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How to Play Adeptus Custodes in Warhammer 40K

6 Minute Read
Apr 18 2024

Today take a look at some basics of how to play and get started with Warhammer 40k Adeptus Custodes.

The Adeptus Custodes are the most elite, powerful, and loyal followers of the Emperor in Warhammer 40K. Their warhosts consist of Custodes on foot and on various Jetbikes. They also field attendant vehicles, such as Dreadnoughts and Transports. These folks are the best of the best.

So below we will offer some tips on how to play Adeptus Custodes and get started with the army.

Who Are The Adeptus Custodes?

The Adeptus Custodes are the guardians of the Imperial Palace and the Golden Throne, as well as being the personal bodyguard to the Emperor. Due to the vast size of the Imperial Palace, the Custodes have almost always acted as a defensive army. Alongside the Sisters of Silence they represented the Talons of the Emperor being the right hand of the Emperor.

For much of their history the Custodes rarely left the Imperial Palace and even more rarely left Terra. It is the Adeptus Custodes that decide who may enter the throne room of the Emperor, and when. Such is their authority in this matter that Space Marines and Inquisitors must kneel before them. Custodians are the mightiest of mankind’s warriors. They are to the Space Marines, what those transhuman warriors are to common Guardsmen. They are an elevated elite whose raw strength and willpower are wholly insurmountable.


The warriors of the Adeptus Custodes are a department of the Adeptus Terra, the Imperial government, but its members are answerable only to the Emperor and their own leaders. The organization’s leader carries the title of Captain-General, and due to the importance of the Adeptus Custodes they often hold a position in the Senate of the High Lords of Terra. Below them are two Tribunes, though during the Heresy era there were three. Individual squads of Custodes are overseen by Shield-Captains. The Custodes’ nerve center and command & control headquarters is the Tower of Hegemon within the Imperial Palace, while a small elite of three hundred Custodes, known as the Companions, form the Emperor’s personal bodyguard and never leave his side.

Why Play Adeptus Custodes

Adeptus Custodes

Adeptus Custodes are the most Imperial of the Imperial factions. Custodes are the elite of the elites, with stronger average individual models than any army in the game (save, perhaps, the big stompy bots of the Imperial Knights). Their impressive statlines and bespoke wargear give the Adeptus Custodes a real chance, even when they are badly outnumbered – and they usually are!.


Strengths of the Army

  • Excellent wargear.
  • Excellent statlines.
  • The very best warriors.

Weakness of the Army

  • Do not compete in the Psychic Phase.
  • High point cost result in always being outnumbered.

Adeptus Custodes

Adeptus Custodes Army Rules

  • Martial Ka’tah: The combat stances of the Custodes let you pick one powerful bonus for your units in each Fight phase, from the sustained Dacatarai to the deadly Rendax.

Adeptus Custodes Detachments

1.Shield Host

  • Rules: The Martial Mastery rule adds even more offensive power to your Ka’tahs.
  • Enhancements: From the Hall of Armouries will make a Shield Captains melee weapons incredibly formidable.
  • Stratagems: Custodes stratagems focus on manipulating pure dice rolls, not trickery or anything high-minded. Arcane Genetic Alchemy, in particular, will frustrate opponents.

2.Talons of the Emperor

  • Rules: The Revered Companions rule gives bonus’ to Custodes and Sisters of Silence who are next to each other.
  • Enhancements: The Gift of Terran Artifice will make one of your powerful combat characters even more deadly
  • Stratagems: These stratagems focus on encouraging a combined arms force of both Custodes and Sisters of Silence, just like this whole detachment.

1. Auric Champions

  • Rules: The Assemblage of Might gives all of your characters a wound bonus against an enemy unit selected each turn..
  • Enhancements: Martial Philosopher in particular gives a very interesting piece of tech- low chances your opponent expect you to Fall Back and Charge.
  • Stratagems: All of these Stratagems are only used on Characters, so you really know what they are going for here!

Key Adeptus Custodes Units To Know

Warhammer 40K Adeptus Custodes have a smaller unit roster and knowing what units to take can be tricky. Here are some suggestions to get you off on the right track.


Trajann Valoris

The Captain-General of the Custodes, Trajann makes his unit immune to debuffs. The Moment Shackle also gives three options of incredibly powerful once per game buffs for Trajann himself.

Blade Champion

This character excels at fighting other armies with his Vaultswords. They also help nearby Custodes get into the fight with the Martial Inspiration ability.

Shield-Captain in Allarus Armour

The only Character able to join Allarus squads, the Shield-Captain can use their Strategic Mastery to double up on a Stratagem for 0 CP. Try this out with multiple units receiving minus one damage thanks to Arcane Genetic Alchemy.



Accompanying the Custodes are Sisters of Silence, such as the Epic Hero Aleya. Her Tactical Perception gives Fight First to any unit she leads.


Custodian Guardians

The dedicated workhorses of an Adeptus Custodes armies are the Guardian squads. While mere Battleline, any Custodes is near on par with the commanders of other armies.


The only other Battleline belong to the Sister of Silence. In this army their largest utility is they are a much. much cheaper way to fill out your Battleline.

Other Units

Allarus Terminators

The Custodes are the elite of the elite. I guess that means the Allarus are the Elite, of the elite, of the elite. Squads of Allarus Guardians are a hammer unit even for Custodes, with a nice compliment of weapon options. They are slow, however, this is mitigated by the From Golden Light ability, giving them effectively a Deep Strike redeploy.

Custodian Wardens

Wardens are much like regular Guardians. However, they are great with characters thanks to Resolute Will.  They can also be armed with vicious Castellan axes.

Vertus Praetors

The Vertus Praetors add some much needed mobility to the Adeptus Custodes army. Armed with jetbikes and lances, Praetors are especially effective on the charge.


These flamer-equipped Sisters have one primary utility, and that is forcing Battleshock thanks to Sanctified Flames.


Venerable Land Raider

Just as resilient as in the Space Marine army, the Land Raider offers much needed Transportation option, as well a nice source of long-range anti-tank lascannons.

Sample Starter Warhammer 40k Adeptus Custodes Army

Army: Custodes

HQ:  Blade Champion . 1 Model. He is equipped with: vaultswords

Troop:  Custodian Guard. Ten Models. Every model is equipped with: guardian spear.

Troop:  Custodian Guard. Ten Models. Every model is equipped with: guardian spear.



How to Play Adeptus Custodes

Adeptus Custodes are both a hammer and a scalpel, able to create overwhelming force at the finest point. You are tough, fast, great at combat and decent at shooting. Since you excel all around, don’t expect enemies to just overwhelm you with superiority all around. No matter what they are focused on, you have something close to match it.

For the Emperor!


Author: Allen Campbell
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