Psychic Awakening War of the Spider gave our Custodes Shield Host with new rules, Captain-Commander rules, and of course more stratagems. They join the Sisters of Silence in our War of the Spider Talons of the Emperor article along with Agents of the Emperor. The new rules have some clear winners but overall, all of them have their merits for Custodes.
Regardless of which Shield Host you decide to go with, the relics are competing against the basic relics for Codex Adeptus Custodes. Essentially, is that new relic better than a 3++ invulnerable save on your character. Furthermore, Custodes are limited to a maximum of 3 relics. So relics will rarely be the main selling point to particular Shield Host. The Shield Host Warlord traits are also competing against those in the Codex as well. Keeping that in mind, think of the combos with the Shield Host Stratagems, Psychic Awakening Stratagems, Codex Stratagems, Models, and Captain-Commanders. Granted some of these combos are likely to be hit by a nerf bat and a FAQ could be used as well.
Custodes Shield Host Captain-Commanders
In the War of the Spider Custodes Preview, the idea of hard to kill Captain-Commanders was readily seen. Strategic Mastermind to refund Command Points can help offset how CP Hungry Custodes are by spending 1 CP pregame. Several of the Captain-Commander abilities work better for some shield host over others.
Custodes Shield Host: Aquilan Shield
This Custodes Shield Host has a stratagem most deserving of some clarification. Shield of Honor, Choose an Aquilan Shield Infantry or Dreadnought within 3” of an Imperium Character and resolve attacks against that unit. While it is clear you measure range to the Imperium Character, what is not clear is when resolving attacks against the Dreadnought or Infantry unit if the line of sight has to be made against. The Imperium Character? The unit? Both? Notice it didn’t say that it can’t be used on Character Infantry to bodyguard for other Imperium Characters and how that will interact with Look Out Sir. Use a Vexilla Magnifica to add a negative 1 to hit modifier on the bodyguard.
BOLO for a Nerf Bat
Imagine A Captain-Commander within 3” of an Imperial Knight with the character keyword but the Knight is between the shield captain and the attackers. To make it worse, that Captain-Commander could have 9 wounds, prevent any re-rolls to hit or wound against him, ignore wound rolls of a 1-3, a 3++ invulnerable save and a 5+++ ignore damage Warlord trait. To be fair that would cost 6 Command points in that one phase. 1-4 Additional Command points spent for that combo would be spent. The other crazy Character Bodyguard for Character Combo will cost you 1 wound and the Superior Creation Warlord trait. The Aquilan Shield Warlord trait is to reduce the damage by half. Combined with their Shield Host relic Storm Shield Praesidius, that character is -1 to be wounded on top of that.
Choose a Dreadnought, even a Telemon as another way to go about this. For one Command point halve the damage taken by said Dreadnought. 14 wounds on Toughness 8 model with a 4++ invulnerable with a 6+++ ignore damage is a lot to chew through. Especially when biting at half damage before you can even target that Knight. Even a basic squad of Custodian Guard bringing Storm Shields using this stratagem gives 9 bonus wounds to a knight and a 3++ invulnerable save to boot.
Custodes Shield Host: Dread Host
The Dread Host is a great Custodes Shield Host. The Combos are not crazy but they help the Custodes get into combat. Golden Light of Moiraides allows 1 to 3 Custodes units to 3d6 choose the highest 2 dice when charging if they teleport in. So Terminators and units that have used From Golden Light They Come to teleport in from Reserves. Eternal Penitent can be used once per Dreadnought for an extra attack and a re-roll to charges. Stacking well with the Dread Host.
Admonimortis a relic Castellan Axe is not being taken for its shooting. The flat damage 3, on the other hand, is a boon for Custodes. Captain-Commanders using this Relic with the Trait Slayer of the Unclean will Double the damage on a 6 to wound. With only 5 attacks base on a Captain Commander, Peerless Warrior or All-Seeing Annihilator can be taken for the chance of additional attacks. Take All-Seeing Annihilator as it’s an aura to affect your Dread Host units without having to roll to hit again.
Whether you take Admonimortis or not, other Captain-Commander traits synergize well. Such as Swift as the Eagle for the Bonus to move advance and charge. However, with access to such a reliable charge, consider Unstoppable Destroyer. Pile into any enemy model within d3+3” movement is great. Consolidating in any direction d3+3” leaves you with plenty of options. Such as moving behind your friendly models that also charged in to benefit from Look Out Sir. Or to tag another unit to force it to make decisions on movement and shooting.
