Codex Adeptus Custodes 10th Edition: The Goonhammer Review

After a brief lull, Games Workshop are ramping back up with two Codex releases – Orks and the Adeptus Custodes. The Adeptus Custodes started out pretty strong in 10th edition, winning the US Open Tacoma and a handful of other events – and were in fact, so strong they needed to be toned down a bit. Recent dataslate changes pushed them back up after some time in the competitive doldrums, but with the new Codex they’re set to receive a full rules overhaul. So how do they fare, and how do the army’s new detachments change the way the faction plays?

We would like to thank Games Workshop for providing us with a review copy of the Codex.

Rob: I would like to personally thank Games Workshop for providing us with a copy of this particular codex.

Falcon: I would like them to take it back.

Army Overview

Pendulin's Custodes 2021 Year in Review
Pendulin’s Custodes 2021 Year in Review

The Adeptus Custodes are the most elite army in the game, barring vehicle-only armies like Knights. Each Custodian is to a Space Marine what a Space Marine is to a normal man – and it shows on the tabletop. Individual Custodians are stronger, tougher, and faster than most other models in the game, including many characters. Their one weakness? Numbers – Custodes armies tend to have small model counts, and that can make losing just a few models devastating. In this new codex, the Adeptus Custodes see a major shake-up – the army rule and the Shield Host Detachment have changed substantially, fundamentally altering how the army plays. It’s easily the biggest departure we’ve seen in an index -> codex transition so far in 10th edition. How successful these changes are is… debatable (Falcon: Suggesting Blue Cheese as a condiment is debatable, this is a travesty).

We think the following are five standout features of this book:

  • This book is a standalone release, so you don’t have to wait a month to get the final points and for it to be usable in Matched Play. Yes, “this codex is legal to play in 10th edition Warhammer 40,000” is a high point. It’s not getting better from here.
  • New detachments for Talons of the Emperor and Auric Champions provide interesting alternative ways to build an Adeptus Custodes army – even if they aren’t likely to be powerful competitively.
  • These new rules – especially the changes to the Shield Host Detachment – push Custodes armies to be much more aggressive, boosting their damage output and substantially limiting their durability. Gone are the days of sitting on an objective with a 4+ feel no pain and Fights First, laughing at attempts to knock you off.
  • Rob: If you are a Thousand Sons player, this book is amazing. I personally love it.
  • Curie: Seriously, why is there a Sisters of Silence Detachment? (Falcon: I like that they gave us a SoS detachment, I just wish they’d also given us a single good detachment)

Wait, What About Crusade?

As usual, we’ll be covering the Crusade rules from the book on Tuesday, so check back then for our review of all of the narrative play rules in the new book. However you may feel about the Matched Play rules, the Crusade rules are pretty neat.

Army Rule: Martial Ka’tahs

Talons of the Emperor Kill Team
Talons of the Emperor Kill Team. Credit: Pendulin

Adeptus Custodes armies with the Martial Ka’tah keyword all gain access to Martial Ka’tahs in the Fight Phase. These have been reworked somewhat from the army Index, now allowing you to choose the active stance for each unit when it is selected to fight, rather than selecting one for all units at the beginning of the phase. In addition, the Kaptaris (-1 to be hit in melee) stance has been removed, leaving just the Dacatarai (Sustained Hits 1) and Rendax (Lethal Hits) stances to choose from.. The timing aspect of this change is positive for Custodes, giving them more flexibility in the Fight phase, though losing Kaptaris reduces their ability to take a punch (especially when considered in the context of the changes to Shield Host and many datasheets).

Rob: This is a great change. Is it a little worse power-wise? Yes. Does it mean I don’t have to deal with the bullshit of tanks who can use karate to give me -1 to hit them in melee? Also yes. But aside from snarkiness, it’s also just a much more streamlined and flexible system. No more fumbling with cards, picking things before the game, having to decide one rule for every unit.

Curie: I agree with this – being per unit gives them greater flexibility rather than hemming and hawing for five minutes about whether the Lethals army-wide is important to kill the tank one unit is in combat with and then lose efficiency into all the chaff the other units are in combat with.


Adeptus Custodes armies have access to four detachments. One of these – the Null Maiden Vigil – is a pure Sisters of Silence Detachment, and likely to be more thematic than playable, in a similar fashion to the Kroot Detachment in Codex: T’au Empire. Auric Champions is focused almost entirely on characters. Talons of the Emperor encourages mixed armies of Sisters and Custodes units, and the Shield Host Detachment has been completely reworked. The current consensus in the Goonhammer Offices is that none of these are as individually strong as the Index version of the Shield Host detachment, and that’s going to hurt the faction competitively.

Rob: I actually think the Auric Champions Detachment has a chance. Yes, it suffers from the fact that none of its characters gain Lone Operative and so it’ll give up 32 points per game on Assassination, and it’s not being helped by the way none of its Stratagems are Battle Tactics but it can also be incredibly annoying to deal with, and splitting fire to try and avoid inefficiencies against Custodes characters really sucks when you leave a Shield-captain on one wound and then he deletes your whole unit. Well, your units anyways – my Death Guard clean Custodes up.

Liam: Counterpoint: no it doesn’t.

Curie: It really doesn’t – nearly every character has been sidegraded or downgraded in this book from the index. They’d have to significantly reduce the current character point costs to make a character-heavy detachment work.

Falcon: I want the character detachment to be cool but it does zero things to make it a functional army choice. There is a world where Trajann double moment shackles his way to a victory but that will be the outlier.

