Adeptus Custodes | Warhammer 40,000 Tactical Guide

Avatar The Chef January 8, 202224  15 24 Likes

Adeptus Custodes Go to Contents

The Adeptus Custodes, now featuring the Sisters of Silence properly, are an extremely elite army, but each unit is formidable with great stats across the board, capable of competing at short and mid range against most units with ease.


Pros and Cons Go to Contents

  • High stats across the board
  • Exceptional close combat ability
  • Survivability that outstrips most other units in the game
  • Flexible and varied army rules and stratagems, giving plenty of options despite small army size
  • Small model count means you need to make each one count, and each one lost is a heavy blow
  • Despite their close combat strengths, their shooting is fairly lacklustre, needing support or concentrated efforts
  • Basically needs Forge World to function as a “full” army, with many of those units fulfilling vital roles
  • Reliance on certain tricks and strategies in certain situations
  • Can really struggle against extreme lists such as hordes, Vehicle/Monster heavy, -1Dmg rules or Mortal Wound spam

Tactica Primer Back to Contents

Here are some key points to remember when reading this Primer, mainly to save it being typed out every time. Don’t forget that this presumes you have the Codex, so some basic things may not be explained here.

Any of the rules discussed below apply only to ADEPTUS CUSTODES models with the same <SHIELD HOST> Keyword, so no overlapping or crossing of Auras (no SOLAR WATCH Auras or powers affecting SHADOWKEEPERS units, for example). There are occasional exceptions that will affect all SHIELD HOST units, these will be called out. 

Sometimes Keywords will be shortened, for example ADEPTUS CUSTODES might be referred to as CUSTODES. It’s the same thing, just saves me typing it 

Some common shorthand terms found throughout-

  • X++ means an invulnerable save
  • X+++, or ‘shrug’, ‘Feel No Pain’ or ‘Ignore Damage roll’ depending on how you’re feeling, means it is a dice roll to ignore each point of damage, which is taken after any failed saves.
  • ‘6s explode’ essentially translates to ‘An unmodified 6 to Hit does an additional hit’, so read that as ‘Does 2 Hits instead of 1’. Per the Core Rules, anything that might also happen on a 6 to hit (such as auto-wounding) does not apply to the additional hit, only the original. 
  • ‘First turn of combat’ means any rules that trigger when you Charge, are Charged, or Heroically Intervene. 
  • ‘Deep Strike’ essentially means the unit can be placed into Reinforcements and arrive more than 9” away from enemy units.
  • ‘Infiltrate’ or something on those lines means the unit can be deployed anywhere on the table over 9” away from enemy models and the enemy deployment zone, instead of deploying normally.

Detachment Rules Back to Contents

If your Detachment is Battle-Forged (which will be most armies) and only has ADEPTUS CUSTODES units in it, excluding ANATHEMA PSYKANA, AGENTS OF THE IMPERIUM or UNALIGNED, you’re a CUSTODES Detachment and get the following- 

  • Objective Secured- All your CUSTODES INFANTRY, as well as ANATHEMA Troops, are Objective Secured. In addition, any CUSTODES unit counts as +1 Model for holding Objectives. So a unit of 3 CUSTODIAN GUARDIANS counts as 6 ObSec Models, whilst a SHIELD-CAPTAIN on his BIKE isn’t ObSec, but does count as 2 Models. Having a wide spread of Objective Secured models helps ensure you’re not only able to bully units off them, but hold them as well, and the no-ObSec components can still have their odds of controlling a point tilted in their favour, so even if Bikes can no longer take objectives from a lone Guardsman (though if you couldn’t kill that Guardsman with a Custodes, he’s clearly blessed and deserves to have it).
  • Emperor’s Legion- You can’t have more ANATHEMA units than CUSTODES in your Troops and HQ slots, and you can’t have an ANATHEMA unit as your WARLORD. Allows you a little more flexibility in slots, but prevents you from going all in on cheap Sisters Troops to take (even more) elite CUSTODES elsewhere.
  • Host of Heroes- One of each SHIELD-CAPTAIN type per Detachment, so you can have 1 ALLARUS and 1 VERTUS SHIELD-CAPTAIN, but not 2 VERTUS.
  • Watchers of the Throne- Your CUSTODES INFANTRY and BIKERS count as 2 models for the purposes of Look Out Sir to friendly CUSTODES CHARACTERS A neat little bonus to help keep your Characters around a bit longer, though all this translates to is units of 2+ can provide Look Out Sir. It’s handy, but won’t keep your Characters around too much longer than normal.
  • Shield Hosts- The “Chapter Tactic” rules, giving every CUSTODES Detachment a certain set of abilities, outlined below.

In addition, if you have a Detachment that is only ANATHEMA units (excluding VALERIAN, AGENTS or UNALIGNED), your ANATHEMA Troops get ObSec. That’s it. I mean, you’re very unlikely to do this, but it’s there. 

Every SHIELD HOST unit gains a Fighting Style, depending on the Detachment they are in, granting them unique abilities, as well as a Warlord Trait and Stratagem, and should your WARLORD have the associated Fighting Style, you are also eligible to have the Relic too.

In addition, each Host has a “prefered” Martial Ka’tah, letting you choose both Stances to be active for that Ka’tah once per game. As a general rule having both Stances up at the same time isn’t all that useful, but what this does enable is the same Stance to be active for 2 consecutive turns, letting you focus on a particular rule it grants when the time is right. The Ka’tah system itself is fairly complicated to explain (though easy in practice), so see that section for further details.

Fighting Style- Magna Imperator

Reroll a Hit or Wound each time you attack is a solid reliability boost for big hitting attacks, and will add up significantly over time applied army wide. Try and use the important attacks first, so you don’t end up inadvertently saving it for them and not needing them. On top of that, a flat 4+++ vs Mortal Wounds is a niche but incredible survivability boost when it comes up, offsetting a major weakness of the army. An all round good choice, shoring up weaknesses in survivability as well as offsetting the pain of failing with crucial attacks when you can’t afford them to.

Ka'tah- Rendax

The anti big-thing stance, but both together are semi-counterintuitive – with 6s to Hit auto wounding MONSTERS/VEHICLES at both Ranged and Melee is nice, the second aspect being melee only for the +1 Str in the first round of combat reduces the need for the first one a little. Having both at the same time isn’t necessarily a bad thing for reliability, though timing it might be difficult given the nature of choosing Stances.

Stratagem- Esteemed Amalgam

In your Command Phase, change one of your unit’s Magna Imperator Fighting Style to another Host’s Fighting Style until your next turn. For 1 CP this offers you great flexibility, depending on what you need for certain units to do. A unit of ALLARUS about to go fight a Greater Daemon, switch to SHADOWKEEPERS for reroll wounds. Some PRAETORS closing down on a vital enemy stronghold, DREADHOST for the AP boost and reroll charges has you covered. There’s a lot of scope here, and the tactical flexibility this offers is second to none. 

Warlord Trait- Auric Exemplar

After the WARLORD finishes his Melee Attacks, immediately make additional attacks equal to the number of models just slain, to a max of 4. Helps carve through lighter units, and can even help put a bigger dent in elite units, but pick your targets well lest you waste it. Useful for splitting attacks as well, as there is no requirement to attack the same unit, so you could for example attack a lighter unit to stack this up, before turning your attention onto an enemy Character in the same fight.

Relic- Paragon Spear

A Guardian Spear upgraded to Str 5 at ranged, and an extra +1 Str -2 AP in melee. It’s a simple boost, but not an exciting one, with the base Spear generally being good enough and there being more enticing Relics.


Fighting Style- Wardens of the Dark Cells

-1 Attack to enemy units in Engagement Range is a fantastic survivability boost, reducing the effectiveness of many melee units significantly, and reroll wounds against CHARACTERS (in both Melee and Ranged) means most enemy Characters will have to think twice before engaging with the Shadowkeepers, and all but assures their death if caught by themselves. A solid set of abilities that favour an aggressive style, as you want to be in melee and hunting down HQs to get the benefits.

Ka'tah- Kaptaris

Both Stances of Kaptaris are strong, so having both together is even better, though needing both together may not come up all that often. Still, being able to prevent reroll hits in Melee against your units alongside forcing many units to stay there with you can be a big swing in the game, shutting down plays your opponent might have as well as ensuring your units stick around long enough to punish them.

Stratagem- Grim Responsibility

A non-VEHICLE (sorry but not sorry DREADNOUGHTS) imposes -1 Str to any attacks against it for a whole phase. For 1 CP this is a good defensive tool, but be on the lookout for the brackets needed for wounding. Doing this on a unit with T5 does nothing vs Str 4, or any Str 7+ weapons, but will significantly hamper Str 3, 5 and 6 attacks, knocking them all down a bracket. As you can do this after being targeted, you’ll know if a given time is a good time to use, just be wary of this being baited out by an opponent only to turn their stronger weapons elsewhere.

Warlord Trait- Lockwarden

CHARACTERS can’t use their Invulnerables against the WARLORD’S Attacks. Decent enough, though it will depend on the circumstances and weaponry. A Spear with it’s AP -3 is now punching through most things, whilst an Axe against someone with a 2+/4++ is in exactly the same spot as before. Also works with Shooting, making this particularly funny on VERTUS CAPTAINS shooting at Knights or Daemons with a Salvo Launcher. Equip and hunt accordingly if you’re looking at this.

