Is it not a nifty time to be a 40k player? After the drudgery of early 10th Edition where you either played Eldar/Genestealers Cult/Custodes or basically weren’t allowed to win, we’re in a new age!
Suddenly, uncompetitive armies are competitive again! Votann and Deathguard might actually beat somebody outside of a mirror match! Eldar may even lose sometimes… maybe. Well, it’s still better.
However, for a thrifty shopper like yourself, the shift in meta is really just another opportunity to start a new army (because you needed another reason). Although I know you’re looking pretty closely at Chaos or Tau because they’re looking awful sharp now, I think that’s not really taking advantage of the situation.
For example, maybe your friend is suddenly looking at their Drukhari and wondering if anybody might give them a decent price, or maybe your other friend has just had enough of Mechanicus getting spanked on their cold, steel, bums for what feels like forever and is desperate for somebody heroic enough to take them off their hands for 25% of their GW price.
You may be able to get even unopened boxes of Cabalite warriors or Skitarii Vanguard that they bought before they realized their army wasn’t going to win another game until 11th Edition. Even better if they happen to have some unopened Combat Patrols or old Battleforces to kickstart your new collection.
But you’re a savvy shopper. You know you’d need 50-100 models, minimum, to field those armies. That’s a lot of money, a lot of paint, a lot of swindling your friends, and nobody has time for all that. So, what you need is an army that’s a) few in number, b) off meta, and ideally c) has some solid combat patrols/boarding patrols/army boxes to start off with.
Several armies meet those specifications, but today we’re starting off with Henry Cavill’s favourite transhuman boys in gold, the Custodes.
Until recently, these fancy lads were top of the hill. Sometimes if the dice rolls were right, they could even beat Aeldari.
Then the balance slate hit, and wham!
Back to the bottom of the pile without a single decent showing at recent tournaments.
Few troops required to field an army and your “friends” (re: saps) are probably desperate to offload their nerfed Custodes. As a bonus, they won’t be getting their codex for awhile, so you’ll probably have plenty of time to hunt down all your bits and pieces before they’re competitive again.
In this case, that’s a feature, not a bug.
One problem is that we won’t know what will be good in the future. So, we’ll be relying on their previously tournament-chart warping lists for inspiration.
However, don’t be afraid to pick up whatever’s available for cheap. You never know what the next broken tech will be (everybody who bought a Wraithknight during early 10th Edition is a bad person).
Two key characteristics of these lists are that they are almost identical and use no Forge World bits. Nothing against Forge World, but they are much harder to find cheap and Games Workshop is much quicker to nerf them anyway. Also, they’re never released in a larger box set.
So, we’re not looking to match their army perfectly, what we’re looking for are units they are commonly used, and ideally, used over and over. Both armies have a Blade Champion, a Shield-Captain, and Trajann Valoris.
Both armies have a tone of Custodian Guards and Allarus (Terminator) Custodians. One army uses some Silent Sisters and Wardens, while the other has a Callidus Assassin, so those will be more or less up to you.
So, we’ve identified our key units: Blade Champions (easily converted from any Custodian, really), Shield Captains (part of any box of Custodian Guard), Trajann (part of every box set they’ve released), and a bunch of Custodian Guard and Allarus Custodians, again, part of most box sets. So first, start finding the big box sets, because you’ll get the most bang for your buck there. For example, the Watchers of the Gate Battleforce box from Christmas 2022 has Trajann, 3 Allarus, and 15 Custodian Guard. And as somebody with literally two completely unopened Battleforces in his closet (2021 and 2022, respectively), I bet you at least one of your saps (re: friends) has one lying around in their pile of shame. Also, there’s always Facebook Marketplace.
Next, there are the surprisingly excellent but already hard to find Boarding Patrols. Each Boarding Patrol comes with one Trajann, 3 Allarus, and 5 Custodian Guard. Multiple Trajans can be converted into your Blade Champions with a little ingenuity and extra bits, and bang! A few of these, and you have your formerly competitive Custodes force, ready to face the world (in a year or two).
Last, of course, are the Combat Patrols. Always reliable but sadly containing units you don’t want a lot of for now, they include 10 Silent Sisters, 3 Vertus Praetors (bikes), and 5 Custodian Guard. However, do not be too upset, my friends, for remember, the Meta is a fickle mistress, and you never know when she’ll shift and smile again on your Silent Sisters and fancy bikes. It doesn’t hurt that both the Silent Sisters and Praetors are a blast to paint either.
So, there you have it! With a little ingenuity (and, ideally, some easily manipulated friends), you should be able to build yourself a fine army on a budget.
The meta will shine again on them soon enough. So next time you find yourself itching for a new army, instead of choosing the one at the top, I hope you’d at least consider looking at the bottom.
You may not know exactly what you should get, but I bet you’ll save some money on whatever you do get, and really, isn’t that why you’re here?
Tell me I’m wrong, or even better, tell me what army I should talk about next.
Until next time, my friends.