I started building this squad of Allarus Custodians — the first three of 10 Terminators in my draft army list — last night, and finished it up this afternoon: Kanumba, Cathalan, and Adomako.
As with my first squad, I stole the Shield-Captain’s build for one of them — Adomako — because I love the stance and how tall the model is with its upright spear. I’ve also got a pretty good sense now, after two Custodes kits, for how I can twiddle some of the monopose elements and do a bit of mixing and matching in order to keep them all distinct from one another.
I looked to Africa for two of their names: Ghana for Adomako, and Tanzania for Kanumba. The third, Cathalan, is an Old Irish name — a variation on Cathaláin.
While these kits have the awesome “turtle shell” vibe that defines Terminators (for me, at least), and huge presence, I think I still prefer the Custodian Guard models by a narrow margin. They’re still pretty boss kits, though — and I’m not sad I’ll be building more of them.
I finished my first Adeptus Custodes squad tonight, adding Halfden and Konstantyn to my first custard lad, Inkaef, to form a full unit of Custodian Guards with Sentinel Blades and Storm Shields.
In 9th Edition, this unit is 234 points. Three troops in my Deathskulls Ork army would be . . . 24 points.
Playing around with points, I think I’m probably only going to get three sword-and-board Guards — so I picked my three favorite poses, stealing the Shield-Captain’s build for Halfden (center) and swapping out the pre-molded Misericordia hand for a Storm Shield.
The Guards have my favorite helmets in this army, so when it’s time to replace Trajann’s bare head with a helmeted one, I think I’ll be tracking down one of these — or maybe I’ll have a spare, if I stick with 9 Guards (since two boxes is 10).
So far my naming scheme for Custodes is “whatever sounds fun, and has a basis in Earth history.” Halfden is a riff on an old Norse name, Halfdan; Konstantyn is a one-letter shift from a 12th century Russian monarch, Konstantin. They’re an unusual force, largely flat on an organizational level, and they don’t have squad leaders or a monocultural origin. I like that their names reflect that.
There are relatively few Adeptus Custodes units, and from what I’ve seen they all use pretty much the same colors (adapted per one’s shield company) — kind of like Deathskulls Orks. So I have a feeling one main color guide will cover most of my army.
As ever, I’m using a recipe from White Dwarf 161 (Nov. 2016) for the terrain, and washes/shades are in italics.
Terrain: Stirland Mud > Agrax Earthshade > Golgfag Brown drybrush
Rocks: TBD, but reddish rocks might be a fun change; my instinct says darker than usual
Skulls: Corax White > Agrax Earthshade > Corax White drybrush
Tufts: TBD, as I want to see how a base turns out first; I already have three varieties that might work
These recipes cover the basics for Dread Host Custodians, and in general they come straight from Citadel (with a few tweaks). I default to Citadel’s Parade Ready steps (base/shade/layer/layer), but with these guys I’m mixing in a bit more drybrushing than usual as well. Gems are a big deal for Custodes, so I’m going to attempt a more realistic and detailed approach on those — and ditto with all their fancy blades, for which I’m trying Lahmian Medium for the first time.
Armor: Retributor Armour spray as both primer and base coat > Reikland Fleshshade > Auric Armour Gold > Stormhost Silver
Dread Host black:
Left pauldron: Abaddon Black
Robes: Abaddon Black > drybrush Eshin Grey > very lightly drybrush Dawnstone (follow option two in this excellent Artis Opus tutorial)
Weapons: Abaddon Black > Eshin Grey > Dawnstone
Dread Host gems: Stegadon Scale Green > Coelia Greenshade > Sotek Green in a crescent from 2 o’clock to 8 o’clock > Temple Guard Blue in a smaller crescent over the Sotek Green area > dot of White Scar at 11 o’clock
Dread Host eyes: Sotek Green (note this is a layer paint) > Temple Guard Blue
Blades: Stegadon Scale Green > Sotek Green + Lahmian Medium > Ulthuan Grey + Lahmian Medium > Fenrisian Grey + Lahmian Medium > Ulthuan Grey edges > dot of White Scar on the tip (follow this Warhammer TV video, but focus the lighter colors towards the tip/outer edges rather than in two areas)
Plumes, tassels, cords: Mephiston Red > Carroburg Crimson > Evil Sunz Scarlet > Wild Rider Red
Metal: Leadbelcher > Nuln Oil > Stormhost Silver
Parchment: Rakarth Flesh > Agrax Earthshade > Pallid Wych Flesh > White Scar > Eshin Grey for the writing
I haven’t decided whether or not I’m going to follow the Codex’s guideline for robes (they generally match the shield company’s color, so black or black/white for Dread Host) or the lone Dread Host mini pictured in the Codex, whose robe is red outside/white inside.
For the early steps, I’m painting my Custodes like I paint terrain, rather than figures — and there’s no touch-up step. That plus doing primer and base coat as one, with no overnight cure time, should make them significantly quicker to paint than my other models.
Assemble: I’m planning to build lots/all of them at once, then spray them all (rather than having parallel tracks for assembly, priming, basing, and painting on multiple units).
Primer and base coat: Spray the whole mini with Retributor Armour, which also only needs 15 minutes to cure (rather than curing overnight).
Shade: Wash the whole mini in Reikland Fleshshade.
Base: As per usual, but apply the texture paint carefully around the feet so that the model is clearly standing atop, not mired in, the terrain.