Talons of the Emperor

Sisters of Silence - Prosecutors
Sisters of Silence: Prosecutors – Credit: Pendulin

This detachment is all about Sisters of Silence and Custodes models fighting alongside and buffing each other, specifically by having both types of units next to each other. The detachment feels like it will struggle to keep the detachment rule in effect due to the significant disparity in durability and offence that exists between the main Adeptus Custodes army and the Sisters of Silence units. Similarly, the detachment rule (see below) does little to nothing against many armies.

Detachment Rule: Revered Companions

This is a two-part rule: Custodes get a benefit while they’re within 6” of a Sisters of Silence unit, and Sisters get a benefit while they’re within 6” of a Custodes unit. Specifically:

  • Sisters of Silence give Adeptus Custodes units within 6” of them a 5+ Feel No Pain against mortal wounds and Psychic attacks.
  • All other Adeptus Custodes units give Sisters of Silence units within 6” of them +1 to hit.

The 5+ Feel No Pain not having an impact on Devastating Wounds is a troubling effect here, as Custodes go back to having no defense against such attacks. It’s still nice to have some defense against mortal wounds, but a very situationally useful detachment rule. The +1 to hit for Sisters of Silence is cute, but their units aren’t exactly known for doing damage and it doesn’t do anything for the flamer-bearing Witchseekers.

Rob: It’s literally part of the Sisters of Silence lore that they’re off-putting, so it’s good that Games Workshop have extended that to their rules on the tabletop. The less I have to deal with anti-PSYKER units, the better. Hilariously this butts up against Aleya’s rules, making it a bit of a nonbo with the one named Sisters of Silence character.

Liam: The one silver lining here (and for the other FNP effects in the book) is that this probably went to print before the Devastating Wounds errata early in the edition, and the further change to the old Shield Host rule that gave Custodes some protection from those, and so there’s an outside chance of there being an errata that re-closes that loop. It’s not much of a thing to hold out for, however.

Falcon: In the scenario where these FnP abilities are made to apply to devastating wounds in an early FAQ then maybe there’s something here. Worst case scenario you’ll be able to trigger the 5+++ using a couple of rhinos. I don’t think it is enough but it would be a start.


Each of these enhancements can be taken by any Adeptus Custodes model – either Sisters of Silence or the supermen in gold.

  • Radiant Mantle gives the bearer’s unit -1 to be hit if the attacking model is within 12”. This is interesting, as it punishes attackers for being too close to the Custodes unit they’re attacking, which is exactly where most people don’t want to be in the first place. It does have some impact on things like boltstorm gauntlet Aggressors, which might conceivably want to be up close to shoot and then charge.
  • Gift of Terran Artifice gives the bearer +1 to their Wound rolls in melee. Straightforwardly fine.
  • Champion of the Imperium Increases the range of the bearer’s detachment rule auras to 9”. It’s fine.
  • Aegis Projector instructs you to set the Damage to 0 for the first failed saving throw  once per turn for the bearer’s unit. Awkwardly worded as it just tells you to do something – first time the bearer’s unit fails each turn the damage is set to 0. No choice in it, which means your opponent just tosses low damage attacks at the unit and then hits you with the big stuff once it’s been triggered. This sucks.


A note here on the stratagems for this detachment – the first four of them allow you to select up to two targets for them. However if you do select two targets, exactly one of them must be an Anathema Psykana unit – further pushing the detachment’s combined arms approach.

  • Hunt as One allows up to two units the ability to shoot and/or charge in a turn in which they Fell Back. Solid, makes tarpitting your good melee a lot more difficult to do.
  • Talons Interlocked increases the Strength and Armour Penetration to ranged attacks by one for up to two units targeting a single unit (they are also restricted in that they can only target this unit now).
  • Emperor’s Executioners gives you +1 to the wound roll in the Fight Phase for up to two of your units when they target an enemy unit below its Starting Strength.
  • Taloned Pincer is a reactive move for up to two units from your army, allowing them to make a Normal move of up to 6” when an enemy unit finishes a Normal, Advance, or Fall Back move within 9” of them. Each unit selected for this stratagem has to be within 9” of the enemy unit when you use the stratagem, and both units must be within 6” of each other. Very restrictive, but reactive moves are typically very strong.
  • Empyric Severance gives an Adeptus Custodes unit within 6” of an Anathema Psykana unit a 4+ Feel No Pain against Mortal Wounds and Psychic Attacks (improving the base detachment ability from a 5+ so this is a fairly minor upgrade) after having been selected as a target of an attack in your opponent’s Shooting Phase or the Fight Phase.
  • Shield of Honour gives you the old Aquilan Shield stratagem back – when someone declares a ranged attack against an Anathema Psykana unit, you then select an Adeptus Custodes unit (excluding Anathema Psykana units) within 6” and until the end of the phase all attacks that would target the original Anathema Psykana unit must now target the Adeptus Custodes unit (unless they are not an eligible target). Interesting way to keep a Sisters of Silence unit safe from ranged attacks, but can be played around by manipulating firing angles such that your Adeptus Custodes unit cannot be seen.

Shield Host

Custodian Guard
Custodian Guard. Credit: Edwin “Lupe” Moriarty

As we’ve mentioned, the Shield Host Detachment has been completely reworked, going from something that offers heavy defensive buffs to something much more focused on offence. This is generally not going to be a great trade-off, for reasons we’ll dive into.

Detachment Rule: Martial Mastery

Once per battle, at the start of the battle round, you can use Martial Mastery. If you do, until the start of the next battle round, each time a Custodes Model with the Katah ability makes a melee attack they crit on rolls of 5+, and improve the AP of their melee weapons by 1.

These buffs are really good! That’s a solid ability. But it only works once per game, and you have to use it at the start of the battle round, making it difficult to use correctly when you’re going second – at the very least, you’ll be telegraphing your actions to the opponent in a way which lets them respond. Compared to the protection against mortal and devastating wounds previously afforded by the Shield Host, it’s a sidegrade at best, and as we’ll see, the changes to Stratagems make similar durability-for-damage tradeoffs.

