Warhammer 40,000/Tactics/Talons of the Emperor (9E)

From 1d4chan

40k's beefiest supermen, and played by Superman himself.

If you're looking for the tactics for the Emprah's BFFs for the big daddy problem clusterfuck, you can find them here

This is the current 9th Edition's Adeptus Custodes/Sisters of Silence tactics. 8th Edition Tactics are here.

Why play Talons of The Emperor[edit]

Maybe you like gold, or perhaps you have the 30k version of the Custodes and don't want to pay for another army for use outside of Horus Heresy games. Maybe you want profiles for your basic infantry that make Terminators envious or maybe, just maybe, you just like the idea that nearly all of your dudes are extremely fucking hard to kill.

In any case, the Adeptus Custodes function as the high-profile, multi-wound elite army, with absurdly strong profiles backed up by equally steep point costs. When even an all-Paladin Grey Knights force consistently fields larger armies than you, every lost model will be sorely felt. However, their innate resilience compensates for their low numbers, and if you play your cards right, you can pull off some crazy stuff even when you're outnumbered. Just watch out for horde armies that can pour enough dakka into you to force unsaved wounds, or tarpit your super-troops through sheer numbers. The 40k Custodes now have a proper Codex, complete with options in every slot- and Forge World finally released 40k rules for all their Legio Custodes units, which means grav-tanks, uber-Dreadnoughts, specialist long-range infantry (praise the Emperor!), disintegration cannons welded to spears, and arguably the most beautiful airborne unit in the whole game.

Overall, Custodes find their selves in a great spot at the start of 9th Ed. After a difficult few years of being worn down by increases in AP across the game (and especially by GW's favourite power armoured whiney children), the Custodes Psychic Awakening has given us better tools for survivability and damage output alike. This puts us in a strong position to grab the new meta by the balls and put our beautiful Golden Bananas were they were meant to be, with the rest of the Imperial Forces taking one from our huge golden throbbing members. The addition of the Sisters of Silence to their faction is both a perfect match with the fluff and a hard counter to the psychic shenanigans that could semi-reliably bypass their otherwise considerable resilience, and also acts as a cheap way to fill up your army without spending a shitload of points in the process.

The full rules for the Custodes Forge World materiel can be found here.


  • You like running an army that, to whatever battlezone they deploy, the Administratum will immediately classify as a victory. Even before they get there. Even if they (somehow) lose. Oh yeah.
  • You want to build, paint and transport an army consisting of about ~25 models total. This makes moving and understanding the game very easy.
  • Your infantry are individually as tough as a hero compared to other armies: T5, 2+/4++, 3W is normal here!
    • If you want to you can upgrade that 4++ to a 3++ relatively easily, and still hit like a tonne of bricks.
  • You want to have access to the toughest, non-named character in the game (T6, W7, 2+/3++/5++ and rerolls on those saves)... We thought we'd seen His mightiest. We thought we'd witnessed the smashiest and fuckiest character in the game. Then, the War of the Spider raged and we were, oh, so wrong.
  • Although not very diverse, they have BEAUTIFUL models with nice armor and weapons.
  • You're the personal bodyguards of the Emperor himself!
  • Your guys are BIG! Even Marines look like Squats next to you!
  • You want a shooty army without having them being vulnerable in assault or an assault army that is just as good at shooting. Custodes melee weapons usually come with the profile of a Relic Bolter. If they don't carry a gun, they will have access to some sort of firepower.
  • Currently the only Imperium list with Jetbikes. Not A Jetbike, JETBIKES. Now Forgeworld has stopped moving at the pace of a drunken Space Wolf Space Wolf in his natural state, we have access to two types of Jetbike!
  • You like Dreadnoughts, especially Contemptors? Custodes have some nasty walkers in their Terran garage.
  • They have the biggest pauldrons you’ve ever seen!!!
  • Technically quite good for beginners due to very low model count and a playstyle which isn't exactly hard to master.
  • Can be extremely easy to paint - gold undercoat, red capes, and plumes, silver weaponry. And it's not hard to make them look good either - Duncan has great tutorials on Custodes.
  • It's not that expensive to build a Custodes army when compared to quite a few other factions (still expensive but every GW army is). 2000pts worth of Custodes will likely cost you less than a 2000pt Guard, Tau or Tyranid army as examples, and you will certainly save money on paint and glue and your dudes will take less than a quarter of the time to build and paint that a nid/guard/ork horde army would.


  • You will get tired of the Austin Powers jokes.
  • You WILL get even more tired of the "Little Kitten" jokes.
  • Even a single lost model will hurt like hell, and even with your buffed version of Objective Secured you can expect to struggle in holding objectives. Each FIGURE of your troops has roughly the points cost of a squad of guardsmen.
  • Only three named characters and no real diversity to them (either 1 of 2 big guys that kick ass in melee or a terrifying woman that makes you wet yourself to look upon her) such as dreadnought or mounted units. There’s also no forge world HQ’s to make use of all the forge world goodies.
  • Without an allied detachment or Forgeworld units, your anti-armor and long-range games are severely lacking. Not a huge problem for Custodes but using Allarus Terminators, Vertus Jetbikes and Contemptor Dreadnoughts to deal with TEQ heavy or mechanized armies can be quite expensive.
  • On top of the anti-armor situation, the only armies you can expect to consistently outnumber use giant robots, and frankly both those match ups favor them over you.
  • No psykers means no Deny the Witch. Sure, you have Aegis of the Emperor and some relics/strats that can help with this, but you will want a dedicated Psyker defense. Bringing in an allied detachment with a psyker or a few Sisters of Silence, or(both) is a good idea.
  • Your Battle Plans are, for the most part, very basic and therefore easily predictable. The vast majority includes getting your Custodians up the pitch and into combat recklessly fast with no regard for actually holding Objectives. Of course, the only ultimate objective the Custodians care for in the fluff is saving old Emps, so what do you expect? Elaborate plans are for pussies.
  • As you scroll through the unit analysis section, you might notice one major thing: this is the only army in the game where forge world units make up more than half of all available units (14 FW to 11 GW). As a result, practically the only way to make a pure Custodes list faintly competitive is to use Forge World, which is a problem if you’re poor like most of the editors of 1d4chan are. Hey! The sucker punch here, however, is that there are not yet forge world HQ variants of the forge world units. So no jet pack captain to deep strike with your jet packs. No uber jet bike captain to escort your uber jet bikes. And no terminator captain with the uber power Fist to lead your murderball of S: 10 destruction. It may be worth looking into asking a friend to print some models for you, or just getting a printer for yourself. Afterall, the cost of a single Orion Assault Dropship ($445 on Forgeworld) will more then cover the cost of getting a good resin printer.
  • Some local store tournament organizers or puritan players may not allow Forge World units to be used in "official" games. This is highly subjective to your local competitive scene. Do note that official GW tournaments and any tournaments following the ITC rule set decree that all currently supported Forge World units are fully legal for use.
  • You will suffer against anything with decent invulnerability saves or stuff like quantum shielding that allows a model to ignore high damage weapons. Regardless of how good you are in combat, things like Wulfen and bike squads with TH/SS will gladly stay and fight you, or worse chase you down. Fail one save and you're gone, while it might take two attacks from us to kill a multiple wound model. Custodes rely on high damage per hit to kill their targets as opposed to eg. The imperial guard who rely on rate of fire. The good news is that your basic guns are only 2 damage, so while they can still knock a decent chunk of wounds off a target, they'll still be quite hard to stop with stuff like Quantum Shielding. This only gets better in CC as you now have an eye-watering high number of attacks to add to high S and AP characteristics, essentially making you become the Imperial Guard Shooting Phase when in combat. D3 damage again also helps you dodge QS.

Special Rules[edit]

  • Aegis of the Emperor: Lore wise, it's the blessing of the Emperor; Gameplay-wise it gives all units with this rule a 5+ invulnerable save and a 6+ against wounds caused in the "psychic phase". Now your Custodes are Terminators on steroids and opponents won't be able to so reliably use psychic powers alone to bypass your high saves.
  • The Emperor's Chosen: In a pure Custodes detachment, all your infantry and biker units get a +1 to their invulnerable saves, up to a maximum of a 3++. Correction to the above, now your Custodes are Terminators on steroids. Your actual Terminators are even TOUGHER. See "Talons of the Emperor" for interaction with Sisters of Silence.
    • This means that your basic Custodian is running around with a 4++ save and 3 wounds, making stuff like singular lascannons, thunder hammers, and powerfists less threatening, as well as a 6+ save against mortal wounds caused by psychic powers. Your opponent's only real choices are to find more dakka (be it through bringing more weapons or focusing fire) or using other methods of inflicting mortal wounds such as Stratagems. Once the Custodians get on a bike or don some terminator armor, they only get more resilient.
    • Note that this interacts with Storm Shields, as it says nothing about the invulnerable granted by the Aegis being the only one affected. This means your Storm Shield wielding Custodes still have a 3++ but also now have a +1 to their armor saving throws. Very awesome stufff.
  • Shield Host: The Custodes finally have rules for the different shield hosts, allowing for some gamey combos. Want to protect a huge blob? Maybe see about the extra aura distance of the Emissaries. Want to have a character absolutely fuck up another character in melee? Shadow keepers have a relic for that. Want to make an Imperial Knight live forever? Aquilan Shield has him covered like a condom. But, honestly, let's stop bullshitting. The juiciest piece is the Dread Host reserve bomb.
  • Sworn Protectors: The ObSec equivalent for Custodes is special- all Custodes Infantry and Bikers can use it, not just Troops. This means that unlike the majority of other armies, you can use deep striking scoring Terminators and jetbikes to snatch objectives from under your opponent's nose, and with The Emperor's Chosen they have a good chance of surviving the inevitable counterattack. You'll need it, too- this is the Custodes' only real way to compete in objective games (outside of simply slaughtering the enemy completely) due to their cripplingly low average model count.
    • This is especially potent against armies that cut down on Troops to save points for other parts of their forces- their equivalent rules only apply to Troops, so if they only have a few of those they'll be hard-pressed to deny you objectives.
  • Witch Hunters: Re-roll all failed rolls to wound when attacking a PSYKER.
  • Psychic Abomination: Sisters of Silence can never be targeted by any psychic power, friend or foe. Additionally, when not in a transport they force enemy PSYKERs to subtract 1 from all Psychic and DtW tests they take if a unit with this rule is within 18" of them. This stacks for each unit with the rule that's present up to a maximum of -4, so having enough Sisters of Silence near a unit will make psychic tests practically impossible for them.
    • If you have a hater-boner for your friend playing a psyker-heavy army, include an auxiliary detachment with an indomitus crusader librarian and take the reliquary of Gathalamor. -4 to psychic test and 50% chance of d3 mortal wounds on a failed psychic ability means they will be SMITING THEMSELVES.
    • The above may now only be useful against Grey Knights and Tzeentch, as they are the only factions who can Smite Spam without any penalty.
    • The Index Imperium FAQ to this rule explains that it completely shuts down the Smite power if they are the closest target. It does not skip over them and affect the next nearest target. This is incredibly useful against opponents who heavily spam the power, opponents who were once praying to get to play you in tournaments.
    • Negative to cast modifiers also make it easier for you to Deny The Witch through e.g. Impregnable Mind WT or Spark of Divinity strat as it becomes easier to beat their total and cancel their power.
  • Null Maidens: Sisters of Silence can be taken in any army with the Imperium keyword as a Vanguard detachment, even though they have no HQ units to fill the HQ slot. However, this detachment will not grant its customary +1CP as a Vanguard detachment normally would. Sadly White Dwarf October updated this rule and now taking an Astra Telepathica HQ doesn't allow the detachment to retain the +1 CP.
  • Talons of the Emperor: The one we've been waiting for, Sisters of Silence in a detachment of Custodes, in a battle-forged army, no longer interrupts the detachment being "Adeptus Custodes" for the purposes of The Emperors Chosen and similar rules. The Sisters, though, do not gain these rules themselves. This applies to all factions that have at least one faction keyword in common with the Sisters.

Shield Hosts[edit]

  • If your army is battle-forged, select a Shield Host for each detachment of Custodes; all Custodes within that detachment, except Trajann, gain <Shield Host> special rule.
  • If your army is led by a Custodes Warlord, you may give the <Shield Host> relic to an AC character within the <Shield Host> detachment instead of one from the Codex. You can give your <Shield Host> warlord their respective warlord trait, and that detachment can use their respective strategem.


  • WLT: "Lock Warden": -1 to hit vs. Characters, -1 to Character saves (including Invuln).
    • Other than higher damage weapons this is the only real way for your characters to increase their damage output against those pesky hero’s running around with 4+ and 3+ invuln saves.
    • The -1 is only useful in melee, because the Vexilla does already that. Useful on bikes though.
  • Relic: "Statis Oubliette": Select one enemy Character at 3" of the bearer at the start of fight phase. This character has his Attacks value halves (rounded up) and Shadowkeepers units can reroll their Wound rolls of 1 against them.
    • Note that there is no range limitation to not benefiting from the rerolls to 1, so that dreadnought, land raider and any mates they have in the back line can join in the fun. Functionally a bit meh if you’ve brought big boss along (which you will have).
  • Strat: "Grim Responsibility" (1CP): Enemy attacks suffer a -1 malus to their Strength value when targeting a Shadowkeeper unit (any phase).
    • Superb for those moments when your units would be up against strength 10 weapons which would otherwise wipe them out.

Solar Watch:

  • WLT: "Sally Forth": 6" Aura of +1" to move and advance and, while within this aura, units that have advanced can shoot with Rapid Fire weapons, at a -1 to hit, in the shooting phase.
    • Turns smashfucker and his mates on bikes into even faster monsters that can still fire after advancing up the field, and even at -1 to hit 10 hurricane bolters in rapid fire range will kill something.
  • Relic: "Swiftsilver Talon" (Guardian Spear): Standard melee profile and Assault 4 S4 AP-1 D2 shooting. AND it allows the bearer to fire and shoot even if he made Advance or Fall Back this turn.
  • Strat: "Eagle Strikes" 0CP: After enemy Character is destroyed, +1 CP to next opponent strat (Once Per BR).

Emissaries Imperatus:

  • WLT: "Voice of the Emperor": While within 9", Imperium units use the warlord's leadership, +3" range to OTHER Auras (this has been applied to the leadership range).
  • Relic: "Vexillus Dominatus": <6" Re-roll failed leadership for Imperium Inf/Bikes. While within 6", EI Custodes are considered to be 3 models when counting for securing objectives. (1 = 3, 2 = 6, 3 = 9...)
  • Strat: "The Emperor's Hand" 1CP: Ignore modifiers when shooting/fighting.

Aquilan Shield:

  • WLT: "Revered Companion": Halves damage against the Warlord.
  • Relic: "Praesidium": Storm Shield, -1 to Wound rolls that target this character.
  • Strat: "Shield of Honour" 1CP: Imperium Character <3", resolve all attacks vs an Aquilan Shield unit instead. Note: Thanks to our great overlords at GW, this no longer works on vehicles.

Dread Host:

  • WLT: "All-Seeing Annihilator": 6" Aura, all melee gain additional hit on 6s.
  • Relic: "Admonimortis": A Castellan Axe with S+3 AP-3 D3 in melee. Your ONLY infantry melee weapon with a flat Damage value in the entire Custodes list, perfect to reliably hunt down characters or monsters.
  • Strat: "The Golden Light of the Moiraides" 1/2CP: Select in the charge phase; Teleported units, 3d6 drop lowest for charges out of deep-strike. 1CP = 1 Unit, 2CP = up to 3 Units. Tired of turning up and having your best units shot to shit without getting into combat? So are we, and apparently so are GW. This strat is well worth the investment. Especially when you consider that RAW you re-roll all dice when you use a CP re-roll on a charge. So in this case, you will roll ANOTHER 3d6 picking the 2 highest. Overall, this can turn a decent unit which can be destroyed by enemy shooting into a match winning rape train.