Relic- Stasis Oubliette

One enemy unit within Engagement Range at the start of the Fight Phase has to Fight Last. Powerful and generally always useful be it to deny interrupts or special rules, or to offset multi chargers, this is a great Relic and well worth fitting in, especially given the melee oriented nature of the Shadowkeepers already. 

Fighting Style- Instruments of the Emperor’s Wrath

An extra -1AP to all attacks made to enemy units within 9” is a powerful buff, boosting your close range shooting and melee attacks (cos you’re within 9”, obviously). It is slightly awkward however as you’ll have to check each model to see if they’re within 9”, and obviously not usable from Deep Strike, but it’s still good to have. What is usable from Deep Strike is rerollable Charges, making you a bit more reliable on making it into combat whether you arrive via teleport or have slogged up the board.

Ka'tah- Dacatari

Both aspects of this Ka’tah are good to have, albeit in different scenarios, but can pay dividends when utilised together, especially against horde armies, letting you kill a few more whilst turning their numbers against them to clog up their lines and limit movement. Even if both stances aren’t useful on the same unit, having access to both can be useful if there are some units looking to limit movement and deal with lighter infantry elsewhere.

Stratagem- Golden Light of the Moiraides

When a unit uses From Golden Light (specifically that, so no Deep Striking with anything else), you can use this for 2CP to give them -1 to be Hit, and the opponent cannot Overwatch or Set to Defend against them, lasting until your next turn. It’s pretty hefty at 2CP, but makes for an even tougher unit to shift after arrival.

Warlord Trait- All-Seeking Annihilator

In the Command Phase, either this WARLORD, or a CORE unit within 6”gets exploding 6s until your next turn. A good boost on any unit, applicable at both Range and Melee. Great on ALLARUS given their multiple ranged weapons as well as more Attacks in combat, letting them inflict even greater devastation.

Relic- Admonimortis

Gives a Castellan Axe +1 Str when Shooting, but more importantly -1AP and +1 Dmg in melee. One of the better melee Relics for Custodes, giving you a pretty terrifying 6A at Str 8 -3 Dmg3 before anything else comes into play.

Fighting Style- Gilded Guardians

With everyone getting Heroic Intervention, your foe will be hard pressed to try and skirt your lines to nab Objectives, and does let you offer support to your other units should they be near each other, though with your small army sizes this may not come up often unless you actively play them close together. Ignoring AP -1 attacks is pretty decent, and lets you avoid taking too much cheap damage from those weapons, of which there are plenty. A solid defensive set of abilities, and though both are fairly niche in terms of use, when they do come up they will be useful.

Ka'tah- Salvus

One of the few Ka’tah that work together in tandem well, giving you both shooty benefits of the +4” Range and the double tap with your Auric weapons can make for a potent (for Custodes) hail of fire, helping you get into Range slightly easier, whilst making a mark when you get there. Doubles up nicely to give you the double tap in the next turn, where the Range isn’t as useful (or vice versa if units have fled before you, letting you get back into suitable range without losing effectiveness).

Stratagem- Shield of Honour

When an enemy unit is selected to Shoot, you can select any IMPERIUM INFANTRY CHARACTER, making them untargetable for that Phase whilst within 6” of a CORE unit. A good defensive buff for a lone Character, regardless of who they are, keeping them immune to shooting so long as a single nearby Custodes stands, letting them wander off in relatively safety, or providing a respite should Look Out Sir begin to run out of models, especially given as this is declared when a unit is chosen to shoot, so you can wait for opportune moments, if needed at all. And yes, you can combine it with hiding units bravely behind walls…

Warlord Trait- Revered Companion

Halves all Damage taken, rounded up. A simple but very effective defensive buff, making you able to take a much larger amount of D2+ hits. Anything Dmg 3+ will still be doing 2 Wounds however, so you might not hold up for too long, but needing 3 failed saves is better than needing 2.

Relic- Praesidius

Upgrades a Praesidium Shield to give you -1 to be Wounded. Makes for a very tough Character, neutering pretty much anything Str 4 and below, and even higher Strength attacks will generally be wounded on 4s at best. A good defensive Relic, though being Shield only does limit your wielder and offensive capabilities ever so slightly.

Fighting Style- Talon Sortie

+1 to Advance and Charges is a nice movement boost, be it for getting into position or making more reliable charges, especially from Deep Strike, however the key thing here is Fall Back and Charge. Whilst not able to Shoot as well, being able to effectively reactivate Fight First, activating on Charge abilities, as well as picking more suitable targets makes this an invaluable ability for a melee army which can’t afford to be bogged down and forced to attack less important targets, and makes units like VERTUS PRAETORS an absolute terror on the battlefield, with very few targets safe from them.

Ka'tah- Calistus

Being able to roll 2D6 picking the highest for Advances combines nicely with counting as Remaining Stationary for Shooting when doing so, enabling you to storm parts of the battlefield and maintain ranged effectiveness, at the cost of Charging. This can help create a potent strike on turn 1 or 2, letting you narrow the gap or get in range on units out of your reach, or be useful for making late game Objective or Secondary plays more reliably without sacrificing output.

Stratagem- The Eagle’s Strike

For 1CP, use after the enemy WARLORD is destroyed, imposing -1 to Combat Attrition checks for the rest of the game. It’s fine, never being relevant vs some armies, whilst being potentially crippling against others. Getting to the enemy Warlord is the trickier bit, and you probably won’t need this by the time you get to some of them. 

Warlord Trait- Sally Forth

An INFANTRY unit within 6” at the start of your Charge Phase can be chosen to Charge even if they Advanced this turn. A potent ability, especially with your Advance manipulation abilities, but the timing is a bit weird, needing you to keep a unit near to your WARLORD so they can be selected, rather than sending them off on their own at the start of the turn. By no means bad, but you’ll need to plan ahead lest this be either wasted, or out of range for a unit that Advanced.

Relic- Swiftsilver Talon

A Guardian Spear with -1 AP at both Range and Melee, as well as giving you Fall Back and Shoot and Charge (which you could do anyways, but fine). The AP boost is nice, but overall pretty lacklustre, with maybe the few extra shots afforded by it in the game not really being worth the Relic slot.

Fighting Style- Heralds of the Throne

Getting Fight First is a strong benefit, letting your elite units help dictate flow of combat, forcing your opponent to think about orders on multi chargers, as well as negating Fight Last abilities and helping in ongoing melee. On top of that, ignoring all modifiers to Hit and Wound is a great reliability boost, allowing you to hit with perfect accuracy all the time, and bypass rules and Stratagems to ensure your wounds stick. A good all round Host that will serve you well in most circumstances.

Ka'tah- Conservai

Both aspects of this Ka’tah are fairly niche, as without Actions to do it’s worthless. But if you’re incorporating them into your list, having the ability to do Actions on Falling Back and Advancing, as well as being able to do them and still Shoot, opens up a lot of flexibility in your army for multiple parts to be active in the mission stage. Probably the most niche of the Ka’tah in the first place, but the two combined, or one used consecutively, can be game winning if used in the right instances.

Stratagem- Into the Darkness

A CORE unit makes a Normal Move before the first turn begins, ending 9” away from enemy models. Costing 2CP, or 3CP on a unit with 4+ models, this isn’t cheap, but moving a key unit into a more advantageous position, be it out of line of sight, into terrain, or threatening a turn 1 charge with something like PRAETORS can be well worth the cost.

Warlord Trait- Voice of the Emperor

+3” to Auras, and a 9” Aura (already including the +3”) of +1 Ld to CUSTODES and ANATHEMA units. The Ld boost is neither here nor there really, but the range boost to other Auras is useful to ensure as many units as possible get the benefits, particularly good for Custodes as you’ll often want to split your small forces for different purposes, so not losing as much from buffs is a good thing.

Relic- Halo of the Torchbearer

A 3” Aura that lets you ignore all modifiers to your Mv Characteristic, and any Advance and Charge Rolls. In addition, all enemy units within 3” at the start of the Fight Phase take a Mortal Wound on a 3+ (rolling a D6 for each unit separately), or D3 if they have Ld 7 or lower. A decent spread of abilities, the Mortal Wounds are fairly low impact but quite reliable, and the Movement protection can be crucial to counter terrain and certain abilities. Combines nicely with the Warlord Trait above for a 6” bubble of Movement protection, though it doesn’t affect the Mortal Wounds. A good support Relic on something like a VEXILUS or footslogging SHIELD-CAPTAIN.

Stratagems Back to Contents

In 9th there are now sub-categories of Stratagems, essentially giving them a Keyword that has interactions with certain rules. It won’t come up all that often, just something to look out for.

With your basic stats being high already, lots of your Stratagems focus on utility benefits, to cover weaknesses elsewhere, but there are still some solid offensive and defensive focused abilities here as well.