Liam: I thought this rule was pretty cool until I re-read it and realised it was once per game. What the fuck?

Rob: It’s fine. None of these games are going to involve meaningful play past turn 2 anyways, so having abilities that only happen once per game is fine.


The Shield Host Detachment gets four Enhancements and they’re all completely new entries, replacing the original set. Note that final points for these aren’t available at the time of this writing.

  • From the Hall of Armouries is for a Shield-Captain only and gives the bearer +1 Strength and Damage on melee weapons. That’s pretty good, letting you take a spear to S8 and 3 damage, or bump a Castellan Axe up to S10/4 damage, breaking some important thresholds for wounds.
    Rob: Man this seems like it really, really wanted to go on a Blade Champion, where he’d become a real monster. Instead you get to put it on a Shield-Captain, which is cool by me.
  • Castellan’s Mark is for a Shield-Captain only and lets you redeploy up to two Custodes units from your army after you roll for first turn, including placing them into Strategic Reserves – and letting you bypass the restrictions on point limits for Reserves. This Enhancement is really great for an army like Custodes, who depend on small numbers of powerful units and benefit from being able to apply them in the most effective way.
    Rob: Redeploys are very much the thinking man’s rule, which is why Custodes players are going to be mad this replaced something like Unstoppable Destroyer.
  • Auric Mantle can go on either a Shield-Captain or Blade Champion and gives the bearer +2 wounds. Kind of meh, but the idea of having a 9-wound Jetbike Captain is pretty funny.
  • Panoptispex can go on a Shield-captain or Blade Champion and gives the bearer’s ranged weapons the [Ignores Cover] ability. Another snoozer, though there’s some value on the salvo launcher or the Pyrithite on the new Shield-captain. Though why spend points on giving a single-shot weapon ignores cover?


Most of the Shield Host stratagems have changed from the Index, with one or two exceptions. The new list is:

  • Arcane Genetic Alchemy (1 CP) has dramatically changed. It no longer gives your unit -1 damage on incoming attacks but instead gives you a 4+ Feel No Pain against mortal wounds. This is much, much worse, and also doesn’t protect you from Devastating Wounds. On the plus side, it only costs 1 CP.
    Rob: Is this way worse for Custodes? Yes. Am I happy about that? Also yes. The worst part about playing Thousand Sons is when you run into Custodes and suddenly they have 50% more wounds against your army for no reason.
    Curie: I could see this being extended to apply to Devastating Wounds. This book feels like it was written before the change to Devastating Wounds no longer applying Mortal Wounds.
  • Avenge the Fallen (1 CP) returns, and is basically unchanged, but won’t affect Sisters units now.
  • Unwavering Sentinels (1 CP) has completely changed. Now it’s used in the Fight phase to give an enemy unit -1 to hit your non-Sisters Custodes unit. This has, again, changed for the worse. Sure it only costs 1 CP now but it’s much, much less powerful.
    Rob: Man am I glad the Fights First rule is gone. First off, only Chaos armies should have fights first abilities. Specifically the ones I play. Second, this rule was a nasty crutch which allowed Custodes players to dump a unit on an objective and shut down any interaction from opposing units. This new, worse Stratagem is better for everyone.
  • Multipotentiality (1 CP) is used in the Movement phase to let a Custodes unit fall back and shoot/charge. Sure, fine. Great Stratagem to have.
  • Vigilance Eternal (1 CP) replaces the Sworn Guardians Stratagem but basically has the same effect. Great Stratagem.
  • Archaeotech Munitions (1 CP) lets a single non-Sisters unit gain one of [Lethal Hits} or [Sustained Hits 1] in the Shooting phase. It’s fine, and likely to play better on the Forge World units or in units with an attached Draxus.

Rob: See? What did I tell you – totally changed the Detachment. Yeah, some stuff is still the same but for the most part this is a totally new way to play Custodes, one which pushes you forward to engage the enemy instead of camping on objectives with a unit that can’t be shifted without taking heavy losses. That means your units will be put in even riskier situations while having fewer tools for keeping them alive. Which means more dead Custodes. It’s win-win: Custodes players have to actually play interactively, and the rest of us get to laugh as we kill them.

Liam: The only person enjoying this is Rob, who thirsts for dead Custodians. If you wanted to play the army, everything here sucks. Well, it’s not necessarily that it sucks – if you look at any of the individual elements in isolation, there’s something to recommend to them. The problem is the overall package, which sees Custodes becoming substantially weaker defensively without adding much punch in return. This is exacerbated by this being the only regular detachment in the book that’s truly focused on playing a Custodes army, meaning that unless your plan is to skew hard to characters or run more Sisters of Silence than anyone has ever wanted, you’re stuck with it.

Falcon: As someone who has been a Custodes stan since before they were their own faction, I don’t know if I can truly elucidate how disappointed I am with this book but I’ll do my best later. I was genuinely excited to see what new options the army would be getting and assumed there would be some slight changes to the more boring play lines. Well, colour me dumbfounded when I read this and realised they went with the Dark Angels decision and nuked it from orbit.

Null Maiden Vigil

Credit: Daniel “Skails” Rodenberg

The T’au Empire got a Kroot detachment, so here’s the Imperium’s Sisters of Silence detachment. Very fluffy, but with a whopping five units that are affected by these rules, it’s pretty lacking.

