New Warhammer 40,000 Codex Adeptus Custodes Review | 9th Edition
Although a little later than expected we’re really excited that the brand new Adeptus Custodes Codex is finally here! We’ll take a look through the different sections of the Codex below (including the brand new Crusade content) so grab your mug of tea and prepare yourself!
Thank you to Games Workshop for providing this Codex for us to review you can preorder the book and save cash by ordering through Element Games at this link.
Fancy watching our video runthrough? Check it out below!
Lore and Presentation
As with other 9th edition Warhammer 40,000 Codexes, Codex Adeptus Custodes is packed with background, history and timelines, descriptions of battles and major conflicts involving the Knights of Titan and plenty of gorgeous images and artwork depicting the Emperor’s most powerful and loyal warriors (and their quiet allies). It’s great to see a lot of new background and lore for the Adeptus Custodes here, building on what has come before and offering additional information on their past and present endeavours. I especially liked reading through the sections detailing the different Shield Hosts and the accompanying “Deeds of Legends” chronicling the actions and achievements of individual Custodians assigned to each Shield Host. The Codex itself clocks in at 104 pages and is packed full of lovely artwork and narrative passages.
We’ll start with the Detachment restrictions, a common inclusion in many 9th edition Codexes there are a few different important things to take note of here. Firstly, you’re able to create two different Detachments using this Codex, an Adeptus Custodes Detachment or an Anathema Psykana Detachment. The former must include more Adeptus Custodes Troops and HQ units than their Anathema Psykana counterparts and is limited to one of each type of Shield Captains per Detachment. In addition, an Anathema Psykana unit cannot be chosen to be your Warlord.
If you’d rather build an Anathema Psykana Detachment instead your free to choose a Sisters of Silence Warlord but you are not able to include any Adeptus Custodes units at all (with the exception of Valerian).
Adeptus Custodes Detachments also benefit from the Watchers of the Throne and Shield Host Fighting Style abilities which I’ll cover shortly. Unfortunetly an Anathema Psykana does not grant acces to any Detachment related rules or abilities which is a shame.
The aforementioned Watchers of the Throne ability allow Adeptus Custodes Infantry and Biker models to count as two models for the purposes of the Look Out, Sir rule – pretty useful considering the small size of many Custodes units.
The Shield Host Fighting Style is one of the new ‘mechanics’ for the Adeptus Custodes that work in a similar fashion to Grey Knights Brotherhoods. You choose a specific Shield Host for your Adeptus Custodes Detachment and that grants two different ‘Traits‘ to each Adeptus Custodes unit in addition to a Shield Host specific Stratagem, Relic and Warlord Trait. There are six such Shield Hosts which I’ll cover in details below. Each Shield Host also has a ‘favoured’ Martial Ka’tah which provides a one per game bonus when that particular Martial Ka’tah is active, allowing you to benefit from both Stances from that Martial Ka’tah at the same time. I’ll cover the different Martial Ka’tahs and their Stances later but to summarise, they work as a more flexible version of the Necron Command Protocols, providing very small bonuses for you army whilst active.
One last thing before we move on, Adeptus Custodes no longer have the Sworn Guardian ability, an ability which used to grant a sort of nearly-Objective Secured ability to Custodian Infantry and Biker units which was always super useful for such a small model count army. Instead all Adeptus Custodes models now count as 1 additional model for the purposes of controlling objectives and this is cumulative with other similar abilities (such as the Impregnable Mind Warlord Trait).
They also lose the Emperor’s Chosen ability but fear not, the standard 4+ invulnerable save is now baked into the Aegis of the Emperor ability that all non-vehicle Adeptus Custodes units get (and which I’ll cover later).
Before we dive into the different Shield Hosts lets first take a look at the aforementioned Martial Ka’tah mechanic.
There are six different Martial Ka’tahs presented in the Adeptus Custodes Codex, each containing two different Stances which provide small bonuses to Adeptus Custodes units in your army whilst they are active. After both sides have deployed but prior to determining the first turn you get to pick three different Martial Ka’tahs to use during the battle. When you select the different Martial Ka’tahs you must also decide on an order for them to activate. During each Command Phase you pick an individual Stance from a Martial Ka’tah to be active for that Battle Round. There are some restrictions and limitations that govern which Stances are eligible to be selected at any give time however. Stances must be selected in a specific order as determined at the start of the game and you have to start by selecting a Stance from your first Martial Ka’tah.
