots taken suffer a -20 Aim penalty.
EW DLC: Removes the sniper rifle's restriction on firing and Overwatch after moving. Any shots taken suffer a -10 Aim penalty.
Allows firing at targets in any ally's sight radius.
EW DLC: Allows firing at targets in any ally's sight radius, but these targets cannot be critically hit unless using Headshot.
Confers 2 bonus damage with pistols.
Damn Good Ground
+10 Aim and +10 Defense against enemies at lower elevation in addition to the usual elevation bonuses. (including while flying)
Disabling Shot
Allows the Sniper to fire a shot that causes the target's main weapon to malfunction. The target may use Reload to fix the weapon. The shot cannot inflict a critical hit. 2 turn cooldown. (-10 Aim, reduced Damage)
Battle Scanner
Scanning device, when thrown creates a new source of vision for 2 turns. Can only be used 2 times per battle.
+10% Aim against targets with less than 50% Health.
Eliminates the Aim penalty on reaction shots, and allows reaction shots to cause critical hits.
Low Profile
Makes partial cover count as full.
In The Zone
Killing a flanked or uncovered target with the sniper rifle does not cost an action. (applies only once to Pistols)
Double Tap
Allows both actions to be used for Standard Shot, Headshot, or Disable Shot, provided no moves were made. 1 turn cooldown. (Can't be used with Snap Shot)

Tips & Trix

  • Sniper Rifles suffer an aim penalty when targeting enemies in close quarters, making the pistol more useful than on other classes.
  • Snap Shot or Squad Sight, makes for two completely different play styles of snipers. Plan your build ahead.
  • Squad Sight still requires free line of sight from the sniper to the target.
  • Damn Good Ground is best combined with an armor with flight or a grapple hook.
  • Battle Scanner is often more useful on Snap Shot snipers, due to its limited range.
    It can also be thrown through UFO doors.
  • Gunslinger with Foundry Pistol upgrades puts pistols on par with most Rifles.
  • Disabling Shot is useful for captures or to disable high damage targets and mind controlled soldiers.

Tactical Advice

The Sniper works exactly as you would expect: long range, high damage, low mobility engagement. Depending on the level and your position, a Sniper will either be an unstoppable murder engine snuffing out at least one enemy every round, or he'll spend most of the time running around useless trying to get a line of sight. Building a sniper revolves around managing their killing power while stationary versus their complete lack of it while on the move. Despite this, there are a number of no-brainer choices in their ability tree, greatly limiting the viable customization.


RANK CORPORAL.png Corporal SNIPER SNAPSHOT.png Snap Shot vs. Squad Sight SNIPER SQUADSIGHT.png

Snap Shot is a future investment. It is designed to help the Sniper contribute on maps in which obtaining line of sight is difficult. However, the accuracy penalty drops the Sniper's Aim from the best in the game to noticeably worse than both Assaults and Supports and sniper rifles suffer from an additional Aim penalty in close quarters. However this can be compensated later by other Sniper abilities (Damn Good Ground, Executioner) and equipment (Archangel/Ghost armors) to turn the Snap Shot Sniper into a mobile flying/stealth Marksman that will be very effective at midrange fights (around 10 game tiles). In The Zone will further turn it into a killing machine, by allowing it to move and kill outflanked targets without using any action.

On the Enemy Within DLC the Aim penalty after moving has been reduced from -20 to -10, making it more attractive.

Squad Sight is the ability that allows your Sniper to actually snipe like the original game. In short, a soldier's ability to target enemies relies on the range of his weapon (100, or 66 game tiles for Sniper Rifles), having line of sight to the target, and being within vision range of the target (27, or 18 game tiles). Squad Sight removes the last requirement, allowing the rest of your squad to spot for your sniper as he relaxes three-quarters of the level away. Squad Sight allows you to make use of high ground more effectively (further amplifying your killing power), cover your squad as they advance, and actually hit anything, ever. Snipers that are not in vision range can not be attacked, making this ability an amazing boost to both offense and defense.

On the Enemy Within DLC, this ability has been changed and only Headshots can cause Critical Hits when targeting an enemy with Squad Sight (enemies targeted without Squad Sight will calculate Critical hits as normal).

RANK SERGEANT.png Sergeant SNIPER GUNSLINGER.png Gunslinger vs. Damn Good Ground SNIPER DGG.png

Damn Good Ground rewards you for parking on high ground and blasting away, which is what you want to be doing anyway. This helps the Sniper as your go-to for getting rid of a high priority target, and partially makes up for the fact that you are generally shooting into cover. You should be shooting from high ground more often than you shoot your pistol, and Damn Good Ground accentuates that. Both Snipers will get a ton of mileage out of Damn Good Ground. Once you research Archangel Armor, getting the benefit of DGG becomes very easy, making it a good pick late game.