Take the time to get to know the stratagems available to you, so that you can employ the right one at the right time to devastating effect. If you brought Trajann, his Moment Shackle can make the next stratagem used free. The Strategic Mastermind Captain-Commander trait will refund you a CP on a 5+ for every CP you spend. Keep in mind that for matched play only 1 CP may be refunded per battle round.


  • Avenge the Fallen (1 CP): During the fight phase, select an Adeptus Custodes unit. Each model in the selected unit gains a bonus attack for every model in the unit that was slain on that turn.
    • The main weakness of the Custodes in melee is in dealing with hordes that will wear them down by inflicting more wounds than they can save against while being too numerous for the golden boys to wipe out in a single fight phase. While falling back can be an option in those situations, your model count will likely be so low that any such hordes can surround you, disabling your ability to fall back and leaving you to deal with a death of a thousand cuts. This Stratagem can mitigate that issue somewhat: in a 10-model unit, 5 models lost in the turn it's activated means the remaining 5 models will be packing 5 more attacks per model. Of course, you'll have to pay through the nose just to max out a single unit's size in the first place, but it's better than being up to your golden armpits in Gaunts or Boyz.
    • another weakness is that the opponents would rather focus down a unit rather than spread it out, so only one or two units will benefit if not the whole unit gets destroyed.
    • From a math perspective, in absolute terms, this adds the most attacks when the unit has lost exactly half of its model count that turn, or, if it started at an odd number, 1/2 a model more or less than half: for example, a 3 man squad gets 2 bonus attacks when it loses 1 or 2 men, while a 10 man squad gets 25 extra attacks when it loses 5 men. As you lose more or fewer models, you get diminishing returns - e.g.the 10 man squad gets +25 at 5 losses, but +9 at 9 losses or 1 loss. As you can see, it also works better on larger squads.
  • Bringers of the Emperor's Justice (1 CP): Ripped straight from the Blood Angels. An extra swing on a 6+ to hit against Chaos Space Marines, increased to a 4+ against Black Legion.
    • Helps patch our number of attacks when it comes to dealing with hordes and/or Abbadon's bitches. When used with the Vexilla Imperialis’ ability, your custodes will have an extra 2 attacks. Just in case something somehow survived your initial attacks.
  • Burst Missile Net (1 CP): If your bikes fire flakkburst at the same target, reroll damage.
    • Decent for setting up a charge on a FLY Vehicle or a Flyer but....really? Just charge the thing and save your CP.
  • Castellan Strike (1 CP): If all the castellan axes in a unit are aimed at the same target, they get +1 to their AP.
    • Great for taking on big things that would otherwise sit on a slightly better save.
  • Even in Death... (2 CP): When an Adeptus Custodes character is slain, he can make an out-of-phase shooting or fight action before being removed. A copy of the Space Marine Stratagem "Only in Death Does Duty End".
  • Indomitable Guardians (1 CP): After an enemy charges and fights with at least 1 unit, you can choose a unit of Custodes within 3" of an objective and fight with them.
    • Every little advantage you can claim in defending objectives helps. Don't forget this Stratagem! It is a discounted Interrupt with a contingency. A little situational but VERY useful when it comes to fruition.
  • Inescapable Vengence (2 CP): When selecting a unit of Allarus Terminators to attack in the Shooting phase, they can target Characters with their attacks regardless of whether or not they're the closest target.
    • Allarus Terminators already have a similar bonus when it comes to consolidating after a fight, cementing their role as anti-character death squads. Combining the fact that the shooting from their axes/spears does 2 damage a piece along with their armor shredding grenade launchers, your Allarus Custodians might end up killing their target character just from their shooting.
    • If used correctly, this can help to overcome one of the Custodes major weaknesses. We have always been heavily damaged by Mortal Wounds, and therefore psykers, therefore the ability to turn up with a squad of angry Terminators with some surprisingly powerful (Damage 2) shooting and gank a character with Null Zone can be game winning in the right circumstances. Using this as an anti-psyker tool can also be handy in the new 9e missions; if your opponent has taken Psychic Ritual, you caan reliably cause RAGE when you gank his psyker and deny him 15 points.
  • Networked Machine Spirits (1 CP): Can be used when 2 of your Venerable Land Raiders are snuggled up within 6” and makes them immune to any negative to-hit modifiers.
  • Piercing Strike (1 CP): When a Custodes is selected to fight in the Fight phase, it may add +1 to wound rolls made for attacks with its guardian spears.
    • Excellent for those times when you need a squad of custodians to take down a land raider or a greater demon, also means that you'll be mowing down marines of all varieties on a 2+. Considering that you're hitting on a 2+ already with a high AP, pumping up your chances to wound push you over the edge from "spooky" to "downright terrifying". Another advantage is that your opponent often overlooks this stratagem, focussing on defending against the "Big Bads", like FGLTC or Vexilla Teleport Homer, so the first time you use this will generally be completely unexpected. Save it until they make a mistake, like charging a newly teleported Abby into the basic 5-man unit you have holding the backmarker objective.
  • Sentinel Storm (2 CP): At the end of your enemy's shooting phase, fire with your sentinel blades.
    • Not the best, based on what the sentinel blade is, but nice for softening an incoming charge or screwing with an enemy's plan if you get lucky. However, if you run a sword and board squad for dealing with hordes, the two pistol shots each will help them to not get drowned in attacks, and the ability to get off even more horde clearance cannot be overstated, although it does compete for CP with other ridiculously good stratagems.
  • Stooping Dive (3 CP): At the end of your opponent's Charge phase, pick a Biker unit within 12" of an enemy model. It can charge as if it was your charge phase, and if it makes the charge it gets to fight first even if the opponent charged with someone else. Conflicts with similar rules (e.g. Banshees, Emperor's Children CSMs, etc.) are resolved as normal.
    • Considering how hard bikes can hit it is capable of canceling an important enemy charge attack entirely, which can completely change the battle. One of the best stratagems in the game or at least in the Imperium, albeit expensive.Totally legit use Valoris' Moment Shackle to cancel the cost, or Strategic Mastermind to regain a CP.
  • Wisdom Of The Ancients (1 CP): Man, Imperials love to listen to their assorted Grandpas’ stories, don’t they? Does the same thing it does in all the other codices by giving a Dreadnought in your army a 6” reroll-ones-to-hit bubble. Useful when your shield-captains have better places to be, like handing your opponent's warlord his ass on a golden platter (which he will statistically do unless it’s a Primarch, Typhus, Ghazghkul Thraka, etc).
  • Archeotech Munitions (1 CP)War of the Spider: when shooting D6d weapons, roll 2 dice and select the highest.
    • Relevant to the following units: Pyrothite wielding Custodian Guard, Multi-melta Venerable Contemptors, Venerable Land Raider's Lascannons, and...Vertus Praetors with Salvo Launchers. The Land Raider makes good use of it with its 4 lascannons, but is still brittle in 9e for its points without an invulnerable save. Potentially the best use is on the Pyrothite Custodian Guard, who can essentially melta at 12", which allows them to come in from deep strike and potentially roast something big for 1CP. However, a full squad of bikes shooting from 24", re-rolling wounds on vehicles, with AP -4 and picking the highest damage on two dice,then charging if something is still alive, will delete almost anything Turn 1. Enjoy.
  • Blood Games Veterans (1/2 CP)War of the Spider: Pick a Units of 5 models or a unit of 6+ for 2CP during the shooting phase; until end of the phase, unmodified 6 to hit Auto-wound the target
  • Slayer of Nightmares (2 CP)War of the Spider: pick a Custodes unit in the fight phase, they get +1 to wound roll if targeting something with higher Toughness than themselves.Never forget this one. Combined with a charging unit of bikes you can have your bikers hit on 2s and wound Knights on 4s rerolling fails at -3, D3 damage
  • Superior Fire Patterns (1 CP)War of the Spider: During the shooting phase(if not advanced), pick one unit of Custodes Infantry. For this phase, they can double all shots using Pistol and Rapid Fire weapons. Absolutely amazing on a full squad of aquilon terminators armed with Lastrum Storm bolters.(absurd when used on a shield captain with the gatekeeper relic for total of rapid fire 6)
  • Vengeance of the Machine Spirit (2 CP)War of the Spider: When a non-Dreadnaught vehicle is destroyed it can Auto-explode, make a shooting attack, or make a single weapon attack. Use the top row of the damage table for resolving attacks.


  • Avatars of the Emperor (1 CP): At the beginning of the Morale phase, choose a non-vehicle Custodes unit (remember, your bikes don't count as vehicles). All Imperium infantry within 6" can use that unit's Ld for that morale phase.
  • Concussion Grenade (1 CP): When selecting an Allarus Terminator unit to attack in the shooting phase, their balistarus grenade launcher becomes AP0. However, enemy infantry hit by it cannot overwatch and take a -1 penalty to hit (like the Reivers' shock grenades).
  • Ever Vigilant (2 CP): When an enemy lands within 12", shoot at them with -1 to hit. same as marines (except you'll hit on 3+).
  • Spark of Divinity (1 CP): Forget the others, like FGLTC and VTH, this is your single most important stratagem in your arsenal. Overstatement? Well, for just 1CP it allows your Custodians to Deny The Witch within 12 inches. If you've come this far (and if you keep going) in this article, you'll have noticed that the Custodians have 3 main problems: CPs, the volume of fire (both enemy and friendly), and Psychic Defence. This Stratagem plugs two of them. It's cheap for what it does, and helps keep your boys alive long enough against Psyker armies like Aeldari, Thousand Sons, Daemons, Grey Knights, etc. to get into combat and kill the witches (or for your Venatari and Termies to deepstrike on Turn 2 and assassinate them). It's not going to be a good substitute for normal Psyker defense on its own though, because while they can spam Smite and other powers you cannot spam this Stratagem. Finally, if you bring Valoris you can use his moment shackle after using this to essentially give you a free use. DO NOT FORGET ABOUT IT.
  • Unflinching (1 CP): Gives you a 5+ overwatch. There is no escaping Hurricane Bolters, as the Emperor knows you have committed great sins.
  • Tanglefoot Grenade (1 CP): At the start of the enemy movement or charge phase, pick a non-FLY enemy unit within 12" of a Custodes infantry unit. Roll a d6; the target's Movement characteristic or charge distance is reduced by the result for the rest of the phase.
    • Even just a -1 to charge distances can be enough to effectively neutralize an enemy unit. Now imagine what will happen if they end up losing an average of 3-4" of charge distance. Excellent on melee fighters that will sorely miss even a single inch of mobility and nothing is more hilarious than a squad of Howling Banshees being forced to move slower than Death Guard Terminators. It's worth noting that this strat is also amazing for ensuring enemy units will have a much harder time trying to flee from combat or put some more space between them and the incoming golden wrecking ball.
    • REMEMBER, this stratagem is usable in both the movement AND charge phases. Since stratagems can be used a maximum of once per phase you can stunt a nearby enemy's regular movement and, later in the turn, you can ruin the same or other unit's charge. For only 1 CP each time you can seriously handicap your enemy's plans throughout their entire turn depending on which units they're trying to maneuver. Pair this with the Coronus Grav-Carrier's -2 to charge distance for some true cheese.
    • Worth noting that if you suspect a tied up unit is about to attempt a desperate breakout, thus opening your big golden boys up to shooting, you can throw this grenade and possibly prevent them from doing so. Used properly, it is as match winning in 9e as it was in 8e.
    • 2nd worth noting, you can totally legit use it against a glass cannon melee deep strike unit, and pairs really well with the 12" shooting stratagem. Your Sagittarium Custodians in the back suddently got more protected.
  • Ancient Artifice (1 CP)War of the Spider: Pick a Dreadnought in any phase when it's targeted, reduce the damage of attacks against it by 1 to a minimum of 1.
    • Nerfed in a FAQ from damage being halved to a copy of the Space Marine stratagem, strangely mirroring the way that stratagem was nerfed. Guess GW never learns.
      • Due to the Forge World Dreadnoughts getting this as a regular ability and with another FAQ stating that similar rules that reduce damage don't stack with this stratagem, it effectively only works on the Venerable Contemptor Dreadnought for now.
  • Arcane Genetic Alchemy (2 CP)War of the Spider: When a non-vehicle unit is chosen to be attacked, wound rolls of 1-3 always fail until the end of the phase.
  • Auramite and Adamantium (1 CP)War of the Spider: Custodes Terminators ignore AP-1 and AP-2, until end of the phase.
    • Probably one of the best value stratagems we have. There are whole armies that can be potentially crippled by this. For example, many Tau builds have only a small handful of units whose shooting actually goes above AP2, and as such you are ignoring the AP of their army on almost everything they have. All of a sudden their Riptides look a lot less deadly to one of your key units. The same is true of modern SM armies. The sheer value of this should make a unit of Terminators an auto-include for almost every competitive Custodes build.
  • Fortress of Willpower (1 CP)War of the Spider: Custodes targeted by Psychic Powers, after Deny the Witch, on 4+ no effect. (+3 if wardens) This a varient on spark of divinity. Equally as useful and one you HAVE TO REMEMBER
  • Indomitable Engines (1 CP)War of the Spider: Vehicle 5+ FNP against Mortal Wounds, starting when you WOULD take a mortal wound on a vehicle. Lasts one phase.
  • The Emperor's Auspice (2 CP)War of the Spider: No re-rolls for attacks against this unit for the phase.
    • Useful against many enemies, but especially Death Stars which would otherwise attempt to swarm you with reroll all hits and reroll 1’s to wound. At the top end you can reduce damage taken by 20%, and potentially cause mortal wounds from plasma. Bath in your opponent's cry salty tears as you turn off their Gravitic Amplification stratagem, or laugh maniacally when the Dark Angels start a spontaneous combustion.


  • From Golden Light They Come (1 CP/ 3 CP): During deployment, deep strike up to two units of Adeptus Custodes Infantry, Bikers, or Dreadnoughts(!). Like other deep strike Stratagems, it can only be used once per game - it costs 1 CP for a single unit and 3 CP for two.
    • The limit of two units doesn’t matter too much to the custodes as they have a low unit count (so two deep striking units might be your entire infantry contingent) and at least half of your army must be on the board during deployment; the more difficult factor is the 3cp price, especially considering the excellent competition this stratagem is up against.
      • Can be utterly devastating when used on a Telemon Heavy Dreadnought (or any FW Custodes dread). This is especially useful against character screening armies, such as a Typhus-poxwalkers Death Guard, a Chaplain Dread or Guilliman with Guard Spam. For maximum damage deploy the Emperor's Golden Cock On Legs on your opponent’s back-marker objective(s), and watch him panic as his gun line is torn to shreds/blown to pieces by a nigh-unstoppable death machine, and all the while your other melee units, such as Wardens and Spear Guard, get ever closer to his army. Unless he brought something ridiculous, like a Knight Gallant or Castigator Lancer, he may as well just give up, because if he doesn’t shoot the Telemon, he’ll die, and if he doesn’t shoot your footslogging units, he’ll die. It is expensive in points, however, and people wise up to this trick very fast after the first time you pull it off.
      • Remember, your opponent still has a huge advantage in actually holding onto objectives (at least until your ObSec Jetbikes with HBs get up the board). Make sure that, whatever you do, DO NOT charge your Telemon into combat unless you're going at a character with no bubble wrapping bodyguard and equipped it with the power fists. If you attempt to charge a bubble wrapping horde, even poxwalkers or 'gaunts can bring you down easily, and 300 points have just gone down the drain. If you do this deep-strike tactic, make sure that you keep your distance from hordes and shoot them to death instead, and prioritize by proximity (unless you need that <insert unit> dead).
  • Vexilla Teleport Homer (3 CP): Can deep strike within 6" of a vexilla (who was already on the board), so long as you are 3" away from the enemy. Fucking AMAZING. Drop a 10-man termie squad 3" away from your enemy, cripple behind them with some shooting, then melee everything dead. Keep in mind that you can't use this stratagem the same turn that your vexilla deep strikes (if in Allarus Terminator armor), so they will either need a screen to take enemy shooting or give your opponent other immediate threats to shoot at plus the -1 to hit vexilla and maybe the Eagle's Eye relic to survive a round of shooting so you can deep strike your golden boys down next turn.
    • Alternative Opinion: For this strategy to work, it takes 2 turns and 3 command points to work. If you are spending all those points and command points you better be praying to the Emperor and Kitten's naked body that you don't think about the odds of this actually working and just have faith in the Emperor.
    • The FAQ says you can only deep strike one squad per use, so consider From Golden Light They Come if you want to deep strike more than that.
  • Fraternity of Heroes (1 CP)War of the Spider: At the end of the enemy's charge phase, one Custodes unit that's not within 1" of an enemy model can immediately perform a Heroic Intervention. If your enemy ever thought that they're dealing with only one bunch, throw some more bananas into the mix!


