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Warhammer 40k – Custodes vs Death Guard 2000 Points

Army Lists

Dan's Custodes

Battalion - Shadowkeepers



Captain on Dawn Eagle Jetbike, Hurricane Bolters, Lance, Warlord: Superior Creation, Auric Aquilas Relic, Captain Commander 

Captain on Dawn Eagle Jetbike, Hurricane bolters, lance, Eagle Eye Helm Relic (-1cp)



3 Custodes Guard, Sentinel Blade, Storm Shield.

3 Custodes Guard, Sentinel Blade, Storm Shield.

3 Custodes Guard, Sentinel Blade, Storm Shield.

3 Custodes Guard, Sentinel Blade, Storm Shield.



6 Allurus Custodes, Castallen Axes

6 Allurus Custodes, Castallen Axes

Vexilus Preator, Vexilla Magnifca, Storm Shield

Joe's Death Guard


Malignant Plaguecaster

4x10 Poxwalkers

10 Blightlord Terminators - 2x Flail, 2x Blight Launcher

3x3 Deathshroud

Foetid Bloat Drone - Lawnmower of Nurgle

Plagueburst Crawler - Entropy

Plagueburst Crawler - Entropy

The Mission and Board

Grand Tournament 2021:

22 Battle Lines


The Board:



Joe's Death Guard:

  • Retrieve Octarius Data
  • To The Last
  • Despoiled Ground

Dan's Custodes

  • To The Last
  • Engage On All Fronts
  • Vital Groun

Pregame thoughts


This is a tough match up, Custodes are still pretty good and are sitting ok in 9th. In a war of attrition of who is tougher, the Death Guard are just better. They are active in more phases and are great in those phases, they are also fantastic at just ignoring rules (like my Tanglefoot Grenades). That said the golden boys have some neat tricks available to them, my d3 weapons can be an advantage in this game as I can get some 3 damages.


I really struggled with secondaries, this was an 8th list, and I haven’t redesigned it for 9th. A lot of debate around which ones to take. Let's hope I picked well. Joe is a good player, and he knows his Death Guard so well, I'm a little rusty with the Emperors Finest (had to blow some dust off), but I'm going to give it a jolly good go. 


Custodes can be both a good and a bad matchup… Mostly dependent on how many 3++ saves can be made. As Death Guard I have pretty good odds into them as I can make his infantry toughness 4, then try and force a few models down through the weight of S4 dice. I can also ignore some of his more egregious tactics such as the Tanglefoot Grenade.

Looking at Dan’s list, my big targets straight away are the Vexilla. If I can make Dan rely on a 9’’ charge with his Terminators? I think I’ll be in a much better position than if they come in 3’’ away from me.



Turn One


I am happy with going either first or second here, as Dan’s shooting is nothing to write home about. The plan is to put pressure up the board, but remain out of charge range for Dan, let him come to me and then prepare for a Turn 2 punch. So I start out by just doing that. I roll some pretty good advance rolls across the board, but make sure to hang enough back that with anything but the bike captains, Dan will be looking at 10+’’ charges. 

With Dan’s entire army out of LoS and his ability to mostly ignore my Plagueburst mortars, the shooting phase is rather uneventful. I spend 1cp to make a single mortar flat 3 damage and shoot it into the Guard squad not in cover. Unfortunately Dan makes all his saves, and the mortal wounds achieve very little. 

My first turn comes and goes with little effect other than me Retrieving Octarius Data in one of my quarters.



I got second turn and that's what I wanted, I am out of line of sight and in cover with the Guard making me have a 0+ save and his Plague Mortars bounces causing a couple of mortals with a stratagem.


Movement is straightforward, a Captain pushes wide with 3 Guard on the left flank aiming to charge pox walkers. 1 unit of Guard drops back to the rear objective. The Vexilla pushes into the ruins, getting ready to bring in the Terminators next turn. On the right side the Captain and 2 Guard units push to the edge of the ruin, ready to make a play for the objective turn 2.


Shooting is short, not wanting to increase the charge on the Poxwalkers the Cap throws some shots and does nothing.


The Captain and the 3 Guard charge and destroy the Poxwalkers taking the left objective. Due to the way Joe pulls casualties, the Captain narrowly misses tagging the Plagueburst Crawler.


I get 2 points for Engage and set myself up for some points turn 2.

Turn two


Well, I wasn’t expecting Dan to make that charge! Not that it matters much, as I’ll trade a unit of Poxwalkers for putting the Bike Captain and a unit of Guard out of position. It does mean that I’ve only got 5 points for primary, I’ll need to make that up later. 

In the movement phase, my unit of Deathshroud in the L-Blocker move forward and prepare to charge the Captain in case he survives the shooting phase. A unit of Poxwalkers move up to block out a deepstrike charge as much as possible, whilst my Terminator blob turns it’s attention onto those pesky Custodian Guards. Additionally my Bloat Drone sets his sights on the pesky Vexilla and lines himself up for a long charge, but if I can knock that guy out? It’ll go a long way towards making Dan’s Terminators less effective. On Dan's side, a squad of Deathshroud drop down… And rather than relying on a 9’’ charge, choose to Retrieve Octarius Data.