Custodes Shield Host: Emissaries Imperatus
This Custodes Shield Host likes to play with other Imperium models. The Voice of the Emperor Warlord trait is limited when used on a Shield-Captain. Combined with the Captain Commander ability Inspirational Commander you would have 2 +3” ranges to Aura. 12” Aura of re-roll 1s to hit for Custodes units. A 12” Leadership 9 bubble will boost several Custodes units that start at an 8. This Warlord trait will work a bit more for Vexillas. Use plant the Vexilla for 15” aura for your Vexilla.
The Vexilla Dominatus for a reroll to morale saves is weak compared to the Fulminaris Aggressor. Not only does that relic automatically pass morale for Imperium infantry and Bikers, but it’s also a melee and ranged weapon. However, the Vexilla Dominatus can triple your model count for holding objectives at 15”. Where Emissaries Imperatus wins is their stratagem, The Emperor’s Hand. Ignoring Armor Penetration modifiers such as Salamanders treating AP-1 as AP0 will help keep their spears effective versus marines. They can ignore cover modifiers to Melee and Shooting attacks. 9th edition may end the -4 to hit modifiers but with this stratagem, no worries, they will ignore those as well. Negative modifiers to wound, while few and far between are not an issue for Emissaries Imperatus Shield host Units.
Custodes Shield Host: Shadowkeepers
The Lockwarden Warlord trait doesn’t help Shield-Captains punch the enemy, but it does help stop the enemy from taking that hit. The negative to the saving throws and especially Invulnerable saving throws versus characters should help those hits lands. Defensively the negative to be hit by characters is bested by the Radiant Mantle warlord trait. Which is fine as characters are harder to target anyways. Focus on being offensive and targeting characters. Shoot that hurricane bolter into those new marines characters. Force them to roll dice in shooting and melee and let the math do the work for you. The Relic Stasis Oubliette is one of the few ways Custodes get to reroll wound rolls of one. The bonus of cutting the attack characteristic in half is the icing on the cake.
When punching a Knight with Aquilon Custodians armed with Solarite Power Gauntlets you can wound on a 2+ re-rollable. Provided you used the Slayer of Nightmares for +1 to wound. Trajan Could help them get that reroll 1’s to wound but he wouldn’t cut the Knights attacks in half as he can’t take relics. Bike captains are tough, that is a dead horse we keep beating on. Grim Responsibility for a -1 to strength when used to change the wound roll will make any Shadowkeeper unit that much harder to kill. For example strength 3 Hurricane Bolters versus a toughness 6 biker unit. A Lockwarden Captain-Commander using a Castellan Axe would benefit from Bane of Abominations when hunting Character Monsters and Vehicles.
The last of Custodes Shield Host is the Solar Watch. The only Custodes unit that can charge after Advancing or Falling Back is a Character armed with the Swiftsilver Talon. It’s better at shooting than the standard Guardian Spear but easily one of the relics that are hard to give up a 3++ invulnerable save for. Sally Forth adds 1” to the move of Solar Watch units that start the movement phase within 6”. Units that Advanced within 6” can still fire Rapid Fire weapons at a -1 to hit.
Vertus Praetors can now advance and move 21” and still shoot with their hurricane bolters provided the Warlord can keep up with them. Combined with Blood Game Veterans those Hurricane Bolters are doing automatic hits and wounds on an unmodified 6 to hit. The Eagle Strike can only be used once per round but it’s free. Forcing your opponent to spend another Command Point.
New Stratagems for any Custodes Shield Host
There are new Stratagems that we haven’t covered yet that can be divided into offensive and defensive stratagems. Ten Thousand Heroes could be both as bonus warlord trait. Pretty standard for updated armies but great to have. Arcane Genetic Alchemy is Transhuman for Custodes Infantry and Biker units. Not as necessary for custodes as they are already tougher models but another tool for the toolbox. Aiding Custodes vehicles is mortal wound protection. Haywire cannons were brutal enough but this can also be used in the Psychic phase. The Emperor’s Auspice is used to prevent rerolls against a Custodes unit for the whole phase. Fortress of Will Power for a super Deny the Witch was covered in our War of the Spider: Talons of the Emperor Article. Auramite And Adamantium for Custodes Terminators to ignore AP-1 and AP-2.
Offensive Stratagems include Superior Fire Patterns to double the number of Rapid Fire and pistol shots of Custodes infantry. Custodes Landraiders after the loss of their invulnerable save haven’t made it to as many battles. Landraiders are one of 3 units that can use Archaeotech Munitions to roll 2d6 and then drop a result for damage. The Contemptor Dreadnought with Mulitimelta could make use of it. Pyrithite spears arriving from reserves will see the best use of this stratagem. Auto Blow up, attack, or shoot for our units with Power of the Machine Spirit. Custodes do not have a lot of spare CP but clutch mortal wounds can come in handy. Fraternity of Heroes to heroically intervene into units.
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