Custodes Vs Marines; Making a Plan

Hey you gamers, Mr.MoreTanks back after a long time getting sucked into Age of Sigmar and life in general.

I was in a weird spot by the end of 8th, I pretty much sold all my 40k except for Custodes. I’m part of the problem though and am rebuilding an Ultramarine army that’s primaris based. 

But for now, let’s talk about what is shaping up to be the big bad boogey man of 9th, Adeptus Astartes. From GW confirming that Firstborn will be gaining another wound, to many weapons dramatically going up in killing power, Marines have clearly come to play in this edition. It is frankly going to suck slogging it against them for most armies until they get their 9th Codexes. 

Instead of bemoaning what we don’t have though, let’s look at what we can do for now. So what do Marines have going for them? Well, mostly everything. They’ve got tools to deal with us in every way, despite being the SECOND best of the Emperor’s servants. That being said, we’re not without our options. 

Custodes have risen well in 9th. With very moderate points adjustments compared to most armies, great new stratagems and rules in War of the Spider, and a plethora of command points for the first time ever, we are a strong spot. How do we capitalize on those strengths against Astartes? 

I tend to keep my Custodes army pretty close together. Huddled around my Vexillus and Trajan, so that I can maximize my versatility and strength of the army. This has some obvious drawbacks; it is hard for me to win on Objectives, but by keeping the army in a careful footprint, I can minimize this issue and still typically hold 2 to 3 Objectives without breaking up my castle too much. Still, I have to go at a slow to medium pace, and that can really be an issue against a fast MSU army. Custodes are also terrible at a LOT of the Secondaries. Anything about taking Actions or psychic powers is instantly out of consideration for us, as we have so few units we HAVE to be using them to kill every turn and we have no psykers in our book. 

That being said, the strategy of keeping the army together serves us in one major way. My opponents have to fight my whole army, with the exception of Reserves. With the plethora of Objectives in 9th, you will see MSU builds that scatter to the corners of the table to snag Objectives and Secondaries. We can eat these things alive with our concentrated damage output, and very rarely be worried about a concentrated attack if we use the table/terrain to our advantage. 

This I think is the key to fighting Marines in 9th for Custodes. Don’t fight all of them at once, and make sure you’re clearing sections of the board as fast as you can. We have the privilege of being one of the most durable armies in the game, and with every unit outside of Sisters of Silence having an Invulnerable Save, it means we can potentially stand the test against anything. We will not, however, be able to withstand the shooting from an entire Astartes army. 

So we need to be clever and use out Vexilus Magnifica and the LoS blocking terrain to pick our fights. We can expect to see lots of transports this edition, with just codex units, this would present a very serious issue. Thankfully, Forge World has come to save the day. 

Forge World Custodes units are what kept this faction a sleeper hit in many events in 8th. I liked the Sagittarium Guard before it was cool unit. Now, they’re an auto take, and they’re incredible at killing Space Marines. Units of 3-5 and Misericordias are a must. I’m not exaggerating here, the key to this unit is those little knives. You gain 4 Strength 5 AP -2 attacks that hit on a 2+ per Guard, which is doom for a lot of things, but especially Marines. Their firearm is a combi-style weapon that is a 36 inch Strength 5 AP -1 Damage 1 Assault 3 weapon AND a 15 inch Strength 5 AP-3 Damage 3 gun. All for the bargain of 53pts a model. 

So we run 9-12 of these guys around Trajan and a -1 to hit Vexilus (Magnifica) and pick either flank or the middle. We carve off vulnerable Astartes units or crack them open with our guns and take our knives to work on the poorman’s “superhuman” warriors on the inside. A word of warning though, be prepared for Sgts to carry nasty power weapons again. Thunderhammers and power fists pack a wallop, and though we have a reliable 4++, we don’t want to underestimate the hurt. Be careful of units that you cannot reliably kill the power weapon before it swings. 

Next we need to figure out what kind of support we are going to bring to back up our army’s core. I always like Shield-Captains on Dawneagles, and now with the new Shield-Company rules and other new goodies from the PA: War of the Spider book, we can turn our bike captain into an absolute tank. Personally, I go with the Aquilian Shield Company to gain access to Revered Companion as a Warlord Trait I unlock with the Ten Thousand Heroes stratagem, next we spend another command point for Captain-Commander traits and take Indomitable Commander. Put that dude on the Auric Aquilis and you’ve got a 9 Wound 2+/3++ dude that halves damage he takes and is T6; he is an absolute TANK. The mistake I often see here though is players think this guy is going to clear the board; that isn’t his role at all. Use him as a QRF (Quick Reaction Force), taking out things like oncoming threats or vulnerable out of the way Objective scoring units. Don’t let him get too far from the main force until you absolutely have to, or can offer support with him in the form of Terminators from Reserve or a Telemon from Reserves. 

