Adeptus Custodes Codex Review: Custodian Guard

Mr.MoreTanks back to talk about my absolutely favorite force in all of the grimdark universe, the Adeptus Custodes.  As always, for more tactics articles, check out the Tactics Corner!

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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About Mr.MoreTanks

Lover of gaming, whiskey, steak, poker, and politics. T.O. of the and events.

19 Responses to “Adeptus Custodes Codex Review: Custodian Guard”

  1. Reecius
    Reecius April 19, 2018 10:02 am #

    I’d love to see someone make a run with a Custodian Guard horde army (as much as you can build a horde with them). But a phalanx style army of the would be quite good I think.

    • Avatar
      VIth April 19, 2018 10:53 am #

      Since the changes to deep strike, that’s what I’ve been toying with. Two large squads with a Vexilla Magnifica (the -1 to hit) marching up the field and some combination of asquads of bikes and/or terminators supporting.

    • Avatar
      rivercity_gaming April 19, 2018 10:54 am #

      Could be cool. Using the stratagem, and now arriving on turn 2, they could arrive in a pretty disruptive place.

      4-5 squads of 5 and a few shield captains gets you to 2k pretty fast though

    • Avatar
      Ujayim April 19, 2018 11:03 am #

      I was going to do just that.

      Two huge units of ten.

      Then the FAQ Nation attacked and now deep striking them is pointless.


      I’ll stick to bikes for now.

      • Reecius
        Reecius April 19, 2018 2:32 pm #

        Deep Striking is pointless now, lol? Methinks you are exaggerating a bit, my friend, haha

        • Avatar
          Ujayim April 19, 2018 2:44 pm #

          I think we’re both a little guilty of that.

          I didn’t say that, at all. I said deep striking two huge units of Custodes was pointless now. I’m sure we can both agree keeping 1k+ pts in reserve is not as strong now.


          That’s what I said.

          • Avatar
            Shas’O April 20, 2018 4:11 am

            I don’t see this as making much of a difference. A good opponent would always have screens in place turn one, so competitive players used turn 1 to kill chaff and would deep strike the scarry stuff turn 2 once the screens were gone.

            This FAQ change really only hurts ppl used to using deep strike to take advantage of folks who didn’t know how to screen.

          • Avatar
            Ujayim April 20, 2018 5:22 am

            I’m certainly willing to elaborate, friend.

            Two units of Ten custodes is around a Thousand points. It’s half of your army. The remainder of your detachment is, bare minimum, another three to four hundred points. You don’t have enough, in my super special snowflake meme scenario, to do that.

            The build is a joke. The comment was a joke. I even gave you a nice little smiley face. I’m sure everyone can agree that a thousand points in reserve for two units isn’t the most sound tactical decision.

    • Avatar
      David Alastair Hayden April 20, 2018 12:13 pm #

      Custodes on foot with Terminator Captains and Vexilla support is what I’m going with. I’m not interested in the Custodes bikes or the Wardens or the Dreadnought or Land Raider. Just Golden Dudes on foot. Sometimes I’ll run them with 4 units of Sisters of Silence in 2 Rhinos for support. Well, that’s what I’m starting with since I have the sisters already.

  2. Avatar
    Lord_Hector_Rex April 19, 2018 10:14 am #

    I do this with my 3×3 squads if guards.

    Supported by the -1 to hit vexilla, the +1 to hit vexilla and a shield captain on a jetbike for rerolls.

    Once the phalanx hits the main blob of the enemy unit I use ‘vexilla teleport homer’ to deepstrike a large squad of allarus 3″ from the enemy. With +1 attacks the Custodes blob deletes everything

    Works really well so far.

    • Reecius
      Reecius April 19, 2018 2:32 pm #

      That sounds awesome, actually.

  3. Avatar
    Lord_Hector_Rex April 19, 2018 10:16 am #

    What’s your opinion on what to arm the guard vexillas with? I feel that giving them a storm shield is a waste. As characters they are protected by the front lines of guard anyway, and you generally want to keep them out of CC when they are buffing your units.

