Custodes Codex – Narrative Review

Hi All,
With the next set of codexes right around the corner let’s dive into their most important part of each book: The Narrative Rules. I have divided up the crusade rules using my standard method so without further ado lets get started:

Army Special Rules:
The core of the special rules for the “Janitors in Gold” focus on the “Magisterium Lex Ultima”. In the fluff this is an office held by the custodes that render them accountable only the emperor, giving them a lot of flexibility. In game, this looks like a series of 3 achievements that must be achieved sequentially over the course of a maximum of nine games. This is called your “Endeavor”. Each of the three achievements is chosen from 12 different options from the simple (Kill the enemy Warlord) to more restrictive (forcing you to achieve certain agendas) to somewhat difficult (have one Custodes Character completely destroy two different units.) Whenever an endeavor is completed you get a reward depending on your final achievement. The list of rewards is pretty decent, including: extra requisition points, more experience both for 1 character or the whole army, and lots of ways to get free stratagems. However, if you fail to complete your endeavor you need to take a “Dishonor”. There are three options the first gives your campaign several battle scars while the others punishes your army based on how many achievements you failed to achieve.

Overall I think this is a pretty good set of rules. It feels fluffy and I think it works for payers to pick their own, though forcing people to roll randomly for dishonor might not be a bad idea. I also like that they occasionally force you to pick certain agendas this can limit the kinds of battles the Custodes can fight (if for example they need to fight a battle with objectives)

Battle Traits and Relics:

As expected, the Custodes roll pretty deep with relics. I think they have more options then any other army so far. For once the basic relics aren’t terrible, with one option giving a few extra mortal wounds or a once per turn armor save re-roll. The Sisters of Silence get a super witchblade which is good to see at the antiquity level. The legendary relics are good-ish. One gives a 3++ but at that level your are likely facing an opponent with some way of negating invuls, while the custodes get a super spear that doubles their strength and can ignore invulns on a 4+ to wound. SO far these relics are decent and worth a look, there is an argument that the super spear is worth taking over the ignores all invuln relic in the main book.

However things get a little crazy when we look at the special relics the Custodes get. Now these are gated behind a requisition and technically (RAW) are lost once you complete your imperative (1 of the 3 achievements in an endeavor) you are also locked to just one of these relics at a time. These relics are insane, one nukes all auras within 12″, another gives you a once per game ability to ignore invulns in melee, a once per game redeploy, a once per game veil of tears (-1 to wound) for infantry and bikes within 3″, a decent grenade that deals mortals and makes the enemy unit -1 to hit next turn, an option to regain D6 wounds once, or the option to not only reduce enemy psychic tests but also get a deny attempt (up to twice a turn) if the psychic test result is less then “7” and within 18″. Simply put you will want to use theses relics every game and it looks like the Custodes will be both CP and RP (Requisition point) hungry.

Battle Traits:
The traits are pretty good, giving you double Ka’tah stances, free denys or even a limited 5++ The sisters of silence abilities are okay, but don’t seem to mesh as well with their role as the Custodes do. The bike table is pretty good with particularly the first option giving them a permanent -1 to hit by ranged weapons if they move.

Battle Scars:
Ho boy here we go again. For the first time since the DE codex GW is handing out faction specific battle scars. Let’s see if they are as good as the DE ones. As before, their scars do come with upsides. The first one is just stupidly good forcing you to always heroically intervene (but not charge) if you do charge you have to target the closest enemy unit…but if you didn’t have a heroic intervention ability you get one for free and you re-roll wound rolls of a “1” in close combat. The second gives you a double Ka’tah stance but makes you only count as one model for controlling an objective and lose ob sec, while the the last one forces you to lose “Inspirational Fighter” for your shield captain but gain the ability to re-roll 1 to hit and wound in close combat. Simply put these are more powerful then the DE ones, and should be managed by DMs in a crusade. Custodes can already create beatsticks through these crusade campaigns and these drop your requisition points and make the character amazing. It’s just unfair.

Agendas and Requisitions
The Custodes only get four requisitions but they are pretty good. There is the standard Captain-Commander upgrade, the vault relic requisition we already covered (also allows you swap relics if you want which is really good). One option allows your character to “Earn a Name” allowing him to get two Ka’tahs at the same time (notice a theme here) as well as getting an extra Shield Host trait (fortunately, you can’t stack this multiple times). “Honored Advancement” is a really interesting one, once a unit becomes heroic or legendary you can cause the unit to lose all but 16 experience, however, you gain a character at the same level the unit used to have. Why is this good? Well you can get free legendary characters every time a unit hits this mark and while it may sacrifice the ability of that unit it gives Custodes the ability to spam high caliber characters like no other.

Fortunately, the Custodes agendas are more tame. One gives some catch up experience to the least experienced unit on the field, which caps out at 4 exp if they survive hold an objective, kill 1 enemy unit, etc. The Great Tithe is fluffy but complicated giving you experience for Sisters of Silence if they complete an action by a marker placed after killing a psycher. Likewise you can gain 6 exp spread over several units if you take “Bound for the Dark Cells” but it allows your opponent to choose the needed objective, it might be better if it has to be outside either players deployment zone. Shed the Black would be better if your battle scars weren’t so appealing giving you the ability to lose battle scars if you achieve 2/3 objectives and finally (the one I hate the most) an agenda that gives all units 3 exp if you table your opponent (rewarding or encouraging tabling is a terrible game choice in my mind).

Final Thoughts:
Simply put I think the Custodes have the best crusade rules for flooding the table with obscenely powered characters. While this is fluffy GMs may need to balance some of these rules (you can only take a Custodes scar after taking another main book scar). While not every unit benefits equally getting free lieutenant abilities on units with minor restrictions is just silly. I would rank this up with Dark Eldar in terms of Crusade Power abilities for the same reason, custom battle scars are just too good, and too easy to get (even if randomly rolled).

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