  • Inspire Fear (1 CP): -1 to enemy leadership (really a +1 to enemy morale check, but same difference). You have hurricane bolters, why are your opponent's hordes still alive to run away?
  • Eyes of the Emperor (1 CP): Discard and draw a new tactical objective. super situational, but nice to have for Maelstrom of War missions.
  • Plant the Vexilla (1 CP): Add 6" to a vexilla's bubble, so long as the bearer didn't move. Our other AMAZING strat. Being able to give 5++ to allies or +1 attack from 12" away pairs great with the Vexilla Teleporter Homer.
  • Shoulder the Mantle (1 CP): And you thought Alpharius' tricks were for heretics only. If your Warlord dies, select a Shield-Captain in your army. They become the new Warlord and generate a WT. As a bonus, as long as the new Warlord is on the field the opponent can't claim VP for slaying your Warlord. Since this Strategem does not designate that that the Warlord must be a Custodian Shield-Captian or Captian General, you can shoulder the mantle from an Astra Militarum Company Commander or other low quality efficient HQ, to your Shield Captian and give him a Warlord traits like Superior Creation or Radiant Mantle, all the while not giving up Warlord. Note that as of WOTS FAQ 01/07/2021 you can no longer use this in conjunction with Ten Thousand Heroes to give a single model two warlord traits. Sorry, Smashfucker fans. You can still use it on a model that used Ten Thousand Heroes. They just don’t generate another WT from this stratagem.
  • Unleash the Lions (2 CP): At the start of the Movement phase, select a unit of Allarus Terminators. They split up into separate units consisting of a single model apiece. Keep in mind that each Terminator has 4 wounds, the typical Custodes saves, and has rules meant for them to single out Characters from far away; this allows them to take on several Characters at once while preventing foes from just focusing fire on their squad or using morale to wear them down.


  • Victor of the Blood Games (2 CP): Almost an auto take. Before the game starts, choose a character. That guy gets to reroll 1 hit, wound, or save roll per turn. This right here is one of the best Stratagems we get as an army, if not the best one. If you thought a Shield-Captain on the Auric Aquilas packing a 3++ (and possibly a FnP on a 5+ depending on his WT) was hard to kill before, hooo boy, just you wait.
    • Alternate Opinion: While certainly a kick-ass stratagem, here is something to consider. Most of the time this is going to be used on a Shield-Captain. Unless he's taking a negative on his to-hit rolls for some reason, he's already rerolling all his 1's, so you can't spend the reroll there. That leaves only the wound rolls and saves that will ever get used for this. While still AMAZING to have that sort of insurance in your back pocket, for a CP hungry army like this, this (usually) two-option single reroll may not be worth a whole 2CP. Against certain lists, it definitely could be, but you should always consider what you're going to get out of it first. If you don't think your shield-captain on jetbike will be threatened by much or have trouble wounding in a certain match, consider saving the 2CP for something else.
    • Remember that this stratagem is used during 'deployment, meaning if you have a Grand Strategist-alike, you roll for EACH CP spent and can (potentially) get them all back, as the battle round has yet to begin.
    • Also remember that this reroll is per PLAYER turn, meaning you can reroll a failed wound roll in your turn, and a save in your opponents. Contrary to the above, if you have the CP to spare, you absolutely should be using this Strategem.
  • Captain-commander (1CP)War of the Spider: Use this Strategem before the battle, and select a Shield-Captain model from your army that is not a named character. Select one of the following traits for that model; this stratagem is usable once per battle.
    • Bane of Abominations: Re-roll wound roll against Monsters and Vehicles. Needs an axe to make the most of as strength 5 or 6 (even with rerolls) isn’t worth the investment.
    • Defiant to the Last: +1A per Wound lost, to a maximum of +3A.
    • Indomitable Constitution: +2 Wounds. Nice for a 9 wound biker captain.
    • Inspirational Exemplar: +3" to aura effects. Not too much of an issue as your low model count means that it’s unlikely that a unit will be out of buffing range.
    • Master of Melee: +2A when within 1" of more than 5 model units. Very meh as this is very situational, and your golden boy isn’t here to play around with infantry.
    • Slayer of the Unclean: Double damage on a wound roll of 6, melee AND shooting. One of the better traits due to its reliability (having no caveats) and can do obscene things when combined with the hurricane bolter.
    • Strategic Mastermind: 5+ roll to gain a CP. Not as big a deal in 9th edition for the custodes as everyone gets 12 CP as standard. Note that this allows you to roll per CP, not per strategem, so unlike other similar strategems, if you use a 3CP strat, you can roll for each one, giving you a higher chance overall. You can still only get back 1CP per phase though.
    • Swift as the Eagle: +1" move/adv/charge.
    • Unstoppable Destroyer: D3+3' pile in, consolidate pile in towards any model in range. Consolidate can be away from enemy models.
      • Having one of these in your army should be almost an auto-include. The only real question is which one to include. For additional CP, using Strategic Mastermind to recoup them on a 5+ is certainly an excellent standout, and with the cornucopia of excellent stratagems to choose from, it is certainly a good choice. However, there are other significant buffs here which should be looked at, for example, Unstoppable Destroyer, which can allow a character to move towards a character to hit hard before falling back out of harm's way, or onto an objective for a last-minute denial against an unsuspecting opponent, or Slayer of the Unclean, which doubles damage on the roll of a 6. The effects of this on a Biker commander who natively re-rolls hits of 1 and all wound rolls on the charge are significant, providing him with 2Xd3 damage for 1 or 2 attacks per turn.
  • Eternal Penitent (1 CP)War of the Spider: Select a Dread, selectable once. Dread has +1A and reroll Charges for the game.
  • Ten Thousand Heroes (1 CP)War of the Spider: Once per battle, additional WLT for a non-warlord Adeptus Custodes model. Each WLT in your army must be unique. (ONLY ONE) Due to WOTS FAQ 07/01/2021 can no longer be used in conjunction with shoulder the mantle for two warlord traits on one model.
  • Creeping Dread (1 CP): For one phase, pick a Sisters of Silence Infantry. they are -1 to hit from attacks that orionate within 6" of them.
  • Decapitating Strikes (1 CP): During fight Phase, a Vigilators unit gains +1 to wound rolls, until end of phase.
  • Desperation's Price (1 CP): enemy psyker within 18" of Sisters of Silence Infantry suffer an additional D3 MWs from perils.
  • Empyric Severance (1 CP): a Sisters of Silence Infantry unit within 18" can stop a psychic power, AFTER Deny the Witch, on a 3+ roll.
  • Immaterial Dissonance (1 CP): Psyk-out grenades that hit 1 daemon/psyker unit, they can't overwatch and have a -1 to hit until end of turn.
  • Punishment Fire (1 CP): during the shooting phase, a Prosecutors unit have their bolters, become 18" Assault 3.
  • Purgation Sweep (1/2 CP): during the shooting phase, a Witchseeker unit of 5(1CP) or 6+ (2CP). Flamers can't roll lower than 4 hits.
  • Talons (1 CP): During any phase, Until the end of phase, re-roll to hit for one Sisters of Silence Infantry unit when within 6" of a Custodes unit that has already attacked that phase.

Tactical Objectives[edit]

11 - Deliver Victory
If you scored at least 1 VP from another Tactical Objective this turn, gain 1 VP.
12 - Eliminate Threats
1 VP if you destroy an enemy unit, improved to d3 VP if you destroyed at least 3.
13 - War Zone Secure
1 VP if you control at least 3 objectives.
14 - Keep Them At Spear's Length
1 VP if there are no other units within 3" of Adeptus Custodes units from your army (not counting other Adeptus Custodes units). This cannot be completed on the first turn. Keep in mind that "no other units" does count allies as well as enemies, so mind how you place your allied detachments!
15 - Crush Their Resistance
Your opponent selects an objective. If you control it by the end of the turn, gain d3 VP.
16 - The Emperor's Vengeance
d3 VP if you steal an objective from an enemy, which is upped to d3+3 if you steal 3 or more.


A description goes here.

Purge the Enemy

- Assassinate

With the character killing specialty of the Allarus Terminators, this one can prove an excellent one to max.

- Bring it Down

You'll be fairly reliant on your Tellemon to make this one work, but with the sheer amount of hurt those things bring you can make it work.

- Titan Slayers

As with Bring it Down, but more reliable. Since you pick secondaries at the start of a mission, bring this one if your enemy brought titanic units, then deliver the Tellemon into Fisting range.

- Slay the Warlord

We're perfectly serviceable at doing this, considering our characters can out-duel most anything short of an enemy primarch. However, it's not going to bring you as many points as you could get with the others.

-Abhor the Witch

This is the only one that we can take without soup or an AGENTS Inquisitor, and it's a niche pick. Pick it every time against 1kS and GK, alongside Assassinate to double up on your points if you're up against something with a lot of psykers and let your Sisters go to town.
No Mercy, No Respite

- Thin their Ranks

Horde clearing is one of the things we actually struggle with, and this is best against enemies who bring lots of hordes. Could have some nice combination with Bring it Down and Titan Slayers though.

- Attrition

You should always take this secondary. Considering how few units we field and how tough and deadly they are, you will almost always max this one out if you have any idea what you're doing.

- While We Stand, We Fight

Considering the aforementioned resilience of our units, this is another good pick. The bannancycles and Tellemon are most likely to be chosen for this, and both are quite difficult to put down, particularly if you add Victor of the Blood Games.

- First Strike

Not out best choice. While our bikes are very fast and quite good with the Hurricane bolters, Custodes really come online in the second and third round.
Battlefield Supremacy

- Engage on All Fronts

With the fast moving bikes and teleportation we have access to, it's not difficult to spread the field. Secondly, our units are composed of bloody three man hero squads, making us rely less on castles or bubbles than some armies. However, it can stretch the sister's warp defense coverage, so consider how many psykers there are, and how many points you could take from taking abhor the witch instead.

- Linebreaker

We again have plenty of units who can break through the front line quickly and cause havoc there, particularly if we're taking teleportation into account. A solid choice, and one that allows for closer knit blobs that will be very difficult for the enemy to remove.

- Domination

This one is effectively "double down on holding". Consider your enemy's army. If you are certain you're going to win the objective game (say you're fighting Tau), then go for it.
Shadow Operations

- Raise the Banners High

Out of all the Shadow operations, this one is the least bad for us. The problem with all of these is that they require our glorious oiled death-machines to stop killing for a moment to do something else, and with as few units as we have, that's not an action cost we can afford. This one is the least bad, as it at least means we're in the same area as the objectives.

-Investigate Sites

This one is the worst, simply because its so easy to disrupt. When we have everything else to choose from, why would you choose an objective that ties up one of your units and is so easy to deny.

- Repair Teleportation Homer

Considering you'll probably move your own teleportation homer into the enemy backline with the Praetor already, this one isn't so bad. It is worth noting that you can potentially FGLTC a large unit of Custodes back there to pull this off, as they're durable enough to last through the enemy's attack. Overall, this is the second least bad of a bad set of secondaries.


Ranged Weapons[edit]

Ranged Weapons found on the Games Workshop units are as follows:

  • Guardian Spear/Castellan Axe: When shooting these weapons, they are both 24" S4 AP-1, with Rapid fire 1 and D2, that's 2 damage per failed save. Yes, your basic gun inflicts 2 damage. Excellent for taking down most things MEQ’s, TEQ’s, custodes, anything less than toughness 8, GEQ’s; although slightly overkill on GEQs, but anything with more than one wound will drop like flies. The bonus AP will also make a huge difference, effectively doubling your damage output against TEQs and the like. In short, a normal marine's Relic Bolter is our normal weapon.
  • Sentinel Blades: Pistol 2 S4 ap0 D1, your only weapon choice if you're running shielded custodians for when you need to ensure they don't die. It also benefits from multiple stratagems exclusively.
  • Balistus Grenade Launcher: The main armament of the Allarus and a marine killer of some quality. 12", Assault D3, S4, AP-3, D1. Combine with the Guardian Spear or Castellan Axe shooting for some shockingly good infantry mulching at short range. Being AP-3 but only D1 makes it superior to the spear at MEQ hunting and will do unspeakable things to things like storm troopers and Eldar, and as you can now deep strike again this weapon is perfectly suited to be plonked in an enemies flank or rear to do unspeakable damage.
  • Hurricane Bolter: Standard issue on your Dawneagle Jetbikes. With a lovely 12 S4 AP0 shots at 12” range (6 at 24”) per Bike, this makes your Jetbike squads excellent for mincing lightly armored infantry units that might bog down your expensive Banana Boyz. The fact that this weapon is fitted to a unit that can FLY also means that you will almost always be able to fire this weapon every turn, and a unit of these overwatching will be hilarious if very short-lived for the charging unit.
    • Outperforms the Salvo Launcher against most targets (including some vehicles of toughness 7 or less) when in rapid-fire range by sheer Ork levels of dice, especially when coupled with re-rolls to hit. Your go-to choice unless you have some toughness 7 or higher with good armor saves which require your tender ministrations.
  • Salvo Launcher: The other weapon option for your Jetbikes, it has 24” range and is either a Multi-Melta shot that re-rolls wounds against Vehicles but does not get melta dice at half range, or a Heavy D3 S7 AP-1 D3 missile that gets +1 to hit against things with Fly but -1 to hit against anything that doesn’t. This little quirk shouldn’t be a problem, though, since your normal BS is 2+. The melta version is great for ripping apart vehicles and the flakk choice is great for shoring up your slightly spotty anti-air. Very situational, but fills out the lack of high strength anti-tank shooting that Custodes lack immensely. Hurricane bolters are usually (If not always) better in the current meta, but a few can be strong in your weekend gaming.
    • 9th Edition has done a good job of cleaning up this weapon's flaws by getting rid of the -1 to hit after moving and firing and rolling the price of the weapon into the model, making the Salvo Launcher and the Hurricane Bolter both free. You should choose based on what your army needs.
  • Multi-melta: Found exclusively on the venerable contemptor dreadnought. Same as any other multi-melta, and one of the few ranged anti-armor weapons you have. With the advent of the Space Marines 2020 codex these have been changed to Heavy 2 and damage is now D6 and at half range D6+2!
  • Kheres Pattern Assault Cannon: The other option for your Venerable Contemptors. 24" range, Heavy 6, S7 AP-1. Less close-range clout than the Dawneagle's hurricane bolters, but more reliable when targeting heavier infantry or light vehicles due to its better range and higher strength and AP.