Base coat non-gold details: Everything that shouldn’t be gold gets a base coat, but approached with the care of highlighting — IE, I’m not bodging on paint and fixing it in a touch-up step. Like when I paint terrain, I’m carefully painting details surrounded by areas that are at a different stage of completion.
Wash non-gold details: Ditto, but for shading. As with terrain, small, precise washes are the order of the day.
Highlights: Now I’m back to my usual process and order, as the whole mini has been base-coated and shaded. Just highlight everything.
Seal: No weathering or decals for these lads, so just my usual Vallejo matte white sealant.
Tufts: As per usual; apply with white glue.
I always like to use a new minis project to build on existing skills and knowledge (e.g., painting these Custodians like I learned to paint terrain) as well as learn new ones, balancing the latter with not overwhelming myself and risking burnout. For my Custodes, realistic gem shading and more detailed fancy blades — with Lahmian Medium, which is new to me — are my stretches. I’m also hoping that a whole army painted without a dedicated step for touch-ups will help me paint more precisely across the board.
As I get into actual painting, I’ll update this guide so that it remains current.
I’ve been maintaining my hobby streak for miniature-painting (today is day 495), but over the past few months my pace has slowed considerably. I’m okay with that, and I stand by my philosophy on this: Any forward progress beats the zero progress I made for many, many years. Even if all I do is paint one Deff Dread’s horns, or one Marine’s Bolter, I’ve done something to keep the train moving.
If the train stops, it may not start up again for a long time (if ever).
But it hit me this morning that just as working on terrain was a great palate-cleanser between finishing my Blood Angels army and starting my Deathskulls Ork army, a third army might be just the ticket here. If I’d done that when I first got into painting, with my Angels, I probably would have lost all my momentum and burned out.
But now, with one 2,000-point army ready to go and a second with 37 figures done (32 standard-sized and 5 large ones)? That feels quite different.
It’s custard time
Way back in the before times (March 2020), when I was deciding what army to paint, I almost picked Adeptus Custodes because of the sheer awesomeness of the Vertus Praetors and Custodian Guard models. Blood Angels were the right call, though, and Orks were the right call after that — but now it’s time for the golden legion!
As a palate-cleanser, they fit the bill perfectly:
It’s an elite army, so it can be tiny. My current draft list is 20 infantry models and 6 bikes! That’s about half the size of my Marine army and a third the size of my Ork army.
Assuming I make them gold (which I will be), they’re like 90% gold — which means I can spray them with Citadel’s Retributor Armour, and treat them more like terrain. Primer and base coat in one, with just a handful of details to pick out after that. Boom.
Custodes should play quite differently than either of my other two armies.
They should also look different from my Angels, even though they might wind up gold/red. I’m basing them on Stirland Mud, and the studio recipe for their gold is slightly different.
I can also paint them as being clean and perfect, a marked shift from my Orks — which have a whole bunch of steps after I’d normally be done with a Blood Angel (checks, weathering, etc.).
Hell, I can probably even fit them in my existing overflow storage without needing to buy more cases. (And even then, they need one case at most!)
I also considered Grey Knights, who can rival the Custodes in the low model count category — and take Terminators, my favorite 40k unit, as troops (yes, I knocked together a 100% Terminator list just to see what it might be like). Ditto Harlequins, who have fascinated me since high school, but I was surprised to find that they’re not nearly as elite and actually need a fair number of bodies on the field. And I’d previously thought about Necrons and Death Guard, too. But none of them ticked as many boxes, nor felt as right, as Custodes.
At my fevered 2020 summer/fall pace, I could paint this entire 2,000-point army in 6-8 weeks. Now, something more like 4 months is probably reasonable. If I keep slow-rolling it, maybe 5-6 months?
I still don’t know if it’s “cuss-toe-dees” (my brain’s default pronunciation), “cuss-toe-dess,” or “cuss-toads,” but I do know that this is about half of my entire army:
I’m drawn to the Shadowkeepers based on their lore, and they do also look cool — but I want gold Custodes. As with Marines and Orks, it seems silly to go the custom route and lose access to rules for the canon shield companies (the five in the Codex), and not at all sporting to choose a custom color scheme and pick the best rules that week.
Setting Shadowkeepers to one side, I find myself drawn to the Dread Host — the Custodes who will smash your whole planet just to show the other planets what’s what. And I dig their color scheme, which uses black pauldrons, white leather bits, and blue gems. Even if I go with red plumes, they’re not going to be confused with Blood Angels.
As is traditional, I’ve kicked things off by building my first Custodian to mark the official start of my army: Inkaef, Custodian Guard of the Dread Host shield company. (For BA it was Sergeant Karios; for Orks, Moonkrumpa . . . who I tweaked and rebuilt like four times.)
I was tempted to lean into the whole pronunciation thing — and gently deflate the over-the-top bombast of the Custodes — and name the members of my custard shield company using Latin words for food: Shield-Captain Prandium (breakfast), Warden Bubulae (beef), Vexilus Praetor Capsicum Anuum (potato), Custodian Acetaria (salad). But that’s not me; I like the pretentiousness of the Custodes, who make the Astartes look like bastions of modesty, and I generally take my names seriously.
With so many Renaissance Italian, Latin, and Greek names in my Blood Angels army, I want to avoid the obvious choice — Roman names — for my Custodes. Since they’re drawn from the ranks of all the myriad noble houses of Terra, why should they all have similar names? My plan is to name every model (unlike my other armies, where I only name the characters, squad leaders, and vehicles), but beyond that I’m not sure how or if I’ll theme their names. (Inkaef was a 4th dynasty Egyptian prince.)