Chapter Approved and Adeptus Custodes

Chapter approved has arrived and so the time has come where everyone re evaluates their lists. Are there more viable units besides jetbikes when running a custodes army? And how does the army perform? Let’s find out. And as always, for more tactics articles, check out the Tactics Corner.

Before chapter approved custodes lists were dominated by Vertus Praetors, and their competitiveness count could almost be measured by their jetbike count. You would see shield captains on dawneagle jetbikes, vertus praetors and the mandatory imperial guard 32 man battalion. However: while we saw the 2018 top 8 placed SoCal open custodes list was 17 jetbikes and a DKoK battalion and the LGT 17 vertus praetor madness we also saw Geoff “Icontrol” go undefeated at the BAO with a list containing a bike captain, Trajann Valoris, 3×3 custodian guard, jetbikes, 32 guard an an assassin. I myself recently placed 6th in a 130 man two day event with a custodes list running a shield captain on bike, shield captain on foot, 3×3 custodian guard, dreadnought and 3×3 bikes. So: does CA help push the scales in favour of the custodes battalion?

What changed and what does it mean for my list?

Allarus custodians: These guys went down a couple of points per model but i feel like you still will not want to bring them. A base squad of three equipped with axes goes down from 252 points to 237 points. With the deepstrike/reserves changes deepstriking them turn two and hoping they get into action turn to or turn three really means these guys are not likely the be pulling their weight, and a ~6% price drop is not going to change this. You were not taking these pre beta deepstrike and certainly not after. Their only redeeming quality is their wealth of awesome stratagems, but with the new CA update there are better ways to accessing those

Custodian wardens: Now this is a very very interesting change. Now only clocking in at three points more than a regular Custodian Guard these offer you the option of taking the Castellan Axe, a 6+ feel no pain save and an additional attack. Whats not to love about these guys? If you are only planning on running a single foot squad these guys are absolutely the better option over custodian guard, as are they for foot squads after your first three custodian guard squads. The only case that can be made for the regular custodian guardian currently is that they fill troop slots and help you get those precious extra command points. Custodes stratagems are amongst the best in the entire game and the additional CP offer very real value. That being said: If the command points are not a consideration for you wardens are great. A single three man squad on average takes 10 wounds off of an imperial knight in a single combat round.

Shield captain: Down in points but the shield captain in Allarus terminator armour went down more. Stormshields for characters went down in points as well and this is the only shield captain variant that can take one. Pretty much if you take a regular shield captain you want to have the storm shield 3++ save on him (which forces you to grab the points reduced sentinel blade as well) which means CA saves you 17 points. Even then i am not a fan: the Allarus variant is only 10 points more base and gives you not only an extra wound but also a grenade launcher, innate deepstrike and access to Allarus terminator stratagems.

Allarus terminator shield captain: Down by a whopping 20 points. Honestly this is becoming a very very good package for the price. Custodes are always very strapped for points and this being quite a it cheaper than the bike captain can help your list fit certain units where you otherwise could not. While a shield captain on dawneagle jetbike offers you 14inch movement, toughness 6 and the amazing hurricane bolter the terminator variant still has the same 7 wounds, deepstrike, great stratagems and saves you some points. I would very much like to experiment with an Allarus captain in my lists were it not for one thing: Trajann’s new and improved point reduction.

Captain-General Trajann Valoris: Wooo boy do i have mixed feelings about this one. Now only a handfull of points more than a bike captain he adds rerolling 1’s to wound to his aura which is magnificent for custodians on foot. Not as great for extremely bike heavy lists since their lances have full rerolls to wound on the charge already but it does make your custodian guard with spears so much more fearsome. His moment shackle ability grants you amongst other things the ability to regain d3 command points which will help your force a lot. He is a beast in melee combat and has great survivability. For the current price he is absolutely a steal and almost an auto include now. The only problem i have with him is that before the changes most lists would run shield captains on bike or occasionally a cheap captain on foot. Now running Trajann next to a captain on bike means your total costs for HQ’s went up so you will have to lower your bike count or guardian count. Often when making lists with the new point values i can fit in an extra 3 man Vertus Praetor squad when running a bike captain and an allarus captain but run into trouble when switching the Allarus captain to Trajann. If you are going with a battalion style list i honestly believe adding Trajann will make the list better in almost any conceivable scenario: especially when you have a ForgeWorld Telemon Dreadnought in your army. 12 shots S8 Ap-3 D d3 hitting on 2+ rerolling 1’s to hit and to wound? Yes please! When running a bike heavy outrider list however i do not think he is worth it. He will lack the movement to keep up with the army and the lances are rerolling to wound already.

Venerable Land Raider: No. Just no. I do not see this working: the point reduction is OK but the core issues with the land raider have not been touched at all. Touch it once in combat? It can not fall back and still shoot so becomes useless for a turn. It still does not have a invuln save to survive the heavy firepower the recent Imperial Knight dominated meta has seen and will just get destroyed by every single Knight Castellan we see oh so often. It can only transport five models so even when running a battalion you can not even transport two units of troops. Steer clear of this one.