In each subsequent Command Phase you then have to select the other Stance from the same Martial Ka’tah or choose a Stance from the next Martial Ka’tah in the sequence you set out at the start of the game. In general you can’t choose the same Stance twice but there are ways to active two stances simulataneously (thereby allowing you to benefit from a single Stance in two consecutive turns) or allow certain units to benefit from other Stances independent from the current active Stance. Initially the Martial Ka’tah and Stance mechanic seemed pretty rigid and difficult to exploit due to the limitations on sequencing and activating the different Stances but I think an Adeptus Custodes player actually has a lot of flexibility to ensure key units can benefit from the most advantageous Stance at any point during the battle via the use of Stratagems and other abilities.
So let’s break down the different Martial Ka’tahs and their Stances.
A good candidate for your first Martial Ka’tah, the two stances here providing a bonus to Advancing (roll two dice and choose the highest) and allowing units that have advanced to count as having remained stationary. A useful Stance for both Bikes and Dreadnoughts to move up the field quickly and still lay down some heavy firepower.
Adeptus Custodes armies typically contain few units which can mean deciding whether to perform an action mid game or not is a tricky choice. The Stances in this Martial Ka’tah are all about maximising the use of your units whilst they perform actions, allowing them to Advance and Fall Back and still perform an action and even shoot without that action failing.
This Martial Ka’tah is all about tackling horde type units such as large units of Ork Boys or Tyranid Gaunts. The first Stance limits how far models in opposing units are able to pile in whereas the second Stance allows you to sacrifice a bit of weapon damage for an additional attack on each of your models. This last Stance can also see some added value when fighting against those opponents who reduce the damage from an attack (Beast Snaggas and Death Guard for example) allowing you to work around their advantage and send some more attacks their way. There are several ways to add additional attacks to your Adeptus Custodes units, it’s quite possible for a unit of three Custodian Guard to get 5 or 6 attacks each!
The Stances provided by this Martial Ka’tah allow you to improve the ranged capabilities of your units, allowing them to fire twice with their ‘auric’ weapons (your bolter-type guns) or add additional range to each of their ranged weapons.
If you’re facing down high toughness monsters or vehicles then this is the Martial Ka’tah you’ll be looking to make use of. One stance allows you to auto wound such opponents on a to hit roll of 6 whereas the other increases the strength of your attacks against monsters and vehicles by 1, meaning you’ll be wounding Knights on 3’s with your Guardian Axes!
Finally we have Kaptaris which is a sort of defensive option, with Stances that prevent opponents from rerolling hit rolls against you in melee and a second stance that works like the Beast Snaggas ability to prevent opponents from falling back if you win a roll off.
Overall I found the Martial Ka’tahs to provide very niche or small bonuses which seem, initially at least, quite difficult to exploit due to that fact that both your sequencing, choice of Stance and state of the battle all have to al’ign. There are however Stratagems and Shield Host abilities that do give you some flexibility to adjust your strategy on the fly and react to your opponents plays during a game so you should be able to activate the most optimum Stance for at least one unit during each of your turns even if your pre-game sequence has not worked out for you. Your Adeptus Custodes characters also have a way to permanently activate a Stance of your choice via the Earning of a Name Stratagem (they just have to destroy an enemy character first!).
Next we’ll look at the six different Shield Hosts which return with some improvements from their Psyhic Awakening debut.
This is your ‘vanilla’ Shield Host with a cool ability that let’s you benefit from the bonuses of another Shield Host at opportune moments during the course of a battle via their unique Stratagem. The two traits that all Emperor’s Chosen units benefit from grant a single to hit or to wound re-roll per unit when they make an attack in addition to a 4+ feel no pain save against all mortal wounds. An Emperor’s Chosen Shield Host would seem to favour those armies built with small units of 1-3 models to maximise the benefit of their re-rolls. The 4++ feel no pain save is a great buff to your psychic defences but also helps when fighting other mortal wound heavy armies too as it’s not limited to just Psychic sources.
