Faction Focus: Adeptus Custodes

The Warhammer-community team brings us the 9th ed 40k Custodes faction focus!

The Imperium’s most elite warriors really shine in the new edition, and not just because of their gleaming auramite armour. We’re here with Adeptus Custodes superfan and honorary Shield-Captain Brian Pullen to share some thoughts about how they’ll perform.

Who Are They?

The Adeptus Custodes are the personal bodyguard of the Emperor of Mankind, and they represent the pinnacle of His gene-craft. Each warrior is a work of art – pure of body and soul, equipped with beautifully wrought armour and artificer weaponry forged specifically for each individual, and trained from birth as masters of the arts of war. Each Custodian is the equal of the very mightiest heroes of the Imperium, and though their primary duty is to defend the Golden Throne on Holy Terra, when their Shield Companies are mustered for open war, they are nigh unstoppable.

How They Play in the New Edition

Everything you love about the Adeptus Custodes is still here – they still have a low model count, though each one hits like a ton of golden bricks, and they still have access to strong Stratagems, and more. Brian Pullen, Grand Tournament winner and member of the playtesting team, shares some of the reasons he’s so excited about their bright future.

Brian: The Adeptus Custodes are one of the most improved armies in the new edition. They’ve always had one of the most impressive collections of Stratagems, but now they have enough Command points to put them all to use! With clever army building and a bit of luck, you may easily find yourself with over 20 CPs during a game – more than double what most Adeptus Custodes players are used to.

The new missions work really well for the Adeptus Custodes as well. Many of them offer fewer opportunities to score points in the first turn, giving your forces time to get in place – and into optimal range for their weapons. Much of the game will revolve around controlling central objectives, forcing your opponents to come to you, which is just where the Adeptus Custodes want them. Of course, since almost the entire army has Objective Secured* and is super durable, you’ll hold those objectives better than anyone else in the game.

Vehicles and monsters are generally stronger in the new edition, so to combat this, the Adeptus Custodes need to make good use of terrain – and storm shields, of course! The new edition offers much more nuanced terrain rules with more ways to keep your units safe. A good example is the new Dense Cover rule, which applies to things like woods and industrial structures, giving your enemies -1 to hit your units.

With more CPs at your disposal, it’s easy to hold back your most important units in Strategic Reserves or drop them in right where they’re needed using the Vexilla Teleport Homer Stratagem.

At 3CP, this used to be an ability you could do once per game, but now you can afford it a few times!

It’s tough for Adeptus Custodes armies to take advantage of the new Look Out, Sir! rule, since most units start with just three models. However, this can be remedied with – you guessed it – the liberal expenditure of your Command points. Simply give multiple Shield-Captains Warlord Traits, Relics, give one of them the Victor of the Blood Games Stratagem, and even upgrade one to a Commander.

With all those buffs, your opponents won’t even bother shooting at them… maybe.

You’ll want to rush your warriors to the centre of the board and secure the objectives as quickly as possible. You should also use terrain to help increase their durability against heavy shooting armies. Keep a few of your strongest units in reserve and look for opportunities to deep strike in. Use the Vexilla Teleport Homer to put them exactly where you want them or the new Golden Light of the Moiraides Stratagem to improve your charge and get stuck in!

Key Units

The Adeptus Custodes have fewer options than many other armies, but every unit is a powerhouse, and there’s not a bad choice among them. However, Brian had a couple of strong recommendations to pass on, based on his experiences. 

Allarus Custodians

Brian: Allarus Custodians are the standout unit and the backbone of the army. I would never leave Terra without at least a unit of six. Between the powerful Stratagems that increase their durability, their game-winning ability to deep strike reliably into combat, and abilities that allow them to target Characters, they’re an obvious pick.

Venerable Contemptor Dreadnought

With the ability to move and shoot without penalty, plus shoot whilst in Engagement Range, Dreadnoughts are more deadly than ever. Psychic Awakening: War of the Spider also gave Dreadnoughts two new Stratagems to make them even harder to put down, and hit even more destructive in melee.

What About the Sisters of Silence?

These witch-hunting psychic nulls are often found alongside Adeptus Custodes forces as the other half of the Talons of the Emperor, and that easy alliance remains a key element of army-building in the next edition. You can include units of Sisters of Silence without invalidating your army-wide bonuses, and their unique abilities are a natural complement to your Custodes units.

The already-impressive Talons of the Emperor are even sharper in the new edition, as now you have plenty of Command points to utilise the wealth of Stratagems at your disposal. 

Will you command the elite of the elite and bring the fight to the enemies of the Imperium in the new edition? Let us know what you think about them on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter and show us any Talons of the Emperor you’ve been working on with #WarhammerCommunity.


* This is the catch-all term for abilities like Sworn Guardians.

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