Gunslinger is the ability you want if you need a Sniper that can scoot and shoot. The boost to pistols is mostly effective to help snipers survive Floater and Thin Men overflanking moves. You won't be a force to be reckoned with in close range, but you'll contribute. Gunslinger is a little redundant for Snapshot Snipers, and becomes more so as abilities and promotions make up for the aim penalty. For Squadsight Snipers, Gunslinger will make the sniper more useful in situations demanding lots of movement, or where drawing line of sight is difficult, like larger UFOs. Gunslinger is significantly less useful for psionic snipers, since they can use Mind Fray on most occasions where they would use a pistol. Finally, Gunslinger combined with Double Tap and Improved Pistol III turns your Sniper into a unit that can fire with better Aim and deal more damage with a Plasma Pistol at all ranges (6 base damage for each shot, or 12 combined damage), than a Support with a Plasma Rifle (7 base damage).

RANK LIEUTENANT.png Lieutenant SNIPER DISABLINGSHOT.png Disabling Shot vs. Battle Scanner SNIPER BATTLESCANNER.png

Disabling Shot is a nice option for when blowing a hole out the back of a target's head isn't an option. This ability is useful if you have a dangerous target you're not confident you can kill this turn (Cyberdiscs and Sectopods), if you're going for a capture, or to neutralize a mind controlled friendly. There is a small Aim penalty (-10) attached to this shot, and the attack does reduced damage; if going for a capture, make sure you don't accidentally kill the target.
Note: Disabling shot is the only thing you have that can prevent your mind controlled troops from flattening your non-mind controlled ones, short of killing them first; if killing the mind controller is not an option.

  • NOTE: Disabling Shot does not take effect until the end of your turn. If you use this ability on an alien in Overwatch, it will still fire on you if you move in its line of sight during the same turn. This is a bug.

Battle Scanner is the best scouting tool in the game this side of Ghost Armor. Giving it to a Snap Shot sniper turns it into a scout/sniper unit. Scanning does not trigger enemies to take cover, so you can use this to get the jump on a pack of aliens, either landing a rocket in them while they're bunched up, or getting a free sniper shot on one out of cover. Its limited range means that the Sniper will not be in range to use it on open maps where he's miles away from his team, but a Sniper with Squad Sight can use it and it can be very useful in close quarters, especially with melee enemies afoot. Battle Scanners can be thrown through alien doors, making them handy in UFOs. On the Enemy Within DLC be careful through since this action will open the UFO door.

RANK CAPTAIN.png Captain SNIPER EXECUTIONER.png Executioner vs. Opportunist SNIPER OPPORTUNIST.png

Executioner is nice when a wounded enemy absolutely needs to die, but there are two things to consider. First, the bonus itself is fairly minor on a class that already has great Aim but it can very useful for a Snap Shot sniper to deliver the killing blow. Second, snipers are generally able to kill most ordinary targets in one shot, which will keep the trigger condition from being relevant much of the time. When fighting very high hit-point enemies such as Sectopods, 50% of such an enemy's health amounts to quite a significant chunk of health. As the random number generator can be fickle at times, pushing your to-hit rate up to 100% against a major enemy is never a bad thing.

Opportunist improves your ability to cover the rest of the squad during Overwatch, helping mostly when aliens decide to patrol into your team blindly. With the range on Sniper Rifles, this ends up being a nice bit of coverage. Enemies triggering Overwatch are frequently in the open, partially reducing the need for this, but it's still an improved chance to save you time during your actual turn. The biggest sell for Opportunist is that your Sniper's Overwatch shots can now score critical hits: with a Plasma Sniper Rifle on hand, pretty much any aliens, even Muton Elites, that wander into view during Alien Activity are often dead on arrival, or at least severely wounded. If you go for two Snipers with Opportunist, try to place them with different lines of sight, so that they're less likely to waste a shot shooting at the same alien.

On the Enemy Within DLC, Opportunist is indirectly nerfed on Squad Sight Snipers due to the fact that Squad Sight shots can no longer score critical hits.

