If we're going to stick with the idea that Conscripts are only for support, not combat, then why not improve their cost effectiveness instead of combat effectiveness? Let's try them at 220 Manpower a squad and see how they do. Ironic that Soviets struggle with manpower, but not OKW, the one faction that should be scraping the barrel for Manpower scraps, it's completely inverted.
In order to improve the effectiveness of Merge, we could also reduce their Target Size to 1, and add a Squad Received Accuracy Multiplier of the same amount. This ensures Conscripts are less of a liability when merging, but still more likely to be killed on their own.
I still don't like the idea that they are only for support, what are they even supporting? This concept has just led to Penal meta because Conscripts and Maxims are nonviable. I still stand by the idea that Conscripts should get a stock PPSh upgrade available to them.
Actually what led to Penal meta were 2 things that happened in the same patch:
1) Maxim nerf
2) Penal being buffed so much that they completely broken for six months.