DG2 Mv

My psychic phase is decent, getting both Miasma of Pestilence & Putrsescent Vitality off on my Terminators. I’m mostly doing this to be S6 for wounding the Bike Captain. 

Into the shooting phase and I pour my army into the unit that pushed up and is now out in the open… With some pretty good rolling, all three Custodians are brought down with a mix of massive amounts of bolter fire and entropy cannons. Unfortunately I fail to really put a dent into the Bike Captain, which should be fine as I have a unit of Deathshroud ready to charge into him and tear him apart. 

Into the charge phase, and my Deathshroud make it in on the Bike Captain. In the centre, I manage to pull a 9’’ charge onto the Vexilla, I just have to get through his 4++. 

I know that the Bike Captain can really hurt my Terminators so I elect to fight there and even with 26 attacks… I fail to kill him, leaving him on 2 wounds remaining. The Bloat Drone however goes big and the poor Custodian is ground into fine paste. This is big for me, as Dan is now without his Vexilla Teleport Homer. However, the Bike Captain strikes back… And manages to kill two Deathshroud on his own! This is absolutely not what I expected, and is a little concerning, even though I do still have my big blob, this Deathshroud unit has now effectively done nothing. 

It’s not all the end of the world though, and with the deepstrike charge threat mitigated, I’m not quite as concerned about the TWELVE deepstriking Custodian Terminators about to try and ruin my day.

DG2 End of turn


Well, that was a mixed bag. The Guard on the left weathered so much of the shooting, they were killed and the Captain dropped to 2 wounds, he then, thanks to the Grim Responsibility and Arcane Genetic Alchemy stratagems: survives 3 Deathshroud in close combat killing 2 in return. Sadly, my Vexilla didn't fair as well failing 4 out of 6 3+ invulns he gets turned to scrap by the Drone. That scuppers my plan for using the Vexilla Teleport Homer stratagem. However, I do pick up 10 for the primary and 2 on Vital Ground.


Movement is decisive. The right flank moves up looking to deal with the 2 units of Poxwalkers and steal the objective and both units of Terminators drop on. One on the home objective, one at the top left of the board.


A unit of terminators drops in my back field to shore up my objective and to hunt Deathshroud and a Lawnmower. The other unit I place poorly (this unit ends up being a list of tactical errors). Against good advice I leave the Captain in combat with the Deathshroud because it will be fun right? (I later regret this).

Custodes2 Mv

Shooting is effective; the Ballistas Grenade Launchers of the Allarus destroying a unit of Poxwalkers and chipping a lot of wounds of the Lawnmower, the axes also plink some wounds from the Blightlords.


Straight into the charge phase. The Terminators charge a whopping 11" to get the Lawnmower and the 2 Guard units and the left Captain charge the last of the Poxwalkers at the top of the table, despite the crater slowing them down they all make it in.


Combat is short. The Terminators kill the Lawnmower, the Guard and Captain kill the Poxwalkers. Sadly the bitter moment of regret comes when the loan Deathshroud kills the Captain.


Not a bad turn 2 more on Engage, also a good set up for turn 3.

Custodes2 End

Turn three


Dan’s turn 2 went about as well as I had expected. By and large his shooting bounced, but he did manage to charge and kill my Drone as well as removing nearly all my ob-sec. I score 10 for primary, and know that from here it’s going to be a bit of a slog to clear those Terminators, and I might be better off just trying to kite around them and score points. 

Toward that end, my movement phase I am quite conservative. I back away from my home objective, keeping a Plagueburst Crawler just about on it, but meaning Dan has a very hard time to do anything with that unit that came out of deepstrike in my half. My lone surviving Deathshroud moves back behind the Plagueburst crawler and does my final Retrieve Octarius Data that I am going to get this turn. Knowing I had Despoiled Ground, my other remaining unit of Deathshroud continue to hide out in the corner, ready to make plays on Dan’s objective in the final turn.

My shooting and psychic comes and goes with nothing of consequences happening… Damned Custodes are their 3++/4++!!

Into the charge phase and my final unit of Deathshroud decide to try and clear Dan off his home objective. I make the charge through the wall, but unfortunately once more those pesky 3++ saves just mean my attacks bounce off, failing to do a single wound, and even taking 2 for my troubles!

I might have done precisely zero damage this turn, but it’s set me up nicely for my next couple of turns to hopefully score points!



Ok not bad I'm hanging in there; I lost 1 Terminator and 1 Guard that round. I pick up 10 for primary and 2 for Vital Ground.