  • Arcane Genetic Alchemy- Transhuman for the even more Transhuman warriors! Only being Wounded on a 4+ for a Phase, regardless of rules etc, does have less value for Custodes vs Marines given their innately higher defensive stats, however for particularly hard hitting attacks this is still a mighty buff. Does cost 2CP if you use it on models with 3+ Models however, so those big units can start draining your CP pretty quickly if used all the time. 
  • Sweeping Advance- +3” to a Consolidation move for a unit of BIKERS is a useful boost to help ensure a crucial tag, trap or Objective grab, and for 1CP is a solid tool to have. 
  • Praesidium Shieldwall- A CUSTODIAN GUARD squad all armed with Shields (as the name implies) impose -1 to be Hit vs Melee attacks, making them even harder to shift. Limited given the wargear restriction, but for 1CP a bargain on a big squad looking to hold the line.
  • Death Mark- At the start of the first turn, pick an enemy unit, and all your VIGILATORS get reroll hits against them. Not bad at 1CP, and better returns with multiple Vigilators, though whether you’ll run them is another matter. 
  • Avenge the Fallen- When a CUSTODES unit is selected to Fight, they get +1A if below Starting Strength, or +2A instead if below Half Strength. These could have been shooting casualties as well, as the trigger is just what their Starting Strength is not when they were put below it, so their brothers will still be angry. Good for 1CP to help offset some casualties.
  • Slayers of Nightmares- +1 to Wound in the Fight Phase when attacking units with a higher Toughness than the CUSTODES attacking. Great against all manner of big gribblies, easily bumping you into the 3s if not 2s to Wound categories. Does cost 2 CP if used on units of 3+ so it can lose a bit of efficiency on big units, but still a potent boost to have.
  • Talons of the Emperor- Gives an ANATHEMA unit +1 to Hit for the Phase after a CUSTODES unit within 6” finishes their own attacks. A few hopes to jump through, and only really useful for Vigilators (Flamers don’t care and Bolters are, well, Bolters). Not going to be used often. 
  • Purgation Sweep- When a unit of WITCHSEEKERS Shoots or Overwatches, they get +1 Str to their Flamers. Not bad for 1CP, helping them pile on some damage to tougher units.
  • Vigil Unending- Fight on death with a CUSTODES CHARACTER, provided they have not already fought that phase. Useful to ensure you get to inflict damage on your way out, especially in protracted combats or if caught flat footed by Fight Last abilities or being Charged. Does cost 2CP, so consider whether an interrupt is better in a given scenario.
  • Wisdom of the Moritoi- Pick a DREADNOUGHT in your Command Phase, giving them a 6” Aura of reroll 1s to Hit or reroll 1s to Wound for CORE units, until your next turn. Useful to have in a pinch, and the only way outside of TRAJANN to get reroll 1s to Wound, so 
  • Retribution of the Machine Spirit- A MACHINE SPIRIT in your Command Phase counts as full wounds for its profile, until your next turn. Not bad given it’s 1CP, effectively meaning you can always have the opportunity to have a Land Raider operating at peak efficiency. 
  • Indomitable Engines- A VEHICLE gets a 5+++ vs Mortal Wounds for a phase. Useful to have to offer a modicum of protection against Psychic heavy onslaught or additional mortals, you’ll generally want to activate this when you’re anticipating a fair few Mortals, or it’s important your tank sticks around 
  • Earning of a Name- When a CUSTODES CHARACTER destroys an enemy CHARACTER with a melee attack, you can use this to grant one part of a Shield Host Fighting Style to that CHARACTER for the rest of the game (so for example if you were a SHADOWKEEPER, you could grant that Character Fall Back and Charge from SOLAR WATCH), and one Stance of any Martial Ka’tah is active for them, both lasting until the end of the game. This grants a huge amount of flexibility to your Characters should this trigger, letting you pick abilities from a wide spread of rules that will be best suited for you at that time, and it’s a bargain at 1CP. The main downside is of course slaying an enemy CHARACTER in melee, which might not happen every game, but the options this affords (not to mention the sheer narrative epicness) is very good to have. Can only be used on each Character once, and can’t be used on Named Characters, they have enough names I guess.
  • Open the Vaults- Your Extra Relic Stratagem, there’s some good ones for Custodes, but they generally devolve into “make your Character killier”, and a lot of their power comes from their base rules already. Fine to use, just bear in mind other Stratagems might be better picks for more useful power options throughout the game.
  • The Emperor’s Heroes- Give someone a Warlord Trait. As with the above, there’s some good ones but most amount to “be better”, so don’t go overboard.
  • Victor of the Blood Games- Give your WARLORD an extra Trait. This can make for some particularly powerful commanders, be it highly defensive, super offensive, or having a nice blend of abilities to cover gaps. Worth looking into, especially if you’re running a low Character army but still want certain abilities. 
  • Eternal Penitent- One (and only one) DREADNOUGHT gets +1A and reroll Charges, which becomes +1 to Charges if you can already reroll them (ie DREAD HOST). Your Dreads are already mighty punchy so making one of them even better is no bad thing, with the charge improvement helping them get there to make the most of it. Cheap at 1CP, and well worth on any of the Dreads.
  • Fraternity of Heroes- Lets a CUSTODES unit make a Heroic Intervention, or if they already could Intervene let them do it at 6” instead. Good for defending an Objective from a steal, or supporting a unit being charged, and the boosted range for CHARACTERS and AQUILAN SHIELD units can make for a nasty counter punch to the enemy.
  • Martial Discretion- After determining your Ka’tah in your Command Phase, a CUSTODES unit can select a Stance that isn’t active and use that instead for the Battle Round. Not bad, giving you options for some of the less useful or more niche Stances when you want the bulk of your army to be in a different one, though this may not come up often depending on your game plan. Can add up quickly too, costing 2CP if used on units with 4+ models, so consider carefully.
  • Indomitable Guardians- Let’s a CUSTODES unit within range of an Objective interrupt combat for 1CP, letting you really control the flow of combat over an important point of the battlefield. If you’re battling near an Objective, always remember this one over the more expensive Core Stratagem.
  • Unleash the Lions- A unit of ALLARUS becomes individual units in your Command Phase for the rest of the game. This can really let you spread out some combat punch, board control and objective plays, as well as potentially force an overinvestment in firepower to shift each Terminator. The downsides are reduced impact from certain abilities, especially Stratagems, as you’ll be affecting less models, and the CP is a pretty hefty 2CP, or 3CP on a unit with 4+ models, so you’ll need to be sure it’s the right thing to do.
  • Shoulder the Mantle- When your WARLORD is slain, give their Warlord Trait to another CHARACTER without an existing Warlord Trait for the rest of the game, and your WARLORD doesn’t count as slain for mission purposes. If there’s a Character to pick up a really vital Trait your Warlord is packing, this is handy to ensure it sticks around for your plan, and whilst denying mission aspects for the dead Warlord is neat, it won’t come up all that often to matter. How this works with Victor of the Blood Games is unclear, so for now assume that you only get one of the Traits, not both. 
  • Manoeuvre and Fire- A FLY unit can Fall Back and Shoot, for 1 CP. Not the greatest uses on paper, until you remember things like PRAETORS and VENATARI have decent shooting weapons, as do your hover tanks in a pinch. Useful when needed, and SOLAR WATCH Bikes will love it particularly. 
  • Desperation’s Price- When a PSYKER suffers a Perils within 18” of an ANATHEMA INFANTRY unit during their turn, they take an additional D3 Mortal Wounds. Pretty niche, but can be devastating when it comes up.
  • The Emperor’s Auspice- When a CUSTODES unit is targeted by an attack, this prevents any Hits, Wounds and Damage rolls from being rerolled until the end of that Phase. A decent defensive boost, especially on important targets, or against armies with tons of rerolls (Black Heart Drukhari, Mars AdMech, Space Marines, etc). Costs 2CP on units of 4+ models, or 1CP otherwise (even if they’re, say, a TELEMON).
  • From Golden Light They Come- Used when declaring Reserves/Transports to give a CUSTODES INFANTRY, BIKER or DREADNOUGHT Deep Strike for 1CP. Good flexibility, letting you decide if you need to bring in a unit from reserve on a game by game basis, as well as letting you protect key units from early firepower. 
  • Empyric Severance- A 4+ Deny within 18” of an ANATHEMA INFANTRY unit. A further layer of Psychic defense from your Sisters, giving you a 50/50 chance of negating a vital power for only the 1CP. 
  • Creeping Dread- Gives an ANATHEMA INFANTRY unit a 6” Aura of -1 to Hit to enemy units for a Phase. This is a powerful ability for a mere 1CP, provided you can get it into position. A protected CENTURA or cheap unit rocketing up the board in a Rhino can help mitigate your opponent’s offensive capabilities. 
  • Rapid Reactions- A CUSTODES INFANTRY unit Shoots at an enemy unit that Falls Back from them, provided they could do so of course. Pretty good for 1CP, letting you finish off a depleted unit, or helping to soften up a unit that might still be able to act after Falling Back, putting a spanner in your opponent’s plans.
  • Covered Advance- It’s Smokescreen, but extra shiny cos Talons of the Emperor. Any SMOKESCREEN unit can get the -1 to Hit for the opponent’s Shooting Phase, lending a little extra defensive support to keep them around. 
  • Tanglefoot Grenade- At the start of either the opponent’s Movement or Charge Phase, a non-FLY unit within 12” of a CUSTODES INFANTRY unit reduces how far they can move that Phase by D6”, to a minimum of 0”. A powerful debuff to stop units from getting onto Objectives, into range or line of sight, as well as having the potential to significantly blunt charges. Can only be used once a turn, so no “double dipping” to reduce both Movement and Charges, but either one can be a significant swing in the flow of an opponent’s gameplan, and at 1CP is an affordable ability to have access to with relative ease.
  • Teleport Homer- A TELEPORT HOMER unit (ie, Terminators) can redeploy to within 3” of a VEXILUS or ALEYA that didn’t arrive from Reinforcements this turn, and 9” away from enemies. For 1 CP it’s cheap enough to be used to get some extra movement and threat range out of an ALLARUS unit, be it storming forward as fast as possible with ALEYA, or coming in to support a lone VEXILUS. The usual limit of 9” away from enemies does hinder this a fair bit however, so this might not come up as often as you’d think. 
  • Psyk-Out Grenade- For 1CP, an ANATHEMA that Shoots can also force the closest enemy PSYKER within 6” to suffer a Perils on a 2+, provided they aren’t in Engagement Range. Handy to have up your sleeve, albeit fairly limited in practice. And no, you can’t combine with Desperation’s Price as they both trigger in different Phases.