In addition to the above traits you’ll also gain access to unique Stratagem which allows a single unit to benefit from both traits from a different Shield Host for an entire battle round providing some nice flexibility.
Each of the different Shield Hosts also provide a unique Relic and Warlord Trait and the Emperor’s Chosen are very good. Their Relic is a buffed up Guardian Spear with +3 strength and AP-5 and an improved ranged profile. Their Warlord Trait allows a model to make up to four additional attacks after it has finished attacking depending on the number of enemy models it destroyed with it’s original attacks.
The preferred Martial Ka’tah for the Emperor’s Chosen is Rendax, which means you’ll be able to benefit from both its Stances at the same time during one Battle Round.
I think this is my favourite Shield Host with some nice buffs to make your characters super efficient in melee. Their two traits reduce the attacks of opposing models by 1 whilst in engagement range of your units and also allow you to re-roll wounds against character models. Combine these bonuses with their Warlord Trait which prevent opposing characters from making any invulnerable saving throws whilst engaged with your Warlord you should have no problem cutting up opposiing armies and characters in melee. I really like their unique Relic as well which forces one enemy unit to fight after all other eligible units. I think the new Blade Champion works really well with this particular Shield Host and will be a very frightening opponent for even Daemon Primarchs to face.
Their unique Stratagem further impairs the combat abilities of their opponents, reducing the strengh of incoming attacks (ranged or melee) by 1.
The preferred Martial Ka’tah for the Shadow Keepers is Kaptoris which seems to fit with the background for this Shield Host charged with hunting down and containing the most terrifying of Mankind’s enemies.
The Dread Host is a cool Shield Host that helps to get your troops safely into a fight and then maximise the effectiveness of your close combat attacks. The two traits improve the AP of your weapons when within 9″ of the enemy (meaning you should take as many Guardian Axes as possible in my opinion) and allow you to re-roll charge rolls too. Their unique Stratagem allows a unit to shut down Overwatch when it declares a charge against an enemy unit and applies a -1 to hit modfier on enemy units that target it in combat.
Their unique Warlord Trait grants exploding hits on to hit rolls for a single nearby Core unit or the Warlord himself, not too bad as your troops can make a surprising number of attacks with the right buffs. Their unique Relic is quite good as well, it being a buffed up Guardian Axe with that coveted damage 3!
The preferred Martial Ka’tah for this particular Shield Host is Dacatarai.
A more defensive leaning Shield Host, the Aquilan Shields traits count incoming AP -1 attacks as AP 0 and allow units to Heroically Intervene as if they were characters. This means you’ll be able to shrug off a lot of standard ranged anti infantry firepower and allow you to stand off and utilise your preferred Martial Ka’tah, Salvus, as much as possible. When the enemy does eventually close with you you’ll be able to move your units into combat in support. You can further frustrate your opponent’s shooting phase using their unique Stratagem which can be used to make an Imperium Character in your army untargettable during the shooting phase.
Their Warlord Trait is equally as defensive in it’s effect, halving all damage of attacks directed at the Warlord. The same is true of the unique Relic which replaces a Praesidium Shield and confers a -1 to wound penalty on opponent’s attacks when directed at the bearer.
The Solar Watch have a similar theme to the Dreadhost in that their traits help you to get across the board quickly and into combat. Solar Watch units are able to fall back and charge, and a single unit can benefit from the unique Warlord Trait to even advance and charge. In addition they get small bonuses to all advance and charge rolls too which works well with their preferred Martial Ka’tah Calistus.
Their unique Relic is a buffed up Guardian Spear with some additional AP and confers the ability to fallback, shoot and charge and their unique Stratagem makes a unit more resistant to Combat Attrition tests.
I think the Dread Host is the better of the two Shield Hosts. You can always make use of the Calistus Stances in a Dread Host to move quickly across the board and I think the Dread Host bonuses are more useful overall for maximising the damage output of your units.
