Talons of the Emperor: Making Custodes Work in a CAD

I did an earlier article on Custodes when they first came out for 40K, but now that they have been “re-released” via Talons of the Emperor, with some new units, rules, and a detachment all their own, I thought I’d take a closer look at them.

In terms of the Custodes themselves, they are almost identical to their previous incarnation, but now have a 5++ “stock” when equipped with the Guardian Spear (goes up to a 3++ if they trade it out for a Sentinel  Blade and Stormshield for 2MBs per model), which means they have the following profile:

WS5 BS5 S5 T5 W2 I4 A3 Ld10 Sv2+/5++ (the Shield Captain has +1WS/I/A over the normal profile)

Combine this with a cost of 10 MBs per model (extra 2MBs for the Shield Captain), S6 AP2 attacks at full I4 if they have the Guardian Spear (plus a built in BS5 Bolter) or S5 AP3 attacks at full I4 if they have the Sentinel Blade (plus a 12″ S4 AP5 Assault 2 shooting profile that can also fire all Snap Shots at BS2), plus Eternal Warrior, Adamantium Will, Deep Strike, Fearless, and Bulky rules and you have the makings of a very strong overall unit, especially for their points cost. In terms of upgrades, besides being able to swap Guardian Spears for Sentinel Blades for free, one model per army can replace his Guardian Spear with a Custodes Vexilla (banner that gives +1A to the squad and Fearless to all Imperium units within 12″) and any model that does not have a Guardian Spear can take a Storm Shield for 2MBs. Finally, each squad can take a Custodes Land Raider as a Dedicated Transport if it wishes (it is just like a normal Land Raider, but with BS5, a built in 5++ save, the ability to ignore all Crew Shaken/Crew Stunned results, and the “Venerable” special rule, which is just like what Venerable Dreads have).

Beyond this, Custodes are now considered Troops choices. Normally, this might not matter much (since they usually come as part of the special “Golden Legion Task Force” detachment, which only allows them to take Custodes squads, DT Custodes Land Raiders, and the new Custodes Venerable Contemptor Dreadnought), but it actually allows you to take them as part of a CAD (and so get Objective Secured Custodes!). How, you might ask? Well, from the recently released Triumvirate of the Imperium and Triumvirate of the Primarch rules, you can take St. Celestine, Belsarius Cawl, Grand Master Voldus, or Cypher as a HQ choice in a Combined Arms Detachment for ANY Imperium army, meaning that you can now meet the requirements of 1 HQ/2 Troops with one of these HQ choices and Custodes as the 2-6 Troops choices… pretty awesome (don’t forget, if Custodes are Objective Secured, then their DT Land Raiders become Objective Secured too)!

Of these HQ options, I think the best ones to work with Custodes are Celestine, Cawl, and Voldus, since each of them brings some solid synergy abilities to work with the boys in golden armor:

[1] St. Celestine — Everyone is already aware of what great value she (and her bodyguards) are for their points, especially since they provide some exceptional “tanking” abilities to any unit they attach to. On top of this, since they are Jump Infantry, they can attach to a Custodes squad in Deep Strike Reserve and then DS in with them starting on Turn 2. Not only can Celestine and her Gemini bodyguards soak up otherwise dangerous enemy shooting (I am thinking Grav Cannons here) for the Custodes, but they can also choose to split off on later turns and grab objectives, charge a different unit, etc. Finally, with her special “aura” abilities, Celestine can give nearby Custodes FNP(6+) for a turn, further boosting their already top-notch durability, or she can give herself Zealot for a turn, allowing her to act as a “quasi-Chaplain” for the squad she is attached to.

[2] Belsarius Cawl — Like Celestine, he provide some amazingly efficient “wound tanking” ability for any Custodes unit he is attached to (i.e. T6, 5W, 2+/5++, re-rollable FNP, and automatically regenerate D3 lost wounds per turn). While he unfortunately cannot Deep Strike with the Custodes or ride in their Land Raider with them, he can do quite well leading a foot-slogging squad, absorbing the non-AP2/1 attacks himself and using Look out Sir! to pass the AP2/1 attacks off to Custodes with Storm Shields. More importantly, he provides the Custodes with some powerful anti-tank abilities, which is arguably one of their main weaknesses. First, he has his Solar Atomiser, which is basically a souped-up Meltagun with S10, Master-Crafted, and D3 shots per turn, all fired at his BS5. On top of this, in close combat he can put out 5 attacks on the charge with his Arc Scourge, which is a S6 AP4, Master-Crafted, Haywire weapon (that can re-roll the result of the Haywire rule), meaning he can reliably bring down 4-5 HPs off even the toughest vehicles (like Imperial Knights and Land Raiders) per Assault Phase. Given that Custodes have only S4 shooting and S6 close combat attacks, this goes a long way toward making up for their weaknesses against heavy vehicles, which would otherwise be a tremendous threat to them.

[3] Grand Master Voldus — He is basically a PML(3) Grand Master who also has a Daemon Hammer that strikes at full Initiative (so I5 for him) and who can, if the Warlord, get up to 4 rolls on the Sanctic Daemonology table. Besides bringing innate S8 AP2 attacks at I5 to a Custodes army (again, helping with their weakness in anti-tank capabilities), his ability to get Sanctic powers (well, 5 technically, with the Primaris power Banishment), he can be a pretty potent force-multiplier for a Custodes army. Looking at the Sanctic powers, Hammerhand brings him up to S10 AP2 and Custodes with Guardian Spears up to S6 AP2 (all striking at full Initiative), Sanctuary brings him up to a 3++, “normal” Custodes up to a 4++, and Custodes with a Storm Shield up to a 2++, and Gates of Infinity gives him and his squad amazing mobility to almost anywhere on the battlefield (which, again, mitigates one of their primary weaknesses). Additionally, all three Witchfires are quite useful, with Purge Soul useful for sniping wounds off MCs, Cleansing Flame a great tool against massed hordes, and Vortex of Doom providing an exceptionally potent (but risky) S: D AP1 Small Blast at 12″ which can be used against all kinds of enemy targets.

Besides “unlocking” Custodes squads as troops within a CAD, taking one of these HQs also means you can take additional Custodes Venerable Land Raiders as Heavy Support choices (up to three of them) and up to three Custodes Venerable Contemptor Dreadnoughts as Elites choices, giving you the ability to field a “full-sized” army of these Golden Warriors if you want (Oh, and since you are taking a CAD, you can also give them a Fortification choice and/or take a LOW choice like Guilliman or an Imperial Knight, if you so choose). Overall, while I don’t think taking these HQs to create a Custodes CAD will make for an overly competitive army, it certainly gives them more options and mitigates many of their weaknesses, in turn allowing them to maximize their strengths, namely tremendous close combat and durability values, especially for their points cost.

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