Venerable Contemptor Dreadnought: Heck yes. Down in points by a huge margin, meaning you can have one of these bad buys in your army for under 160 points now. Only having 4 attacks base without a multi attack profile hurts quite a bit but those attacks are hitting on 2+ and S14 rerolling 1’s to wound when near Trajann. Sure you won’t see these on LVO’s top table but ~470 points for three T7 10W dreadnoughts with 2+ 5++ 6+++ and -1 to hit in shooting is very much playable. An army of three venerable contemptors, trajann, whatever shield captain, a -1 to hit vexilus and ~20 dudes on foot seems like it could be a ton of fun and work pretty well.

Are Adeptus Custodes viable as a mono faction army?

When running the old max jetbike count outrider detachment style certainly not. But also when running a custodes battalion you will run into difficulties. Pretty much every unit in the entire codex is very expensive and only does its job well when in close range. Having a 156 point custodian guard squad sitting on a backfield objective still is as inefficient as ever. The custodes codex is as lacking as ever in having efficient, cheap long ranged units. Forgeworld does alleviate this problem quite a bit with the Dakka Telemon Dreadnought and the Caladius Grav-Tank, but even then you are investing a lot of points into them and are relying on your local event allowing FW beta rules.

Chapter approved also comes with a lot of mission changes: first blood being replaced with first strike hurts us a bit while tabling not being an auto win changes our armies match up against armies such as imperial knights massively (and i would say in the favour of the custodes). Some of the missions add very novel new rules such as the Null Field which forbids units with 12inch of the objective marker to make invuln saves. This in turn hurts custodes massively. Missions where characters are super important, missions where model count is important, missions where the fly keyword is important… Not all events will be running these missions and per usual changing your army composition to the specific events rulespack or gaming stores way of playing games is king. The custodes codex is light on options however and bringing in allies allows you to have a bigger toolbox of solutions to these kinds of things. One thing however remains a constant: a custodes army has very strong forward pressure while having little to no good backfield units.

Allies for Adeptus Custodes post Chapter Approved 2018

Depending on if you run full bikes or a battalion your needs will change a little, but most custodes lists will be looking for a mix of command points, objective control, cheap boardspace control and psychic defence. Pre CA2018 we would often see the standard Astra Militarum Battalion or Death Korps Battalion. None of the units or models in these allied detachments have received any point changes and they remain great options. However: other units have received point changes, CP farming got changed in the big FAQ and it is worth (re)considering the merits of various allies.

Admech Battalion

2 Enginseers and 3 Skitarii Ranger squads. I liked this detachment already before CA and now it became even more attractive. Clocking in at an extremely extremely cheap 165 points with certain very useful weapon options such as the Transuranic Arquebus going down heavily in points as well this is a new contender for favourite imperial plug and play CP battalion. This battalion can also be very trixy. It is very much worth it to forego getting the benefits of a forgeworld dogma to take many different forgeworlds for the various stratagems and relics. I ran this detachment pre CA with my knights making one enginseer Lucius to take the Solar Flare, allowing him to make a grey knight style 30 inch shunt move once per game which is great for objective play. It is also worth it to make one of the ranger uits Lucius as well so you have the option to deepstrike them for one CP. The other units i take as being from Graia because Steel Mind Iron Logic is an amazing stratagem (deny the witch on 4+). If you look for a bit there are plenty of other neat tricks to be gained from this detachment.

Tempestus Scions Battalion

2 Tempestor Primes, 3 Scion squads with 2 plasma guns and a plasma pistol each. Plasma guns went down in points and the hot shot las became free meaning this little battalion clocks in at ~300ish points now. Pro’s of this detachment include being able to move in two phases with the relic and having 15 shots plasma with exploding sixes to hit S8 rerolling to wound versus vehicles, meaning they can hurt knights quite a bit. On the con side the tempestus want to be in rapid fire range meaning you still dont have units for your backfield. Better with bike lists than battalion lists.

Elucidian Starstriders

Received no changes in CA but have gone largely overlooked in 40k, wrongly so in my opinion. Much like the admech battalion: there are many neat little tricks to be had from this detachment. If you make Elucia Vhane your warlord she grants you 3 extra CP for sarstrider stratagems. These are pretty solid and once she dies you can just shoulder the mantle with a shield captain to not give away warlord too easily. The starstriders get lots of ways to deal mortal wounds and add a lot of mobility. For a single CP you may deepstrike the entire detachment of starstriders (up to 5 units). Furthermore Larsen van der Grauss may deepstrike outside of 9 inch of enemies for one CP every single turn. That is crazy mobility for objective control. This detachments lacks an obsec variant but considering your entire custodes force pretty much has that already means you can get away with it. This force compliments a custodes battalion surprisingly well.

