40K: Custodes are the Ultimate Glass Hammer

I used to think the Dark Eldar were the game’s glass hammer – but I was wrong.

You all remember the old argument for the ultimate glass hammer – the Dark Eldar.

They were so lethal with all those Dark Lances, so fast with all those Raiders, but oh so fragile with that spandex-clad T:3 across the board.

Funny how you almost never see the Drukhari in 8th Edition *cough-ynarri*…

But after getting in a few games with Adeptus Custodes I’ve changed my tune.

I think the championship belt for Glass Hammer now goes to the Emperor’ golden boys.

But Aren’t they Tough?

They are just a more extreme version of glass hammer.

Where as the Dark Eldar were super-fast, the Custodes can get anywhere on the table on turn 1 if they really want (Vexilla teleporter – CHARGE!). Also with the across the board speed increase of units in 8th, the Drukhari got a little less special in the speed department.

Where as the Dark Eldar were lethal – the Custodes are moreso – they just have to get right up to point blank range to use it. They can drop almost anything non-Forge World in a single turn if you let them get up in your face.

Where as the Dark Eldar were fragile – the Custodes are moreso – they lack the one thing in 8th edition that helps keep you in the game and able to take a punch – model-count.

The Custodes are the ultimate all-or-nothing army. You HAVE to play them almost insanely aggressive as both time and math are not on your side. This is an army that start feeling vulnerable if it hasn’t inflicted serous damage to the enemy by turn 2.  Sure they have the most potent and durable infantry on a per model basis – but smart foes will spread out, keep you at arm’s length and just throw every laser-bolt-bullet-spell-kitchen sink they have at you. Some of those shots will get through and you DON’T have any bodies to spare. This is an army where losing 4-5 guys in a turn is HORRIBLE. Even losing 2-3 makes you start sweating.

But Are They Fair?

What is really interesting – is Custodes games go fast and have a lot of drama and tense moments.  While time will tell if the Custodes have what it takes to really work their way into the meta – certainly some individual models will be showing up all over tabletops soon (I’m looking at you Vexillas).

 Will vexilla for food!

But so far what GW has made is an army that is genuinely FUN to play. Games don’t drag on, are high-risk high-reward, and awards a very cavalier play-style. Like the Ork’s say – if you win, you win – and if you lose, you’re dead so it doesn’t count. With their teensy model-count, you can just rack ’em up and try again!

~ And I’m having a blast!

  • I honestly couldn’t care less about the “meta” and powergaming soup lists that lack any kind of flavor, but as long as the Custodian Guard is fun and fluffy in how it works, I think GW did a good job with them.

    • Stephen Henry IV

      Some people do care about it though. Enjoy them if you like, nothing wrong with that, but some people want a bit more bang for tournaments. Although I’ll hold my tongue until I get a few games in.

  • The Bob

    glass implies no defense, but how is glass T5 3W 2+/4++ on your basic troop glass?

    • ellobouk

      it does when your army includes like 25 guys max. start taking models off and your damage output plummets.

      • Navaren

        Tell you what let’s call these dudes Plexi-glass cannons.

        • euansmith

          Lead Crystal Cannons, to reflect their relative cost?

          • Marek Gackiewicz

            They’re Royal right?

            I’d say this is Prince Rupert’s Glass.

            Near indestructible except if you nibble it from the right angle… then all goes to hell 😉

      • Marcet

        Let’s not forget that it takes about 72 bolter rounds to drop just one of these bastards…Sure you could use AT weapons but then I have to question your definition of glass.

        • Karru

          These guys start dropping like flies once you get the Smite spam out which these guys can’t do anything to unless you start going with allies a lot. They can also be Mortal Wounded to death just like everyone else, even worse than most armies thanks to their model count.

          • Marcet

            Right, sure MW spam, but that does require you playing one of a few armies. I’m just saying when you have a regular army with bolters needs 72 shots to down a single dude. Pretty nasty and sturdy.

            Mind, my EC can probably down 2-3 per unit per turn due to stratagems and sheer weight of numbers. They are not invincible.

