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40K: The Custodes Achilles Heel

5 Minute Read
Jan 16 2018
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The Adeptus Custodes have a massive weakness – will the new Codex help them with their Achilles Heel?

When folks talk about the Adeptus Custodes on the tabletop one of the first things people bring up is “how do you deal with a Horde?” That’s a valid question because that is the biggest weakness of their army. It’s just a pure math problem: The Adeptus Custodes cannot currently generate enough firepower to kill an army with a massive amount of bodies to deal with. Can you imagine them taking on the Unlimited Poxwalker Horde? I don’t think they would win – but it might be fun to try!

The Custodes are known for their small, elite numbers, even smaller and more elite than the Grey Knights. The lack of numbers, coupled with the lack of HQs and other options, has really hampered them in 8th edition. But, with a new Codex on the horizon, we’re hopeful that problem will remedy itself.

Understanding The Problem

For folks to really understand how bad of a problem this is let’s take a look at this from a pure numbers perspective. To do that, we need to know the basic statline of a Custodian.

For the purposes of this exercise, let’s just assume that they are all rocking the Guardian Spears. And let’s assume they are taking a full squad of 10.

Shooting: 10x 24″ Rapid Fire 1, Strength 4, AP -1, 2 damage shots.


Close Combat: 34x(edit: Math) 31x Strength 6, AP -3, D3 damage melee attacks.

Now, they are hitting on +2/+3 for the most part, so they are really accurate. (We also know that the new codex will make their BS 2+ which will help). But currently in terms of shooting – that’s not terribly impressive. Even at 12″, that’s still as many shots as a Tactical Squad. The AP is better, but when was the last time a squad of 30 Ork boys were really that worried about bolters?

As for Close Combat, that’s a lot of attacks at a good strength and AP – plus D3 damage is no joke. But the damage doesn’t spill over anyways – so yeah, they will kill a lot of stuff…if they can get to close combat. Again, that squad of 30 boys should be worried about them getting into combat because that’s going to be a lot of dead Orks. But this is a horde – there will be more.

Always More Boyz!

Okay – but that’s just Ork Boyz. What if we swapped those out with, say, Pox Walkers. Now we’re dealing with a horde that has a +5 “Feel No Pain” save. Sure, you’re doing D3 damage, but not all of those are going to go through now. What if we start stacking buffs on them, too? Is Typhus around? Now you’re wounding on 3+ instead of 2…Maybe toss a Miasma of Pestilence on them for the -1 to be hit, too. My point is these guys are deceptively susceptible to modifiers to their to-hit and to-wound rolls BECAUSE they don’t have a bucket load of attacks to start.


One bad roll is all it takes for the game to go south for them.

The smaller your army is, the more the dice are going to impact you negatively. You lack redundancy and you lack staying power. Each loss of a model becomes a bigger and bigger problem. We know that the new codex will have some ways to help with this – the bonus to the Invulnerable save and the new Aegis save vs damage in the Psychic Phase will help. But it’s still just a numbers game and the numbers are stacked against the Custodes.

It’s A Lack of Efficiency

I’m going to do something I tend to avoid which is to talk actual points. A unit of 10 Custodian Guard with just Guardian Spears is 520 points. Let that sink in for a moment. 520 POINTS – for ONE unit. Can you take a smaller unit? Sure – a unit of 5 (which is the current minimum – but not for long) is still 260 points! For the amount of fire power they are generating (both shooting and melee) are they worth 520 points? What if you could get a 10 man squad for the price of the 5 man squad? Would that be worth the fire power in points?

“But they are tough! They have a 2+ save, a 5+ Invulnerable, Tough 5 with 3 wounds!” Absolutely! They are extremely durable – but it would only take a couple of tanks or other heavy (read: anti-vehicle) weapons to vaporize the squad. And of course those are going to shoot at them because they have NOTHING ELSE to shoot at! A round of bad rolls and *poof* that’s 520 points down the tube. That’s not counting the buckets of dice a horde army can also dump on them. You’re going to fail saves – that’s just math. And don’t get me started about how Objective Secured totally hozes the Custodes.

Not if I use my Special Dice – “Stop it, you dirty cheater”


That Was Then, This Is Now

From the previews we’ve seen, the new codex is going to help them deal with the Hordes a bit better. We know about the saves. We know they are getting some HQ options that are going to really help. We know Jetbikes are also on the way, too.


Okay – these are RAD.

The question I have is “will it be enough?” That I don’t know. For the points cost, the Guardian Spears need to have more shots. From a pure numbers side of things, they need to be able to have spill over attacks/damage if they want to compete with a real horde army.

But how will GW balance them vs a non-horde army? If they make them too good at dealing with hordes, that means they should steam-roll non-hordes. But if they don’t do something to help them deal with a horde, then folks will simply move on to the next thing.

Custodes – Forever the Ally, never the “Main Army”


What do you think? Will the Codex help with hordes? How would you re-balance the Custodes to better deal with the current state of 40k?


Author: Adam Harrison
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