Forge World[edit]

Ranged Weapons found on the Forge World units are as follows:

  • Achillus Dreadspear: 24" Heavy 2 S8 AP-2 D3, making it essentially a buffed Leman Russ battle cannon, instead of a d3 shot and d3 damage lascannon. A decent anti-armor weapon, but more of a tool for softening up the vehicle before the Achillus charges it and reduces said vehicle to slag.
  • Adrasite Weapons: The Disintegration Beam weapons from the Horus Heresy are upgrades of the Space Marine Grav weapons, and are similarly odd weapons. While high AP and damage output seem tempting at first, it is offset by their rather mediocre strength. They will struggle to wound most vehicles while shooting at infantry will often result in overkill. They can have their applications against multi-wound models with low/medium toughness and a high armor save (e.g. Primaris Marines and TEQs, against whom they are perfect), and are usually cheaper than any alternatives. But it's questionable if you can afford to have dedicated anti-marine weapons in an army with such a low model count and no guarantee that you’ll face Marines. Ironically, they are also quite effective against other Custodes!
    • Adrasite Spear: 18" Assault 1 S5 AP-3 D3, available on your FW troops. 4 points cheaper than its Pyrithite counterpart, so add a Misericordia to your A3 S6 AP-3 Dd3 melee and watch Marines cry.
    • Adrastus Bolt Caliver: Has 2 profiles: the first one is Bolt volley 36" Assault 3 Heavy Bolter (S5 AP-1 D2) or a Disintegration beam 15" Assault 1 S5 AP-3 D3. Exclusive to Sagittarum Custodians. As usual with combi-weapons, you can fire both profiles during a single shooting phase at the cost of getting -1 on your hit rolls, which is mathematically worth it in the case of the caliver, and a no-brainer if you advanced or are shooting into a -1 penalty already as you're already at cap.
    • Adrathic Devastator: Found on Dickbike Custodians. 18" Heavy 2 S6 AP-3 D3. A little meh but it will chew through all the varieties of infantry and chip away at vehicles before a charge.
    • Twin Adrathic Destructor: An option for Aquilons and spearnaughts. 18" Assault 2 S5 AP-3 D3.
  • Arachnus Weapons A heavy weapon that has two fire modes, an Anti-vehicle beam that rerolls against Vehicles and a Burst that trades quality for quantity and is more adept against MEQ and TEQ.
    • Arachnus Heavy Blaze Cannon: Found on big boi Orion, it has 2 firing modes: Beam, which is a 48" Heavy 1 S9 Ap-4 3D+3 re-rolls wounds against Vehicles and Burst, which is a 36" Heavy 4 S7 AP-2 D1. Increases the Orion's firepower flexibility greatly, allowing it to aid Pyrithite Spear-wielding Guard in tank-busting or Talon-and-Firepike Aquilons in horde-chewing.
    • Arachnus Storm Cannon: As always, 2 firing modes: Beam, which is now a 36" Heavy 2 S8 Ap-4 3 re-rolls wounds against Vehicles and Burst, which is a 24" Heavy 6 S7 AP-2 D1.
    • Twin Arachnus Blaze Cannon: A lighter Arachnus weapon: Beam is a 36" Heavy 2 S7 Ap-4 3 re-rolls wounds against Vehicles and Burst is a 24" Heavy 6 S5 AP-2 D1.
    • Twin Arachnus Heavy Blaze Cannon: A Heavy Blaze Cannon with twice the shots on each mode.
    • Arachnus magna-blaze cannon: found on the Ares gunship. its beam don't rerolls, but instead a 72" Heavy d3, S14 D3+6. and Burst is Heavy 3 S9 D3. The kind of gun that disintegrates tanks.
  • Galatus Warblade: Twin heavy flamer with +1S.
  • Iliastus Accelerator Culverin: 48" Heavy 4 S7 AP-3 D2; Exclusive to the Telemon. Your weapon of choice for dealing with Primaris-like infantry and light vehicles.
  • Infernus Firepike: 12" heavy flamer with +1S exclusive to Aquilon Custodians. Now you can cook some units the turn you deepstrike.
  • Infernus Incinerator: +1S heavy flamer. Good for dealing with GEQs. However, because it's Heavy, you can't advance. Found on Contemptor-Achillus Dreadnoughts.
  • Kinetic Destroyer: Exclusive to Venatari Custodians. The only pistol in Forge World Custodes guns which means you can fire it in melee (but you want your flying boy in melee or not is another story). 18" Pistol 2 S6 AP-2 D2 can score an additional hit on an unmodified roll of 6. MEQ/Primaris/TEQ killers with enough range to put you out of rapid-fire range of most troops.
  • Lastrum Bolt Cannon: A heavy bolter with +1S and -1AP but regular D1 instead of D2. Yeah it makes absolutely no sense, maybe it will be FAQed one day.
  • Lastrum Storm Bolter: A storm bolter that fires heavy bolter shells. Found on Aquilon Terminators and the Contemptor Achillus. It would be decent anti-MEQ firepower due to output and strength. Let down by its comparative lack of AP. Skip.
    • For 5 pts, putting down 4 heavy bolter shots in rapid-fire range makes it a very efficient anti-infantry option for the points and puts it in serious contention vs the Infernus Firepike for Aquilons.
    • Thanks to BS2 that is on average 3.33 (3.88 with Reroll 1) hits vs. the 3.5 of the Firepike at 12". Beyond 12" the Pike gets useless. While S6 is certainly beneficial on wounding it comes together with charge Protection at a premium of 10 Points.
  • Plasma Ejector: More or less a Plasma Gun pretending to be a Heavy Flamer, with D6 S7 AP-3 D1 Autohits. As expensive as both weapons combined and now only found on the Exemplar's DCCW.
  • Pyrithite Spear: A meltagun on a custodian spear. Utterly hilarious to use, especially when the bearers are FGLTC'd right on top of a tank column. The fact that it's an assault weapon also means that Guard armed with these can get up the field much quicker than regular guard while maintaining their ability to shoot (and even a -1 to hit still gives you 5 MEQ-level meltagun shots), which helps them go hunting T7 vehicles like dreadnoughts.
  • Spiculus Bolt Launcher: 24" 5 shots heavy bolter, but with D1 only. Found on the Telemon, it becomes Heavy 10 if the bearer didn't move during its turn.
  • Spiculus Heavy Bolt Launcher: 48" Heavy 3 S7 AP-1 2D. Another Orion weapon. Again, it increases the versatility of the Orion as a fire support unit, this time allowing it to take on light vehicles and multi-wound infantry like Primaris Marines.
  • Twin Iliastus Accelerator Cannon: Another Caladius gun; 60" Heavy 8 S7 AP-3 D2. The latest rules nerfed the Iliastus cannon's impact against vehicles and MEQs. However, the flat Damage value of 2 makes it way more reliable against multi-wound infantry. And let's be honest, the Caladius was too good for what it costed.
  • Twin Las-Pulser: 24" Heavy 4 S8 AP-2 Dd3. Found on the dickbikes and the Exemplar, and the best choice for both of them due to potentially high shot output and high strength. Previously a fairly unpredictable weapon because of its random number of shots, it was nicely buffed by the August 2019 new rules.
    • Note the Exemplar's gun is a Las-Pulsar, which is 20 more points but has +1 Strength and AP, as well as a foot more range. Since the Exemplar is only in the first batch of beta rules and the dickbikes are only in the second, it stands to question if you should use the old stats on the Dread's sheet or assume the new spelling (and thus stats) found on the bike take priority. Make sure to check with your opponent beforehand!
  • Twin Lastrum Bolt Cannon: You know what it is. Lastrum Bolt Cannon with double shots.
  • Twin Plasma Projector: Comes with the Telemon's fist. 12" Heavy2d3 S6 AP-2 D1 auto-hit. It seems to have been specifically designed to help the Telemon deal with GEQs (S6 = 2+ to wound, Ap-2 = 7+ save, D1 has no overkill). However, it isn't very good at this due to its unreliable and comparatively low shot output - you will struggle to kill 10 conscripts over two turns' worth of shooting with one of these.
  • Venatari Lance: 12" Assault 2 S6 AP-2 D2. Slight overkill on GEQs thanks to the D2 but can also do good work against MEQs and Primaris Marines thanks to its +2 strength and +1 AP over the Guardian Spear. It is also Assault, so you'll always get 2 shots and can fire it at MEQ-level BS when flying at full speed. A solid choice, but slightly overshadowed by the Destroyer. The better melee is what makes this shine.

Melee Weapons[edit]

The Melee Weapons for Games Workshop's Custodes units are as follows:

  • Guardian Spear: It's a S+1 (i.e. S6) AP-3 melee weapon that does DD3 damage to a target. In other words, effectively a souped-up force axe/sword, and is your most standard weapon throughout the list. At only 5 points it is a very effective weapon.
  • Castellan Axe: S+3 (i.e. S8) AP-2 D3 damage axe of crack and doom. Use when Strength 6 from the Guardian Spear isn’t quite cutting it and AP isn’t quite as important as actually landing wounds, such as when you’re going toe-to-toe with Tyranid beasties or light vehicles. Wardens and Allarus Custodians with these can threaten any Heavy Support in the game.
    • Mathhammer-wise, axes are usually your best choice against T6 (both weapons are equivalent against T6/2+ with 5++ or worse, but the spear is cheaper, giving it the edge there) and T7/8 regardless of save, or anything with a 4++ or better, while spears shine against T1/2/3/5/9/10 models without a 4++. The difference in damage output between spears and axes against T4 models without an invulnerable save is minuscule (6.25% worse against 2+ and equivalent against 3+, i.e. only worse due to cost) so you should always go full Castellan when facing pure MEQ armies and keep the spears for GEQs and things with 2+ saves, although it's bad form to make your list after knowing your opponent's. The general rule, if the Custodian can take an axe he takes the axe!
  • Interceptor Lance: Standard issue for your Jetbikes; same stat-wise as a Guardian Spear, but without any shooting (the guns are on the bikes) and it allows you to re-roll wounds on the charge. Tasty as hell.
  • Misericordia: This power knife grants an additional attack at S: U AP-2 unless the model is equipped with a Storm Shield. At only 3 points, it's not too bad of a weapon, though with how expensive we already are per model, it's not an auto-include. Still, remember you could get 13 additional misericordia attacks in your army for the price of a single Custodian Guard, so it's worth taking under certain circumstances. That, and 30k Legio Custodes players won't skin you alive for actually having rules for the Misericordia and not using them. Also how you will be using any leftover points.
  • Sentinel Blade: Strength User, AP-3, D3 damage; not as killy/strong as the Spear, but your only option if you take a Storm Shield.They also cost more than a spear, while being worse overall. A good option if you want to outfit a unit to hunt T4 meqs and teqs since they will wound just as well as the spear but also get 2 pistol shots each in melee. Take them when you want Stormshields on a unit to sit there and never die.

Forge World[edit]

The Melee Weapons for Forge World's Custodes units are as follows:

  • Achillus Dreadspear: A brutal Sx2 (14) AP-3 Damage 3+d3 weapon. Prior to the 2020 FW Compendium they used to deal mortal wounds on the charge, but the various buffs it get were worth the loss. Perfect for hunting down large, single entities toughness 7 or less. Bend over and we'll make this quick. It can also handle T8-T13 thanks to its high strength, but if you charge a titan with it expect the Achillus to die immediately after attacking.
  • Adrasite/Pyrthite Spear: A Guardian spear without access to the Piercing Strike stratagem, possibly in error as they only switched out their Bolters for disintegrators or meltas.
  • Galatus Warblade: A 3 Damage Power Sword that now allows your dude to do D3 additional attacks. Sounds pretty good, yeah? Now give it to a Dreadnought.
  • Solerite Power Gauntlet: An upgraded power fist for Forge World's class of Custodes Terminator, the Aquilon. Essentially a power fist with Ap-4 and no -1 to hit roll. So, this means that from a unit of 3 Aquilons, you will get 12 strength 10 Ap -4 Damage 2 attacks hitting on 2s. Anything without a high invuln will evaporate. This makes the Aquilon your go-to footsloggers for killing big beasties like greater daemons or superheavies.
    • You will generally take this on your Aquilons over the Talon as the price is really the only downside to it when comparing it to the Talon (and even then the gauntlet is only 4 points more expensive), while the higher strength, ap, and damage means it can tackle a much wider range of opponents and, really, going from wounding everything T6 and above on 4s and 5s to wounding everything below Reaver Titans on 2s and 3s will make a big big difference, both to your play style and your opponent's (funnily enough, people don't like the idea of leaving A4 WS2+ relic power fists alone).
  • Solerite Power Talon: Str 6 Ap-2 damage 1, reroll failed wound rolls AND now allows you to make an additional attack with it. Now a quite decent choice if you want to gear your Aquilon for horde-crushing. It is very reliable for taking on GEQs as it can reroll failed wound rolls (which will only ever be the 1s), and Ap -2 means they don't get a save. It can't handle MEQs TEQs or vehicles as well as the Fist due to its lower Strength, AP, and only 1 Damage, although its ability to reroll all failed wound rolls does help it slightly against the MEQs and TEQs. If you take these, it will be because you're saving points for Misericordias on other units (the difference in points between the Talon and the Gauntlet is 4 - the same as a Misericordia's cost). In this lone case, combine them with the Infernus Firepike and have Aquilons with these go GEQ-hunting.
  • Tarsus Buckler: Designed for destroying GEQs. Like the Power Talon, this is a S: 6 Ap: -2 melee weapon but 1 damage will limit the variety of opponents this can go up against. However, the reason you want to take this is for a) the kinetic destroyer (a two-shot S6 ap-2 D2 pistol with 18" range and what is basically a Volkite rule), and b) the fact that they provide a plain 2+ save, givin your golden birds of prey the toughness you expect from Custodes.
  • Telemon Caestus: IT'S FISTIN' TIME!!!!! *Ahem* The Imperial Fister for the Telemon Dreadnought, as the name suggests. The updated rules mean you now get +1 attack if you take two, which would translate to 5 Strength 16 AP-3 D4 attacks, and, like the Power Gauntlet, with no -1 to hit that you'd usually see on a weapon like this. This means that, while unbalancing your force, Titans will fall to something more than half their height. Get your Troll face ready. (Seriously, this things wounds Imperial Knights on 2s).
  • Venatari Lance: +1 STR, AP -3, Damage 2 and you can make an extra swing with it in melee. A more reliable Guardian Spear perfect to cut down Marines, but lacking access to the Piercing Strike stratagem means you will struggle against tough units.

Special Issue Wargear[edit]

  • Storm Shield: The once questionable sword and board for the custodes is now the envy of all other factions. A 4++ and +1 to armour saves which stacks with the +1 custodes get to their invulnerability saves, makes the banana boys the only faction which can still have a 3++ save. Combined with the +1 to armour saves a sword and board custodian sits at 2+/3++ T5 ignoring a point of ap, which with heavy bolter etc being damage 2 now, and astartes chainswords being a thinkg, expect a lot of ap-1 attacks to come your way.


Figures that the golden bananas would get the best toys - you have a jaw-dropping 13 Relics to choose from, and another based on your Shield Host. Many of which are incredible.