Captain-Commander Back to Contents

Your paid upgrade rules, giving you extra rules for SHIELD-CAPTAINS. Each SHIELD-CAPTAIN can have one upgrade, depending on his type, and each one is unique to the army.

  • Master of the Stances- In your Command Phase, you can put a CUSTODES CHARACTER or CORE unit within 6” into both Stances of your current Ka’tah. The most expensive upgrade at 25pts, but does offer some good flexibility, letting you ensure something has both aspects of a Stance, or benefit from one aspect that would be more useful than the “main” one for the rest of the army
  • Swift as the Eagle- Advance and Charge is a decent ability, letting you reach otherwise tough to reach units with your solid combat. Not too expensive at 15pts.
  • Inspirational Exemplar- 15pts to increase your reroll 1s Aura by +3”, up to 12”. Only affects that Aura mind, so no other abilities get the boost. Can be useful if your units are spread thin, which will often be the case with Custodes, but by no means essential.
  • Unstoppable Destroyer- +1” to Pile In and Consolidation, and Pile In and Heroic Interventions can move in any direction not just to the closest, even if in base to base, though you must finish these moves in Engagement Range. For 10pts it’s not terrible, and can afford a nasty surprise as well as some repositioning ability to get out of Engagement with someone if in a multiple combat. 
  • Bane of Abominations- +1 to Wound in Melee vs MONSTERS, VEHICLES and CHARACTERS. Will generally mean you’re wounding things on 3s if not 2s, and for 15pts is a solid melee upgrade for cracking open tougher targets.
  • Defiant to the Last- If you’ve lost a Wound, get +1A. If you’re at half Wounds (so 4 or less given you’re an ALLARUS), you get +2A instead. This can be a big punishment for units that don’t finish off your Character, but fairly costly at 20pts and also relying on being wounded.
  • Fierce Conqueror- If you’re within 2” of 6+ enemy models after Piling In, get +2A. Makes you a solid horde clearer, or great at dealing with tougher units if you can position well, giving you good options for 15pts
  • Ceaseless Hunter- Fall Back and Charge is a strong ability for 20pts, especially given the speed and charge bonuses VERTUS have inherently. Goes without saying don’t bother if Solar Watch, but a great upgrade for everyone else.
  • Tip of the Spear- Get reroll 1s to Hit and Wound when you Charge or Intervene, giving you great reliability. If you can keep triggering this, say with Solar Watch, this is well worth the 15pts, but even once or twice a game can make a big difference.

Warlord Traits Back to Contents

  1. Master of Martial Strategy- 5+ CP refund each time you use a Stratagem, and you can change the order of your Ka’tah once per game, though you can’t use a Stance again even if moved. The CP refund is always good, especially as many Custodes Stratagems are quite pricey but important. The Stance change offers some flexibility, but may not come up every game. This is the first of Trajann’s Traits, given his big brain tactical genius.
  2. Champion of the Imperium- The WARLORD rerolls all Hit rolls, and gets a 6” Heroic Intervention. A good pair of buffs, giving you reliability as well as a pseudo defensive ability for your surrounding units. Trajann has this as well, cos he’s a beast. 
  3. Superior Creation- A 5+++, its simple but effective, giving good reliability against normal damage as well as affording a better layer of protection against Mortal Wounds. 
  4. Impregnable Mind- The WARLORD can Deny the Witch with +1, and counts as +2 Models for holding Objectives, stacking with existing rules. A niche trait, with aspects that won’t always come up, but decent enough for a support based Character like a VEXILUS, and an INFANTRY Character counting as 4 ObSec Models is kinda funny. 
  5. Radiant Mantle- -1 to be Hit is a solid defensive boost, helping against rogue ranged attacks as well as when you hit melee. 
  6. Peerless Warrior- 6s to Wound in melee do an additional Mortal Wound, and Saves can’t be rerolled against any of their attacks. A decent enough trait, helping a bit in melee as well as shutting down any annoying CP rerolls that might deny you your victory. Valerian has this, being the superlative combatant that he is. 
  1. Oblivion Knight- Reroll 1s to Wound, and a 6” Aura of +1 to Advance and Charge for ANATHEMA INFANTRY units. A decent spread of abilities, helping the WARLORD stick their wounds a bit better, as well as getting into position easier. Aleya is one of these, what with her experience and prowess.
  2. Silent Judge- Enemies within 3” lose Objective Secured and are -1 to Combat Attrition. A powerful ability for turning off ObSec alone, all but ensuring any units she is supporting will take or hold a point. 
  3. Mistress of Persecution- A 6” Aura giving ANATHEMA INFANTRY +3” Range to their guns, and ignore Light and Heavy Cover. Great on a unit of Witchseekers, letting their Flamers become efficient infantry clearers, but otherwise the other two Traits are generally better.
  • Eagle’s Eye- An INFANTRY model gets +1W, and a once per game gets a 3+ Invulnerable for a Phase, activated before making a Save. A decent survivability boost, and hilarious on an ALLARUS just to say he has 9 wounds. 
  • Auric Aquilas- Grants a BIKER reroll Charges (or +1 if they already have it), and they can double their Movement at the expense of not Shooting or Charging that turn. Reroll charges is good, though the movement boost is pretty niche, albeit can be useful for some last minute Objective grabs. Not terrible, and one of the few Relics a VERTUS CAPTAIN can take, but not essential. 
  • Gatekeeper- A souped up Guardian Spear with +1 Shot, Str and AP to its Ranged profile, which always hits to boot. Otherwise the same in combat. Not bad, not great, probably pass.
  • Veiled Blade- A Sentinel Blade gets +1 AP in Melee as well as +2A. A great upgrade if you’re running a Sword and Board Captain, making them particularly nasty in melee.
  • Obliteratum- Turns a Balistus Grenade Launcher into a single shot Str 10 AP-4 Dmg3+D3 pocket nuke. Gives a bit of flexibility to help punch through tough Vehicles and Monsters, or to hilariously one shot lighter Characters on your way to real problems, just bear in mind the 18” range means this will generally only be used once or twice a game.
  • Fulminaris Aggressor- A VEXILUS grants Ignore Light and Heavy Cover to CORE and CHARACTERS within 6”. A solid upgrade to help with your lighter shooting, ensuring it sticks, as well as the odd barricades that come up. 
  • Praetorian Plate- A TERMINATOR gets a mighty +1T, and once per game they can appear within 3” of a friendly non-VEHICLE and in Engagement Range, effectively getting a boardwide Heroic Intervention, making for a potent surprise to the enemy as well as helping shore up a beleaguered part of your army. 
  • Castellan’s Mark- Redeploy 2 units at the start of the First Battle Round, or put them into Strategic Reserves. Happening after knowing who has the first turn is useful, though it explicitly states the units must be set up again in your deployment zone, so no putting units into Deep Strike. Any redeploy is good to have both offensively and defensively, giving you options depending on what you might need, be it to move into a more advantageous position for Objectives or assaults, or to get out of range or Line of Sight. 
  • Wrath Angelis- A VEXILUS straps an Orbital Bombardment targeter to his banner, picking a point on the battlefield in your Command Phase, then next Command Phase it explodes, dealing Mortals to units within 6”, with +1 to the roll if within 3” of the marker, or -1 if a CHARACTER. With D3 on a 2-5, or D6 on a 6+, it’s pretty standard fare, cute for denying a part of the battlefield or an Objective with its threat, but overall it’s not hugely damaging for a once per game Relic.
  • Raptor Blade- An Executioner Greatblade gets +1Str and AP. It’s fine, but not really worth taking.
  • Excruciatus Flamer- A Relic Witchseeker Flamer with flat 6 shots, +2Str and AP. Still only D1, but does offer some fairly reliable, if short ranged, fire support.
  • Enhanced Voidsheen Cloak- A 4++ and -1 to be Hit and Wounded. Given your low T to begin with, this makes for a pretty significant survivability boost, and will probably be the go to Relic, if you’re looking to boost a CENTURA in the first place.