RANK COLONEL.png Colonel SNIPER ITZ.png In the Zone vs. Double Tap SNIPER DOUBLETAP.png

In The Zone offers unmatched offensive potential in the right conditions. Snapshot snipers, if armed with Ghost Armor, can sneak behind a squad of entrenched enemies and picked them off on the next turn. Squad Sight snipers will rarely flank an enemy, so will need to focus on exposed targets. Aliens that can't take cover - Chryssalids, Zombies, Drones, Cyberdiscs, Muton Berserkers, Sectopods, and Ethereals - and flying units (treated as exposed for the purposes of In The Zone) will be your primary targets. In the event that you kill an exposed alien with an Overwatch shot, you'll get another non-move action next turn. Finally, squad mates can assist the sniper by blowing away cover with rockets or grenades. Note: In The Zone can be triggered with a pistol, but only once per turn.

Double Tap is both powerful and broadly applicable. For comparison, this is Rapid Fire (Assault) without an aim penalty, and the ability to re-target. You will never ever regret having it. If you took Snap Shot, keep in mind that the second shot suffers -20 Aim penalty (due to a bug) and you can't Double Tap after moving.


Weapon: You can technically get by for a little while without upgrading your sniper rifles thanks to their good damage, high critical rate, and Headshot. However, a Sniper that can't kill targets in a single shot is not a very good asset to the squad, so you will want to keep up with tech here. Snipers also benefit from pistols much more than other classes, give them your best for those turns that they can't sit still or cannot fire their main weapon.

Armor: The best defense is a good offense. The second best defense is being too damn far away. Snipers have both of these, so you generally don't need to prioritize armor. Skeleton Suit will help get you to a good position, and the defense bonus stacks nicely with Low Profile. Archangel is your go-to for the end game. A case for Ghost Armor can be made for Snap Shot Snipers with In The Zone, as it will allow your Sniper to get into position with far less hassle. However, Ghost Armor can be expensive, and there are a couple other classes which should get the Ghost Armor first, so plan accordingly.

Item: Snipers generally get the most benefit from equipping a S.C.O.P.E. as it augments their already high accuracy and critical rate. If you're finding their normal aim progression to be sufficient, you may want to arm items that mitigate the Snipers' close combat weakness such as a Nano-Fiber Vest or Chitin Plating. Alternately, arm equipment to provide additional functionality such as an Arc Thrower for capture, grenades for anti-cover, or another Medikit to prevent poison attacks from Thin Men.

Gene Mods

For the Sniper, Gene Mods are focused on, like everything else with the Sniper, Squad Sight or Snap Shot.

Brain For the Brain, Snapshot Snipers can go either way, depending on the base Will of the soldier. Lower Will Snipers will want Neural Dampening, while higher can go with Feedback. Squad Sight Snipers are the same, but the Brain is much lower priority since they are less likely to be in the line of fire.

Eyes For Squad Sight Snipers, Depth Perception will make you feel less guilty about taking Gunslinger instead of Damn Good Ground while Hyper Reactive Pupils will see very little benefit. For Snapshot, either will work fine. As with Brain, priority here should go to Snapshot rather than Squad Sight.

Chest You can never go wrong with Secondary Heart for either one. Squad Sight Snipers will get little benefit from Adrenal Neurosympathy since they usually aren't in the middle of the squad, while Snap Shot will enjoy the benefit. Once again, priority should go to Snap Shot first than Squad Sight.

Skin Bioelectric Skin is a must for Squad Sight Snipers. It's not uncommon to leave them far behind the rest of the Squad and the last thing you need is a Seeker popping up and saying "Hi!" to your Squad Sight Sniper when the rest of the Squad is embroiled in a fierce firefight on the other side of the map. Mimetic Skin will help Snapshot Snipers out on those turns they can sit still. Squad Sight Snipers are of higher priority for Skin than Snapshots are.

Legs Muscle Fiber Density will really help either Sniper get into a good position easier, while Adaptive Bone Marrow will help make up for the Sniper's inherent squishyness. Either will work and there really is no priority, though you may want to get Adaptive Bone Marrow on Snapshots faster since they're more likely to be in the thick of things.


All-around designed for long-range combat, one of the making the game harder suggestions is simply "Never choose Squad Sight." A Sniper with Squad Sight and Damn Good Ground, flying high with Archangel Armor (an additional Defense bonus on top of DGG, for the rare time an enemy does get in range) and equipped with an upgraded Scope can pretty much ignore whatever cover aliens may have, and with Double Tap, one sniper fights like two soldiers, and two full snipers may seem like overkill. With Disabling Shot, the second shot can be used to simultaneously soften and disarm aliens for other solders to kill and level up with. With Opportunist, any alien that moves out of cover is almost a guaranteed kill. Watch your ammo levels, though.