          • Karru

            Which are rather common place this edition, so there is that.

            Also, some armies happen to also have access to ample amount of heavy weapons on mass that come cheaper than a single model in the Custodes army so you can’t count those out either.

          • Drpx

            Whoever came up with mortal wounds needs to be sacrificed to Khorne at the next GW quarter luncheon.

          • J Mad

            Its a good check and balance system to stop insane things from happening, like 3++ Re-rolling saves.

            MW are fine, just Smite was a problem, with the Beta rules for Smite and Characters you wont see it as much for sure.

          • Drpx

            Could just not have 3++ rerollables in the first place.

          • J Mad

            It was a fast example (but youre 100% correct), with how Detachments are set up (there are pros and cons, but gw wnated the pro’s of play how you want), there is room for many tough combos, like Celestine, Gman, or just Invul save armies etc.. its there to be a soft counter. It just went to far.

          • Karru

            Exactly. MW isn’t a problem when it is fielded in moderation, few Smites here and there are not really that much of an issue, taking care of extremely tough defences that a Character has for example but it becomes problematic when people are bringing dozens of sources for them into the field, killing everything.

          • Jeremy Larson

            After playing several games with the Beta Smite rules, I can tell you it honestly doesn’t make much of a difference except on the extreme end. You can still reliably throw out 3-4 smites a turn.

        • Drpx

          Bolters aren’t the gold standard anymore. GW nerfed them so Primaris guns would take the spotlight.

        • J Mad

          Then you have armies like Harlequins where they only have S6 rending or Melta (Fusion) Pistols and all -3ap melee attacks.

          5 FP’s will kill 2 of the guys. WHen your full army is -1/4++ until your out of vehicles that has double your movement. Its going to be hard to deal with unless your Bike heavy army.

    • Sir Postalot

      Yup I would call this hero hammer but hey.

    • Drpx

      The best defense you have in 8th is numbers. Otherwise you better get first turn and you better kill half their army.

    • kingcobra668

      Idk, I wonder if they article you’re commenting on touches on that. Hmmm

    • LankTank

      Yeah these guys are more like,,, well… gold? Glass breaks, gold comparatively does not, BUT if you lose ANY of it, it really hurts

    • Rasheed Jones

      I’VE GOT IT IT’S A 3rd LEVEL METAPHOR> Sure, custodes are hard…but what is soft? GOLD!! GOLD IS A SOFT METAL!! I’VE SOLVED IT. but wait…gold doesn’t shatter…well you can call them a gold cannon and be right no matter which way you take it.

  • Diagoras

    Do… Do you mean “glass cannon?”

    Just asking, because I’ve never heard “glass hammer” before.

    • calming rain

      glass hammer is already using as cracking car windows(glass)….
      i think he play too much skyrim

      • James Regan

        indeed. used to trick new kids at work by getting people we knew to come in and ask for a glass hammer. Thye’d be all confused and think we were pulling their legs again, then we’d just say ‘yeah, they’re over on the far aisle with the car tools’

    • ellobouk

      maybe it’s because all of custodes damage output is in melee? xD

      • Electrobix

        At least someone has a brain.

    • J Mad

      It is and has been used both ways for many years.

  • J Mad

    As a long time DE play, DE are trash, GW gutted them multi-times, removing model, wargear, rules again and again. DE has literally the worst HQ and the worst bike in the entire game, they are no longer “fast” when literally all my other armies are faster (WTF GW) and on top of that they are over costed (GW always over costs everything in DE other than the Dark lance for some reason). GW doesnt know how to balance DE, and instead of balancing them, they just take things away….

    I’m getting Custodes bikes.. like idk 4-5 boxes of them.

    • Domenico Malavisi

      Have to agree with you, rip DE and GK. Just one little thing, reavers still get bladevanes.

      • J Mad

        Its completely changed, so therefore its gone, its now just a basic melee weapon, the entire point of it was a Drive by attack, other units in 40k (like screamers) kept their drive bys, DE lost theirs, it was D3 auto hits per model, not 2 Melee attacks.
        Grav/Caltrops also changed to a 50% chance to do 1 MW, from D6 S6 hits or D3 S4 penning (later on Concussive).