Secondary Objectives Back to Contents

The following are available if you have a ADEPTUS CUSTODES or ANATHEMA PSYKANA WARLORD when playing Matched Play or Grand Tournament Mission, with the usual restrictions (namely no using two from the same category), and you can only take one ADEPTUS CUSTODES Secondary per game regardless of its category.

No Mercy, No Respite - Might of Terra

4VP at the end of each Battle Round in which at least one enemy unit was destroyed and no CUSTODES or ANATHEMA units were destroyed. This could go either way, netting you a solid 8-12VP quite easily, or do nothing all game. Match up and Mission dependant, as you’ll need to get out there to wipe units, but losing a single one of your own effectively costs you 4VP, making it a high risk choice. Can be a late scorer if you can deal with the opponent’s heavy hitters so they lose steam in the endgame, but still a tough one to justify.

Battlefield Supremacy - Stand Vigil

3VP for holding more Objectives in no man’s land than the enemy at the end of each Battle Round. Pseudo-Stranglehold with an extra restriction, depending on the mission this could net 9VP fairly easily, especially if you go second and can force units off Objectives. Removing the need to play for Objectives that are within either player’s Deployment Zones is a double edged sword however, as you need to ensure you have enough to hold the mid board, whilst also still needing to get the enemy off other Objectives in their zone, and protecting your own. Having said that, there is no minimum required number, so provided you hold at least 1 and the enemy holds none, say if they’ve been shot off the others, you’ll still score this. Can be tricky to play depending on army set up, but a good option, especially for missions with only 2 or 3 in the midboard.

Purge the Enemy - Auric Mortalis

A PRIMARCH or SUPREME COMMANDER is marked for death, or if neither is present the enemy unit with the highest points value, excluding AIRCRAFT. At the end of the battle score

  • 5VP if that unit is destroyed
  • 5VP if that unit was destroyed by a CUSTODES or ANATHEMA unit in melee
  • 5VP if you did both the above and the unit was destroyed over 6” away from your Deployment Zone.

Here’s the catch- For each unit in your enemy destroyed by that enemy unit, you LOSE 2VP from this Secondary, to a minimum of 0. This is a big downside, and the Objective as a whole has a bunch of hoops to jump through, and even should you fulfill all the requirements (remember that’s destroying it, in melee, away from your Deployment Zone), you could end up not maxing if they killed a single unit in your army. There will be some games where this is great due to the nature of the most expensive unit in the foes armies, and others where it would be the worst possible choice, like against said Daemon Primarchs, though you do get top cool points if you take this against them. 


Army Rules Back to Contents

These are rules that will be commonly found across multiple, if not all, units in the Adeptus Custodes Codex.

CUSTODES with this get  4++, and a 6+++ vs all Mortal Wounds. A simple and widely applicable defensive buff, a 4++ is always great, especially on units with the sheer mass of your shiny golden boys, and the shrug will be useful from time to time against errant explosions and the like.

ANATHEMA INFANTRY units get this, making them totally immune to Psychic Powers, never being able to be targeted by them, making any PSYKERS within 18” get a stacking -1 to Cast (to a max of -3), and you get +1 to Wound PSYKERS and DAEMONS within 6”.

Obviously these are all pretty clear cut in what they do, the main benefits will be against Psyker heavy armies, using your Sisters as ablative Smite shields as well as moving in to make other powers trickier to cast, which for some armies can spell the difference between victory and defeat.

It’s Deep Strike. Get your meaty combat units into position with minimal reprisal, or set up pincer or flanking manoeuvres with oncoming Bikes and footsloggers.

Your “pure” rule, needing to be a CUSTODES only army (though you’re still allowed ANATHEMA, UNALIGNED and AGENTS of course), this is for your INFANTRY and BIKERS, letting them know Kung Fu. 

After Deployment, but before knowing who has the first turn (grumbles in Necron Command Protocols), you choose a Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Ka’tah. Each Ka’tah is made up of two Stances, and you can activate one of these Stances in each of your Command Phases, but you must do them in order, you can’t go back, and you can’t skip. In addition, each Stance can only be used once, but there is no requirement to use both Stances before you move on to the next Ka’tah. 

Look it sounds complicated, but it’s not in practice, once you get used to it. Think of it like this-


Each Ka’tah is 1, 2, or 3, and each Stance is A or B

You choose Calistus, Dacatari and Salvus. You order them as- 

Primary (1) – Calistus

Secondary (2) – Salvus

Tertiary (3) – Dacatari

Turn 1 – you can use 1A or 1B, you choose 1B

Turn 2 – you can use 1A, or move to 2A or 2B, and you choose 2A (as you can’t use 1B again, or go to 3)

Turn 3 – you can’t use 1A (as you can’t go back), you can use 2B (as you’ve used 2A), or move to 3A or 3B. You choose to go to 2B

Turn 4 – you can use 3A or 3B, you use 3B

Turn 5 – you can use 3A, that’s it. 

And don’t forget if one of those was a “prefered” Ka’tah (see the Shield Hosts), you could have both stances active once a game. Let’s say Salvus was your preferred Ka’tah, you could say on Turn 2 in the example above have 2B active as well that turn, and still select it again on Turn 3.

Where the difficulty comes is deciding which ones to use, and in what order, as whilst the rules are solid and can lead to some potent advantages, and there is some manipulation possible, mistiming can be a waste. If you can plan ahead for when a particular unit will benefit the most, or your whole army is expecting to do something, it will serve you well, and you have some some flexibility by sheer virtue of being able to select one of two rules (generally) in a given Command Phase, letting you delay a better or more useful rule if you need to.


Focusing on speed, this manipulates Advance rolls, useful in early stages to ensure you put pressure on early, or in the late game to threaten units or table sections far away

  • Roll 2D6 for Advance rolls and pick. Note this is for rolls only, so BIKERS get no benefit from this, but for everyone else this is great to get into position for a follow up attack in subsequent turns, or to mount last ditch Objective grabs.
  • Normal Moves and Advances count as Remaining Stationary for Shooting this turn. Strong to get early attacks off, especially if slightly out of range, combines well with BIKERS thanks to their fast auto advance.


Action manipulation, this is the nichest of Ka’tah, as without any Action based Secondaries, it holds no purpose for you, but if incorporated this grants good options. 

  • Perform Actions after Advancing or Falling Back. If in a position to use this, it can be incredibly strong, letting you score Secondaries without being shutdown in melee or out of range.
  • Shoot and still perform Actions. Depending on the unit this is pretty strong, letting you have more flexibility in deploying your forces knowing you can use this without sacrificing firepower from something like a unit of ALLARUS.


Anti-Horde Style (sort of), this looks to do a bit of combat manipulation, slowing down units and giving you some melee flexibility. Best in the midgame, when you’re looking to hit combat and stymie your opponent.

  • Enemy units within Engagement Range are -2” to any Pile In or Consolidations they make. This can be massive both defensively to minimise attacks coming in, as well as the utility to stop movement shenanigans of units moving into Objective range, tagging other units, or moving to wrap you. 
  • When units fight they can choose to get +1A, but set their melee Dmg of all their weapons to 1. Obviously useful against lighter 1W infantry where your D2 weapons are wasted, but also handy against units with -1D (where you’d be the same but with less Attacks), or are looking to not kill something in your turn so you can do it in their turn. Given units can choose this or not when they fight, you don’t need to worry if you have a unit that would prefer D2+, and others wanting the cleave style attacks.


You ever seen Equilibrium? Sick film. This is basically Gun Kata. Depending on which stance you’re likely to use, this is best in the early to mid stages, as whilst both are good at any time, they respectively have better returns at those times. 

  • +4” Range to all Shooting Attacks is pretty good, letting you extend your damage potential a bit further afield. It’s a simple but effective buff, letting you maintain distance a bit longer, or take pot shots at units that thought themselves safe.
  • Provided you are INFANTRY, don’t Advance, and aren’t in Engagement Range, you can fire twice with your Auric Weapons, so basically your Swords, Spears and Axes only. No, you can’t fire your VENATAII or SAGITTARUM twice, that would be bonkers. Whilst this doesn’t benefit a huge amount of models, it can be pretty devastating when used in close proximity, effectively giving each model 4 shots at close range making this a powerful clearance tool in Turns 2 or 3.


The Monster Slayer form, helping you tackle big things a bit easier. Both stances are a bit contradictory with each other, but are generally best in the mid to late stages where you will be making melee, or will be in shorter ranges to maximise ranged attacks.

  • 6s to Hit auto Wound VEHICLES and MONSTERS, at both range and melee. Useful to bypass the higher Toughness these units have, as even the -1 D2 on the majority of your weapons can stack up at range. Obviously more efficient if you can get both shooting and combat off with the same units, but handy regardless. 
  • +1 Str in the first turn of combat when fighting VEHICLES or MONSTERS is a solid boost, despite the first turn limitation, boosting you to 3s to Wound against most standard big things.


