Double the Army, Double the Skulls – Part 2

The Throne of Skulls Doubles Tournament has been and gone – so how did Jes and James, our competing Adeptus Custodes players, fare? Earlier this month James Karch and Jes Bickham painted exactly the same Adeptus Custodes army to take to Warhammer World’s Throne of Skulls Doubles Tournament, to see how they would each do with their respective partners (you can read all about their army selection in Part 1 here). So what happened when the dust settled?

Jes: Well, first off, let me say that that was a magnificent weekend of gaming. We had five hard-fought games that all went down to the last minute on the timer, against five teams of brilliant opponents who all played with a terrific attitude and top-notch sportsmanship, and who all had beautifully-painted armies. My partner Dean Garnham and I had a whale of a time – with a lovely twist in the tale which we’ll get to in a moment.

So how did my Custodes do? Well, I completely forgot to keep a detailed roster of what exactly they killed, but between us, we have discerned that James did a better job of reaping fatalities. In my army, however, what my Adeptus Custodes did was take a horrific amount of punishment to allow Dean’s Adeptus Mechanicus to keep on shooting! For four of the five games – which used the Chapter Approved Eternal War Missions – my force was broadly split into two halves: the bit that did the teleporting (Trajann Valoris, a Shield-Captain in Allarus Terminator Armour and one unit of Custodian Guard) and the bit that marched on objectives and drew enemy fire (two units of Custodian Guard and a Vexilus Praetor with the Vexilla Magnifica. That -1 to hit proved invaluable!). Dean’s Dunecrawlers and Kastelan Robots, helped with re-rolls to hit by Belisarius Cawl, tended to snipe away from the back while the Emperor’s bodyguards put pressure on the front. Multiple wounds, a 2+ armour save and a 4+ invulnerable save go a long way to soaking up enemy fire! Here’s what Dean and I faced, with a quick summary of each game:

Game 1 – Craftworld Aeldari and Space Wolves

With the Ascendancy Mission being played, this game was a terrifically fun exercise in trying to remove multiple Aeldari characters from objectives, culminating in a fine scrap between Trajann Valoris and a mighty angry Wolf Lord.

Result: Loss

Game 2 – Astra Militarum

A brutal game in which we cleared swathes of guardsmen from the table and Dean’s Dunecrawlers destroyed a Shadowsword! Victory was within our grasp but a last-turn objective grab by a Leman Russ cost us the game.

Result: Loss

Game 3 – Ultramarines and Iron Hands Space Marines

Basically, our opponents’ army was essentially lots and lots of Space Marines and a Spartan tank! Another down-to-the-wire battle with huge casualties on both sides. Brilliant fun.

Result: Draw

Game 4 – Grey Knights, Space Marines and an Imperial Knight

Unable to match the manoeuvrability of the Grey Knights we simply couldn’t grab enough objectives to keep in the game, and my Shield-Captain thought he could take Grand Master Voldus on in a one-on-one fight… but he thought wrong!

Result: Loss

Game 5 – Iron Hands Space Marines and Astra Militarum

The game in which, fittingly, the Custodes showed their mettle the most. Our opponents systematically destroyed Dean’s forces leaving the majority of my force huddled around the Vexilus Praetor, marching towards our alpha objective (we played Roving Patrol). They weathered the shooting of Knight Commander Pask in a Leman Russ Punisher, two lascannon-toting Leman Russes, a Thunderfire Cannon, a Space Marine Predator, a Basilisk, plus the close combat attentions of a Relic Contemptor Dreadnought and a unit of Terminators, for two whole turns, before the mighty Trajann Valoris finally failed an invulnerable save on the last dice roll of the last turn. A fittingly epic conclusion!

Result: Loss

So what did I learn? You have to be confident with the Custodes. There aren’t many of them, but they are heroes all and capable of weathering a huge amount of enemy fire. I think James came to a similar conclusion but was rather better at killing stuff with them than I was! But they were so much fun to use I am now extending the army to 2,000 points and am currently painting up a unit of Vertus Praetors as the first step on that road.

And that twist in the tale? Well, you’ve probably noticed we lost four games and drew one… not the greatest result from a pure game-winning perspective! However, each of those games was marked by a great attitude from all players in the face of outrageous fortune, and each of them was closely-fought indeed. Which may explain why come the end-of-event awards ceremony, Dean and I were awarded the much-coveted Knight of the Inner Circle trophy, a glorious honour only given to those players who received maximum Favourite Game AND Favourite Army votes from their opponents! We were both flabbergasted and over the moon, and it just goes to show that a great gaming experience amongst like-minded people is much more important than simply winning games. A brilliant end to a brilliant weekend.

James: Wow! What a weekend, had an absolute blast, played some great opponents and made some new friends along the way, on behalf of both Craig and myself, I would like to thank Ollie and Keith, Karl and Richard, Paul and Jack, Andrew and Steven, and James and Luke for being fantastic opponents and making the event one of the most enjoyable I’ve been to in a while.