Rob: I’m a big fan of the weird skew Detachments, especially for the dozen or so players out there who really wanted to build a mono-Sisters of Silence army. This is flavorful and fun but also bad enough that I won’t have to worry about facing it in tournaments. I’m also told Tyranids have a lot of Psykers, so this is probably something they’d have to worry about too. I suppose it’s worth noting that you don’t have to go mono-Sisters with this Detachment, but Custodes get nothing out of it.

Liam: I think in general the ability to take weird sub-armies like Kroot and give them a detachment is a positive thing, but doing that for Sisters of Silence kind of stretches credibility – they have three regular datasheets, one named character, one generic character (also built out of the unit box), and a Rhino. The Custodes range is thin enough without having an even thinner sub-slice of it turned into a detachment of its own.

Falcon: GW went and created really cool lore for multiple different shield hosts that they could have drawn upon to make a detachment like this that was also definitively playable (I see you Shadowkeepers and I miss you). Or maybe could haved create a couple new Null Maiden units to flesh things out a tad. Instead they just gave us spoopy battle sister squads. Honestly, I don’t mind the core ideas here, it’s just how it will execute on the table is not going to be that great.

Detachment Rule: Creeping Dread (aura)

This is a tweaked version of the Chaos Knights Forged in Terror ability – units within 12” of Anathema Psykana units that are either A. Below Starting Strength or B. PSYKER units have to take Battle-shock tests in the Battle-shock step of your opponent’s Command Phase. If they’re Below Half-strength (and therefore already eligible to take a test), then they get an extra -1 penalty to the roll instead.

Rob: Everybody gets a better version of the Chaos Knights army ability, so why not here? That said, while this is annoying, it’s not going to do anything about the fact that Sisters of Silence die very quickly to bolters and warpflamers – my biggest concern is losing out on Cabal points but I won’t need those to plough through a horde of Sisters of Silence.


Four options here, each of which can only go on a Sisters of Silence character. Note that there is only one Sisters of Silence character, the Knight-Centura.

  • Raptor Blade gives the bearer +1 Attacks, Strength, and Damage to their melee weapons, plus while they’re in Engagement range with a battle-shocked PSYKER unit, they get +2 instead.having a 5 attack Executioner Greatblade which can drop 3-damage Devastating Wounds is pretty nasty.
  • Enhanced Voidsheen Cloak gives the bearer -1 incoming damage, or drops the damage to 1 if the attack was made by a PSYKER or battle-shocked model. Note that this doesn’t refer to PSYCHIC attacks, but the model making them. That’s a bit weird, but it makes the ability marginally better.
  • Huntress’ Eye lets you pick one unit in your Command phase within 12” to take a Battle-shock test. This is easily the best Enhancement in this detachment and one of the better ones in the book since it gives you a way to force extra tests and potentially steal an objective. That said, the book doesn’t give you any ways of modifying that test, so the odds of making something out of it are pretty low.
  • Oblivion Knight gives the bearer’s unit +1 to hit and an extra +1 to wound if the target is a PSYKER unit. Pretty solid for a unit of Vigilators.


The Null Maiden Vigil Stratagems have a split focus – three are for Sisters of Silence units generally, while the remaining three affect one unit each, i.e. Prosecutors, Vigilators, and Witchseekers. Every one of these Stratagems has a second bonus effect for when you’re targeting/dealing with Psykers.

  • Desperation’s Price: After an enemy Psyker unit uses a psychic ability that targets a unit or finishes making a psychic attack, if there is an Anathema Psykana unit within 18 inches of them they are forced to take a leadership test. If they pass the test, they are battle shocked, if they fail they are battle-shocked AND take 3 mortal wounds. A great strat for 1 cp.
  • Witch Hunters: 1CP strat that gives an Anathema Psykana unit Lethal Hits or Sustained Hits in the Shooting or Fight Phase as long as they target a Psyker unit. Meh
  • Anathema Blademastery: Gives a unit of Vigilators rerolls to Hit in the Fight Phase and rerolls to wound if the target unit is battle-shocked or has the Psyker keyword.
  • Psy-Chaff Volley: In your shooting phase, if a unit of prosecutors successfully hits an enemy unit you can declare that that unit is ‘prosecuted’. Until the next turn all attacks made by Anathema Psykana units on the prosecuted unit have their AP improved by 1 and if the unit is battle-shocked or has the psyker keyword they must subtract 1 from their hit rolls. Dear GW, this is cute but this detachment is not good enough to need this many caveats on any of their stratagems.
  • Purgation Sweep: One unit of Witchseekers gets +1 to their Torrent weapons for the turn. If they target Psykers or Battle-Shocked units they get +2 instead. Seems fine.
  • Psychic Abominations: After an enemy unit has selected targets in the shooting phase you may have an Anathem Psykana unit targeted by the attacks gain the Stealth Ability. In addition, Battle-shocked and Psyker units can only target that unit with ranged attacks if they are within 12 inches.

Auric Champions

Blade Champion
Blade Champion. Credit: Pendulin

Auric Champions is the Detachment for Custodes characters. The detachment rule benefits characters, the Stratagems only work on characters, and the Enhancements can only go to characters. Ok that last one was always true, but you get the point. This is the Detachment made for running lots of single-model Character units with maybe only one or two squads for support. Though as we’ll see, there are some issues with the Detachment that go above and beyond just giving up max points for Assassination.

Detachment Rule: Assemblage of Might

At the start of your Command phase, pick one unit in your opponent’s army. Until your next Command phase, Custodes Character models in your army get +1 to wound rolls against that unit.

Rob: This is a fun little mini-oaths which lets your S7-9 melee weapons punch above their weight to take down bigger threats. Or at least pretend to, before Magnus steps on them. As with the Sisters detachment, you don’t have to run all characters if you’re running Auric Champions, but it’s really geared towards running a bunch of solo characters.