  • Auric Aquilas: BIKER models only. Their uber golden jetbike has a 3+ invulnerable save and allows them to re-roll failed charge rolls. Strictly better than the Eagle's Eye. One of, if not our best relic, makes Shield-Captain on Dawneagle Jetbike one of the best units in the game.
  • Auric Shackles: Subtract 1 from the attacks characteristic of enemy CHARACTERS to a minimum of 1 whilst they are within 6" of the bearer. Also, if the bearer slays the enemy Warlord in the fight phase he scores an additional D3 victory points for his side.
  • Castellan's Mark: Allows you to redeploy the bearer and 1 unit before the game starts. The Swarmlord had to give up a WT for this effect, and can only redeploy itself - you get it as a free Relic option, and can redeploy an extra unit. Underrated relic, so commence smugness.
  • Eagle's Eye: A special helmet that has special sensors that warn the bearer against danger, giving him a +1 to his Invulnerable save (maximum 3+). No need for a Storm Shield when you have this and the faith in the Emperor.
Very meh when the auric Aquilas effectively does the same but more, and you can get more effect means of reducing damage dealt to you. On the other hand, you can take the Eagle's Eye on any HQ, while the Aquilas are restricted to biker HQs only.
  • Emperor's Light: A misericordia. Besides the "make an additional attack" thing, enemy units within 12" of the bearer must add 1 to their Morale tests. Strictly not worth your points as you have to pay for it, and you could go for the better Gatekeeper (albeit not the best choice) if you have a Guardian Spear or just go for durability with Auric Aquilas or The Eagles Eye.
  • Gatekeeper: Replaces a guardian spear. The close-combat profile is the same but the inbuilt bolter is Rapid Fire 3 and can make Overwatch shots on a roll of 3+. This effectively gives your HQ unit the same shooting power as a 3-man Custodian squad. Now, while it may give some decent shooting if your Custodes are shooting it's usually either early game or you're playing them very wrong. Still good for softening up a target with some pre-charge shooting or some defense against a charge in the opponent’s turn. Better options, but don’t underestimate having more shots as a Custodes player.
  • Obliteratum: Terminator only, replaces the Balistus Grenade Launcher. Fires antimatter shells at Assault 1 S10 AP-4 D3 making it one of your few ranged weapons not mounted on a Land Raider or Forge World unit that has a good chance at hurting stronger vehicles. Might be worth it as an extra relic, but certainly not the only one you should take.
  • Praetorian Plate: TERMINATOR models only. When you set the bearer up, you can choose a friendly IMPERIUM CHARACTER (note it doesn't have to be a Custodian) and if at the end of any opponent's Charge phase, there is an enemy model within 1" of that character, you can set up the bearer of the Praetorian Plate within 3" of that character (whether they were already deployed on the battlefield or not) and within 1" of an enemy model, but they do not count as charging. An excellent way of forcing your opponent to reconsider whether or not he should charge that seemingly unprotected character. Amazing for fun games but any decently experienced player will bubble wrap you like a veggie tales sing along.
    • The Fun is here - Celestine might be fun, she now has a golden boyfriend to go with her Geminae Superia. Or maybe Grey Knights. A Nemesis Babycarrier Grand Master backed up with a Custodes might be quite funny. With Gate, these two will take the bonds of their friendship all over the place. In short - Either protect a small character (like those company commanders) or to support your distraction 'fex and make him even more killy.
    • It's perfectly legal to use this on a VEHICLE character, as well. Yup, Carab Culln in a Leviathan Dreadnought suddenly got even more dangerous.
  • Raiment of Sorrows: A suit of armor that allows a killed Custodian within 6" to perform one last shooting or melee attack on a 4+. Does not stack with the Even In Death... Stratagem.
Considering that you don’t have many dudes, and this only activates on a 4+, don’t expect it to do anything.
  • Veiled Blade: A relic sentinel blade with the same profile. Each time the bearer fights whilst within 3" of an objective marker, they can make 2 additional attacks with this weapon. Pairs well with Indomitable Guardians for 1CP.
  • Replacement Vexilla: These options all replace a Vexilla, making them Vexilus Praetor only:
    • Faith Absolute: Lose the Custodes Vexilla ability and instead give friendly IMPERIUM INFANTRY and BIKER units within 6" fearless. It also allows the bearer to deny one psychic power per psychic phase.
    • Fulminaris Aggressor: Lose the Custodes Vexilla ability and instead give friendly IMPERIUM INFANTRY and BIKER units within 6" fearless. Also, the vexilla can be used as a weapon:
      • Shooting: Range: 8" S4 AP-1 D1 Assault D6, auto hits like a flamer.
      • Melee: S+2 AP-1 D1
    • Wrath Angelis: Lose the Custodes Vexilla ability and instead give friendly IMPERIUM INFANTRY and BIKER units within 6" fearless. Also, you get a one-use 6" nova around the bearer that does d3 mortal wounds on a 4+ to friend or foe (5+ if the target is a Character), though only hits Custodes units on a 6+.

Warlord Traits[edit]

  • Champion of the Imperium: Friendly ADEPTUS CUSTODES INFANTRY, BIKER, and DREADNOUGHT units within 12" at the start of the Charge phase can make heroic interventions as if they were characters. Trajann Valoris has this trait. Excellent when running a melee death star against other melee armies, as if the opponent tries to charge any unit, they'll immediately have around five others Heroically Intervening right into their brood of Genestealers, which will force him to split his attacks, making them easier to deal with. And Custodes can take down anything when there's enough of them. Heck, you can even heroically intervene a fucking TELEMON into that Bloodthirster who just charged your allied-in Knight!
  • Impregnable Mind: The warlord can Deny the Witch once per turn as if he was a psyker. He also adds +1 to the result of the test. Always useful in a Custodes army.
  • Superior Creation: Proof that not all Custodians are created equal. The cellular alchemy that made this hero means he gets Feel No Pain on a 5+. Put this on a Jetbike Shield-Captain with the Auric Aquilas for THE tankiest, non-named HQ choice in the game!
  • Emperor's Companion: Re-roll your damage. Nice, considering that almost all of our weapons are d3 damage.
  • Radiant Mantle: -1 to hit the bearer. Never a bad option and gives and can be maddening for the enemy to deal with. Better against enemy characters too since with CORE, they are losing their rerolls to hit. Doesn't stack with the Vexilla anymore, so this gives some independence now.
  • Peerless Warrior: Make an extra attack on a 6+ to hit. Quite nice, but remember that those do not generate further attacks. Essentially gives you Death to the False Emperor, except against EVERYTHING. You'll generally get ~1 more attack per phase using this, although a couple of lucky roll could see your shield-captain felling Knights! This seems nice at first, but keep in mind that it is the old wording, which means that if you have a -1 to hit, it is impossible to get the extra attacks making this sub-par.

Unit Analysis[edit]

Common keywords are IMPERIUM, and ADEPTUS CUSTODES.


Shield-Captain: Your standard HQ and a fairly good one. For 99 points (with spear) you get a melee monster packing that sweet Custodes statline with 6 Wounds and 5 attacks. He has the Aegis of the Emperor and Inspirational Fighter special rules, the latter being your usual "re-roll of 1 to hit to all ADEPTUS CUSTODES units within 6" aura. You can gear him with a Guardian spear, Castellan axe, Sentinel blade/Storm shield combo and can always supplement this with a Misericordia.

Shield-Captain in Allarus Terminator Armor: The fat TANKY fat THICC version of the previous guy. Same stat line with an extra Wound, but you get the signature Balistus grenade launcher and From Golden Light special rule from the Allarus Terminators (for only 10 points more than the vanilla version at 109 points). You lose the Sentinel blade/Storm shield option, but the Eagle's Eye can fill in for it without making you give up any offensive capability. (Here's the humongous golden terminator daddy you've always wanted.)

Shield-Captain on Dawneagle Jetbike: This Pimpstodes is a Shield-Captain with the usual +1 Wounds and Toughness bonuses and 14" move from the Dawneagle jetbike. His wargear options are limited to the Interceptor lance and misericordia, but who cares? You will hit harder than any Castellan axe on the charge and you can take the Auric Aquila relic for a 3++ save while looking so goddamn metal. Consider this popular build for smashing and fuckering: Captain-Commander Smashfucker

Captain-Commander: With WotS, Your Shield-Captain can now be buffed for 1CP to make him a Captain-Commander. This nets him a trait along the lines of WLTs. Thought that VotBG Jetbike Captain was tough before? How's 2 more wounds sound? Or maybe some double-damage, or bonus attacks on 6s, to really bring the pain. On top of that and for another 1CP you can give him a unique, as in not used by anyone else, WLT from those rightly available to your detachment. This stacks more power behind a single model, but he'll be an absolute bruiser.

Named Characters[edit]

  • Captain-General Trajann Valoris: Your big boss. With a Shield-Captain’s stat line, 7 Wounds, Ld10 and a 3+ invulnerable save, he is no slouch. His Watcher's Axe is a S:10 AP: -3 castellan axe (whose shooting is also boosted to S5) and his Legendary Commander ability is an aura granting rerolls of 1 to hit and to wound to all ADEPTUS CUSTODES units within 6" of him. You should take him if you can, since with the new Chapter Approved, he now costs just 180pts, which makes him incredibly cost-effective.
    • Oddly enough, Trajann can’t hold his own in combat very well when fighting a character who can reduce their damage intake - Typhus, for example, and Abby (though the fight is completely flipped on its head if you use ‘attacks explode on 4+ against Black Legion’ strat) will destroy him, as will Draigo and Lysander (but that’s due to the fact they hit at S10 and have storm shields). He can take Guilliman with a bit(a lot) of luck but that’s only if he attacks first and uses the MS to attack again, for that you're better off sending your jet bike death star at him to kill his padding and girlyman.
    • He also carries something called the Moment Shackle that can do one of the following once per game:
      1. Restore d3 wounds lost on the phase it's used (but not if he's been killed). Use it to shore him up if he gets caught in a nasty crossfire, or to ensure that he survives the next round of combat against the enemy's warlord.
      2. Allow him to fight a second time at the end of the Fight Phase. A little situational, as unless he's facing your opponent's warlord or something really tough that'll kill you next turn (like a Primarch) his extra round may end up being overkill.
      3. The next Stratagem you use this phase costs 0 Command Points. Any of the 3 CP stratagems are good candidates for this.
        • Be warned, however, if using the Moment Shackle for regaining CP, Trajann needs to be on the board to use it. This means if you want the CP back from the Golden Light stratagem, he can't be part of the deep striking unit, nor in reserve or means of transport. Bummer.
  • Shield-Captain Valerian: Character from the Watchers of the Throne novel. Features a Shield-Captain statline, an S7 Guardian Spear, and a once-per-game re-roll to Hit (which is useless in most cases as he rerolls hits anyway), Wound, or Damage. Pending updates promised by Psychic Awakening, also unplayable in literally any army and not simply because he costs more than Valoris for a single-use ability that every Salamanders unit gets every phase, worse melee, shooting, defense, and no Moment Shackle. Said updates have arrived as well as some points updates. He can now legally be taken thanks to the Talons of the Emperor rule and a FAQ update. Additionally the points have been fixed to be 200 for the unit (him and Aleya). Whether this is worth the cost is up to you but he no longer costs more than Valoris on his own.
    • Also worth noting that the points cost is meant to be the combined cost, rather than per model, since the power level of the unit (aka, both of them) is 10, the same as Valoris who is 190 points.
  • Tanau Aleya: Valerian's Bff. One of the narrators of the Watchers of the Throne novel, Aleya is essentially a normal sister with the normal character buffs to the hit rolls, wounds, and attacks stats (in her case, this translates to WS 2+, A4, and W5). She is armed with the Somnus Blade, essentially just a normal executioner greatblade. As a Witch Hunter, she can re-roll wounds against Psyker units in melee, and as a Psychic Abomination, she can't be targeted by psychic abilities. Fairly expensive (as in, 188-points-kind-of-expensive; this is also more than Valoris if you were wondering)(The points values have since been corrected, and now costs 200 points for both her and Valerian) for what she does, and right now still crippled by (in-game) her T3, 3+ save and lack of an invuln making her the definition of a glass cannon.
    • Because of the sisters' null rule, Aleya can't protect your golden boys from smite unless they're in front of them. Unfortunately, this directly clashes with the under-10-wounds character rule. This means if you try to use Aleya, she'll need her own bodyguard of Sisters with her due to avoid her getting shot to hell. Which defeats the point of having her. Hopefully, GW change her null rule to an aura instead in the Psychic Awakening book, because otherwise, she'll be tough to use.
      • You could sit a Aquilan Shield unit like a Telemon right behind her and use Shield of Honor on her however whether this is worth using 1CP and a Dreadnought is up to you


  • Custodian Guard Squad: 3-10 custodians. Deep striking is back, so the Venerable Land Raider isn't quite the necessity it used to be. As far as load-outs are concerned, with the new wounding system + how powerful invulnerable saves are now you might want to go for either a mix of both weapons or a full unit of sword & shields. They're very expensive and also need transport if you would prefer to save the CP needed to deep strike but, in return, they will annihilate virtually anything in a golden storm of death if you get them into a fight. With the codex pumping them to a 2+/4++, the shield is no longer "that" necessary, but still nice if you want to make your opponent cry when they've only killed 1 or 2 models the first half of the game. Against most armies, you'll likely want spears. Against hordes, the sword and board may be a better choice. A good comprise for min squads is 2 spears, 1 shield - max melee potential while still having a 3+ invuln. to fall back to.(For maximum tankiness and cost 3 sword and board might be good because there are better shooting units)The biggest weakness these guys have is hordes as they simply get overwhelmed by the number of dice rolls thrown at them and can't kill quickly enough. Once they get there the 2 pistol shots from the sentinel blades are also a lot more useful against gaunts, guardsmen, and boys with their weak armor save essentially giving each Custodian 5 attacks in close combat (6 with the vexilla) which makes them better at dealing with hordes than their spear-wielding brethren.
    • While your Vexilla bearer has been turned into an independent Character, the Vexilla Custodes banner is still usable via the Index entry. It grants a 6" radius bubble of Morale re-rolls for allied IMPERIUM units and the unit it's in gains +1 Attack. At 25 points, it's not something you can just toss in without thinking about it, especially since the bearer is reduced to taking a Power Knife (not Misericordia, a Power Knife, so no extra attack) and optionally a Storm Shield, and you can only take one in a given detachment. However, RAW, its Attack buff stacks with the Vexilla Imperius, so if you're building a melee squad and are trying to squeeze every last drop out of it, maybe give this a look.
  • Custodian Guard with Adrasite and Pyrithite SpearsForge World: Previously an Elite slot, now Troops. Functionally regular old Custodians with Spears but replaced the bolter with one of two things. The Adrasite is an 18" Assault 1 S5 AP-3 D3 weapon. Its more efficient at taking down primaries terminator and Grav-like units, especially with Aggressors define the space marine meta. The other option is the Pyrithite Spear, which is a Guardian Spear with a god damn Melta attached. Great for after piling out of a Coronus to turn that troublesome Knight your opponent plopped down to slag. Just keep them out of sight; they may have Custodian durability, but the threat of BS 2+ Meltas are all but guaranteed to draw most of your enemy's fire for as long as they exist. You are putting more points into a single model, but you get the ability to turn vehicles to slag - something Custodes have very few options for. They are still strong on the move as both guns are assault weapons and you are still Custodians with Spears when it comes to melee. If you don't have a Telemon or Land Raider they're arguably a must take, even more with the deep strike stratagem.
  • Sagittarum CustodiansForge World: Custodes with guns. Take the basic Custodian Guard and give him an Adrastus Bolt Caliver instead of a spear. The most recent buffs have finally given a reason to take them over the spears, since they are now combi-heavy bolter with the Disintegration beam mode deals a flat 3 damage. Besides, now that they're troops the Custodes have a dedicated objective holder for a Battalion. Unlike the 30k version, they also don't sap precious Heavy Support slots from Caladiuses or Telemons, meaning they can be used as a backup unit for a gun-line. They are 50 points per model as opposed to 49 points base for spear Custodian Guard and not as effective in CC against TEQ and MEQ. You want them in the backfield to hold objectives or stay in the back but they can take Misericordias if you expect flank attacks. Better than the Custodian Guard? Not necessarily, but they perform different enough roles and they both succeed. A solid troops choice.
    • On the surface, these guys can appear to be much worse in combat than their basic Custodian Guard counterparts, but the rules do not prevent you from using your Misericordia on all of your attacks in combat, which for only 3 points turns your 3 AP0 attacks into 4 AP-2 attacks. This is usually well worth the upgrade, and will only be felt against T3 and 6 opponents in CC. This makes the Misericordia a very worthwhile investment for them. As of the 9e, the battlefield is smaller in 1000pts, so basically, their Caliver can shoot anywhere. Most significantly (in 9th) advancing and firing both weapon profiles applies a total of -1 to hit. Most of the time, you should be doing this. Doubly against enemies that apply a penalty to attack rolls already.
    • It was expected, it's now a reality. The bolt caliver get the D2 buff and shoots like a fully-fledged heavy bolter, which means Astartes are going to fear shooty Custodes lists.