Finally we have the Emissaries Imperatus which provide a broad range of bonuses affecting aura ranges, combat, movement and leadership. The two traits allow your units to always fight first in combat and ignore any hit or wound modifiers when engaged in melee, both very strong bonuses. Their unique Stratagem allows a single unit to make a pre-game move but is quite costly at between 2 and 3 CP depending on the unit size. Their Warlord Trait extends the range of any aura abilities the Warlord may have and improves the leadership of nearby Custodes and Sister units (although they are already very high so not sure this is super useful). Their unique Relic provides a small aura effect that negates any movement impairing effects on nearby friendly models and can also activate in the Fight phase for a chance to inflict up to D3 mortal wounds on nearby enemy units.
The favoured Martial Ka’tah for the Emissaries Imperatus is Conservai.
The Captain Commander upgrade system returns from Psyhic Awakening, although there have been a few changes. Each type of Shield-Captain gets access to a selection of 3 different Captain-Commander traits, you’re allowed to pick a single trait from the options available for a single non-named Shield-Captain of each type in your army. The Traits have a variable points and power level cost and there are some really good choices here.
Master of Stances allows you to select one nearby Core or Character to unit each Command Phase to benefit from both Stances of the active Martial Ka’tah. Swift as the Eagle is an excellent choice allowing the model to advance and charge and lastly Inspirational Exemplar offers a slight increase to range of the Inspirational Fighter aura.
Another three strong options for Allarus Shield-Captains with my favourite being Defiant to the Last which adds extra attacks depending on how wounded the model is. Bane of Abominations makes it easier to wound Monsters, Vehicles and Character models (a good choice for Shadow Keepers Captain) whereas Unstoppable Destroyer gives your character more flexibility when piling in or heroically intervening.
My favourite choice here is Ceaseless Hunter which allows the model to charge in a turn it fell back. The other options are good as well with Fierce Conqueror granting additional attacks and Tip of the Spear providing re-rolls if the model charged that turn.
Overall I really like the Captain-Commander options and I think most of them offer pretty cool bonuses.
There are 33 Stratagems in the new Codex split across the different sub-types. I will not cover each and every one here but I will take a closer look at some of my favourites.
Avenge the Fallen – 1 CP – Battle Tactic Stratagem
This is a great Stratagem to use on what was initially a large unit of Custodian Guard or Custodian Wardens and when used in combination with a Vexilus Praetor’s Imperius banner (and possibly the Dacatarai Martial Ka’tah) can mean you’ll get to roll a bucket load of high quality attacks against your opponent. The Stratagem itself adds up to 2 attacks to each model in the unit depending on how many members of that unit have been destroyed up until that point.
Wisdom of the Moritoi – 1 CP – Epic Deed Stratagem
This is a great way to extend a re-roll wound rolls of 1 aura across your army which can otherwise only be achieved via Trajann Valoris’s Legendary Commander Aura. It grants an Adeptus Custodes Dreadnought a choice of two auras, (re-roll 1’s for hits or wounds) that effects nearby Core Adeptus Custodes units.
Earning of a Name – 1 CP – Epic Deed Stratagem
I love this Stratagem, very fitting for the Adeptus Custodes and very strong too. If an Adeptus Custodes Character detroys an enemy Character unit you can use this Stratagem to pick either a Shield Host trait or Martial Ka’tah Stance to be active for that model for the rest of the game. The fact that you can choose any trait or Stance is great and can turn your Shield-Captains and Blade Champions into terrifying opponents as the game goes on.
Victor of the Blood Games – 1 CP – Requisition Stratagem
This Stratagem has had a bit of rework and now allows your Warlord to double up on Warlord Traits. You’ll be able to benefit from your Shield Host Warlord Trait in addition to one of the generic Warlord Traits as well! Couple this with the Captain-Commander upgrades and even the Earning of a Name Stratagem to combine a bunch of different abilities and bonuses!
The Emperor’s Auspice – 1/2 CP – Strategic Ploy Stratagem
This Stratagem is great for shuttting down enemy deathstars, preventing your opponent from being able to re-roll any hit, wound or damage rolls when targeting the selected unit.
Tanglefoot Grenade – 1 CP – Wargear Stratagem
Any Adeptus Custodes Infantry unit can make use of the grenades to target an enemy unit within 12″ and either reduce their movement or charge rolls. This is a great way of controlling your opponent’s movements and can help make sure it’s your own units that get the charge.