        Thats like saying a Power Fist now isnt a melee attack, but when a unit falls backs or charges, on a 4+ you do 1 MW. No one would like that and would say the Power Fist (as we knew it) is Gone.

    • OctopusVolcano

      I agree…except they’re yet to get their 8th ed codex. So you still have hope. And judging by how much better the later codexes are than the initial 8th batches, there’s still hope. Admech had a similar hammer taken to it and the codex did little to give the stuff taken away back.

      However, DE are STILL quicker than just about every non-Aeldari army. Quicker than all marines and imperium armies by a long way.

      • J Mad

        Yeah, i’m still holding out for the Codex, i honestly feel they didnt want to deal with DE in Index form (And i think they are working on changing the story for them a bit), so i’m hoping they are putting their energy into the codex.

        Many of the units like Coven just needs point changes, but a few has been redesigned, and after 10yrs of a unit being played one way, to change it completely just is disheartening, b.c i dont think they will revert them back to what they once were, sure maybe a stratagem, but thats not the same.

        • OctopusVolcano

          It does seem like all the interesting units in armies get shafted in the rules/points department or dumbed into boring/uselessness.

          Or they add abilities to strategms that either cost too much or are restricted to certain sub-factions. Or add them to sub-faction traits.

      • J Mad

        Wanted to comment separate on the Speed, yes they are faster than most other armies atm. But when i play CWE or Harlequins, its clear how slow they really are. I’ve moved to SoB for a few months and even they are very fast. DE needs to set up in ways to not get blown off the table by turn 2, that limits mobility a lot, where Wave Serpents dont have that problem, you can move them out of LoS and even into Rapid fire range at times and not worry, DE can not do that, so movement becomes more limited, they can move fast, but its not safe to (unless running away).

    • Karru

      Can’t help but agree with you there, 5th edition codex is still the best era for DE in terms of fun and balanced gameplay.

    • Archer

      Maybe my local meta is really odd, but I haven’t lost with my DE yet. In fact I do better with them than I do with my blood angels. I know I’ve been playing with or against them for 17 years, so I kinda know at least what not to do, but I’m wondering if we’re playing the same game?
      Not trying to offensive. But I’m just having a disconnect here between myself and other de players I know of having a great time and reports like these that I keep seeing.

  • Sir Postalot

    Meh This definition would make a knight army the ultimate glass cannon. Classical glass cannons / hammers etc can be killed with with a fraction of their cost on bolter shots in 40k. You will need the best anti tank wargear to remove these models.

    • Bootneck

      Pure custard lists will be quite vulnerable imo, and SM, CSM and Eldar will be able to kill them off with relative ease.

      Null zone

      Any of these then throw some plasma or equivalent at them and they will melt faster than frosty the snowman, plenty of cheap ish units in those list to easy gain there points back vs custards.

      They have limited/none FNP and again limited/none deny the witch to prevent the above.

      That is not forgetting mortal wound lists and there plenty of armies that kick them out for fun.

      There tough against conventional weaponry but just need to think outside the box to circumvent.

  • YetAnotherFacelessMan

    Nice. Sounds great! ^_^

  • fenrisful2

    Well, you could just play with fewer points and a lot of armies would work the same way.
    This is just another point and click army, that often will show up at tournaments for their simplicity.

  • BeenFlower

    Yeah, yeah, glass hammer. *codex isn’t properly out yet*

    • YetAnotherFacelessMan

      Well, at least they’ve played a few games on the stream, so this is coming from some sort of experience?

    • Apocryphus

      BoLS (apparently) gets early copies of codexes, they got the Daemon Codex a week prior to release as well.

  • Talos2

    An army that’s designed to play agressively? Fantastic. Anything but more imperial guard type armies

    • Drpx

      This. Marines have gone from a shock attack force to a power armored gun line and its not even one that’s as good as Eldar or Guard.

    • J Mad

      This is a nice way to look at them. Make me feel better about getting ready to spend 400$ on them.