Dedicated Transport[edit]

  • Coronus Grav-carrierForge World: The new rules shifted it from a Heavy Support pick to a Dedicated Transport, I shit you not. This monster is now fully spammable, and it's only gotten better! Though it lost its FNP save, it's invuln went up to 5++ and got a massive price reduction on top of all this. In addition to its Twin Lastrum Bolt Cannon (+1S and AP over a regular Twin Heavy Bolter), its main gun is a bit different now. The Burst mode vomits 6 S5 AP-2 shots and the Beam mode is now an interesting S7 AP-4 D3 gun that rerolls Wounds against VEHICLES, as opposed to just being a massively over-costed Twin Lascannon. Can still carry only 6 of your INFANTRY, but since you pretty much always take minimum sized squads anyways, that's not much of an issue.
  • Null-Maiden Rhino: Null-Maiden Rhinos lose the Psychic Abomination rule they had for the eleven minutes they existed in 7th but retain the other familiar features: smoke launchers, a storm bolter, the Repair attempt, and can take a hunter-killer missile. As mentioned above, almost necessary for Vigilators, as their Toughness of 3 isn't doing them any favors (power armor or not). Drop off the ladies, charge with the Rhino first to eat overwatch, and then have the Vigilators charge in to clean up. Also useful for obscuring sightlines and blocking off chokepoints, which helps keep your somewhat expensive, relatively fragile Sisters alive.


The majority of Custodian units are Elites, from Wardens to SuperDreads. Consequently, your main detachment will probably be the Vanguard.

  • Custodian Wardens: Tougher Custodian Guard that get a 6+++ FnP and +1 A and Ld (for A4 and Ld9). You know, because all those invulnerable saves didn't make them tough enough to kill already. They also trade access to storm shields for access to the castellan axes, just in case you wanted an extra unit for tank/big thing hunting. They also have a compulsory Misericordia each, which allows you to make an additional attack using it. Good to finish off that one model on a single wound, without having to waste your more useful attacks.
    • As of the January 2021 FAQ, the difference in cost between a Spear Guard with Misericordia and a Warden is 7 points- from 48 to 55. This means you take, at best, 16.67% less damage (less as incoming damage tends to exceed 3 - for example, a lascannon will deal about 6.67% less). If you go MSU on both, the leadership difference won't matter, so the only other differences are in melee (the Warden has 33.33% more spear swings, plus a misericordia swing) - and you have no good way to get these guys there, so you should not be looking at these guys as dedicated melee. Axes have a similar problem - they'll get you more melee bang for your buck against many opponents, but you're still paying more points for more melee output from something too slow to guarantee you melee on your terms. On the other hand...the entire army is dedicated melee anyway and they're no longer that much more expensive than a Custodian Guard squad.
    • Check out the Forgeworld Orion Gunship and Coronus Grav-carrier, the vehicles are very expensive but so good that the extra threat per model of Wardens would be worthwhile in them.
    • If you already have a Battalion, it may be worth using Vanguard detachments and Wardens instead of Custodian Guard Battalions. Though you increase in (minuscule) points per model and lose access to Sentinel Blades and Storm Shields in exchange for the buffs and Castellan Axes, you do reduce your HQ tax by one HQ, ultimately saving you space and points.
  • Allarus Custodians: Custodians in Terminator Armor...with four wounds each and equipped with balistus grenade launchers in addition to their guardian spear/castellan axe...and can deep strike without needing the Stratagem to do so. Ouch. They're designated character killers, with Slayers of Tyrants allowing them to move up to 3" towards the nearest character when piling in and consolidating even if the character isn't the nearest enemy model.
    • These guys can do some surprisingly strong work, since you don't need to pay any CP to deep strike them, and their guns aren't shit. The key selling point is that the launcher is "free" (i.e. it's baked into their cost), so when they deep strike to get the launcher in range, one 70-75 point model shooting anything all 3 points of penetration will count against, such as a TEQ, will do the work of two spears at once - which would otherwise cost you more points, since you'd have to pay for someone to carry it. Take Allarus Custodians if you want an elite unit to disrupt and distract enemies, with deep strike, that can hunt down Characters.
    • These guys should really be Dread Host, 2 units deep striking with an allarus captain each rolling 3d6 on the charge discarding the lowest is a pretty terrifying threat particularly if your shield captain has Admonimortis.
  • Venerable Contemptor Dreadnought: Uber Contemptor dreadnought. It does dreadnought things but with a 5++ and the ability to ignore regular wounds on 6s (Being nearly as tough as some Nurgle followers) thanks to the Unyielding Ancient special rule. With the From Golden Light They Come stratagem, you can now deep strike these guys right up in your opponent's face and force them to deal with it.
    • Your heaviest hitting non-FW melee unit coming in at S14 with its melee weapon, and although your army is hitting with at least S5 ap-2 D1 this is not enough to take big beasties like Magnus down in one or two rounds of melee. Its incredible durability also allows it to play the role of distraction Carnifex (most custodes units can play the role of a distraction Carnifex better than an actual Carnifex), especially as deep striking one of these behind enemy lines will guarantee that your opponent is distracted. Also useful for killing vehicles, since its multi-melta is a far cheaper alternative to bringing along a Land Raider and got a lot buffed in this edition: deep striking a beast with 2 shots 2+to hit S8 AP-4 DD6+2 is something scary (potentially 16 wounds).
  • Vexilus Praetors: Like their Marine cousins, the Vexilla bearers are going it alone as Characters now. Makes a huge difference to the custodes as before your banner had to be part of a unit and the +1 attack only affected that unit, and now you're not limited to one per detachment anymore. They can also keep their weapon now and have the option to take a sword, axe, spear or storm shield. It can be taken wearing Allarus Terminator armor so you can deep strike that aura anywhere you want and also really take advantage of the Vexilla Teleport Homer stratagem. They lose their close combat weapon but get the grenade launcher and can still take a Misericordia. Gloss over the impossibility of the custodian being able to hold a Misericordia, Storm Shield, and the Vexilla all at one time while in combat, this is a setting where green things fix robots by whacking a piece of metal with a spanner. Unlike the Ancients, however, they get a choice of three different Vexillas, each with a specific effect. With the release of the Munitorum Manual FAQ in February 2021, the point cost of some vexillas have been included in the Praetor's base cost.

The Vexilla Imperius allows non-Vehicle Custodes within 6" to make an extra attack. Effectively the old banner but with an AOE effect, thereby making it superior as you can have it affect more than one unit.

The Vexilla Defensor grants a 5++ invulnerable save against ranged weapons to all Imperium Infantry within 9". Redundant on your forces due to all the invulnerable saves you already have; on an allied force, on the other hand...well, you can figure it out.

  • Those guardsmen begin to look very, very scary when they all have 5++ saves, not to mention 2+/3++ Bullgryns. The best way to add it would be in a separate detachment so that you can still use eg Astra Militarum in your other detachments.
  • Take 2 (the Magnifica and the Defensor, upgrading the Magnifica to the relic version and you once again have guard blobs that won't go anywhere. This is a key unit in a guard custodes list arguably the most important one. If you can manage to keep those guard blobs around till the end of the game this would have been with it.

For 10 points, the faaabulous Vexilla Magnifica forces the opponent to subtract 1 from all hit rolls in the shooting phase for attacks targeting Custodes units within 6" of the Vexilla. Whether you take this or the 6” +1 attack depends on how you're running your custodes, jetbikes, and spear-wielding units will benefit from the -1 to hit against shooting attacks most, while that squad of 10 storm shield bananas with swords, a 5-man warden squad with a Shield-Captain, or just any Allarus squad will annihilate anything with that +1 attack. Great if they're deep striking in with your Allarus Custodians, if they don't make their 9-inch charge at least they'll have some durability against enemy shooting next turn.

Forge World[edit]

  • Aquilon Custodians: More traditionally armed Custodian Terminators, bringing a Lastrum Storm Bolter and a Solerite Power Gauntlet, which is a AP-4 power fist with no -1 to hit. They have the option of taking a Solarite Power Claw instead, a +1S Lightning Claw with plus 1 attack, to cut their cost down a bit and can also swap the Bolter out for either a Twin Adrathic Destructor, a strange, expensive Assault 2 S5 AP-3 D3 weapon, or the Infernus Firepike a +1S Heavy Flamer with 12" range. And you can load up all 6 of these super bananas with them! Do what every terminator enthusiast has wet dreams about and deepstrike a half dozen super heavy flamers exactly where you want them to be and carbonize your opponent's entire infantry contingent and then proceed to charge their artillery piece to turn it into mulch with their power gauntlets. Oh, and you can still take a Misericordia on each, of course.
    • The Aquilons are easily the most versatile and powerful infantry unit available to Custodes. Primaris Marines? Take the gauntlets and eventually some destructors. Hordes? Solerite talons and Firepikes are here for you. They are still quite expensive when fully geared, but they can get any job done if you use them well.
    • In 9e, we are going to be seeing a lot of Terminators in competitive Custodes builds. The question is which we will be seeing, and why. The Allurus Terminators have the advantages of being cheaper (by at least 10 points per model) and have a strat allowing them to target characters with their powerful shooting. This strat is not shared by their Aquilon brothers and is a real downside when you consider how easy this makes it to shut down re-roll buffs and psykers. The Aquilons, do not gain access to as many strats, however, they have many of the most interesting and powerful weapons we have, notably the Storm Bolter and Gauntlet build, which can put out insane damage with a small amount of CP support. The Allarus is better at character killing, and good all-rounders for their points, however, the Aquilons can be built to take on more specific types of foes. Choosing between these 2 units therefore requires some thought as to what you want the unit to actually do.
    • The wording of several of our new WotS strats helps these guys' damage output significantly, and it is worth discussing quite how powerful they now are.
      • Thanks to Slayer of Nightmares, for 1CP we can gain a +1 to wound against anything with a T higher than 5 in the Fight Phase. This is essentially every vehicle and scary monster in the game, which means the talons wound on a 4 against Knights, and the Gauntlets now wound them on 2+. A squad of 4 with Gauntlets (16 attacks) is likely to mortally wound, if not kill a knight outright with 16 attacks, hitting and wounding on 2s at AP-4.
      • The second strat to look for should be Superior Fire Patterns (also 1CP), which doubles the shots on their Lastrum Storm Bolters. This makes the storm bolters Rapid Fire 4 (giving 8 shots PER MODEL at half range!). A squad of 4, therefore, puts out the equivalent of 32 Heavy Bolter shots at 12" range. It goes without saying that emerging from Deep Strike and dropping this is an incredible chaff clearer.
  • Contemptor-Achillus Dreadnought: Though it may have lost the almighty D in its transition to 40k, the Achilus Dread still keeps its reputation as a melee monster. His shooting weapon is a 24" Heavy 2 S8 AP-2 D3 weapon, which means that in a pinch it can also provide some much needed anti-vehicle firepower as it gets close to the enemy. The 2 Lastrum Storm Bolters aren't quite as powerful (a Combi-Bolter with +1S and AP) but the extra shots never hurt, and actually help the Achillus put the hurt on GEQs and MEQs without needing to get up close and personal. You can replace either of the Storm Bolters with an Infernus Incinerator or a twin-linked Adrathic destructor, both costing 10pts. Anyway, once in melee this guy an absolute beast as it packs 5 attacks with S14 AP-3 d3+3 damage, enough to reduce most targets to slags. Deep strike it with From Golden Light They Come on turn 2, and it will fuck shit up in no time, especially with the bonuses from the Eternal Penitent stratagem. And because GW sometimes do things right, the Achillus received the Custodes version of the Duty Eternal special rule : Guardian Eternal reduce the Damage taken by your Dreadnought by 1 (to a minimum of 1).
    • At 160pts with the dreadspear and 2 Lastrum storm bolters, the Achillus is just a bit over a Venerable dread but gets much more hitting power and versatility, while being harder to take down with multi-Damage attacks.
    • Assuming you pick the twin Adrathic destructors, an Achillus can throw 11 attacks, each with a minimum Damage value of 3, for just 180 points. This makes the Spearnought one of the most cost-effective unit in the whole army when it comes to annihilating vehicles and heavy infantry.
  • Contemptor-Exemplar Dreadnought: Achillus without a spear (yes, it can be built like that in 30k) with an upcoming weapon hand to boot. As usual, it's a somewhat souped-up Contemptor, by default it comes with two normal dreadnought CCWs, but instead of regular Storm Bolters you get the Lastrum variant, which acts like a Storm Bolter (24" rapid-fire 2) firing Heavy Bolter shells (S5 AP-1), they lost their heliothermic detonation rule from Heresy, but that's to be expected since instant death and glancing/penetrating hits are a thing of the past. The Lastrum Storm Bolters can be replaced with normal heavy flamers, or fancy new plasma ejectors which are like plasma flamers (S7 AP-3 D6 auto hitting shots), no Adrathic destructors yet though. Additionally, you can swap out one of the CCWs for a Twin Las-Pulsar. Compared to a twin lascannon, it has 12" less range and only does d3 damage per shot, but compensates by being Heavy 2d3. The Las-Pulsar is 60 points but due to the second CCW costing 10 points and the Lastrum Storm Bolter costing 5 it's effectively 45, you should definitely take it as it's one of this army's only sources of long-range heavy firepower, and unlike pretty much every other dread you get no bonus for having two CCWs anyway.
    • Note this did NOT get an updated data sheet with the new rules, so while it retains its +3W, +1 Leadership, and better Explosion rule, you can still only have one per detachment. You also can't haul it in an Orion, so if you're planning on taking this as a melee beatstick, you'll likely have to use From The Golden Light They Come to get it where you want it quickly.
    • Besides being a forgotten unit from a batch of beta rules long superseeded by official publications, the Exemplar is honestly quite meh when compared with other Dreadnoughts, especially the ones from FW. Its extra Wounds don't really matter since Guardian Eternal is now a thing, it only gets 4 Attacks and its wargear options aren't much impressive for their cost. The twin las-pulsar is the only weapon that might sound interresting, but at 265 points your Exemplar is now as expensive as a Telemon (!), which is a considerably more useful and reliable unit.
  • Contemptor-Galatus Dreadnought: The new dread on the block is a sword and board monster. Its Galatus Warblade functions both as a +1S Twin Heavy Flamer and as a 3 Damage Power Sword that gives you D3 extra attacks. Yep, old school Rampage is back baby! Its shield not only gives it 4++ but also inflicts a -1 to hit penalty on anyone attacking it in melee AND it also get the new Guardian Eternal for extra durability. This combined makes it a fantastic candidate for either From The Golden Light They Come or the Dreadnought slot on an Orion, as it will be a dead weight until it can close with the enemy and has no business footslogging across the field.
    • With its extra attacks, flamers, and high resistance, the Galatus is the Dread you need to deal with hard-hitting units with T6 or less. S7 isn't enough to efficiently dispatch monsters or vehicles but okay for everything else, so use it as an anchor to dissuade TEQs from coming too close.