A defensively focused style, helping you control the flow of combat. Great in the mid-late game when most combat happens, 

  • Melee attacks vs you cannot reroll to Hit. A good defensive boost, whether it is due to innate rules or auras, and though it won’t come up hugely often, it can make a difference over time and across multiple units, and especially on key units that need every edge they can get against a powerful melee force. 
  • Non-VEHICLE or MONSTER units in Engagement Range with your INFANTRY have to roll off before Falling Back, with the enemy getting +1 if they FLY. If you win the roll off, they can’t Fall Back. A powerful tool to shut down enemy shooting units,ensure you finish off a foe, keep melee forces engaged on your terms, or to keep Objectives clear, whilst not always reliable this is a potentially game changing ability, if timed well. 

Datasheets Back to Contents

Certain units with differing Datasheets will have common stats or rules, and so are condensed into one for ease of reference. Regarding Keywords, unless otherwise noted everything is CORE except CHARACTERS and non-DREADNOUGHT VEHICLES.

Misericordias- All your INFANTRY and BIKES can take a Misericordia for an extra AP-2 D1 attack, provided they don’t also have a Shield. It’s not much, and does cost 3pts, or 5 on CHARACTERS, but helps tack on a bit of extra damage against light infantry. 

Forge World Units- A lot of versatility is obtained from Forge World units, which are marked (FW). Also of note, until an FAQ comes out, technically nothing from Forge World has Martial Ka’tah, and aren’t as brave as their Codex counterparts. Use some common sense and assume they’re Ld 11, and they’ll get Ka’tahs the same way as stuff from the Codex- INFANTRY and BIKERS will, VEHICLES won’t.

3 separate Datasheets but sharing much of the same basic info to lump them together. Pretty much the template for the Custodes in terms of statline, with 6” Mv, WS/BS 2+, S & T 5, Ld 11 and a 2+, they are accurate, strong, beefy and brave. All Captains come with 7W base making them hard to kill, and with 6A they are incredible melee fighters, as well as good commanders with their 6” Aura of reroll 1s to Hit for CUSTODES CORE units. 


The “basic” Captain, with option for a Spear, Axe or Sword, whichever one takes your pick in terms of stats, with the Spear being the all rounder, the Axe for an easier time wounding most things at lower AP, or the defensive benefits the Sword brings with their Shield, albeit “only” hitting at Str 6 compared to the 7 or 8 of the others. The Sword and Board will set you back a further 10pts, but at 120 that’s still a bargain, and is generally the best pick in terms of output as well, especially since the Allarus exists. 


If you were looking at the Spear or Axe for the Guardian Captain above, stop, and look here instead. For a mere 5pts more you get the same profile, but +1W, From Golden Light, and a Balistus for an extra D3 Str 5 -3 D1 shots at 18”, well worth the cost of entry. The only time you might not is if you’re really pressed for points, or are eyeing up a particular Captain-Commander upgrade. Otherwise, stick with these guys.


With a mighty +8” FLY Mv and auto advance 6”, these are much faster, and more survivable with T6 and 9W. Melee is locked to a Lance, basically a Guardian Spear without the Boltgun, but getting +1 to Wound when they Charge or Intervene, making them punch very hard when on the offense. Ranged wise they can go for a Hurricane Bolter for anti infantry duties, or a Salvo Launcher for +5pts, offering anti tank punch at a mighty Str 8 -4 Dmg3+D3, albeit only Heavy 1 and 24”. They pay a pretty penny for all this though, coming in at 170pts base, but that is still aggressively costed for their power.

A Shield-Captain in stats, though with only a 3+ Sv (he’s not wearing his greaves you see), and swaps out the reroll 1s to Hit Aura for a bunch of special rules. They go back up to a 2+ in Melee, and also can’t be hit on better than 4+, cos they parry. They also always FIght First and get a 6” Heroic Intervention, if in Engagement Range other CUSTODES get +1 to Charge that unit, and have a choice of 3 melee profiles (the jury is out whether they are the names of weapons or fighting styles. You do you boo) – 

  • Behemor gives you Str+2 AP-4 D2, with 4s to Hit MONSTERS and VEHICLES automatically wounding, making them decent at carving up big things as well as good all rounder profile, just watch out for -1 Dmg.
  • Hurracanis gives -1 D1 but double attacks, helping cleave through light infantry, though Str 5 lets you down a little bit.
  • Victus makes you hit at Str+1 AP-4, and a hefty Dmg 3, as well as rerolling wounds vs CHARACTERS, offsetting the lower Str. 

Overall the Blade Champion is an odd choice, being primarily a beatstick in an army that can kind of already do that well enough, and doesn’t offer a huge amount of buffs or support to the army. He’s flexible and great in combat, and not massively costly at 110pts, but might not be a go to choice.

The basic (well, only) leaders of the Sisters of Silence, they have the same base wargear choices as the units themselves (albeit their Boltgun is Master crafted for AP-1 D2), and have a fairly reasonable statline as one would expect on a Character (better WS/BS, with more A and W). They also come stock with a 5++ and a reroll 1s to Wound Aura for ANATHEMA CORE within 6”. At 50pts base, or 55 with Greatblade, they’re a cheap way to fill a HQ slot and get some Psyker mitigation in the army, even if just by themselves. Whilst they won’t do much in the way of heavy lifting compared to a Custodes, they can still pack a nasty surprise with their Greatblade, with 4 Str 5 -3 D2 attacks not to be sniffed at by lighter Characters. Or as seems to be the way with all Special Characters, just pay a bit more and get someone better in Aleya.

Effectively a GUARDIAN CAPTAIN with +1W, the Captain-General is an absolute weapon. His Axe hits at a whopping Str 10 -3 Dmg3, with Str 5 on the Ranged profile, he also has a 5+++ and grants reroll 1s to Wound as well as Hit in his Aura. Whilst he has to be your WARLORD, he gets two of the best all-purpose Traits, grants +1 CP, and once per game can use his Moment Shackle to either immediately Fight after an enemy unit, reduce the Damage of a failed Save to 0, or Fight Again at the end of a Fight Phase. All for a paltry 170pts. He pretty much verges into autotake territory, being tougher and more killy than other HQs, as well as having more buffs and utility to offer. Generally, you’ll want to find the points to run him unless you’re really adamant on having certain combinations of Relics/Traits/Commander abilities elsewhere. Note he doesn’t have a GUARDIAN/ALLARUS/VERTUS Keyword, so has no impact on the Host of Heroes limitation. 

A GUARDIAN CAPTAIN with permanent Genetic Alchemy, can reroll a Hit, Wound, Charge or Save once per Battle Round, and his Guardian Spear gets AP-4 and you can’t use any “ignore wound” abilities against it. For 30pts more than a normal Spear Captain, he’s obviously a clear upgrade just for the defensive buff alone, let alone the rerolls and better melee. Obviously having set Relics, Traits and no Captain-Commander access limits him a bit, but if you have the points spare, he’s well worth the upgrade.

Take a Knight Centura with a Greatblade, but give her +1A, +1Str, a Misericordia, Fight First and fight on death if she didn’t get chance to Fight. For 20pts more. Yeah, it’s pretty much a no brainer if you were going for a Sword Centura, as well as the interaction obtained with the Teleport Homer Stratagem, should the need arise.

With the base statline outlined above in the Shield-Captain, though at 3W and 3A, they are still tough and capable warriors. Given you can use Prosecutors to fill up some Troop slots, albeit in a limited capacity, you might not need to take these as often as before, instead being able to use your points for more effective units, especially since other INFANTRY get ObSec.


These versions will often act as a mainstay of the army, running in units of 3-10, and loaded with either the balanced ranged and melee profile of Spear, or the slightly weaker but tougher Sword and Shield combo. Both are good for pushing units off Objectives as well as holding them, however at 45pts, or 50 for the Sword and Board, they aren’t the most efficient when compared to other units available in terms of output, but they will still hold up well in most circumstances against other units, able to take on even the heavy elites of other armies with ease, and being the only ones with access to Shields makes them ideal for holding Objectives and tying units down.

Forge World

Take a Spear toting unit, reduce their squad size to 3-5, and increase their base cost by 10pts to replace their Boltgun portion of their spear with an Adrathite weapon, an Assault 1 18” Str 5 -3 Dmg3 disintegrator beam. Alternatively, for a further 5pts, you could make that a Meltagun instead. It’s a hefty increase, and frankly annoying they weren’t just made an upgrade possible to use in a normal unit, but fine. Pricey, for not a huge gain, you can generally get by without them. There can be some play with a small unit with the Melta Spear, though without innate access to From Golden Light, you’ll need to footslog them or spend the CP to deep strike them in, adding a further cost.

The “basic” Sister of Silence, packing a fairly standard human statline, though with slight boosts here and there (Take a Sister of Battle with +1” Mv, WS and A, and you’re there), packing a Boltgun and the Daughters rule. That’s about it really. For 12pts they aren’t tremendously survivable or killy for their cost, but that’s not why you’re taking them. They are comparatively cheap to full up Detachment slots so you can take more efficient Custodes units elsewhere, are great to act as Action caddies and Objective holders, and act as a decent enough Psychic defense force to help protect your Custodes, sticking them out in front to absorb Smites and help try and mitigate other powers. A squad or two isn’t breaking the bank, and opens up options for you to use them and other parts of your list for.

