Nephilim Faction Focus: Jack Harpster Talks Adeptus Custodes

Welcome to War Zone: Nephilim! There’s never been a shake-up this large during an edition of 40k, and over the last three weeks Games Workshop dropped a new missions pack with all-new secondaries, changed how CP works in games, published new, all-digital points for the first time ever, and published a new balance dataslate, dramatically shifting the power levels of some armies.

Whenever there are changes on this scale you can count on a new series of Faction Focus articles and we’re doing the same for Nephilim as we did for Nachmund. In this article Jack Harpster of the Art of War will talk about Custodes, covering how the faction changed, what it means for playing them, how they’re likely to fare in the new meta, and offer a list with some thoughts on playing them.

The Notable Changes

  • You will start with much less CP than before. This is okay; Custodes rely much less
    on Stratagems than their opponents do and those opponents also start with less
  • Trajann, the Contemptor-Achillus and the Contemptor-Galatus went up in points. This is also okay; dreadnought builds can use Venerable Contemptors and the unnerfed Caladius instead.
    All other builds can either make some room for Trajann or cut him all together.
  • Many key generic secondaries are gone. This is a buff by omission. Plenty of armies
    lost Stranglehold but the diet Stranglehold that is Stand Vigil will suit you fine while other armies look to replace the Battlefield Supremacy category wholesale.

These changes largely leave Custodes where they were which is a net buff when compared to the metagame as a whole. Sure, they got a few points raised and that does feel bad but far more important than that is the way the game has shifted under the feet of all the other factions while custodes remain as they were. In addition Tau, Harlequins and Eldar all took sizable nerfs and all of those were previously bad matchups. I feel optimistic about Custodes place in the current metagame.

Playing Nephilim Missions

The question any Custodes player should ask before building their list is whether they want to be aggressive or defensive. Either way, your secondary plan is probably much the same but for different reasons.

  • Aggressive: If you decide to be aggressive then your plan is to rush your opponent down, using pressure to disrupt their secondary plan and prevent them from contesting your primary or secondary score. An aggressive custodes list looks to take advantage of Stand Vigil and Raise the Banners as secondaries your opponent cannot contest because they are too busy fighting to stay alive and to keep control of their own objectives to mess with yours.
  • Defensive: If you plan to be defensive then you should plan to take Stand Vigil and Raise the Banners as secondaries your opponent can physically not contest because of your excellent Objective Secured and objective control.

Whichever path you decide to take you’ll take Grind them Down as your third unless
your opponent gives a particularly good score on Bring it Down or Assassinate. The Custodes are a tough army and with the new secondary world we live in we can no longer afford to be squeamish about its potential unreliability.

As far as secondary plans go, Custodes’ are about average with me leaning fairly heavily towards the aggressive game plan. Custodian guard are durable but I tend not to like giving my opponent initiative and hoping they can’t then figure out how to take my objectives away and kill me. I trust a proactive game plan where you seize the initiative from your opponent and chop away at their ability to interface with the game and scoreboard far far more. There are few joys like telling your opponent “ Sure, I know I don’t have much Objective Secured, I start with zero CP and I don’t have amazing secondaries but I’m going to put you under so much pressure you won’t be able to do anything about it” and then watching their face turn 2 when they realize you were right.

Squaring Up Against the Meta

The top end of the last meta had some hard matchups for Custodes. Tau had brutal shooting and Harlequins were very difficult to hit and hurt, however both those armies have gotten hit in meaningful ways by the recent changes leaving a much better slate of matchups at the top end.

The Positive

Grey Knights and Thousand Sons both have trouble hurting Custodes with the Emperor’s
Chosen mortal wound defense while the dreadnoughts certainly don’t have trouble returning the favor in combat. Imperial Knights can struggle to deal with the quality of anti-tank shooting Custodes can put out while Chaos Knights and Orks just fold to it. Finally while I don’t think Sisters or Blood Angels are favorable matchups, masses of Iliastus fire at AP3 certainly helps keep it relatively close. Iliastus Caladius also shows value in the Adeptus Mechanicus matchup where it rips into large units that ignore AP1 and 2.

The Struggle

Tau and Harlequins remain problematic matchups although much less than before. The price hikes means that Tau just has less stuff and Harlequins’ defense has dropped significantly. Death Guard can be a problem if they start on the line and dig into objectives early, although the matchup is certainly not unwinnable.

The List

Emperor’s Chosen Patrol Detachment

HQ: Shield Captain on Dawneagle Jetbike – Superior Creation, Auric Exemplar, Castellan’s Mark, Tip of the Spear, Salvo Launcher, Misericordia

Troops: 3 Custodian Guard – 1x Shield

FA: Pallas Grav-Attack
FA: Pallas Grav-Attack

HS: Caladius – Twin Iliastus Accelerator
HS: Caladius – Twin Iliastus Accelerator

Emperor’s Chosen Vanguard Detachment
Trajann Valoris – Warlord, Master of Martial Strategy, Champion of the Imperium

EL: Contemptor-Achillus – Lastrum Bolters
EL: Venerable Contemptor – Multi-Melta
EL: Venerable Contemptor – Multi-Melta
EL: Venerable Contemptor – Multi-Melta
EL: 5 Voidsmen-at-Arms

HS: Caladius – Twin Iliastus Accelerator

This list is about one thing, damage and forward pressure. Okay that’s two things but the point stands. Custodes vehicles and dreadnoughts can still put out good damage at range and with five grav tanks and a redeploy it’s not lacking in speed and pressure. The idea is that going first, the list redeploys two caladius aggressively and drive the enemy back as hard as possible while the infantry units raise banners and place objective secured on the center objective.

Going second, you lose out on immediate pressure and tempo but Stand Vigil becomes
functionally a better Stranglehold instead of just being passable. In that case, you can afford to ease off the pressure a bit and rely slightly more on end of game and secondary scoring. With power armor armies resurgent I like equipping the Caladius with Iliastus as the mass AP-3 really starts to add up even into opposing vehicles. The Venerable Contemptors were a previously underappreciated gem in the book that flew under the radar for a surprisingly long time. They were quietly much better than their awful marine counterpart and no one seemed to notice. With the recent points changes, it’s their time to shine. Something in this archetype is what I believe will perform best for Custodes as things start to settle down and a meta is established and believe me, it’s a hell of a lot of fun.

Wrapping Things Up

That concludes our look at Custodes, but we’ll have more over the next few weeks as we cover each of the game’s factions and some of the subfactions. You can get more great analysis and insight from the Art of War by heading over to our site. Become a part of our awesome community and enjoy your hobby even more!

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