Sister of Silence[edit]

Imagine a Sisters of Battle with no acts of faith, but who can shut down Psykers by pure genetics rather than a whole lot of faith, and you'll have an idea of what Sisters can do. Power Armoured veteran ladies with Psyk-Out Grenades(shitty explosives that barely hurt even Psykers or Daemons but can turn off Overwatch and weaken them before you charge them with a stratagem). No bolt pistols but they do have a 7" movement range, meaning you can move around the battlefield as quickly as Eldar but practically as fragile as them, given the prevalence of anti-MEQ and GEQ weaponry. In addition to giving Custodians cheaper bodies, they sure up your lack of psychic defenses. Remember they are support units that can deal damage put primarily you take one or two to screw over Psykers.

  • Prosecutors: The Firing squad, snipers, and cheapest of the sisters. Their "Prosecution Protocols," let them ignore 'Lookout Sir' against Psykers. Using Punishment Fire, you can pour 3 bolter shots that rerolls wound roll against Psysker, something most wizards, even space marines are hard-pressed to survive.
    • This is especially good against Psyker heavy armies such as Eldar, who can hide their warlocks, and more importantly, spirit and Farseers, behind squads of Guardians.
    • These girls are probably most useful for you as Custodians, as they allow you to take down at least a couple of the enemy’s psykers before your custodians get closer and they start smiting 50-100 points per psychic phase. Also helpful for killing said psykers without sending a 5-man Guard squad to chew through bubble wrap for two turns, all the while taking losses from the psyker they guard. Bear in mind, however, that their bolters are just bolters so will utterly wilt against high toughness and/or saves.
  • Vigilators: A squad of battle sisters armed with a greatblade, having two put out the same DPS as a Custodian with Sentinel blade for less than half his price but relatively glass cannons. This squad has the potential to do some remarkable damage to high-value targets, and not necessarily only Psykers, though the Witch Hunters rule comes into its own with this unit. This means they are capable of wounding even Magnus on a re-rollable 5+, just over 55%. Bear in mind that multiple wounds do not carry over from slain models, so going charging into an Ork mob is still going to get you murdered. The big problem, though, is that they do not have any guns to speak of. That means no overwatch, no pistols for combat, and no way to strike at opponents at any distance, aside from 1 psyk-out grenade for the entire unit.
    • Moreso than Prosecutors and Witchseekers, the ladies with swords would do better with a transport vehicle. Since they cannot shoot, they should be kept carefully encapsulated until you need them, so that when they disembark and assault for the first time, they will hit with devastating effect.
  • Witchseekers: Sisters of Silence attempting to take a leaf out of the Sisters of Battle handbook and come to battle armed entirely with Flamethrowers. Their effectiveness is difficult to quantify. They are an anti-hord option with the entire squad is armed with flamers, meaning you can get 10d6 automatic hits if you go full-sized, with their stratagem guaranteeing that each can only roll a min of 4 shots (min: 40 hits). If you're looking for an awful lot of flamers then only Tzeentch can do it better, and as a Custodes player they help out in anti-horde, making them perfect candidates for going for that Malignant Plaguecaster bubble-wrapped in Poxwalkers. Witchseekers in a Rhino can make great objective grabbers - move them forward and hose down important points, then dare the enemy to come close and take it from them.

Fast Attack[edit]

  • Vertus Praetors (aka Dawneagle Jetbikes): A must take. These are easily your most versatile unit. Hurricane bolters will munch tarpits that could’ve threatened your Allaruses or Wardens through sheer volume of attacks, or for long(ish) range vehicle hunting, they can take Salvo launchers. With the FLY keyword, they can provide excellent anti-air fire, or engage flyers in CC, meaning these guys are better flyer hunters than Heldrakes or other dedicated flyer hunters. With their stupidly fast movement and 'charge on your opponents turn' stratagem these guys will be your bread and butter in a pure Custodes list. With the Custodes’ ObSec rule, these guys can also nab an objective or two from your opponent one the final turn. Oh, and remember that they also get a 4++ if they come in a pure custodes detachment. Make of that what you will.
    • Speaking of anti-aircraft, remember how most Flyers can't be hit in close combat by things without the FLY Keyword? And that said fliers typically have only a generic CCW and a mediocre number of attacks if they do get engaged? Well, abuse this fact to kill fliers in melee. Even with the ability to fall back and still shoot, the average flyer will either have to waste time playing keep-away at the expense of losing opportunities to attack easier targets or let you wail on them in melee with no way to deal meaningful damage themselves.
    • With the number of models that can fly and the crap-ton of Anti Air in 8th Edition, you may have trouble deciding between the horde-busting dakka of the Hurricane Bolters and the FU vehicle power of the Salvo Launcher. The solution is to take both. The Bolters act as a screen while the Launchers wreck vehicles. The Melta Missile is like a shorter ranged Plasma Cannon without the 'suicide mode' or an improved Multi Melta (it re-rolls ALL failed wound rolls against vehicles. Put on Shield-Cap for 2+ to hit, rerolling 1s, 3s to wound against almost anything, rerolling 1s and 2s, and followed up by -4 AP and d6 damage. Time to wreck some shit). The flakkburst missile was the only designated anti-flyer weapon you had before these rules. So keep them behind the Hurricane Bolters if possible (although this isn't much of a problem at all with Custodes, even with the -1 to hit, you've still got marine-level shooting and rerolling 1s to hit. Most flyers also have the Vehicle keyword, so don't rule out softening up that Stormtalon with a few Melta Missiles before charging it).
    • The interceptor lances on the charge make these units the most reliable wounders in the entire game. The only things they won’t wound on at least a 5+ is a Warlord Titan (heaven forbid you have to fight it in melee) and the newest Titan, the Nemesis Warbringer. Together with your rerolls to wound you will wound 55% of the time, and with strength 6 you will be wounding most things on a 3+ anyway (88%). Combined with an average damage of 2 per hit and ap-3 means that all units in the game fear the arrival of these lightning-fast monsters (even against a Baneblade a single biker will deal 3.6 damage on the charge with rerolls to hit).
      • The Salvo Launcher is free like the Hurricane bolter, so the choice is yours if you like a more anti-vehicle unit or a more generalist unit. And remember that anything without a high invulnerable will vaporize in charge. Feel free to try what do you think is the best loadout.
  • Agamatus CustodiansForge World: The Glorious Dickbikes. A 3-6 men-strong squadron of Vertus Praetors with different guns. Same baseline stats, cost, and interceptor lance, but different tools for the jetbikes themselves. They come with a Lastrum bolt cannon as standard, a Heavy 3 36" S6 AP-2 gun that makes MEQs sweat each time it fires (95 ppm). You can replace it with either an Adrathic devastator (Heavy 2 18" S6 AP-3 dealing 3 damage for (100 ppm) or a twin-linked las-pulser (Heavy 4 24" S8 AP-2 D3 damage) for (110 ppm).
    • The las-pulser is by far the best choice in the list, even if expensive. But overall that's the only reason to take Agamati over Vertus Praetors. Hurricane bolters are better than the Lastrum cannon against infantry (and even light vehicles) most of the time and the salvo launcher is better than the Adrathic devastator against monsters and vehicles. However, the las-pulser provides solutions against everything and is very good at taking down MEQs, while the Adrathic devastator's flat 3 Damage and high AP are exactly what you need if you expect your opponent to spam Gravis marines or other 3W infantry models.
  • Pallas Grav-AttackForge World: The Custodian's "Light" Tank, the Pallas is Fast as hell at 16", but that's the only "Light" thing about it. Ok, it's only got 6 Toughness, but it still has a 3+/5++ save plus no degrading stat line. For firepower, it's a Coronus-lite, with the same Twin Arachnus Blaze Cannon, but no Bolt Cannon. For a meager 95 points. Yeah, you heard that right. 95 Emperor damned points. Unlike the 30K version, it cannot be taken in squads of three though, and the 2020 Forge World Compendium deleted the Gravitic Backwash rule, which used to inflict a -2 penalty on Charge rolls against it. If you have points to spend on an extra Agamatus or Vertus Praetor for one of your jetbikes units, consider getting a Pallas instead.
    • The Pallas is perfect to take down models with a 3+ and no invulnerable save, as its blaze cannon will completely negate their armour save. Vehicles with T7 or less are your targets of choice, but re-rolling to wound means even T8 metal boxes aren't safe. The burst mode cannot compete with hurricane bolters in terms of sheer damage output against W1 models, but having better range and being mounted on a VEHICLE is a huge advantage now that jetbikes can't shoot after Falling Back if they get tarpitted.
    • The blaze cannon's flat Damage 3 is also your best friend when it comes to killing Plague Marines, Gravis, Terminators, Nobs, Tyranid Warriors or any W3 model from afar, a niche that shouldn't be overlooked in the current meta. Using the blaze cannon on infantry units may sound like a complete waste, but the Pallas is actually cheap enough to earn its points back if you keep it away from the biggest guns and pick the right fights.
    • Taking down a single Pallas can prove surprisingly consuming since it requires focusing a lot of heavy firepower on a single model. Though it lacks the 2+/4++ of a Custodes jetbike, the Pallas is actually tougher overall against attacks with a AP value of -1 or better and cannot be one-shot by a lucky hit with Damage 4. While saturating a jetbikes squadron with high Damage attacks may be worth it since you can potentially kill multiple models, you will never destroy more than one Pallas and splitting fire may result in the grav-attack surviving. And shooting back at full power next turn.
  • Venatari CustodiansForge World: Jetpack Custodians that can deepstrike. Unlike every other custodian, they have a 3+ armor save, but their default setup equips them with a shield that provides a 2+ save and doubles as a S+1 AP-2 weapon. These shields are accompanied by Kinetic Destroyers (Pistol 2 18" S6 AP-2 D2 which deals an additional hit for every 6 to-hit, or you can forgo the gun-and-shield for the multipurpose Venetari lance (+1 Attack, S+1 AP-3 D2 in melee, Kinetic Destroyer but 12" and Assault 2 at range). And as per usual, they can take Misericordias. Their big benefit is that they're considerably cheaper than the bikes and can kick ass in melee, but this cost is offset by their relative fragility (if you can call something with T5 and 3+/4++ 'fragile'). Generally, you will either run these guys alongside either class of jetbike due to their high movement or have them going down one flank as the jetties go down the other in a good old-fashioned stretch play. Also, don't forget that they can deep strike and so provide support for deep striking termies.
    • Don't forget these guys are Infantry, so they can get cover and maneuver around terrain much easier than jetbikes. And because jetbikes will normally draw a lot of fire, Venatari is probably used best to steal objectives and harass your opponent's troops camping objectives.
    • While the buckler's AP and Damage values seem underwhelming when compared with the spear's, remember that you can shoot with your 2 shots S6 AP-2 pistols in melee, giving you some extra punch should you choose to stay in combat for some reason. All in all, the spear only makes a big difference if you're planning to hunt down characters and multi-wound infantry. Otherwise, the buckler + kinetic destroyer loadout provides better protection, extra range, and slightly more firepower that will never be lost no matter what happens to your flying dudes. And even though the Buckler isn't as good in melee as the Lances it's more than enough to handle GEQ/MEQs.
    • These guys are prime candidates for the Superior Fire Patterns strat. A Squad of 6 deepstrikes into terrain for that +1 to save, and then shoots 24 shots, rerolling to hit from a character, and then getting extra hits on 6s. You can use the Blood Games Veterans strat to make them even more spicy. Regardless, they really do put out the pain for 1 cp with SFP strat and can keep doing it every turn until they die.

Heavy Support[edit]

  • Venerable Land Raider: Still your uberslighty-less-survivable transport with 16 wounds sitting comfortable on a 2+ save and FNP 6+++. Thanks to the buff to formerly twin-linked lascannons and lascannons in general, this is your heavy anti-tank option for when the Vertus Praetors' salvo launchers won't cut it and the Venerable Contemptor's multi-melta isn't long-ranged enough. Given that you will most likely also transport a Custodian Guard squad you may imagine the amount of fire this 500+ points package will attract and maybe even survive. While expensive, bringing them in pairs lets you use their Stratagem to shut down attempts at stacking penalties to hit against them.
  • Caladius Grav-TankForge World: Remember the Sicaran's infantry-mulching accelerator cannon? Your twin Iliastus accelerator doesn't have the anti-flyer bonuses and is Heavy instead of Assault, but with 8 60" shots that possess S7 AP-3 D2 and the Standard Custodes BS2+, the Caladius has the best range of any Custodes unit thus far and fills the valuable anti-armor niche with good ease. Combine with its W14 3+/5++ and the twin Lastrum Bolt Cannons (heavy bolters with S6 AP-2) that provide extra anti-infantry firepower, and you have quite a nasty tank. It also has the FLY keyword with all its benefits and drawbacks, so watch for anti-air weapons. It's also stinking fast at 14" when undamaged, and even when critically damaged its movement never drops below 8", so don't be afraid to zip around the board and fire with impunity.
    • You can replace the Iliastus accelerator cannon by a twin Arachnus cannon, a Heavy weapon that can shoot in burst mode (8 shots at 36" S7 AP-2 D1) or as a beam (2 shots at 48" S9 AP-4 D3+1D3 rerolling failed to-wound rolls against VEHICLES), for stronger anti-superheavy fire, and some flexibility when facing down mech/horde armies like Orks with Gorkanauts and lots of Boyz.
    • All in all, the Iliastus generally remains a better all-rounded choice. It is cheaper, has more range, is clearly superior to the burst mode against hordes, has enough Damage to murder heavy infantry, and can still do a solid amount of damage against vehicles. The Arachnus cannon only really shines against T7+ vehicles (remember that you don't get the re-roll to wound against monsters or big characters), which is a valuable niche indeed that shouldn't be overlooked.
    • 9th edition has not been kind with the Caladius so far. Models that FLY can't disengage and shoot anymore, it has lost the Gravitic Backwash special rule and the twin Lastrum cannon didn't get a Damage buff as the baseline heavy bolter did. Overall, the unit is more vulnerable in melee - both against tank hunters and tarpitting units - and its extra range isn't a decisive factor on the more compact battlefields of 9th edition. At 225 points it is still a decent unit, but one may be interrested in a tougher, more durable heavy weapons platform...
  • Telemon Heavy DreadnoughtForge World: You thought the SM Leviathan Dreadnought was a tough cookie to crack? Sit down and behold the mighty Telemon. With its T8 2+/4++/6+++ and the Guardian Eternal rule it’s far tougher than any Land Raider... Or any other vehicle for that matter, especially as it lacks the TITANIC keyword (so it doesn’t give a pair of dingo kidneys about Macro weapons dealing bonus damage to it). Comes default with a Spiculus Bolt Launcher and 2 Iliastus accelerator culverins for 260 points and provides the Custodes with one of their few anti-armor options.
  • It can shoot its Spiculus Bolt Launcher (24” Heavy 5, S5, AP-1, D1) twice when it doesn't move; by itself, this makes it a perfect backfield camper for chewing GEQs.

Your baseline loadout on the Telemon is a pair of Iliastus Accelerator Culverins (48” Heavy 4, S7, AP-3, D2), perfect for chewing up MEQs (especially Primaris) and light vehicles. Custodes can already reliably beat almost any kind of heavy infantry in combat, making the Iliastus questionable, but it will certainly do that job well if you choose it. With the nerf of the Arachnus storm cannon, this is also your better take if you want your Telemon to stay far from enemy units. The jack-of-all-trade range weapon for your giant Dreadnought, and also the cheapest one.

