October 2020 FAQ Update Review – Astra Militarum, Imperial Agents, Adeptus Custodes, and Imperial Knights

In advance of the upcoming release of Codex: Space Marines and as promised, Games Workshop dropped a massive FAQ update on us today (remember when we said fifteen books needed FAQs? Turns out it was more). There’s a lot to digest, so we’re poring over every word of the updates and noting what’s changed and our thoughts on what it means for the faction. In this article we’re looking at changes and updates to the non-marines Imperial Forces, and the changes made via FAQ to the following books:

  • Codex: Adeptus Custodes
  • Codex: Astra Militarum
  • Codex: Imperial Knights
  • Psychic Awakening: The Greater Good
  • Psychic Awakening: Pariah
  • Psychic Awakening: War of the Spider
  • Psychic Awakening: Engine War

The bulk of these changes were to add weapon profiles and adjust relics that replace updated weapons. No points changes have been issued for these Imperial units, nor have their statlines been changed.


All Factions

Let’s start with the changes that I’d just have to repeat over and over across multiple faction recaps. These are broad weapon changes that affect every faction’s weapons and bring them in line with the new stats listed in Codex: Space Marines:

  • Heavy bolters are now 2 damage. This makes them much more useful, and helps explain that points hike they got back in the big 9th edition points adjustment.
  • Flamers, Heavy Flamers, Twin Heavy Flamers, and the Flamer part of Combi-Flamers now have a 12″ range. This makes them much more useful, ensuring there’s no range you can be safely charged from without being able to Overwatch, and for units that can deep strike it means your flamers can immediately pop off shots at a target between 9″ and 12″ away.
  • Meltaguns and Multi-meltas now do D6+2 damage at half range. This is a quality of life improvement that makes these powerful but unpredictable guns much lower variance, and increases their damage cap. It’s an across-the-board buff. Additionally, Multi-meltas are now Heavy 2, doubling their firepower. The meltagun buff is solid on Armiger Warglaives, who’d rather have the extra hitting power.
  • Power Swords, Power Axes, and Power Staves all give their wielders an additional +1 Strength. The big winner here is the power sword, for which hitting a strength +1 and AP-3 is an enormous boost. S4 attackers especially love this change. The same applies to force weapons of each variety.
  • Power Fists now do a flat 2 damage. While technically a sidegrade statistically, removing the variance and the ability to do 1 damage with a swing (and the need to slow roll against 2W+ targets) is a huge quality of life improvement on power fists.
  • Overcharged Plasma guns now only hurt you on unmodified rolls of 1. Gone are the days of being twice as likely to die from overcharging your plasma because you shot at a plane or tried to take out a target sitting in a forest. Now only unmodified rolls will kill you/do a mortal wound to your chassis.
  • Thunder Hammers are now AP-2. That’s a big nerf, but it only really affects a couple of models across all these factions.


Credit: Dan Boyd

Astra Militarum

The Claw of the Desert Tigers relic is now Strength +1. Fitting, as it’s a power sword. Also note that the above plasma changes also apply to the Executioner Plasma Cannon, making it a teensy bit safer to shoot at airborne and densely-covered targets with it. Same goes for the Emperor’s Fury relic, which kills its user on an unmodified roll of 1 to hit. Likewise your many, many plasma gun guardsmen are now safer shooting at their desired targets as well, and your sponson-mounted heavy bolters are quite a bit more useful, particularly against the horde of brand-new 2W marines.

Adeptus Custodes

The biggest change here is for Storm Shields, which have received the same treatment as the ones space marines get: They now confer a 4+ invulnerable save and a +1 bonus to the model’s armor save. There are a couple of things to note here. The first is that in a pure Custodes detachment your Custodes get +1 to their invulnerable saves (to a maximum of 3+) thanks to The Emperor’s Chosen rule. This means that with a storm shield, your models will effectively have a 3+ invulnerable save and a 1+ armor save. This is a flat buff over the previous Storm Shield rule, which only gave you a 3+ invulnerable save as you hit the cap in a pure Custodes detachment. In a mixed detachment, the 4+ is still an improvement on the standard Aegis of the Emperor (which confers a 5+ invulnerable save), and the +1 bonus on their 2+ armor save is still an improvement against the hordes of AP-1 and AP-2 attacks out there. So for the most part, this is a buff for Custodes, which is kind of neat.

Otherwise, Custodes saw the same weapons changes as other Imperium armies.

Imperial Knights

The only major change here we didn’t document above is that the Plasma Decimator and the Cawl’s Wrath now deal mortal wounds on unmodified to hit rolls of 1 same as other plasma weapons. That’s it!


The Ignis Judicium relic now does D6+2 damage within half range of its target or while shooting at a CHAOS or PSYKER target, making it even nastier than the gun it replaces. Additionally, Eisenhorn’s Barbarister sword is now a Strength +1 weapon, making it more like other power swords.


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