Note, several Stratagems have been removed from the Codex, including Vexilla Teleport Homer ( replaced with a Teleport Homer Stratagem that allows a Terminator unit to redploy next to a Vexilla but outside of 9″ of the enemy), Swooping Dice, Superior Fire Patterns and Ancient Artifice to name but a few.
Relics of Terra
There are 9 Adeptus Custodes and 3 Anathema Psykana Relics in the new Codex and I’ll pick out a few of my favourites below.
This now adds an additional wound to the bearer and a once per battle 3+ invulnerable save for a phase in which it is activated. This is the only 3+ invulnerable save available to Adeptus Custodes units outside of Crusade unfortunately.
A deadly upgrade for an Allarus Shield-Captain, replacing their Balistus Grenade Launcher with an 18″ range, strength 10, assault 1, AP-4, D3+3 damage weapon! Unfortunately it does not count as an auric weapon and so cannot be fired twice via the Salvus Martial Ka’tah.
An upgraded Sentinal Blade with a nice AP-4 melee profile which also allows the bearer to make 2 additional attacks. This can stack with various other abilities and effects to allow the equiped character to make a very larger number of powerful attacks!
A very nice option for a Sister of Silence Character, this 12″ assault 6 flamer weapon has high strength and AP attributes making it deadly against horde and elite opponents in equal measure.
There are two tables of 6 and 3 Warlord Traits for Adeptus Custodes and Anathema Psykana Warlords respectively. The Warlord Traits for Adeptus Custodes Warlords are very similar to the old 8th edition traits (although Emperor’s Champion has been replaced with a new Master of Martial Strategy trait which provides a CP refund on a 5+ and a once per battle ability to re-order your Martial Ka’tahs, although unfortunately this does not allow you to select the same Martial Ka’tah twice).
The other Warlord Traits are either very similar or slightly improved versions of the old traits. Champion of the Imperium retains the same Heroic Intervention bonus and now also let’s you re-roll hit rolls. Impregnable Mind adds an additional bonus to allow the model to count as two models for purposes of controlling objectives on top of the original Deny the Witch ability.
Anathema Psykana Warlords have some very nice options indeed. Oblivion Knight buffs the advance and charge rolls of nearby Sisters of Silence Infantry units and provides a re-roll of wound rolls of 1 for the Warlord herself. Mistress of Persecution is another force mulitplier trait, improving the range of nearby Sister’s guns and removing any cover bonuses from their target. Finally Silent Judge makes Combat Attrition tests difficult for nearby enemy units and strips them of any Objective Secured ability they may have.
Chapter Approved Rules
There are three Secondary Objectives presented in the Codex for you to make use of during your matched play games.
Might of Terra (No Mercy, No Respite)
A quite straight forward objective that rewards 4 victory points per battle round if you were able to destroy an enemy unit without losing one of your own that battle round.
Stand Vigil (Battlefield Supremacy)
This is a good optionI feel and works well with some of the Shield Host and Martial Ka’tah Stances to allow you units to quickly move up the battlefield and start claiming objectives early. You’ll be rewarded with victory points at the end of each battle round if you’re able to control more objectives in no-man’s land than your opponent.
Auric Mortalis (Purge the Enemy)
A very thematic option which impels you to destroy the most valuable unit in your opponents army (a Primarch or Supreme Commander if applicable) and rewards up to 15 victory points depending on how the target was destroyed. Unfortunately you’re 2 victory points for each friendly unit the target managed to destroy so you’ll need to weigh the pros and cons of this one I feel.
There have been a few of changes to the Datasheets in the new Adeptus Custodes codex, most notably additional wounds and attacks for your HQ options and a big boost to the leadership values for all Custodian units (now 11 across the board). As mentioned earlier, all non-vehicle Adeptus Custodes units get a 4+ invulnerable save as standard their 6+ feel no pain save now applies to all mortal wounds regardless of the source, this being the new Aegis of the Emperor ability that all non-vehicle Adeptus Custodes units have as standard on their Datasheet.