The 2 Arachnus storm cannons (36” Heavy 2, S8, AP-4, D3 or in Burst mode 24” Heavy 6, S7, AP-2, D1) are design to deal with both vehicles and light infantry. It has a more limited range than the culverin, making the Arachnus storm cannon less efficient as a long-ranged anti-horde weapon unless you can deep-strike your Telemon in a safe spot where no melee unit will tarpit it. These still provide something you desperately need because as already stated, Custodes lack anti-armor firepower.

  • The Arachnus storm cannon may also prove a very useful weapon to deal with the bunch of new 3W models Astartes get with their 9th edition codex. Multi-wound models in general are a real pain for Custodes since your infantry is mostly stuck with D3 melee weapons or low Strength/AP guns, and T5 W3 units becoming more widespread will certainly make things even worse. In this regard, the storm cannon is a real blessing as it can reliably one-shot any baseline Gravis model with no save allowed while being able to out-range those damned melta rifles.

The close combat option is to arm it with one or two Telemon Caestii (S16, AP-3, D4) which come with a twin plasma projector (12” Heavy 2D3, S6, AP-2, D1 auto hitting flamer/plasma gun hybrids) which hit like baby Inferno Guns and you get an extra attack for each caestus you bring. The melee weapons (and their buitl-in plasma projector) are free, so if you want to punch a Knight to death, then the fists are what you choose. The Telemon however can serve your army far better as a mobile gun rig rather than a full-on melee beatstick, so if you want a beatstick Dread, take an Achillus, a Galatus, an Exemplar or a Venerable Contemptor with dual fists instead.

  • Another take on the melee variant: It's cheaper than any other weapon combo you can give it. On top of that, while it's an expensive combo in terms of CP, you can FGLTC it, then use the Teleport Homer stratagem to get it within 3" nearly guaranteeing a charge against a target, while being able to fire its guns before the charge. Trajann's Moment Shackle can also offset the cost to make it more appealing (assuming it isn't used on Victor of the Blood Games or a full cost FGLTC).
    • Being a dreadnought, it can be FGLTC'd right where you need it when you need it. Terrifying indeed, and best used by a fisting dread to get stuck into melee as soon as possible. Or you can use FGLTC to protect your big golden boy from turn 1 shooting and then drop him down within 24 inches of an enemy to get him in range of all his guns.
    • Also, remember Custodes Dreadnoughts can now use their guns in melee, which make the Telemon in particular even more versatile as even a range-focused build may deal with small units trying to tarpit your giant roboat of death. It also makes mixed melee/shooting loadouts much more viable, as your guns will never be wasted and may ever outdamage a pure fisty build.
    • Overall, it's an incredibly useful model for a custodes army, and considering it's only 290pts at its max loadout in an army where even a 3-man squad costs 153 points default, there is little reason to not take it considering the firepower it can lay down on anything from GEQs to Knights depending on what you want from it. Whatever you load it out to do, it will do well, but unless your list has a good amount of anti-armor firepower (from Pyrithite spears generally), the best option is to go for the storm cannons.


  • Orion Assault Dropship Forge World: Oh yes, it's finally here. The Orion is a beast of a machine. with 22 Wounds and a 3+/5++ save, plus the usual suite of Airborne/Hard to Hit/Hover Jet/Supersonic; it will be exceptionally hard to bring down without some dedicated heavy AA. It's also loaded to the gills with weapons, armed with 2 Arachnus Heavy Blaze Cannons (+2S over the regular Blaze Cannon), 2 Twin Lastrum Bolt Cannons, AND 2 Spiculus Heavy Bolt Launchers. It also, like every Custodes machine, packs Power of the Machine Spirit and its lowest wound table slot still has a 4+ to hit, so this maelstrom of firepower will be continuing unabated until it finally fucking dies. In addition, it can hold either a full 12 INFANTRY models, which is a LOT for Custodes, or it can carry an Achillus, a Galatus, or a Venerable Contemptor (no Exemplars or Telemons, sorry) by taking up 5 normal transport slots, making this the only way to get your melee Dreads into the thick of it without Stratagems! It's very reasonably priced to boot, only about 100 more than a fully kitted Venerable Land Raider! Loaded up with a Dread, a Shield-captain, and 6 Custodes of your choice, this bad boy can blow a giant hole in your opponent's gun-line and fill it back in with your very own creamy golden goodness.
  • Ares Gunship Forge World: if the Orion is a Transport and anti-infantry Flyer, the Ares is an Anti-tank in the observed Custodes way. The main reason why you may pick the Ares over the Orion is the Arachnus magna-blaze cannon the daddy of all Arachnus weapons. The burst mode is Heavy 3 48" S9 AP-3 D D3, which isn't going to impress anybody for a unit of this grade. And here comes the beam mode: Heavy D3 72" S14 AP-4 D 6+D3. Now we are talking. It also comes with 2 Arachnus heavy blaze cannon for more anti-vehicle shooting and 2 Infernus Firebombs, which are basically identical to the ones on the Thunderhawk (pick a unit you flew over, roll 1d6 for each model in the unit (3d6 for vehicles or monsters), a roll of 4+ = 1 Mortal Wound), the big difference being you can use them twice per game.
    • The Ares truly makes sense as a dedicated VEHICLE hunter since it can reliably annihilate vehicles like Land Raiders in a single turn if you have a bit of luck. However, you could have a similar amount of firepower from a pair of Caladii, which are also better at dealing with infantry so it isn't as interesting for a Custodes army list as the Orion. It is still quite good for its job, so feel free to take one if you like the miniature and have the points for a specialized unit.


Officio Assassinorum[edit]

  • Every assassin is 100pt, as of 9e, but every assassin is good, from the Vindicare(if you dont'use allarus, which you should) to the Eversor(horde-cleaning)

Astra Militarum[edit]

Used right, you can kick some serious ass with this matchup. The guard still gives you some hilariously cheap models relative to your banana men. Seriously, you can bring a squad of 9 guardsmen and their sergeant for one point more than a single standard Custodian model costs. Or if you’re into even cheaper models, for the cost of a 147 point stock Custodes 3 man squad, for 150 points you can take a 30 man conscript squad. This is good for holding objectives, or just slowing down your foes while your heavy hitters get into position to beat the enemy over the head with a lock inside a tube sock.

They still have their long range, high strength and high AP anti tank weapons, which is something you have less of. Additionally, they offer long range artillery. A Leman Russ with a punisher Gatling cannon can remove horde armies with ease that would otherwise bog you down with 20 S5 1D shots. Or alternatively an executioner with standard S7 1D AP-3 for those tougher targets.

Or just grab a Basilisk with a whopping 240” range, D6 shots, S9, AP-3, D3 damage. Yeah, that’s a nice fuck you to anything nearby. They still fill almost every weakness the Custodes have. Just still try not to be that guy.

Space Marines[edit]

Imagine what the Imperial Guard does for you in terms of covering up weaknesses, and just add on a lot more point costs. Flexible and versatile ally that can do almost anything. Psyker support, anti-vehicle, melee support, or nowadays even bringing along girly man himself.

Just keep in mind the points cost. Your Custodes already burn through points like wildfire, so it’s easy to end up having to compromise in some spots if you’re not careful. Take what you need for your army. Obviously psychic support is probably a given. Anti-vehicle is next on the list unless you’re bringing along some Custodes dreads. If you’ve got those two areas filled and you’ve got points left over, why not invest in some tactical squads for cheap(er) objective holders?

Grey Knights[edit]

Cheaper Custodes but with psychic powers. Yep, that’s grey knights in a nutshell. But they do offer some strategies if taken other than the obvious DTW and psychic abilities. For instance, they have better transport options with their Rhino and Razorback, which can allow you to get some infantry into the fight a bit quicker. Both of those options are noticeably cheaper than bringing a grav-carrier to the fight.

Their infantry can hold their own better than the sisters of silence can. Overall, a solid choice. Just keep in mind their higher points cost compared to other potential allies. Also great for recreating the fight at the lions gate if you bring Valerian and Aleya along.

Imperial Knights[edit]

Adeptus Titanicus[edit]

God help whoever is dumb enough to play against a team up between Titans and Custodes. The hardest part, other than managing to live with one kidney and lung after selling them to afford this army, is finding someone willing to fight this army. Roll out a squad of bikes and shield captain Smashfucker with them to hunt down any models that flee. Maybe add in some terminators and split them up with unleash the lions, then just hold objectives with one model each. Annihilate anything else with the titan. But come on, really?

Adeptus Mechanicus[edit]

Sisters of Battle[edit]

Losing Sacred Rites is not nice for Sisters and they generally don't get along well with the other kids. Just take Sisters of Silence.


See Space Marines, but with some better anti-infantry options. They are still rather pricey, especially when combined with your already expensive banana men. Their frag cannon still wrings out the tears from anyone that tries to rush up to you.

Again, keep in mind they’re not as tough as your Custodes, but they still make an excellent distraction. Make good use of transports or other protective methods if you want to keep them alive longer.


General Tactics[edit]

Psychic/Anti-Psychic Support[edit]

Custodes are pretty well protected from psychic with a 6+++ against psychic mortal wounds, a 4+ to deny psychic power strat, and a strat deny the witch strat for any unit with 12" range so most the time that will be enough to counteract any psychic you come up against as you have other stratagems that counter powerful psychic buff/debuffs, like the Emperor's Auspices against Doom and Guide for example.

Bear in mind that you can pay 1cp for an extra warlord trait if you want, so you could take Impregnable mind on one of your characters just in case all the above wasn't enough already.

Flight of the Golden Valkyries[edit]

Matchups and Counterplay[edit]

These tactics are good and all, but knowing your enemy is important. For simplicity's sake we're going to assume that you and your enemy's list is NOT a soup list, which is the slang term for taking multiple factions that share the Imperial, Chaos, or Aeldari keywords or the like in the same army. Feel free to add any strategies that have worked against these factions.


  • Space Marines: Just remember to use Emperor's Auspecies and you should do very well as a lot of the space marines efficiency comes from their re-rolls, try and stop null zone as well as that can lose you the game by itself in some cases. The amount of variety marines have and the sheer absurdity of some of their combos may present a challenge in some cases, but between your stratagems and innate durability you're one of the few armies that should be able to get into combat and hold objectives against them.
  • Blood Angels: Same as above but targeting the characters is important here, if you can pick off a smash captain or librarian dreadnought with your terminators you're in a very good place, as most other units will still be outmatched by yours in melee, which is where blood angels are made to fight.
  • Dark Angels:
  • Grey Knights: The second most elite army in the Imperium (minus Knights). To be honest, if you haven't brought anti-psyker support you're very likely going to lose this matchup. Screen out the GK with Sisters of Silence to deny them their smites and take advantage of stratagems, and maybe the relic banner and warlord trait.
  • Deathwatch: Their Hellfire rounds don't give a shit about your T5. Thankfully your stratagems don't give a shit about their characters.
  • Imperial Guard: Take a banner with -1 to hit as with tau the army wide 4+ BS really doesn't like negative hit modifiers, tanks commanders do have a 3+ BS but most the russ weapons are ap -2 or -1 so your terminators can just ignore most their firepower with Auramite and Adamantium.
  • Imperial Knights: This can actually a surprisingly hard match-up for the Custodes as knights can easily outrun most of your units and can't be tied up in combat, they can even move over you in the movement phase now so they really can't be hemmed in. On the upside they don't (usually) have an invulnerable save in melee and always have a higher toughness than you so you can spam slayers of nightmares and shred them up close. Otherwise just play to objectives and you should have a good chance.
  • Sisters of Silence: On their own they're no threat to Custodes at all, they're painfully outmatched in combat and Custodes have no psychic for them to counter.
  • Sisters of Battle: A very good army all round, but probably a bit lacking in heavy shooting and dedicated combat to really hurt Custodes with the advent of 9th, kill their meltas and try to tie them up in melee which shouldn't be too difficult given the large footprint of many of their units, penetant engines are surprisingly deadly in combat but that's what Telemon dreadnoughts and Salvo launchers are for. Try not to have too many units charged by a wave of Bloody Rose Repentia at a time.
  • Adeptus Titanicus: If you do find yourself playing against one of the 10 people who even play this then you should probably just play for the objectives, almost every weapon they have will kill your units outright at D4 or higher, use Alchemical when necessary and don't suicide your guys for the sake of it, even titans probably can't table you completely if you play cautiously, and they certainly aren't scoring more VP than you.
  • Other Imperium Factions:


  • Chaos Space Marines:
  • Chaos Daemons:
  • Death Guard:
  • Thousand Sons:
  • Renegade Knights: Pretty much the same as Imperial Knights.
  • Renegades and Heretics:


  • Craftworlds: Formally the bane of Custodes (and most other armies as well) in 8th, now and absolute cakewalk, just turn doom and guide off whenever you want with Emperor's Auspices, deny executioner and smite reliablely every turn and rape their shining spears in combat where they don't have an invulnerable to protect them.
  • Dark Eldar: Unlike their space magic oriented brethren they lack psychic powers. Trouble is their Splinter weaponry always wounds you on 4+, they don't give a shit about your toughness or the Alchemical physiology that blocks 1-3s to wound. Their Disintegrators and Dark Lances do notice the difference, however.
  • Harlequins: A tough one to be sure, their 4++ across the board completely invalidates Custodes high AP weapons, but not too bad a match-up if you know how they play, almost always kill the fusion-carrying boats first,then the clowns they're carrying. Don't be fooled into prioritising the bikes unless for VP reasons as the damage they do is just worse overall, particularly as your terminators can now ignore ap -1 and -2 with adamantium and aurumite, the bikes will outrun you yes, so just take objectives and watch them desperately try and wound you as you rack up VP.
  • Orks: Got nerfed into the ground during the edition change so no longer the threat they were, if your opponent takes a shokk attack gun just snipe it with your Allarus terminator strat, lootas are still very dangerous unless you're terminators and play adamantium and auramite, generally as stupid as it sounds orks are better at shooting than combat in this match up so getting into combat quickly is your best bet, don't be conservative with tangle-foot grenades either, that strat is a real ace up your sleeve in this match-up.
  • Tau Empire Not much to say on Tau really that you probably haven't already guessed, don't waste time shooting at range they'll outmatch you completely just get up close as quickly as possible and swarm them in melee, a vexilla Magnifica is a very good idea as most the tau army starts on BS 4+ and making them 5+ to hit most if not all of your units will severely impact their damage output.
  • Necrons: The new Necron codex is out and while it's not a huge change, invulnerable saves are common between wraiths, quantum shielding and chronomancer buffs. The Silent King and C'tan in particular are great counter's to Custodes as their defensive buffs negate a lot of your expensive high AP weapons, better just to play around them and tie up your opponents shooting units in melee. Their fly units are far less irritating than before as they can't back out and charge now and they generally don't want to stay in combat with you even if they can shoot into melee. Make sure to use Auspecies against their destroyer strat and don't let their new choppy destroyers charge you if at all possible.
  • Tyranids: Remember the Tanglefoot Grenade stratagem. Even if a Genestealer bomb gets right up in your face you can still throw off the charge attempt. Don't immediately charge in, that's playing right into the Tyranid player's hands. Soften them up with shooting (Vertus Praetors, Sagittarum guard, the dick bikes) before charging and then go in.
  • Genestealer Cults: Just a joke in current 9th edition so probably not even worth mentioning, try and keep your important units out of deepstrike charge range of Genestealers and abberants and you should be fine.