    I’m thinking a guardian spear is the best option, that way they add a little more rapid fire to your guards.

  4. Avatar
    darren April 19, 2018 10:48 am #

    I was about to wreck face with a 7 man unit of custodians, deepstriking in, with avenge the fallen and +1 wound stratagem….but alas, the deepstrike nerf i think kills that strategy (and ptrobably kills any deepstriking strategy for custodes). that’s too many points devoted to being off table for a whole turn in an elite army

    • Avatar
      Ujayim April 19, 2018 11:04 am #

      Don’t forget you could of used index rules to give each squad a Vexilla!

      However, again, I agree that the deep strike change harmed this whole idea more than anything.

      • Reecius
        Reecius April 19, 2018 2:35 pm #

        Alright, lol, come on, guys. You do realize reserves have pretty much ALWAYS come in on turn 2+ throughout the history of the game….right? People still used them then, lol.

        • Avatar
          Ujayim April 19, 2018 2:48 pm #

          To quote a wise man, I believe you’re have an emotional response to my comments, Reece.

          We’re very specifically talking about deep striking large units of Custodian Guard. This is very plainly less powerful now.

          Please don’t be disingenuous with your response. No one has been negative about Custodes. Very, very specifically the notion of deep striking late squads of Custodes was mentioned.

          Darren’s comment was entirely valid and not whining.
          My response to him was giving him an idea, and then agreeing with his assessment to a singular strategy we were discussing.

          Methinks you’ve been in the salt mines of the other thread a little too long, my dude.

        • Avatar
          Xerxus April 20, 2018 8:56 am #

          Don’t you think that you have been exaggerating a bit too much in your defence of this FAQ Reece? The new rule definitely does nerf certain strategies, units and armies. You don’t have to tell everyone that it might still be viable, most of us who complain know that it isn’t the end of the world. It’s just the end of my pure Blood Angels tournament winning dream.

      • Avatar
        Ty April 20, 2018 5:15 pm #

        Doesn’t the new codex Vexilla supercede the index Vexilla the same as Stimulate Injector in T’au?

  5. Avatar
    Don Tomaso April 20, 2018 2:33 pm #

    I´m interested to see if the future CA will lower the points costs on deepstriking custodes units, allarus terminators get a real nerf with the DS faq and they were slightly to costly prior to it.

    Custodes guardians, keeping them from footslogging as much as possible and building quick deepstrike lists around them was pretty much the only viable way not to waste them outside the 3×3 tax on foot due to the over costed landraider option.

    Not sure yet how the first turn strategem and DSing 20-ish guardians work now, havent read up on this today but maybe it is still viable?
    If not guardians (and terminators) need a point drop for loosing their first turn option to reduce their punishment-taking by foot slogging an extra turn. They pay points NOT to have to do that and are now forced to!

    Maybe at least till proper terrain rules are added depending on what they will be like.

    “Alright, lol, come on, guys. You do realize reserves have pretty much ALWAYS come in on turn 2+ throughout the history of the game….right? People still used them then, lol.”

    Yeah, a single unit of nids etc also never put out so much bullets in one go either. Game was created around insane shooting power and first turn deepstrikes to ofset this in some sort of badly thought out rock-paper-scissor concept. Now the DS protection is gone and further hampered by 50% power level on table requirements with no adequate point reductions for the nerfed side.

    That 10+ deepstriking allarus+banners+hqs army I was working on is now dead, thanks, nicely done.
    Footslogging vs ig, of course it “not” a nerf with the proper point reduction (not) given to the custodians. *coughs*

    “You don’t have to tell everyone that it might still be viable”

    Well the GK communities over at dakka and bnc are eagerly awaiting his take on how to “properly” play their army now after his last genius comment regarding this, lol
    Its quite funny actually, that is if you dont care about their collections being given up on.
    But dont blame people too much for becoming bitter, lashing out and shelving their armies, it is just a natural response.

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