We need some more killing power, now is the time to decide between the tanks from FW or to spam Terminators. There isn’t really a wrong choice here, but there are strengths and drawbacks to both. The tanks (probably 2 Caladius and 2 Pallas) can start blasting the opponent on turn one, but they’re somewhat fragile in an edition where guns are clearly going to be powerful and plentiful, and they can’t just stroll onto an Objective if they clear it. Terminators on the other hand love to assault and clear off Objectives. The downside is that they’re probably not coming in until Turn 2 or 3, and you’re probably using the Vexilus Teleport Homer strat to bring them in for an easy charge. That Stratagem is usually what you’ll end up using Trajann’s “free” strat on since it is normally 3 CP. The Allarus have a lot of great stratagems available, and with us finally having a plethora of command points, they’re a much more appealing option. The third option is a Telemon, which could fit in with a hybrid of the terminators or the tanks. They’re not super cheap though, but can be a fun deep strike surprise and with stratagems to reroll charges and up melee output, they’ve got an obvious role against Marines. 

I think we need to go all or nothing on assault against Marines; Judicators will be common and with their ability to make a critical unit swing last, that can be a disaster for our Custodes. Sagittarium Guard can clean up weaker units and go toe to toe with even units like the Bladeguard vets depending on nearby support, but we want to be wary of their support units. 

Below is a list that I’ve been having some initial success with in 9th. It goes for more of the tank route, but it still pushes up the field carefully and tries to clear units as quickly as possible. Remember the most important rule for Custodes when fighting Marines; don’t fight their whole army, and make sure that they only can fight your whole army. I somewhat break this rule when deep striking, but then you bring them in where they can clear and support your units on the board. 

Okay so here is a list that I think will hold up fairly well against Marines. 

1,999pts. – Aquilian Shield Battalion

190pts – Captain-General Trajann

178pts. (-3 CP) – Shield-Captain, Open the Vaults Strat: Auric Aquilis, Captain-Commander Strat: Indomitable Commander, Ten Thousand Heroes Strat: Revered Companion, Misericordia, hurricane bolters on the bike

210pts. – Custodian Guard, 2 w/ guardian spears, 2 w/ storm shields & swords (I usually use From Golden Light They Come with these guys, pairing it often with the Teleport Homer one mid game). 

  • 159pts. – Sagittarum Custodes, 3x w/ misericordias
  • 159pts. – Sagittarum Custodes, 3x w/ misericordias
  • 159pts. – Sagittarum Custodes, 3x w/ misericordias
  • 159pts. – Sagittarum Custodes, 3x w/ misericordias
  • 125pts. – Vexillus Praetor, WARLORD w/ Superior Creation (5+ FNP), Raiment of Sorrows Relic (Perfect for Sagittarium), Vexilla Magnifica, castellan axe
  • 105pts. – Pallas
  • 105pts. – Pallas 
  • 225pts. – Caladius 
  • 225pts. – Caladius 

It’s pretty similar to the lists from my 8th days. I might consider swapping out the Custodian Guard unit for some Allarus Terminators or another Pallas and more Sagittarum Guard. Stay together, strike hard, and pick your threats quick. Choose Secondaries around killing targets and advancing up the board. This list does give away points for the Secondaries on Vehicles, but hopefully target selection of threats, 5++ save, and a -1 to Hit help to slow the bleed on those. 

I’ll come up with a different style list and share it here soon. In the meantime, I’ll keep practicing and figure out good tricks against the Emperor’s 2nd finest. Have fun gaming out there guys, stay safe.

And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!



About Mr.MoreTanks

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

I actually started to switch out the illiastus caladius tanks from my lists. With the changes to fly no longer giving fallback and shoot for just 35 points more i started taking Illiastus Telemons instead. Only 48 inch range instead of 60 which is not a real difference with the smaller boards now. Still has the same 8 shots S7 Ap-3 D2 but can be split and has a roughly equal amount of firepower on the secondary gun when standing still. And instead of T7 3+ 5++ you become T8 2+ 4++ 6+++ and can access the -1 damage strat.

Might be a worthwhile consideration to drop a dude on foor somehwere to upgrade both caladius tanks to Telemons

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