Today we’d like to talk not only about the Adeptus Custodes codex but also about the fate of small factions in Warhammer 40K.
The codex itself is unexpectedly good. Well, at least, playable and interesting. You really can take an army of 10 models for 1000 points, and create a real challenge for your opponent. It is important to take into account the fact that the Custodes, are the best warriors of the Emperor, but they have never been soldiers. And this concept is quite well reflected by rules. The statline of all units looks like it was created by a beginner in Warhammer who wants them as cool as possible. 2+ to hit for everyone? Done. T5? Done. A whole lot of wounds and attacks? Also done. Weapons with increased rend and damage even in the most basic versions? And this is also done.
Each Custodes is a slaughter machine that will destroy almost any infantry model in a duel. But he also costs as a medium-sized tank. And this is exactly the thing which allows you to reflect the background of this army. In a game under 1000 pts, the Custodes will be a dangerous enemy. Durability, powerful weapons, stratagems, giving you deepstrike, and strengthening units even more. However, with the increase in the points limit, a quite logical problem appears - they simply will not be able to kill enemies because of their numbers. And even 2+ doesn’t protect against the buckets of dices. In addition, there are still mortal wounds in the game - and this negates any protection. Therefore, playing for the Custodes, you have to protect each warrior, and think about each move - the price of the error can be too big.
This reminds us of the situation with the Gray Knights of the 5th edition - an elite army with a variety of tools, limited in capabilities due to the high price. Approximately the same happened to be the Death Watch and Harlequins. Custodes turned out to be the most successful because their superiority in statline is provided with their background - no one will argue with the fact that they are much more tough and aggressive than the usual Space Marines. It would be impossible to do the same with the Death Watch or the Gray Knights - even with the increased skills, they still remain ordinary Space Marines, and should not be extra tough, or have substantially more attacks. Then the playability of such factions must be built up from equipment and special rules.
However, even elite equipment can’t solve the problem of the numerical superiority of the enemy. When the enemy simply has more models than your army can kill for the whole game, even successful missions will not help you win. This makes small factions an entertainment only for small-scale fun games. What, in fact, is logical and correct.
Finally, returning to the Custodes, we must mention one very important and unpleasant fact. Alliances with the shared rules for which you hated 7th edition, are back. Everybody has already heard about the Custodes banner, which distributes 5 ++ to all IMPERIUM squads in 9 inches. Despite the fact that such abilities used to be clearly limited to the keyword of their codex in the new edition. Naturally, such a decision will raise sales of the Custodes - because who does not want to share an invuln to his guardsmen screen in front of dozen tanks. At the same time, this makes us fear for the further development of rules that can be bent as you like for the sake of good sales. And for the fate of the Custodes as a separate army. In general - with all their advantages, and a rather interesting gameplay, we are unlikely to see them on tables in a form different from standard bearers in platoons and lonely shield- captains on bikes.