A Custodian Guard that for 5pts more trades out his Spear for effectively an Assault version of a Heavy Bolter that packs an underslung Adrathite blaster (same stats as the Spear version above just 15” range). Whilst lacking in melee stats, you can buy them a Misericordia for a paltry 3pts, which you should just to give them the ability to fight back against lighter units which might try to get them locked down. Coming in squads of 3-5, these guys are a dependable back line support choice, letting you add some solid firepower to the army for a reasonable cost, as well as offering some much needed Dmg3 in the midrange. Whilst you’ll take a -1 to Hit if firing both profiles, it’s often worth it for the extra firepower and BS2 will often make it fine to do, and being Assault weapons you can Advance and fire both with no downsides.

For 5pts more than a Spear Guardian, you get +1A, your 6+++ works vs all Wounds not just Mortals, and you act as a Bodyguard to CUSTODES CHARACTERS within 3”, preventing them from being shot at all. You can also have Axes instead of Spears if you’re so inclined, giving you that nice Str 8 for 1 worse AP. Still in units of 3-10, but just better than their Troops counterparts, their only downside as it were is being Elites, though it’ll be hard to max out on those slots anyways, and not having access to Shields. This does enable you to use Wardens as the more offensive version, with the Sword and Board Guardians holding Objectives in their place. Overall a solid upgrade if you’re looking for just better basic Guardians, or are concerned about your Characters being shot off the board, as even a lone Warden can protect a VERTUS CAPTAIN as he prepares to charge.

Take a Guardian with a Spear, and pop them in Terminator Armour. With +1A and W they are both more offensive and tougher (though D2 weapons will sting), and From Golden Light offers you utility in Deployment. In addition, their Slayer of Tyrants ability to Pile In and Consolidate towards enemy CHARACTERS instead of the closest model gives them some combat shenanigans, though they do have end the move with at least one model in Engagement Range, and obviously you can only attack them if eligible (so no charging something else to loop round and hit them), so it’s fairly niche. Coming in squads of 1-6 they have some flexibility, though not so useful for Secondaries anymore, and they go to battle with either Spears or Axes, as well as a Balistus Grenade Launcher for some good ranged punch, with 18” Assault 3 Str 5 -3 D1 Blast making a mess of hordes and heavy infantry alike. For 65pts Allarus are well costed with good offense and defense, making them ideal for taking and holding Objectives alike.

Custodes that carry a potent Banner into battle, offering one of three Auras to CORE and CHARACTERS within 6”. The Defensor offers Light Cover, bumping units into a scary 1+ save (or 0+ for Shield bearers), effectively making ranged AP-1 weaponry against them useless, and still affording a mighty 3+ against AP 2. The Imperius grants +1A, really bumping up the melee prowess of all your units no matter what they are. Finally the Magnifica offers Dense Cover, ensuring you will be tricky to hit no matter the weapon fired at you. Provided you don’t encounter Ignores Cover, the Magnifica is generally the best choice as it will always provide a benefit whereas Light Cover might not, being only useful vs AP 1 and 2, though they are very common weapons. The Attack bonus is potent, but getting to combat with less casualties is generally better. Each Banner is also 1 per army, so you can’t spread out the benefits too widely, so consider what you want them to do and deploy accordingly.


The usual Guardian Armour as its name suggests, with 6W and 4A, they come with either a Spear, Axe, Misericordia or Shield. The Spear or Axe is your usual choice between slightly better Str or AP, and in general avoid the Misericordia, as it explicitly states you have to have it instead of something else (so you’d just be getting a worse melee weapon for no gain), and likewise the Shield will make him slightly tougher at the expense of any melee prowess at all. Regardless of loadout, he’ll run you at 105pts, quite cheap for the Aura he brings


For 10pts more, you get +1W and From Golden Light, letting you bring the Banner down where it’ll be most useful. Comes with the Grenade Launcher as standard, but your only melee option is a Misericordia, so don’t expect them to do any heavy lifting in melee (though 5A at Str 5 -2 isn’t exactly terrible, even if only D1). If you aren’t expecting to do much melee, aren’t looking at the Shield, or just want the flexibility to Deep Strike, he’s a handy upgrade for minimal points.

No matter which of the three different types you choose, these DREADNOUGHTS all have a robust statline with 9” Mv, S and T7, 9W, 5A and a 2+/5++/6+++, so whilst they don’t have the 4++ from Aegis, they do have a minor shrug vs everything. They don’t have Ka’tah, so don’t worry about them when deciding Stances and such.


For 155pts you get either a Str 7 Assault Cannon, or a Multi-melta (which is generally the better choice unless you’re absolutely desperate for anti-horde), as well as a Combi-bolter and Dreadnought Fist for some tasty Str 14 -3 Dmg3 attacks in Melee. A pretty solid choice and can cover some anti tank bases you might need.

Galatus (FW)

An extra 15pts over the Venerable swaps out your arms for a Warblade and Shield. The Warblade does only hit at your base Str 7, but does net you +D3 Attacks as well as a Str 6 Twin Heavy Flamer, and the Shield offers a robust 4++ and -1 to Hit in Melee, making him a much more tanky Dread. Whilst the Str loss can be significant depending on your targets, you can still make mincemeat of most elite units and lighter tanks, and the sheer survivability boost will more than make up for it, helping you get there and stick around longer once you do. Obviously not nearly as useful past melee or at least the 12” mark, so get him upfield and either fighting or the very least absorbing firepower as quickly as possible. 

Achillus (FW)

For 5pts more than the base Venerable, you carry a Dreadspear instead of your other weapons, netting you a 24” Heavy 2 Str 8 -2 Dmg 3 ranged attack, and an additional +D3 Dmg on your melee. You also upgrade your single Combi-bolter into 2 Lastrum Storm Bolter (Storm Bolters with Str 5 and AP-1), each one of which can also be swapped out for a Str 6 Heavy Flamer, or a Twin Adrathic Destructor (a two shot version of the Spear carried by the Guardian), each costing 10pts per upgrade. The Achillus is a good all-rounder, being better at busting tanks and heavy units in melee, as well as flexible ranged weaponry at the cost of a stronger main weapon and a slightly increased cost.


Prosecutors that trade out their Boltguns for a Greatblade. The main issue is you have CUSTODES for melee, being tougher and hitting harder, alongside having more rule access to help them do their job. The advantage Vigiliators have however is their cost, with a full squad of 10 setting you back a mere 140pts, a steal for their output if you can get them there, as most units outside of elite heavy infantry won’t be able to withstand 21 Str 5 -3 D2 attacks. Whilst a Rhino is pretty much a necessity for them, they won’t stick around for long after making combat, but a unit can take their pound of flesh and trade relatively well, meaning they can’t be ignored, especially if used in conjunction with other melee focused units and support.

A variant of the Allarus, swapping their weapons for a Lastrum Storm Bolter for anti infantry, and a Solerite Gauntlet for a harder hitting melee attack at Str 10 -4 D2. For 10pts more their Bolter can be swapped out for Firepike (a Str 6 Heavy Flamer with 15” Range for horde clearance), or an Twin Adrathic Destructor ala the Achilus, giving them some heavy lifting anti-elite punch. You can also freely swap out their Gauntlet for a Talon, basically a Lightning Claw with +1 Str for even more anti-horde. Whilst they hit harder in melee, their basic ranged output is roughly comparable at 12” and slightly less effective past that, and they do lose some utility via the Slayer of Tyrants rule as well as certain Keyword interactions. This is all whilst being a pretty hefty 10pts more expensive, and before any ranged upgrades if you’re so inclined. They are good, but will be very dependent on what you want them to actually be doing, and generally other units will be more efficient outside of certain cases in melee.

Fast Attack Back to Contents

A 3-6 man Custodes unit with 14” FLY Mv, T6 5W 4A, a Spear with a meaty +1 to Wound when they Charge or Intervene, and either a Hurricane Bolter for anti horde, or the anti tank Salvo Launcher for 5pts more. Pretty aggressively costed at 85pts base, these guys can deal with a large variety of targets depending on gear, and are excellent bully units to force units off Objectives or deal with key targets. Whilst there are few ways to get Advance and Charge, their 6” auto Advance does give them utility for Objective nabbing or cutting off routes for the enemy, so it’s a useful tool to have. Whilst loading up on them will cost a lot of points, as well as remove ObSec potential, they are a powerful unit to have and able to add some much needed speed to the army.

Sisters of Silence that get an AP -1 Flamer, and a pregame move of 6” for themselves, or the Transport they’re in. For only 2pts more than a Prosecutor, they are useful to get themselves and other Sisters into position and onto Objectives, moving their Rhino into a more advantageous position (say to block an avenue to your Custodes or to tag an enemy early doors), as well as offering some good anti horde. Really their only downside is being in the already hotly contested Fast Attack slot, and not being ObSec. 