In terms of the final result, like Jes, I’ll leave that bit until the end. I also used a similar tactic and teleported a unit of Custodian Guard onto the battlefield along with the Shield-Captain. I did, however, leave Trajann Valoris with the bulk of my force so that they could be a little more reliable shooting whilst moving forward. Here’s how my games went:

Game 1 – Grey Knights and Astra Militarum

The first game of the weekend went right down to the wire. Trajann Valoris used his Moment Shackle to great effect and took out a Grey Knight Grand Master in a Dreadknight in one-on-one combat. The Grand Master then used the Only in Death does Duty End Stratagem to attack and take Trajann’s final few wounds. A suitably epic stand-off for two heroes of the Imperium.

Result: Loss

Game 2 – Death Guard and Chaos Space Marines (Khorne Berserkers)

This game saw a big fight in the centre of the board around the main objective. Khârn charged in and managed to kill a unit of three Custodians with his Blood for the Blood God rule which allows him to fight again. Unfortunately (for him) this then left him out in the open: a round of shooting from the Custodes later and he played no further part in the game.

Result: Win

Game 3 – Craftworld Aeldari and Drukhari

The Dominate and Destroy mission was rolled, and this game was fought against a very fast moving army with lots of jetbikes and skimmers. The upside of this was that it meant that they got very close to us very quickly. The Custodes took a bit of a battering early on but managed to hold out long enough to get stuck into the squishy Aeldari. Trajann managed to decimate a Guardian Squad almost single-handedly and was then killed in the resulting explosion from a nearby Venom being taken out in another combat.

Result: Win

Game 4 – Dark Angels and Adeptus Custodes

This game looked like it was going to be the trickiest of the weekend; the Custodes force was all in Allarus Terminator armour apart from another Trajann Valoris. Fortunately for us, we got the first turn, which enabled me to drop my deep striking units onto the central objectives whilst Craig’s forces pushed onto the outermost objectives. Inadvertently, this resulted in our opponents’ reserve units being very limited in where they could teleport! They decided not to bring them all down on the first turn, which enabled us to concentrate more firepower on the stronger units they had on the board. It also meant that we managed to keep hold of the objectives consistently and score pretty well throughout the game.

Result: Win

Game 5 – Renegade Knights and Thousand Sons

And we thought we had a small army! Our opponents got the first turn which allowed Magnus to use Warptime to get up close very early on. Along with this, the Space Marines took heavy casualties from the Knights’ shooting. Fortunately, the Custodes held up pretty well, taking only two casualties from Magnus’ psychic onslaught. Magnus being so close allowed the Custodes to charge in and try to deal with the Daemon Primarch in combat, which took him down to only two wounds! Cue Trajann Valoris and his Moment Shackle. Unfortunately, he just couldn’t get through Magnus’ invulnerable save, which allowed Magnus to leave the combat and lay waste to a few more Custodes in the following Psychic phase. This did, however, leave him out in the open and gave my Shield-Captain an opportunity to fire the mighty Gatekeeper, which managed to break through the invulnerable save and take the remaining two wounds off of the Daemon Primarch.

Result: Loss

The one thing I’ve learned about the Custodes in that it’s pretty safe to push them forward, they’re very tough to kill, so pushing them right into the face of your opponent’s army isn’t as risky as you might think. Along with that, they can reliably hold onto objectives where needed. If I were to pull a star unit out of my army it would have to be the Vexilus Praetor – the use of the Vexilla Magnifica to put your opponent’s army at -1 to hit really serves the Custodes well. When playing our opponents with the Custodes, I really enjoyed seeing how the Terminators teleported on the board, so next up for my army will be a unit of Allarus Custodians followed by a Venerable Contemptor Dreadnought. The one thing I think my Custodians are missing, however, is a solid psychic defence, so I’ll be backing up my Custodes army with a Vanguard Detachment of Sisters of Silence with Inquisitor Greyfax leading them. This should see my army out to a nice round 2000 points/100 Power.

As far as results go for the weekend, we won three games and were selected to go in the cabinets on the Sunday to be judged in the Best Army competition, so it was a pretty great result. That’s not all, however! Much to our surprise we came third overall and picked up the award for Most Sporting Opponents, awarded to the team who scored the most favourite game votes along with the highest Throne of Skulls score. So overall it was a great result, much more than we were expecting, and we’re already discussing what army we want to take to the next Doubles event.

Sounds like, win or lose, both Jes and James (and their partners) had a great time at the Warhammer 40,000 Doubles Tournament – and we can’t wait to see what they do for the next one in June. Maybe you’ll go to the event and see them there. And remember that, if Warhammer Age of Sigmar is more your thing, tickets for the next Doubles tournament in March are on sale now. Meanwhile, if Jes and James’ tales of success (albeit in different ways) has piqued your interest in the Adeptus Custodes, the codex and miniatures range are available now.

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