Welcome to the Tactician’s Table, where I take one unit in the game and review its purpose. As with all of these entries, this is how I interpret their usefulness. I don’t go to GTs, and I just play casually. I just also happen to enjoy the meta. That being said, if you see something I’ve missed, or think that I’m completely off-base, feel free to comment, but, be tactful about it. I like to expand my gaming knowledge, and am always looking for ways to improve how to use units.
Today, I want to talk about the Golden Boys of 40k, the Adeptus Custodes. Why would you want to run these guys? Well, you may be a fan of gold, you may like incredibly tough units that can deal as much punishment out as they can take, or, you may be like me, and watched The Emperor’s Text To Speech Device, and loved the character of Kitten (incidentally, the series made me an Imperial Fists fan as well).
But, we’re going to talk about their core, the Custodian Guard. These are your core, and you have to field at least 2 squads for most formations. When we saw the advent of 8th Edition, and saw their entries in the Index Imperium, they lost one of their most beneficial abilities, that of deep striking. Thankfully, with their own Codex release, they’ve since regained that ability (as a command ability), as well as the ability to only take 3 members in a unit, keeping points to a minimum. However, you can take up to 10 and just have a massive blob teleport in and slowly wade through your opponents forces.
They can be equipped in two different methods: sword and board or two-handed spear. Personally, I prefer the sword and shield, simply because I like being able to only have to remove one or two models from the table at mid game. You are, essentially, trading +1 strength for a +1 to your invulnerability save. I believe it will also cost you an additional 8 points over the spear as well. It’s not a bad trade off in my opinion.
However, you can also choose to be points efficient and run them with a Guardian Spear. This will give an edge over wounding T3 targets, and assist in wounding higher toughness targets, such as knights.
The spears also allow for a slightly better ranged shooting phase for the Custodes. Custodians don’t rely on shooting, but, every wound counts in this game. The spears allow for 1 shot at 12″-24″. While also producing an extra wound over the shooting of a Sentinel Blade, they also modify your target’s save by 1. These are more effective bolters in my book, and, with hitting on a 2 or better, these do cause some wounds in the shooting phase.
You can also equip all of these units with a Miscordia, which, I believe is their small side dagger. For 4 points, you can give all of your Guard the ability to make 1 attach at base strength. This also packs a -2 to AP. It’s not particularly great, but, I find that these attacks are usually the attacks that finish off a squad.
Before their codex dropped, I was running a squad of 5 with a Sentinel Blade and Shield in a Land Raider, and effectively hitting like a truck. While you weren’t getting the most attacks ever, those attacks were quality. However, with the inclusion of Deep Striking, my tactics have changed. I now think that multiple small-mixed units of 2 Sword and Shield, 1 Guardian spear, are my preferred way to go, at least with my play style. This allows for not only durability, but, some increased damage as well. I’ve also read (but haven’t been able to try out) a squad of 2 spears and 1 sword and shield will be the most effective, points wise.
It should also be noted that adding a Vexilus Praetor is always effective. While I think these banner bearers are better suited for other units, they will add some punch to a regular troop. If you wanted to make some giant ball of invincible death, you could easily throw one of these in with a squad of 10 mixed guard, 7 spears-3 shields. May not be the most meta of choices, but, who doesn’t like to see the look of terror on your opponents face when a 2+/3++ squad capable of dishing out 40 – 120 wounds in a round of close combat.
Overall, even though these guys are mandatory, they’re worth while. Send them to disrupt your opponents back lines, and just let them be. They can handle themselves. They can withstand small and heavy weapons fire, and take out the tougher monsters and vehicles on the table. Their primary weakness it though, psychic abilities and mortal wounds. As long as you can target their psykers first, you should be able to handle most things your opponent throws at you.
I recommend smaller units as that will allow you fulfill your ‘troop tax’ for your detachments while putting in more potent things, like jet bikes. Just remember that the Custodes are a highly elite army, and should be treated as such.