Enhancements can carry a lot more weight in a detachment that’s heavily focused on characters, and the options here are pretty solid. All of these can go on any Custodes model. Every one of these comes with a once per battle ability, which is designed to combo with the Superhuman Reserves Stratagem… which would be great if they were good enough to double up on or if you could use them twice in the same phase.

  • Blade Imperator makes it so that each time you end a charge you pick an enemy unit in Engagement range and roll a D6; on a 4+ they take D3 mortal wounds. As an added bonus, once per game after you end a charge move you can make every enemy unit within 6” take a Battle-shock test. That’s a pretty solid way to try and turn off Fights First, Intervention, and Interrupt Stratagems.
  • Inspirational Exemplar gives your character a Leadership Characteristic of 5+ and once per battle at the start of any phase you can pick a friendly unit within 12” and it’s no longer Battle-shocked. This won’t help you keep an objective, but can create a fun little surprise when you need it.
  • Veiled Blade gives you +2 Attacks on your melee weapons, and once per game you can triple the bearer’s OC until the end of the turn.
  • Martial Philosopher makes the bearer’s unit eligible to shoot and charge after making a Fall Back move. Once per game, when an enemy ends a move within 9”, the bearer’s unit can move up to 6”.

Rob: Yeah these are fine, I guess. There’s nothing to let you Advance and Charge so it’s hard to get too worked up about these. For a moment there I was worried Blade Imperator might be pretty nasty, but it’s no Desiccation Conduit. Veiled Blade is still fine on a Blade Champion and Martial Philosopher is basically just the old version of Ceaseless Hunter.


The Auric Champions Stratagems only affect CHARACTER units, and one of them – Superhuman Reserves – only affects your WARLORD specifically.

  • Slayer of Champions (Epic Deed, 1 CP) is used after a character in your army destroys the unit you picked for that turn with your Assemblage of Might ability. You get to immediately pick a new unit to go after, and if you killed a CHARACTER unit, you get 1 CP.
  • Superhuman Reserves (Epic Deed, 2 CP) is used once per battle, in any phase, after you use any once per battle ability that your Warlord model has (Enhancements and Datasheets included). Your model can use that ability again, but not in the same phase. This has the most value on Blade Champions, who can use it to Advance and Charge twice in a game. For 2 CP you’d hope it wouldn’t be so limited, and be something you could use when you wanted to use the ability, instead of having to fire it off the first time you use the ability. Falcon: You can also use this on the Moment Shackle so Trajann has 2 turns with 12 attacks, or to keep the 2++ train going. That seems good. Almost makes up for losing Fights First.
  • The Emperor’s Auspice (Epic Deed, 1 CP) is used to give a Character a 4+ Feel No Pain for a phase when they become the target of an attack.
  • Earning of a Name (Epic Deed, 1 CP) works in the fight phase to give up to two Characters the ability to re-roll hit and wound rolls against Vehicle and Monster units.
  • Vigil Unending (Epic Deed, 2 CP) lets you fight on death if you haven’t already fought.
  • Shoulder the Mantle (Epic Deed, 1 CP) is used at the end of the Movement phase to let a Character attach to a unit if he’s within coherency range of them.

Rob: You might notice that none of those are Battle Tactic Stratagems, which means that even though every Shield-Captain has a datasheet ability to, once per battle round, target a shield-captain model with a Stratagem for free, that can’t be applied to any of the Stratagems in this detachment, the detachment for characters. That’s actually great for Custodes players, as having to think about using Stratagems other than Command Re-roll can often be too much for them.


The big changes here are to the army’s characters – there’s a new shield captain model and so as expected, that datasheet gets an update to accommodate the fact that this new model can have a meltagun on his spear.

Trajann Valoris

Captain-General Trajann Valoris Solar Watch scheme painted by Crab-stuffed Mushrooms

Trajann’s datasheet is the same except for his abilities. He keeps the 5+ Feel No Pain, but both named abilities have changed. Captain-General now lets the unit Trajann is leading ignore any or all modifiers to the WS or BS of their attacks, and/or all modifiers to the hit roll. This is a big step down from the current rule, which also lets them ignore modifiers to AP and damage, and ensures that if they ever become battle-shocked, they could ignore the modifier to OC. It’s still good, but nowhere near as good as it was – losing the ability to ignore damage reduction hurts the most here.

Moment Shackle also gets a nerf, in that it loses the ability to give Trajann’s unit fights first, but is otherwise unchanged.

Rob: This change makes me very sad. Not because of anything happening to Trajann, but because it means I can likely expect a similar nerf to Mortarion whenever they update Codex Death Guard. Everything else here rules, though. Trajann is a rough unit to handle and no longer being able to shrug off toughness modifiers to his unit from being in contagion range makes my life much easier. That said, his ability to dump 12 attacks out is pretty rad.

Shield Captain

The Shield-Captain’s abilities haven’t changed much – Strategic Mastery does the same thing as before, and Master of the Stances has only been modified slightly to account for the change to Ka’tahs. The new change here is the ability to take a Pyrithite Spear on the model, which is identical to the Guardian Spear only it has a meltagun on it.

Shield Captain on Dawneagle Jetbike

Sweeping Advance has been changed, nerfing an ability no one was using already. It no longer grants a 6 inch consolidation move for the unit and now requires that this model’s unit has fought in the fight phase in order to gain the free fall back or normal move rather than just being something it can do regardless.

Curie: This change actually makes sense – it was very silly to see a Shield Captain on Dawneagle post up on their turn, not charge or fight, then move another 12” in your turn.

Shield Captain in Allarus Armor

The Allarus Captain loses the Defiant to the Last ability which let them fight on death on a 2+ in exchange for Auramite and Adamantine which once per game changes the damage characteristic of any attacks allocated to them to 1 for for a single phase.