Sisters of Battle Battalion

215 points minimum with the new beta codex. Purity of faith offers a deny the witch on 4+for a CP which is great. Hand of the emperor only adds 3inch move instead of the old acts of faith allowing you to move in two phases with the relic which does suck  bit. Still 15 models with a 2+ in terrain are decent and you have loads of options to spice the detachment up a bit. The beta rules are still very fresh so expect to see people experiment with these quite a bit.

Besides these there are still plenty of allies you can make work. The tried and true blood angels smash captains still work, helverins are great, deathwatch could turn out pretty solid. Sisters of silence went down in points. All in all there are lots of great options to ally in but you mostly will see the cheaper options of the astra militarum battalion and the admech battalion.


Custodes will not live up to their pre-imperial knights codex heyday of 17 bikes with an AM battalion smashing tournaments and getting 5 of these lists into the top 8. But this is a good thing in my opinion. Post CA 2018 there is more reason to run more varied and balanced lists, especially with Trajann. And while we may not see the faction consistently place top 8 at the largest events i do believe the codex is in a pretty healthy state, easily being able to go undefeated at larger 5 round events. Personally i plan on trying my luck with a custodes battalion with Trajann, Shield Cap on Bike, 3×3 Custodian Guard, -1 to hit Vexilus, 2×3 Vertus Praetors, the Elucidian Starstriders and a knight Gallant. What units are you looking forward to using? I am interested to know if you think all jetbikes is still the way to go or that the battalion has a place now. And with CA is there finally a detachment that has made you shift away from the famous 32 AM battalion? Let us know in the comments!


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About ChrisG

ChrisG (or Ahkris) is an avid tournament player in the Netherlands who also does vlogs, podcasts, battle reports and painting tutorials.

12 Responses to “Chapter Approved and Adeptus Custodes”

  1. Avatar
    Colinsherlow December 18, 2018 5:08 pm #

    Have been getting so many pop ups in mobile mode on here it’s not even funny. I mean on the site. Not specifically this article.

    • Reecius
      Reecius December 18, 2018 5:10 pm #

      Hey guys, totally get you want to express issues you may be having about the site (and it is appreciated) but you can email me at and I am happy to field any questions.

      Just leaving a comment on the top article isn’t the best way to do it, and it kind of bums out the writers who are looking for reader interaction and it’s a bit of a letdown when they check it and it’s about something unrelated.

      • Avatar
        Colinsherlow December 18, 2018 5:23 pm #

        Sorry about that. I will know better for next time

        • Reecius
          Reecius December 18, 2018 5:31 pm #

          All good, and to your point, somehow the pop-ups turned back on. Weird. I don’t know how that hapenned, I will have to figure that out. So, thanks for letting me know, I just don’t want to spam an article with technical stuff.

  2. Avatar
    Kevin Lantz December 20, 2018 2:59 am #

    I’m always happy to see a list that doesn’t include the castellan. Your idea with the gallant sounds at least enjoyable to play against.

    • Reecius
      Reecius December 20, 2018 8:30 am #

      The Gallant and the Valiant are amazing Knights. They often get ignored, especially the Valiant which is a shame because they’re great.

      • ChrisG
        ChrisG December 20, 2018 8:39 am #

        I have been thinking about doig a series “non meta mondays” and discussing these kinds of units a bit more. I have actually been running tripple valiant a couple of times as Krast and it works like a charm. People have seen the Castellan been run in every IG army out there but i do believe in a knights list the Castellan is very much a trap. With chapter approved you now can run three Crusaders with RFBC and rocket pods, a gallant and the admech battalion.And that just seems very very solid haha.

        • Reecius
          Reecius December 20, 2018 9:16 am #

          Triple Valiant? Wow, yeah, I’d love to learn more about cool lists like that.

        • Avatar
          Aervanna December 20, 2018 1:46 pm #

          As we discussed at the last GT, i follow the sermons of Chris as well. All praise House Krast :p

  3. Avatar
    Jayce January 29, 2019 5:47 pm #

    Good advice in this article. Do you think you guys will do a Forgeworld tactics article for all the new Custodes FW units that dropped last week?

  4. Avatar
    Trevor February 20, 2019 11:09 am #

    Really debating starting a Custodes Army… love the look of the giant knights. Kinda a bummer when you find out they arent all that great or competitive.

    Not really into running mixed armies, as idk it just feels strange to me to mix and match units from different armies, feels very anti-immersive for me personally.

    Also love the idea of an army of big tanky boys charging down the battlefield to kill people in close combat with space swords/axes just a very cool theme that I dig.

  5. Avatar
    John August 9, 2019 10:19 pm #

    I’m thinking of doing 3×3 Guardians with sword and shield, two Vexillus Praetor with the 5+ invuln bubble, one as warlord allowing the Guardians to heroically intervene, 2-3 Bike Captains, and a battalion of Imperial Guard (Cadians) with some las cannons and Leman Russ. Should make the Guard very hard to remove, and draw charges to remove las cannons that the Guardians can respond to. One company commander with the Dagger of Deepstriking, and another with the relic that regains CP.

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