Custodian Guard form the backbone of the Army of Terra. These titanic, warrior champions can put even the mighty Primaris Astartes to shame. Do not mistake these “basic” warriors for some Marines with power weapons, they will put you in the dirt.
Custodian Guard are the backbone of the Army of Terra. This is where the newest members of the Adeptus Custodes are inducted into. Noble Terran families bring their newborn sons to the Imperial Palace, and offer them that they might join the ranks of the Legio Custodes. The family name’s are stripped away and the children that are taken are given new identities. This is to serve two purposes; first, since the new name comes from the Custodes and ultimately, the Emperor, it signifies that they belong to the Golden Legion and the Master of Mankind. Second, it preserves the honor of the families that volunteer their infants. Any of those standing silently in golden armor could come from any family, and it is something that keeps families returning to offer their sons. Those that survive the lengthy and complex surgeries along with the grueling training exercises can rise to stand among the greatest warriors the Emperor has ever created. Let’s see what this looks like on the table top then.
Let’s check out what we’re working with here:
- WS: 2+, BS: 2+, S: 5, T: 5, W: 3, A: 3, Ld: 8, Sv: 2+/5++
While these may be the only Troop unit in the Codex, this impressive set of stats more than makes up for it in my mind. Coming in minimum units of 3 to a maximum size of 10, there are different roles that you can really use these Custodes for. Dropping the minimum size to 3 is a huge boon that cannot be overlooked. Why we care about having a smaller size unit is that it really changes what we can justify having these guys do. Minimum sized units can hold backfield objectives and have a pretty respectable chance of fighting off most anything that comes there way. Deep Strikers beware as these golden guardians will be more work than most to push them off the objectives. These units, while not cheap, are pretty affordable when considering their kill and durability power, and will do an amazing job supporting units like Imperial Guardsmen in the backfield.
Larger units still also have the durability and killing power to smash apart even the most elite units in your opponent’s army. I rarely take a unit larger than 6, and that is usually only in more casual games. I tend to be a firm believer in the 3 man units.
40 points before wargear is a pretty awesome steal when you consider not only the impressive stats, but the great Special Rules that back them up. In a pure Custodes detachment, these guys will have a base 4++. The importance for small elite armies to have strong invulnerable saves cannot be overstated.
The guardian spear is probably the option that you’ll be going with the most, especially considering that it is cheaper and helps a bit out with firepower. Not very much, but a bit. With a reach of 24 inches and Rapid Fire 1, Strength of 4, AP -1, and a Damage of 2, this is a surprisingly good weapon for softening up bigger targets or infantry. It’s no secret to say that Custodes’ biggest weakness is their firepower, or rather, their lack of it. You will not win a gun fight, so don’t try to get into one. Use the spears to soften up targets on the way in, not to kill them in a fight. The spears will do one thing really well though, kill Primaris Marines. Cutting down the power armor to a 4+ save thanks to the -1 AP, the 2 Damage ensures that they are put down when they fail their saves. In previous editions, being able to kill Space Marines was often the benchmark for me in terms of tournament worth; nowadays, I use Primaris Marines are the benchmark. In terms of combat punch, guardian spears are outstanding. +1 Strength, AP -3, and Damage D3 is a weapon to fear, and getting 3 attacks from a Custodian Guard at Strength 5 with WS 2+ means that this can really kill anything. I think I like the spears the most as the end of the day, especially on the minimum sized units for sure.
On the larger units though, storm shields and sentinel blades are worth considering. There are few things more annoying than a 3++, especially when your opponent’s dice are hot. The sentinel blade is very similar to the guardian spear in terms of melee stats, User Strength, AP -3, and Damage D3 really is quite terrifying. Losing the Strength bonus from the spear is something to be aware of, but it’s not really a deal breaker for me. The deal breaker for me is the range. The sentinel blade is a Pistol 2 weapon with 12 inches of range, Strength 4, Damage 1, and AP 0. Without much firepower to begin with, having basically just a bolt pistol isn’t that impressive at the end of the day. The only time that will really be meaningful in terms of these weapons is if your Guards get stuck in a tar pit and have to cut and shoot their way out. If this happens though, you are likely in trouble.
So to recap this collection of scatter brain thoughts, I think that at the end of the day there are two approaches with Guards. Most of the time, bring minimum units of 3 with guardian spears will be the best bet. These units should hold backfield objectives, and be defensive. Hiding out of line of sight and waiting for opposing forces to be focused on aggressive units before exposing them for grabbing objectives is a must. Custodes are tough, but not invulnerable. They can’t get shot at if they can’t be seen. The other approach is to bring a unit of 5 to 6, with 3 packing shields and swords and the rest with spears. This unit should use the Stratagem that allows them to Deep Strike, and get into the opponent’s grill as quickly as possible. Moving a large block of durable models with high Invulnerable Saves is tough to do, especially if jetbikes are also applying pressure. At the end of the day though, keeping these units cheap and cautiously holding the midfield is likely your best use for them. In the likely event that you’re playing a “soup” army, these Guard will protect some of your softer units while the heavy lifters do the work. Even three of these guys with spears can carve through most anything that they come across, especially more common backfield threats like Scions or Primaris Reavers.
Custodian Guards will likely form the backbone of your army, and if you use them defensively and choose your fights wisely, you’ll be happy. I’ve been mostly approaching this analysis from the perspective that the Custodes would be the primary force in your army, if not the single force. If you’re using allies like Imperial Guardsmen, which is a great idea, use them to basically keep threats back that want to chew through easy targets but don’t really have the ability to go through anything too big. Reavers are a great example of this, and should fold against even minimum Custodes Guard units.
That’s a wrap, this was a bigger one than normal, and as these units have to fulfill more complicated roles, I’ll try to bring you a more in depth look at them all.
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