With a six-member squad, and the UFOs and many levels having a degree of symmetry, a regular tactic is to send two 3-member squads on each path (a sniper with each, taking back positions), which keeps any aliens on the other path from flanking around: a well-positioned sniper will reach out and help with front-line combat, and should shoot first for any frisky aliens who try to rush through, like Chryssalids (who fall easily to a Headshot even from the basic Sniper Rifle), rather than leaving the front-line troops move-less in attacking, or having them fall back to defend, leaving a gap for any more aliens to rush through. With that in mind, both Floater species are perhaps the biggest threat to snipers: their frequently-used Launch ability is utilized to flank your rearmost soldier, which will often be your Sniper. Your mid-range fighters being close enough to provide backup, or another Squad Sight sniper, and having them cover one another, is the best defense against this.

An excellent late game tactic involves two Squad Sight Snipers (and at least one with Opportunist), and a forward soldier with Ghost Armor: the ghosting soldier "recons" for the Snipers, and finds a 3-member squad of aliens, inactive and out of cover. The Sniper with Opportunist goes into Overwatch. Then the other sniper fires, killing the first alien. Activating the squad makes the aliens go into cover, triggering the overwatching sniper, which will have equal aim, probably also killing another alien. Lastly, the cloaked soldier takes their shot, at 100% critical chance, possibly finishing off the squad.

A Psionic Sniper is generally hard to train in open terrain situations, as you will not have the tendency to have them up front to attack with Mind Fray, though it is a valuable alternative to the pistol in the event of a Floater jump. "Psi Panic" has similar limitations when outdoors, and Telekinetic Field probably won't have the range to cover your front-line soldiers, who would benefit the most from it. Psi Inspiration can be used as a kind of support, boosting other psi soldiers before sending them forward to Fray/Panic/MC. Lastly, Mind Control is an excellent auxiliary move for any aliens that happen to flank the sniper.

Enemy Within DLC Supplemental:

For the existing classes, most changes went into Snipers, from long-distance Squadsight only getting critical hits if Headshot is used, to Snap Shot having only a -10 penalty, easily negligible by S.C.O.P.E., certain Medals, and Gene Mods effects. Essentially, while you find they may not hit as hard anymore (in the case of a Squad Sight Opportunist no longer mowing down alien squads halfway across the planet), they can be set up to rarely, if ever, miss- especially with certain Second Wave options active giving +100 Aim scores. With Training Roulette, Squadsight and Snap Shot are still chosen at the second leveling, and Disabling Shot and Double Tap remain, as well. You may get something useful, like HEAT Ammo, or something absurd (but still useful) like Suppression (with a bolt-action rifle; think about that for a second), or somewhat useless, like Grenadier.

With that: Tactical Rigging unlocking a second item leaves an open question for Snipers, of what exactly else to carry. Most players will not have their Snipers near the front line, so grenades aren't more than a holdout weapon for a launched Floaters (when the Plasma Pistol and Mindfray are better options than Alien Grenade or Flashbang Grenades). If you find them regularly troubled by Seekers, the Respirator Implant is the obvious choice, while slapping Chitin Plating on them is good for the +4 HP, but the melee effect probably won't be a regular thing for them, especially for those flying safe in Archangel Armor. On the other hand: if you've been playing with Training Roulette, and haven't managed to get something like your usual Medic Support, your Sniper's extra slot could hold a Medikit in reserve for a battered front-line soldier, allowing them to fall back and be healed.

The first inventory slot you will probably still keep S.C.O.P.E.s on.

See Also

EU2012 Badge XCOM: Enemy Unknown (2012): XCOM Units
Soldiers:CLASS ASSAULT.png AssaultCLASS HEAVY.png HeavyCLASS SNIPER.png SniperCLASS SUPPORT.png SupportCLASS PSIONIC.png PsionicCLASS MECH.png MEC Trooper (EW DLC)
S.H.I.Vs:S.H.I.V.Alloy S.H.I.V.Hover S.H.I.V.
Attributes:ClassesClass BuildsAbilitiesStatsNicknamesGene Mods (EW DLC)Medals (EW DLC)
Loadout:WeaponsArmorEquipmentMEC Suit (EW DLC)
Barracks:Officer Training SchoolPsi LabMemorialGenetics Lab (EW DLC)Cybernetics Lab (EW DLC)
Other: VolunteerHeroesZhang (Slingshot DLC)Annette (EW DLC)Covert Operative (EW DLC)Training Roulette (EW DLC)