The Sisters of Silence themselves all share the Daughters of the Abyss ability which prevents them from being the target of or from being affected by any Psychic powers. It also provides a stackable debuff (up to -3) for any Psychic tests taken within 18″ of such a unit (friend or foe!) and grants a +1 wound modifier for attacks that target daemons or psykers.
There have also been a few changes to weapon profiles and wargear in the new Codex. All Custodian melee weapons now have a flat damage of 2, except for Trajann Valoris who now hits for flat 3 damage!. The Paesidium Shield now works in the exact same way as a Storm Shield and the Vertus Praetor’s Interceptor Lances are now +2 strength and add a +1 to wound modifier on the charge regardless of their target (no more re-rolling wounds). On the ranged weaponry side there are not many changes really. The Salvo Launcher now inflicts D3+3 damage which is nice but it does lose the Flakkburst ammo option.
Trajann Valoris, Valerian and Aleya
Trajann Valoris now sports 8 wounds and 6 attacks base and is able to benefit from your chosen Shield Host bonuses too! He must be your army’s Warlord but grants an additional CP and has two Warlord Traits as standard. He no longer has a 3+ invulnerable save which is a shame however he does have a 5+ feel no pain to sort of make up for it. He’s a relatively cheap HQ option, provides some useful aura effects for nearby Core units and has a great melee weapon to boot. His Moment Shackle returns but with some changes. It’s still a once per battle choice of 3 effects, either fight twice, fight after an enemy has fought or, my personal favourite, reduce the damage of an attack for which you failed a saving throw to 0!
Valerian has the same statline as a standard Shield-Captain and the same re-roll to hit rolls of 1 aura ability. His melee weapon is a beefed up Guardian Spear with an of AP -4 and and ability which prevents opponents from using any damage mitigation abilities. He has a similar rule to the Blade Champion which means he can only be hit in combat on a 4+ and can also re-roll a single hit, wound or saving throw once per battle.
Aleya does not really offer much over an above a standard Sister of Silence Knight Centura, with her only gimmick being that she can fight first in combat and gets to attack before she is removed as a casualty.
We’ve all seen the Blade Champion’s Datasheet now but I have to say with the full array of Warlord Traits, Stratagems, Shield Host Traits and Martial Ka’tah options he becomes an absolute terror on the battle field! My current idea is to make him a Shadow Keeper, give him the Lockwarden and Champion of the Imperum Warlord Traits and equip him with the Stasis Oubliette Relic and fire him away at enemy Greater Daemons and Primarchs! He’ll be fighting first against those targets even if he doesn’t get the charge, re-rolling hits and wounds with his strength 6, AP-4 damage 3 weapon and ignoring all invulnerable saves!
Other HQ Options
As mentioned earlier, the other generic Shield-Captain HQ options all received an additional wound and attack. Their old Inspirational Fight aura ability is still there but now only affects Core units. The Sisters of Silence get a Knight Centura option sporting a 2+/2+/3/3/5/4/9/3+/5++ statline. She comes equipped with a Greatblade as standard (with the same stats as a Guardian Spear) which can be swapped out for a master-crafted Boltgun or Witchseeker Flamer. This model has a Lieutenant style aura ability allowing nearby Sister of Silence Core units to re-roll wound rolls of 1.
No changes to the Adeptus Custodes Troops options (beyond the improved Leadership stat) but we do see the Sisters of Silence Prosecutors unit added here which can be equipped with Boltguns for a cheap Troops choice.
A few small changes to the Adeptus Custodes options here with Wardens now having an additional ability to make nearby Character units untargetable with ranged attacks in a simailar fashion to the Ultramarines Victrix Guard unit. Allarus Terminator units can now be taken as a single choice as well which may open up some fun possibilities.
Both Praetor options are still here with an extra wound each and an updated list of Vexilla options however you can now only include each Vexilla option once. Imperius and Magnifica remain identical in effect but Defensor now grants the effects of light cover rather than a 5+ invulnerable save which is much more useful for your Adeptus Custodians. The different Vexilla options are now all included in the base points cost of the model too!
We also get another Sisters unit in this slot which all come equipped with Greatblades (with the same stats as Guardian Spears).