Falcon: Most of the time this is going to be a slight upgrade for the unit, allowing your Captain to tank a pretty blistering amount of firepower once everything else in your army dies on turn 2.

Rob: Yeah, it’s better to not die than fight on death, which is why I hate this change.

Blade Champion

Adeptus Custodes Blade Champion by Crab-stuffed Mushrooms

The Blade Champion loses the Legacy of Combat ability – that only comes on Shield-Captains now, and sees a change to its other ability. Martial Inspiration still gives you a once-per game Advance and Charge for the Blade Champion’s unit, but no longer lets you re-roll Advance and Charge rolls. Legacy of Combat has been replaced with Swift Onslaught, which lets you re-roll Charge rolls for the unit.

Rob: You hate to see it. But also, you love to see it. The Blade Champion was one of the nastiest tools in the Custodes arsenal, and while the once-per-game advance and charge is still very nasty, the unit is less mobile than they were before and with the removal of Fights First abilities, his unit isn’t nearly as unassailable as they were before. That said, his ability is still extremely good and I expect he’ll show up in lists.


Hero of Lion’s Gate loses the single re-roll per battle round clause and now just changes a hit or wound die to a 6 once per battle.

Falcon: I think this one might have just been out of spite at this point. All three of the people who were running Valerian can put his Walken-esque sculpted face back on the shelf, I guess.

Curie: I’m with Falcon on this one – it doesn’t really make sense. The only people running Valerian were teching for the mirror, and that isn’t needed now!

Allarus Custodians

Allarus have a few changes, but largely improve. The biggest upside is that their Castellan Axes now hit on 2+ instead of 3+, so there’s an actual reason to consider taking them. On the other hand, From Golden Light now has you put the unit into Strategic Reserves, as opposed to having their weird pseudo-deep strike rule from before. This means you can hold them in reserves if you like, and they’ll be affected by rules which affect reserves. They can still Deep Strike after you put them into reserves.

Rob: Yeah I’m not a fan of making Allarus better but I guess you gotta give Custodes something. At least the stupid axes are still AP-1.

Custodian Wardens

Similar to Allarus, Custodian Wardens now hit on a 2+ with Castellan Axes. They’re also still AP-1, which makes them pretty mediocre.

Sisters of Silence

The Daughters of the Abyss special rule has been updated to be a 3+ Feel No Pain against both Psychic Attacks AND Mortal Wounds now which is a nice little treat.

New Ways to Use Units

Most of the new ways to use Adeptus Custodes units revolve around making use of the new Detachments. The big news is that Castellan Axes are much more likely to be something you’d consider now, though at AP-1 with no way to prevent Armour of Contempt/Truesilver Armour effects, you’re likely still going to prefer AP-2 spears for pushing damage through.

Rob: The best way to use your Custodes units is to gather them up and throw them right into the dumpster.

How They Will Play

Totally different, is the short answer. If you’re running the Shield Host you’ll lose Ceaseless Hunter, Veiled Blade, and Unstoppable Destroyer, and you’ll only get Exemplar and Hunter back in the Auric Champions detachment. You’re also losing the old -1 damage version Arcane Genetic Alchemy and your passive 4+ Feel No Pain against Mortal and Devastating Wounds most of the game, which means you’ll need to play a lot more cagey around things like Grenades, Tank Shock, and combi-weapons. Finally you also lose Unwavering Sentinels and the ability to Fight First while on an objective. You put this all together and you have a much more fragile Custodes army which can’t sit comfortably on an objective and force an opponent to shoot them off. You have to play much more conservatively, picking your shots and going “all where you can be forced to take invulnerable saves you’re going to eat it.

And here’s the thing: That’s not incredibly different from how they played before, you just can’t rely on them to tank damage or be unassailable on an objective like before.

Example Army Lists

It’s time to look at some lists and see what we can build using the new detachments in this book.

Shield Host


Blade Champion (120 Points)

  • 1x Vaultswords

Blade Champion (130 Points)

  • 1x Vaultswords
  • Enhancements: Auric Mantle

Shield-Captain (170 Points)

  • 1x Guardian spear
  • Enhancements: Castellan’s Mark

Trajann Valoris (160 Points)

  • Warlord
  • 1x Watcher’s Axe


Custodian Guard (180 Points)

  • 4x Custodian Guard
  • 3x Guardian spear

1x Misericordia

1x Vexilla

Custodian Guard (180 Points)

  • 4x Custodian Guard
  • 3x Guardian spear

1x Misericordia

1x Vexilla

Custodian Guard (180 Points)

  • 4x Custodian Guard
  • 2x Guardian spear

1x Misericordia

1x Praesidium Shield

1x Sentinel blade

1x Vexilla

Prosecutors (40 Points)

  • 1x Prosecutor Sister Superior
  • 1x Boltgun

1x Close combat weapon

  • 3x Prosecutor
  • 3x Boltgun

3x Close combat weapon


Custodian Wardens (250 Points)

  • 5x Custodian Warden
  • 5x Guardian spear

1x Vexilla

Custodian Wardens (250 Points)

  • 5x Custodian Warden
  • 5x Guardian spear

1x Vexilla

Custodian Wardens (250 Points)

  • 5x Custodian Warden
  • 5x Guardian spear

1x Vexilla


Lord Inquisitor Kyria Draxus (75 Points)

  • 1x Dirgesinger

1x Power fist

1x Psychic Tempest

Rob: Look, it’s the same list you were running before, only worse! This trades out the enhancements you don’t have any more for some ones you do. The Castellan’s Mark is really good, so you want to put that on your Shield-Captain, and you can’t fit a second shield captain so put Auric Mantle on your Blade Captain. Past that, this army is nowhere near as tough as it was previously, but it’ll hit harder – all those wardens now hit on 2s in melee with axes, but those are still worse than spears! Either way, this is now a much more melee-focused army in that I think it has to charge forward and get into melee in order to stand any kind of a chance. If I were being charitable I’d suggest the Land Raider has a lot more play now but I don’t want to give you any good ideas – just keep abusing Draxus until she gets nerfed in the Q3 dataslate.

