Game: Warhammer 40,000
Topic: Army Building; Adeptus Custodes
The Adeptus Custodes are the Emperor’s personal guard. For ten thousand years they have stood sentinel over the Master of Mankind and defended the gates of his palace. Yet now the Emperor’s blades are unsheathed. Biochemically fashioned from infancy to function as supreme tacticians, combatants and bodyguards, they are death incarnate to those who oppose the Emperor’s will. Each Custodian is sublimely skilled, their talents and abilities to the Space Marines what those transhuman warriors are to unaugmented Imperial soldiery. The Ten Thousand walk the stars in numbers not seen since the Great Crusade, and woe betide those who stand in their way.
First let me say, I love this idea of community crafted content! Reading people’s experiences of games, thought processes etc – I thoroughly enjoy it. It really helps to grow the hobby and inspire others. Therefore being able to write the first article to kick it all off, is something special.
So I knew I had start WITH something special.
The Adeptus Custodes for Warhammer 40,000 (40K). My new and latest army that I’m in love with. Models, Lore, Gameplay, love it all. But it wasn’t always the case (we’ll get on to that in a moment).
Many from this community know me from my days, working at Wargames Emporium. I was a die-hard 40K fan then and I still am today. I understand that Games Workshop’s history has divided many hobbyists over the years, so this article many not be for you. I write with the passion I have for the game –so even if you aren’t a fan I hope you share in my enthusiasm as a hobbyist who has found something cool and can’t wait to collect/paint/play.
“There are no bystanders in the war of life and death, no place the battle cannot reach; so fight it without remorse or relenting, for death will surely do the same”.
- Constantin Valdor, Captain-General
It all began in late July 2018 when my Cousin (and fellow hobbyist) turned up with a copy of Codex: Adeptus Custodes.
At the time I was looking for an option to include allies to my Space Marines army to add a bit of extra punch. I had been considering options from Admech to Armigers, Catachans to Sisters of Battle…
Then my Cousin turned to page 67 in the Codex.
I saw an image of three awesome looking miniatures… Vertus Praetors; Golden armoured riders on jetbikes, each holding a huge joust-like lances. I was instantly sold on the idea of adding those as allies, just by the models alone.
This. This is where it started. Up until this point I had no desire to collect Custodes. I often tell people now: “This is the army I didn’t choose, it chose me.”
I read the unit’s lore and read about a certain Adeptus Custodes company called ‘Emissaries Imperatus’, Messengers of the Emperor himself, known for their swift strikes in battle and preference for using Vertus Praetors!
I love it when an idea, a love of a particular set of models and game lore all marry together. I was beyond inspired and eager to get to get my hobby on!
“We are vigilance unending. We are duty unstinting. We are punishment inescapable. We are the Adeptus Custodes, and all must fear our wrath”.
- Shield-Captain Rothrian Ganyth
Now we get into this year (2019), I had been inspired by the articles of ‘A tale of four warlords’ featured in White Dwarf, and having explored the narrative and relationship between my Space Marine and their Custodian allies (still just a single unit of Vertus Praetors) in a home-brewed narrative-based campaign. I had decided I would collect Custodes and build a fully-fledged Emissaries Imperatus themed army.
First I needed Hobby funds, so I dug into my cupboards, found a host of miniatures I had no time nor desire for, took them down to The Shop (Wargames Emporium, of course) and using the Pay and Display, placed all my unwanted miniatures into the cabinets for sale. A month later, I had bountiful hobby fund and a focused intention.
The first thing I did was make a HQ character, a Shield Captain on a Dawneagle Jetbike. Yep, the same Jetbike as the Vertus Praetors. It was in theme and another lovely miniature. He needed to stand out however and reading in the codex, there’s an option to take a Relic Jetbike – so I took this opportunity to use the colour (white) granted to the Emissaries’ identity in the Codex to make a proud looking Jetbike that could be instantly recognised as special and powerful, fit for my Warlord.
Next I had to decide how I wanted my army to play. I wanted the army to feel like you weren’t just fighting “another” Adeptus Custodes force, but actually battling Custodes of the Emissaries Imperatus.
The thing about collecting Custodes is you are playing an elite army. So elite that the vast majority of your opponents will outnumber in nearly every way. So you have to play smart and wise (something I’m learning!)
So I reread their one page lore, and reminded myself they are fast paced strikers and have a preference for Vertus Praetors. At this stage it was a well-known fact that on the tournament scene heavy use of Vertus Praetors was all the rage (it’s beginning to die down now…phew!). So this was in the back of mind as I considered how many of the unit to include. As I want my force to be fun to fight at the end of the day.
I concluded another unit of them would be suffice, enabling my theme without being too much.
Then it was time to bulk out my force, so I developed my Battalion. Three units of 3 Custodian Guard. Two would have Guardian Spears and the remaining one would carry the Sentinel Blade and Storm Shield, to soak up and tank hits for the squad. I required an additional HQ unit, so I made a regular Shield Captain with Sword and Shield, more for the thematic picture of him leading the Guards into the thick of battle as the main leader (Warlord) would rider ahead with his fellow jetbikers, and soar across the battlefield, punching a hole in the enemy lines.
As my Custodian Guards would be the slowest element of my force, they needed some additional protection. This came in the form of a Vexillus Praetor in Allarus armour. This guy would be able to provide a penalty to my enemies shooting which would aid in the survivability of my footsloggers.
Having a battalion also provided me with the vital Command Points I would need to activate key Stratagems in my coming battles.
Once my battalion was built and painted. I focused on my “hunters”. Custodes are renowned for being Tyrant Slayers/character assassins… So I wanted my force to be able to do nothing less.
I decided upon 5 Allarus Terminators with axes. These guys would be able to teleport in on the battlefield wherever I needed them…or wherever the enemy’s Warlord revealed themselves. If their Warlord hid inside the armour of a vehicle, their axes would be able to cut them out! The Allarus would be used to jump into the thick of it and take out the enemy’s command.
Speaking of vehicles…I needed something to hunt them. I didn’t want an enemy tank being able to go unhindered shooting my jetbikes out of the air… So I picked an Achillus Dreadnought from Forgeworld, not only could it be a threat to vehicles from range but up close its Dreadspear would be able to slice up any tank in its path. Plus it’s an amazing model!
I just really like it in this hobby when you have some fascinating, inspiring models that excite you at the prospect of playing them on the table. Add in cool lore and ideas of storytelling in your games and its win-win all around!
At the time of writing, this 2000 point/Match play army has seen one battle in which they performed better than I could have imagined. My Fast jetbike strikers leading the front, my Guards advancing and capturing objectives, the Allarus teleporting in and striking at the heart of the enemy (and wiping it out!). I had hoped to bring them down to the Games Emporium (Mansfield Shop) Tournament ‘40k: Return to War’ that had happened this past weekend, but it was not meant to be (Perhaps next time!).
“Rare is the battle where the Emperor's Custodians outnumber our foes. We are ever beset, surrounded upon all sides by heresy and foulness just as is Terra itself. Yet like the throneworld we stand resolute, indefatigable, indomitable. Let the enemy come, let them darken the horizon with their numbers. Still we will prevail”.
- Harkhas Bastoris, Allarus Custodian
So there we have it. My journey into the Adeptus Custodes. Maybe in the future I’ll share some of their exploits and experiences. But what I’m really eager to see now that this article draws to a close…is to see what YOU write, to hear you thoughts, see your pictures on whatever hobby project you are working on. I cannot wait to see this Community sharing invaluable stories and informing and inspiring others. Let’s see what you’ve got, I hand it over to you.