Vertus Praetors each receive an extra wound in addition to the other wargear changes mentioned earlier making them an attractive alternative to Allarus Terminators once again. The whole unit can be equipped with the Salvo Launcher if desired to make a very useful anti-tank unit for your army.
Witchseekers are also present in this slot which all come equipped with flamers and have a cool ability allowing them, and the transport they are embarked in, to make a pre-game 6″ move.
The trusty Land Raider returns but loses the Power of the Machine Spirit and Smoke Launchers abilities which are now Stratagems in line with other Codexes.
Sisters of Silence are able to embark on an Anathema Psykana Rhino which looks the same as a regular Astartes Rhino with the exception that it does not take up any slots in your force organisation chart, instead you can take one for every Anathema Psykana Infantry unit in your army.
The new Crusade content for the Adeptus Custodes is great fun. You get the usual mix of Agendas, Requisitions, Battle Traits etc. and a fantastic array of Crusade Relics, many of which come straight from the Horus Heresy 30k setting (including the legendary Apollonian Spear!). Before we take a look at some of these though I’ll provide an overview of the main Crusade mechanic for the army which is very similar to the that of the recent Black Templars.
If your army contains a Shield-Captain you’re able to claim Magisterium Lex Ultima which is basically a mission or ‘Endeavor’ for your Custodes force. This mission is composed of three randomly generated objectives or ‘Imperitives’ which can include things like completing a number of battles in which you’ve earned experience points from a particular Agenda for example.
You must then work to complete each of the 3 imperitives, failure to do so within 9 battles means that you have failed in your endeavor and your Shield-Captain is dishonoured. Each individual imperitive has it’s own unique rewards which vary from additional Requisition points for your force, free use of specific Stratagems in future battles and even additional experience for your units.
Failure to complete your endeavor however means that your Shield-Captain must roll on a ‘Dishonoured’ table and suffer a temporary negative effect for a variable number of games.
A very similar system to the Black Templars ‘Oaths of Crusade’ system and very fitting for the Emperor’s companions, the Magisterium Lex Ultima systems gives a good tool for creating a fun narrative for your army and althoughs you to come up with some unique and personalised objectives for your army as whole.
As fun as this system is it’s the Crusade Relics that really captured my interest! We have some great options here, many taken straight from the Horus Heresy setting. Arae-Shrikes, Varacity, Mortis Gyres, it’s all really fun. Many of the more powerful Relics can only be issued to your characters temporarily and only if they are claiming Magisterium Lex Ultima.
Overall I think the Crusade content for the Adeptus Custodes has been well executed. You really get the feeling that your powerful Custodians are working towards critical missions of upmost importance and there are real consequences for the Imperium (and your poor Shield-Captain) should they fail! It’s also great fun to be able to play with the amazing assortment of Relics that the Adeptus Custodes keep secured in their armouries and vaults.
So, what are my final impressions of the new Adpetus Custodes Codex? Overall I think the Custodians are in a great place. From a gaming point of view they retain their customary resilience in battle with added defences against psychic attacks via their improved Aegis rules and inclusion of Sisters of Silence. They are much more mobile now, with Stratagems, Shield Host traits and Martial Ka’tah Stances giving them a lot of options to move across the battlefield quickly and reliably make those charges. When they do finally enter combat they generally make more attacks with a more reliable damage output.
Sure their damage 2 weapons are not super efficient against the likes of Death Guard or Beast Snaggas but you now can utilise certain Martial Ka’tah Stances and the many abilities scattered throughout the Codex to hinder these specific opponents’ combat effectiveness to tip the balance back in your favour in these situations anyway (reducing their attacks, pile in moves, applying negative hit modifiers and preventing all re-rolls for example).
The strongest units in the Codex can certainly be found in the HQ section. There are so many options and combinations here between multiple Warlord Traits, Captain-Commander options and mid game upgrades that can be applied to them I can’t wait to start playing around with them. The Codex feels like it will take some practice to get the most out of it. There are plenty of powerful options and combinations here but I do feel you’ll need to work hard initially to figure out how to best time and exploit them.
Games Workshop provided Sprues & Brews a copy of the Adeptus Custodes Codex for review purposes