  • Drpx

    -Elite armies struggle against hordes in 8th.

    “Ha! Turns out you’ve been playing them wrong. They’re actually a fragile high damage force like Deldar. No, there’s nothing wrong with that.”

    • J Mad

      DE “used” to be king of Anti-Hordes… they however have been nerf out of that role. If DE was what they were in 5th, they would be in top 5 and changing the meta slightly away from hordes. It would actually be good for the game.

      • Drpx

        Yeah they hard countered Nids in 5th.

  • Huntard

    So how are you Vexilia teleporting and charging when the Vexilia Praetor you’re porting too has to be on the table from the beginning of the turn?

    • Azhrarn

      WAAC rule interpretations, as is standard on BOLS. Shouldn’t be possible in a normal game.

      • Huntard

        Not even a WAAC interpretation, the stratagem (3cp also, super expensive) allows you to teleport within 6 inches of a Vexila Praetor that’s been on the board since the start of the turn. So if the Vexila Praetor deepstruck, he doesn’t count, if the Praetor walked up the board, all you’re getting is 6 inches extra movement, not enough to get a turn 1 charge.

  • Stephen Henry IV

    The dreaded kitchen sink, also known as world ender. Many brothers have falleb to that terrible device.

  • Stephen Henry IV

    Let’s not forget FW will be giving these guys a lot’o’love. Hopefully the Saggitarus and Telemon will give some much needed ranged firepower, while the Orion and other veichles will give some much needed transport and more ranged firepower which this army desperately needs.

    • Dulahan

      The problem with Forgeworld will always be the inconsistency in the rules. So often they’re either grossly OP to the point they’re not something you feel right bringing to casual games. Or so underpowered they’re not worth taking period. They rarely seem to find the sweet spot.

  • Muninwing


    how is this a “glass hammer?”

    how is this an army that survives by being so aggressive and hitting so fast that they never actually take a hit themselves?

    these can take a hit.

    this just sounds like a weird splash of an idea, not an actual thought-through argument.

    • Bootneck

      Couldn’t agree more, it makes me smile when see these articles – there almost like bad propaganda by some dictator.

  • AmorousBadger

    I love these kinds of articles on BOLS. Almost invariably the content of the article totally contradicts the point the writer thinks they’re making. I haven’t played 40k since Rogue Trader but I can see that the new Custodes figures are pretty nails in that they’re tough, well armoured, fairly mobile and hit like trains. Traditionally, ‘glass cannon’ armies don’t do the first two..

  • MechBattler

    The custodes tiny unit size and high hitting power makes them perfect support units for something a little tankier – knight titans.

    The knights can soak up the hits and hit back while the custodes are sent in for surgical strikes to wipe critical targets.

    A match made in valhalla.

    • Azhrarn

      The Custodes can soak hits just fine, the only thing that puts enough hurt on is massed AP -3 or better, and they still get a save then, and with T5 and W3 they’re not exactly going to die quickly.

      • MechBattler

        I wasn’t implying Custodes aren’t durable, just that their low model count is a weakness.

        What I meant is that their achilles heel is focused fire. Put enough shots into a unit and they will eventually go down. Having played Deathwing, I can tell you that quantity IS quality when it comes to dropping small elite units. Make them roll enough dice and they’ll start failing saves, and the fails add up fast. Before you know it, you’re pulling whole units of terminators off the board. I know it’s not a perfect analogy, comparing custodes to terminators, but it’s a pretty similar concept. The dice can be fickle and the law of averages has a way of biting you in the butt when you least expect it.

        Succeeding in 40k is all about reducing your risk and maximizing your damage output. Hedging your bets is never a bad game plan.

        Putting big scary knights on the field as Distraction Carnifexes will help draw fire from the custodes and increase their life expectancy on the board. As a bonus, the Knights bring something the custodes sorely lack – long range, heavy fire power.

        In those ways, custodes and knights would complement each other very nicely.

  • frank

    Dark eldar have no hammer just glass haha.
    That said theirs nothing glass hammer about custodes either they have great stats just small numbers.