Auric Champions

Rob: Here’s a thing I made, stealing a meme idea John Lennon had while we were planning this review. No, I won’t apologise. The general idea here is to use the Custodes’ tough character units to act in the same way that MSUs would, only tougher and faster and giving up a lot of points for Assassination.

Note that this is using the current MFM points with the Codex points for Enhancements, so it’s almost certainly not going to work when we get real points, but the concept is there.

Detachment: Auric Champions

Trajann Valoris (160)

Blade Champion (120)

  • Martial Philosopher (30)

Shield-Captain in Allarus Terminator Armour (140)

Shield-Captain in Allarus Terminator Armour (140)

Shield-Captain in Allarus Terminator Armour (140)

Shield-Captain on Dawneagle Jetbike (140)

  • Inspirational Exemplar (10)

Shield-Captain on Dawneagle Jetbike (140)

Shield-Captain on Dawneagle Jetbike (140)

Custodian Guard (180)

Custodian Guard (180)

Prosecutors (40)

Allies: Canis Rex (435)

Total: 1995 points

Attach Trajann and the Blade Captain to the two units of Custodian Guard, use the Prosecutors for backfield objective holding. Use Superhuman Reserves to make sure Trajann can swing with 12 attacks twice per game. Drop the Allarus Captains into deep strike, and range around the table with the Jetbike captains. Use Canis as your ranged support and to draw fire. Pray no one throws a grenade at any of your units.

Bell tolling sound, glass shattering, Gunum entrance music roaring –

Gunum: That’s right dear readers, it’s me, Gunum! Crashing this party of golden-doubters to share with you what I think is a way to play Custodes that nobody actually writing about them was brave enough to cover, the Null Maiden Vigil. Before I go into it, I want to present my list to you for consideration.

Hear Me Out- Rhinos! – A Custodian Sisterhood on Wheels (1950 points)

Adeptus Custodes
Null Maiden Vigil

Aleya (80 points) – Attached to Vigilators

  • Warlord
  • 1x Somnus

Knight-Centura (75 points) – Attached to Vigilators – Oblivion Knight

  • 1x Executioner greatblade

Knight-Centura (75 points) – Attached to Vigilators – Raptor Blade

  • 1x Executioner greatblade

Knight-Centura (75 points) – Attached to Witchseekers

  • 1x Executioner greatblade

5x – Anathema Psykana Rhino

  • 1x Armoured tracks

1x Hunter-killer missile

1x Storm bolter

Caladius Grav-tank (215 points)

Caladius Grav-tank (215 points)

Vigilators (130 points)

Vigilators (130 points)

Vigilators (130 points)

Witchseekers (125 points)

Witchseekers (125 points)

Witchseekers (125 points)

Callidus Assassin (90 points)

Points: 2000

So as you can all see, I’m going pretty armour-heavy and focusing on the units I think will benefit the most from the detachment rules. I want to spread battle shock checks all over the table, and keep my sister’s units alive long enough to get their jobs done. This list leans heavily into playing objectives and delivering our ladies all over the table while using the tanks and Calidus to shore up weak spots.. Our deployment would look like two rhinos on each flank, a Vigilator unit and a Witchseeker on both sides. Our middle unit being the final Vigilator squad with Aleya to work as a bit of a distraction. We add in the two grav-tanks to handle our anti- everything needs, and the Callidus to shore up our objective play. The units that I really liked here are the Vigilators with support and the Rhinos especially.

It’s weird to say this, even for me, but Hear Me Out: Sisters Rhinos. They heal, they are quick, and they have the correct keywords to deliver battle shocks via our Creeping Dread aura. These guys also work alongside our stratagems like Desperation’s Price and Psychic Abominations. Being able to deliver these abilities throughout the table as these sisters’ units are so fragile, and the glorious Rhino is going to be a key for this. The other stratagem I really enjoy is Anathema Blademastery, besides having the coolest name of a thing in this detachment next to Oblivion Knight, I think this will be a stratagem we try to focus around. Our army here has *not great* output, so units and abilities we can find that allows us to put pressure on objective holder units is going to be a big deal.

Readers, don’t get me wrong, under most circumstances this list isn’t great, but I think if we pilot it well, utilising the Grav-tanks to deal with elite or larger units that our sisters can’t, there are some real game play options here.

Curie: Gunum this is madness – there’s no Prosecutors here! Swap out those Caladius tanks for 6 units of those and another rhino!

Falcon: Go home Gunum! BOOO

Gunum: You’re not my Dads!

Final Thoughts

Rob: Look, there are too many Custodes armies out there right now and so this is exactly what we needed to get rid of some of them. The army kind of sucks to play against and always has, banking on making a bunch of 4+ rolls and being largely unassailable once it gets to an objective thanks to Fights First. Since the last dataslate Custodes have once again become a gatekeeper army, where their durability makes them forgiving enough to raise their floor for people who want to coast on making few decisions, but not quite good enough to turn that into a stifling presence when it comes to winning events. This new codex makes them substantially less durable while at the same time forcing them to play much more aggressively, and to its credit, gives them the tools to do that in the form of small buffs like the 2+ axes on wardens/allarus and the change to Martial Ka’tahs to let you pick what you need per target on the fly. Are these tools enough to make up for the drop in durability the faction is taking from this? Not at all. Does that make me happy? You bet it does.