I realise in this movement phase I have so poorly placed my top unit of Terminators as they are not likely getting in this fight and I'm reluctant to move them close to Joe's big unit of Blightlords. Overall, just a bit of shuffling, rear unit moving to help the rear Custodian Guard unit.


Shooting, the Terminators and the Captain on Bike kill 2 Blightlords. Other than that, it was uneventful. It's not surprising, with Death Guard Resilience and my low model count I didn't expect to do much in the shooting phase.


Charge phase, the rear Terminators go into the Deathshroud. I play Slayers of Nightmares to give me +1 to wound. Now I'm wounding on 2s I effortlessly turn the Deathshroud into a plague mist. 


Again a solid turn, if we can keep plugging away we may just do this. 2 more on Engage


Turn Four


Well, losing those Terminators was a little unexpected, but does put Dan’s Terminators even further out of position. I can now focus on those on the top side of the map. I line up my entire army, if I can bring down those Terminators I should be able to score this game out on points. 

My Terminators move forward, whilst the Plagueburst move to get good shooting angles. What follows is perhaps the most absurd shooting phase I’ve ever had. Popping +1 to hit and +1 to wound on the Terminators shooting, combined with the firepower from the Plagueburst crawlers -- despite Dan turning off rerolls and ignoring Ap -2 -- I still manage to knock out all 5… Which is quite simply put a little nuts. 

I think we both know with a swing that big, and me having 2 endgame scoring secondaries, I should be able to clinch this now. 



Well bugger, I spoke too soon and Joe had a super solid turn. Despite using both The Emperors Auspice and Auramite and Adamantium I lose all 5 at the top end of the board. I got super unlucky as Joe used the Break Their Spirits stratagem, and it really did as 1 of them ran away and I rolled a 2 for the last guy. This is a To The Last (I knew I should have separated them with Unleash The Lions stratagem).


What follows this turn is a collapse and a long list of tactical blunders.


Movement I shift my Captain to the edge of the board in 3" of 3 guard (rather than move him his full move out of line of sight and charge range), the other unit of Terminators move back out of line of sight (again rather than moving forward to the left out of line of site, positioning themselves to go for an objective turn 5 or kill 3 Deathshroud).


Shooting and Fight Phase nothing happens, but I've mainly planned this backing away from any fights for a turn 5 push.


I pick up 2 for Engage. I'm hanging on (I'm really not 70% of my force is in the game, sadly my mind wasn't and  in hindsight I don't know why I took my foot off the gas and backed off.) 


Turn Five


Dan seems to be playing to just keep the score advantage if he can manage it, as his turn 4 he didn’t deal any damage… Bit like my turn 3! Working it out in my head now though, with a 30 point swing I should have this, and I begin shifting my models around to get them onto the objectives and the quarters. My Terminators line themselves up to finish off the final Bike Captain, whilst my sole remaining Deathshroud bravely hangs on in Dan’s backfield to Despoil Ground

Shooting and charging, my Terminators manage to bring down the remaining Bike Captain, before piling in to be annoying for Dan’s last turn -- without leaving the table quarter!


Well, it was a harsh lesson to learn, my Captain and another of my To The Last went down.


I was also in no way prepared for Joe's last turn secondary scoring ability. He did explain it pregame it sounded confusing, so I glazed over a little. He set himself up nicely for 14 points I believe.


Well, I've lost but I play to the end to see what I can manage.


I kill the Poxwalkers with combined shooting and combat nabbing back the objective. I make a play to kill 3 Deathshroud which will make it close on points, sadly only kill 2 (Joe made some mad saves).


I get 10 on the primary and 2 on Engage. But not enough to take the game.


Post game thoughts


What a cracking game, what I love most about doing this is going back and analysing my game. I should have pushed on right to the end, I actually had some plays at the end of the game that could have netted me the win.


Secondary choices were bad. Engage was fine 10pts for a secondary is always good. To The Last is a staple for the list and I could and should have picked up 10 for that. Vital Ground was bad, I could have done Grind, I wasn't sure on it as killing Death Guard is never easy, but my own units are so tough themselves. ROD would have actually been ok for me to do in this game but I was unsure of actually being able to do it.


None of the above detracts from Joe's game plan, he knew what he was doing, and he did it well. A good player and its always great to play against him.


A lot learnt with the golden boys, look forward to bringing them again. Thanks for reading, now back to terra to polish our shiny gold armour. 


My secondary choices were a bit of a risk. I knew if I could keep the Terminators away, I could likely score 20+ points in the last turn, and get a pretty big swing. I think I got lucky to knockout Dan’s banner, but I think with making his units T4, I was always going into this with a decent matchup. 

Dan’s Custodes list is always an issue for me regardless of what army I play. I do feel that he might have benefitted from a fast moving threat unit that didn’t rely on a deepstrike charge, like a unit of Vertus Praetors. 

It was an incredibly close game though, and we were both playing cagey. Thanks for the game Dan, and I’m looking forward to getting melta’d by some Sisters in the near future. 

Final Scores