Take a VERTUS PRAETOR, and trade out his Hurricane Bolter for a Lastrum Bolt Cannon, being a Heavy Bolter but with Str 6 and D1 instead. Oh and you have 1 less Wound and you pay 10pts more for the privilege. AND this is all presuming their weapons get updated to be the same as the Vertus. It’s all very silly. There are some alternative ranged weapons, though you pay even more for them, with +5pts netting you an Adrathic Devastator (a Heavy 2 Str 6 version of the other ones discussed, still rocking an 18” range), or for a whopping 15pts you get a Twin Las-Pulsar for Heavy 4 Str 8 -2 D3 Dmg shots at 24”. Both are good upgrades, they just make the already expensive Agamatus even pricier. Generally not worth the price of admission, though if you find yourself with like 90pts lying around (lol) you could upgrade your Vertus to these guys with Las…or just take another Praetor…

A Custodian Guardian takes off his greaves and straps the best looking jump pack ever onto him, downgrading to a 3+ Sv but a 12” FLY Mv. They come with either a Kinetic Destroyer and Tarsus Buckler, or a Venatri Lance, either one setting you back 55pts. The Destroyer and Buckler combo bumps them back up to a 2+, nets you a 2 shot Str 6 -2 D2 Pistol at 18” with exploding 6s, as well as Str 6 -2 D1 attacks in melee. Alternatively the Lance makes you hit harder in combat, with Str 6 -3 D2 with +1 A. The Destroyer version is generally better, making you more survivable, with inferior melee for ranged punch, which is offset by them being Pistols and thus usable in melee anyways acting as pseudo extra attacks. In squads of 3-6 they offer swift Infantry able to pepper away at elite infantry before assisting with clearing lighter units in melee, as well as being very useful for the all important Objective capping.

This weirdly named hovercraft (seriously, Grav-Attack what? Speeder? Platform? Where’s the rest of the name?) has a reasonable defensive profile at T6 8W 3+/5++, and comes with a Twin Arachnus Blaze Cannon, which fires either a Beam at Heavy 2 Str 7 -4 Dmg 3 at 36”, with the added bonus of rerolling wounds vs VEHICLES (which at Str 7 you’ll need), or for infantry duties it has Burst to fire 6 shots at Str 5 -2 D1, at 24”. It’s fast at 16” FLY, and cheap for 95pts, but it doesn’t really offer a huge amount of damage. It is useful for support fire, as well as for skirting the flanks to soften targets or threaten charges or weakly defended Objectives, giving you some options for its use.

Heavy Support Back to Contents

Take the basic Godhammer Land Raider (so Twin Heavy Bolter and 2x Twin Lascannons) paint it gold and give it a 6+++. That’s about it really. It carries 5 CUSTODES INFANTRY, so you can load it up with pretty much whatever you want, and when they jump out they’ll deal with whatever’s there. The main issue, as always with Land Raiders, is cost vs effectiveness. At 285pts they aren’t terrible, but they aren’t offering a massive amount of firepower (though BS 2 helps somewhat compared to others), and offering protection to Custodes will sometimes feel superfluous, especially as the Custodes in question can sometimes be more resilient than the Raider carrying them. It’s not terrible, but it’s also not necessary.

The Dreadnought that makes the Leviathan look small, this big lad rocks an impressively chunky statline with S and T8, 4A, 14W and a 2+/4++/6+++. Weapons wise he comes stock with a Spiculus Bolt Launcher for light infantry hunting, hitting with 5 shots at Str 5 -1 D1 at 24”, or 10 shots if you Remained Stationary. His arms can be any combination of three weapons. For melee the Caestus has you covered with Str 16 -3 D4 and +1A, alongside a built in Plasma Flamer Projector, for a tasty 2D3 shots at Str 6 -2 D1. Ranged wise you have the option of the Illiastus Accelerator Culverin or a Arachnus Storm Cannon, with the Storm Cannon setting you back 15pts per arm. The Culverin fits a middle niche, with Heavy 4 Str 7 -3 and D2, whilst the Storm Cannon offers similar statlines to the Blaze Cannon on the Grav-Attack above, though at a stronger Str 8 on the Beam and Str 7 on the Burst, making it more effective against either of those preferred targets. Solid and dependable, the Telemon is pricey at 280pts base, though with only the Storm Cannons costing extra that will only budge slightly. It’s not CORE, so doesn’t benefit from much in the way of support, but given it’s already stellar statline it’s not that much of a sting. It degrades pretty harshly however, so make sure to get it doing work as soon as possible, and whilst twin guns might sound promising to assist with fire support, a Caestus to help support an offense as well as be more of a threat to being pinned down by light units is usually worth the sacrifice of some shooting.

A floating battle tank, with a decent T7 14W and 3+/5++, it comes with a Twin Lastrum Bolt Cannon for some light anti-infantry firepower (see the Agamatus above, but, you know, twin), and a turret of either an Illiastus Accelerator Cannon for 8 Shots at Str 7 -3 D2, or a Twin Heavy Arachnus Blaze Cannon with the usal Beam and Burst profiles, but at Str 9 and 3+D3 Dmg on the Beam, and 8 shots at Str on the Burst, with a further +12” Range on both. It’s quick at 14” with FLY, letting you ensure line of sight and cover are avoided with relative ease, and it offers some solid firepower to the army. At 205 regardless of loadout it’s not the cheapest thing around, but it helps to fill a gap otherwise missing from the army, mainly further anti horde as well as ways to soften up harder targets from a distance. 

Dedicated Transports Back to Contents

It’s a Rhino. Alright fine. It only carries Sisters of Silence, obviously, which is useful for them given their flimsy profile. Can only be included for each ANATHEMA INFANTRY in the Detachment rather than any INFANTRY. Comes in at 75pts, 5pts cheaper than all other Rhinos, though it has literally no special rules, including Daughters of the Abyss- guess it’s hard to be a Null inside a Hull (ha). With a single Storm Bolter it’s not adding much firepower to the army so don’t be afraid to Advance to hold or contest those objectives, or charge it into units to tie them up.

Take a Caladius, bump it to T8 and 18W, but downgrade it’s Blaze Cannon to the one on a Grav-Attack, for the option to Transport 6 CUSTODES INFANTRY around. A much faster and (generally) more robust alternative to the Land Raider, though with less offensive output, and 18W is a major downside for Terrain interactions. The extra capacity helps a bit, especially as you can have two small units inside to pop out and do separate things, but at 250pts it’s a costly investment.

A big ol’ Flyer, with your usual AIRCRAFT type rules, packing 2 Heavy Blaze Cannons (ala the Caladius), 2 Twin Lastrum Cannons (ala the Caladius, but with 2 of them), and a 2 Spiculus Heavy Bolt Launchers (basically 3 shot Autocannons). It packs a ton of firepower, and can Transport either 12 CUSTODES INFANTRY, or 7 and a CONTEMPTOR. With T8 22W and a 3+/5++, it will likely get what you want where you want, but at 500pts it’s a ludicrously pricey boy and you really need it to do something. And yes, technically it doesn’t fit on some Deployment Zones, so you could have instances where it does nothing, or are spending a ton of CP to put them into Strategic Reserve. So be wary with using it, lest you have a quarter of your army, plus the stuff inside, doing very little until maybe Turn 2 or 3.

Replace the Transport capacity of the Orion with a Magna Blaze Cannon, netting you either D3 Shots at Str 14 -4 6+D3 Dmg Blast, or 3 Shots at Str 9 -3 D3 Dmg (why you’d ever use that profile is beyond me though). Incidentally neither of those profiles have reroll wounds vs VEHICLES like other Blaze weapons do, so in some instances they can be less reliable at wounding them. You also lose all the bolt weapons as well for some Bombs, letting you do D3 Mortals to everything within 6” of a point you flew over on a 4+ (or 5+ for a non-VEHICLE/MONSTER CHARACTER). You’re also 50pts cheaper. But it doesn’t really do much, outside of anti tank, which whilst sorely needed by the army, is a big ask for something not massively cost effective. Whilst as chunky as the Orion, it also has the same issues, namely being so big some missions will prevent you from deploying and being able to do anything with it turn 1.

Lords of War Back to Contents

Each single Custodes IS a Lord of War, a consummate master of blade, a tactical genius, and a true champion of the battlefield…Oh you mean a big stompy thing? Yeah you don’t get those.

Fortifications Back to Contents

Unless you were intending to bring the Gates of Terra themselves to battle, you’ll have to make do without.

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Noah Lemmon
2 years ago

Fantastic work as always

Chris Cubley
Lodge Member
Chris Cubley
2 years ago

I greatly appreciate all of the work that has been put into these breakdowns, they’re hugely helpful. Would it be possible to include simple/starter army lists geared towards folks wanting to get a feel for how a certain army plays?

2 years ago

NIce breakdown! The first I ever read of you guys, but it certainly won’t be the last!
Altough I have many other projects, I feel a mighty need to get some of the Emperor’s finest as well!

2 years ago

This is excellent! One thing though: is there anyway to make this more compatible for mobile? Anytime I leave the app to answer a message, it resets the page to the top and I can see the copied and pasted code in all the titles.

Joshua Wolk
Joshua Wolk
2 years ago

Hugely helpful, thank you!

Lodge Member
2 years ago

Guys, you missed the fact that Trajann and Valorian get the Shield host keyword too.

Lodge Member
2 years ago

Great read and a really good alternative to a 2 hour video. Maybe final verdict section?

Stuart Dickson
Lodge Member
Stuart Dickson
2 years ago

great deep dive

Lodge Member
2 years ago

Okay, someone has been very busy the last weeks, I guess. 😂 Thanks again! 🙏

Jonathan Haynes
Lodge Member
Jonathan Haynes
2 years ago

Thanks guys.