The uncomfortable truth my pro-stodes players have to live with is that the faction needed a bit of a nerf. Did it need one of this size? No, probably not, and I’m not real excited to see what GW does to their points values to make up for this – “hordestodes” is not what 40k needs right now. I was really hoping this book would curb their worst, least interactive aspects while giving them a bit more reason to run out and engage with opponents and also remove their dependence on Forge World units. And… it kind of did those first two, but to a degree that’s probably excessive. Which, I mean, good.

Falcon: In 1996, Saban Entertainment, riding the wave of immense power they had gained over the children of the world through the Power Rangers franchise, released a brand new series meant to extend their monopoly on the ‘Metal Hero’ genre of television. This show was called Big Bad Beetleborgs. It fuckin’ sucked. If you liked it, you were a baby and I forgive you. If you plan on arguing how good it was and claim you were an adult when you watched it, that’s messed up and I am going to be judgmental about it.  BBBG took all the cool things about Power Rangers like Dinosaurs, and martial arts, heads in jars and a giant witch that lived in the moon or whatever the fuck and made it a sitcom with bug powers. And they weren’t even cool bugs. In a move just like Saban, this Custodes codex takes my beloved Golden Heroes and turns them into a sitcom about bugs that push shit around and occasionally super punch a magnavore or whatever.

Listen, I love my golden boys. Through thick and thin I have stood behind them. Their aesthetic and their lore have always really appealed to me so take this next bit with that in mind. There’s some passion behind these words that belabours how mid this book is. All I wish is for these units to feel as cool and cinematic on the table as they should. It’s what I like to see in any codex (except Eldar), and GW has shown they are fully capable of delivering on this feeling in the past so I know it is well within their talents. This book doesn’t do that. Its main detachment is bad Death Guard with a potential single turn of being slightly better Death Guard. Its character detachment cannot leverage many of its characters’ abilities.I will say it does some cool things with Sisters of Silence and I would love to see more of that aspect of the design, but the rest of the book doesn’t flesh out that aspect of the army enough to take advantage of it. This was clearly written at a very inopportune time for the game as a whole, and it is depressing. Could the Custodes have used a rework to make them more interactive? Absolutely. FIghts First was a problem in particular, as was a reluctance to tie any strength to the Forgeworld line that makes up half the unit options for this army. Was this the solution? Nope. I don’t think I have been this disappointed since the day I turned 30 and somehow sat on my own junk while in a meeting. Like my body had decided I needed to have a 2nd puberty but rather than giving me a deep baritone I just had to be more mindful of how I sat in ergonomic chairs. That’s how uncomfortable I was as I manoeuvred through this codex. This is a steep drop in durability and a real lack of imagination when it comes to new play designs for the faction.

I’m really hopeful that we see some kind of errata to how devastating wounds interact with what we’ve got here at the very least, and maybe some kind of Drukhari treatment if/when that doesn’t prove to be enough, because I don’t want points to fix this particular problem either. This isn’t going to stop me from putting the Golden Host on the table, I’m just not as enthusiastic as I wish I could be to do so.

Curie: Yea this book is a pretty stark contrast to the ork one – I see them celebrating on the other side of the fence. From a competitive standpoint I’m not entirely sure how you fix this without rewriting a considerable number of these detachments. At a minimum I’ll echo Falcon’s comment about Devastating Wounds being added to all the rules that give protection against Mortal Wounds.


Wings: Uhhh, you guys OK in here?



Normally my job is to try and find the nice (or at least interesting) things to say about weaker book so that players of the faction can make themselves feel better by calling me a shill on Reddit, but for this one I’ve got nothing. This book is easily the worst of 10th Edition so far, and I’m putting down a marker that this is going to be the first Codex that gets a Skysplinter-style supplemental detachment bolted on down the line, because you cannot leave a (relatively popular) faction languishing like this for multiple years.

I’m sort of fascinated by how this has happened, because it’s honestly pretty rare for a book to be this bad these days. My main conclusion is that Custodes needed to be significantly further along in the Codex cycle. Custodes have a small range that doesn’t provide many obvious things to anchor detachments off, and they’re extremely warping to the metagame when they’re too good (see the almost complete absence of other melee armies in early 10th). They needed to be kept on the shelf till the designers had enough detachments under their belt to be willing to get weird with it while still having the confidence that it wouldn’t break the game in half. As it is, this reads like the overwhelming priority was to make sure the early 10th builds were dead and buried, and the stuff that’s been brought in to replace it isn’t an even trade – there’s some interesting stuff in the Talons detachment, and you’d maybe be happy with it as the “mid but fun” detachment in a better book, but not without a detachment that gives you a solid competitive fallback alongside it.

In addition, and I keep banging this drum, it showcases that the Balance Dataslate rules need another look. I assume that an FAQ is going to be added to make all the Mortal resistance here work against Devastating Wounds as well, but why not just make that game-wide at this point – it’ll mean fewer book errata. Alongside that, the Battle Tactic one needs to change – it’s grimly hilarious that the Shield Captain-focused Detachment has no Battle Tactics for them to discount. Index Custodes were one of the big “targets” of that change anyway and uh, that’s not going to be a problem any more. Just make the Callidus Assassin 150pts at the same time, I’m sick of seeing her in every list.

All in all – this is pretty miserable. I don’t even like playing against Custodes, and I’m still not happy about this.

Rob: I am. This rules, actually.

Have any questions or feedback? Want to yell at us for being too nice? Feel like there’s something we missed? Scream incoherently at us in the comments below! Or email us at contact@goonhammer.comthough note that it’ll probably be Rob who reads your email.