The Dark Fortress

Feel No Pain?

26 February 2011 | 5th Edition

The Unforgiven's Apothecary has had to relearn how he attends his casualties. No longer does he save just one wound — instead he works harder for a chance to save all unsaved wounds in his unit per turn.

The problem with Feel No Pain, excellent though it is, is that it can be a bit confusing to know when and on whom you can use it. So here's a quick and dirty look at how this 'new' rule for the Unforgiven works.

To be honest I simply forget to use FNP in the heat of the moment, so need to rely on a crib sheet to remind me when and how to use it. What follows is basicly an expanded version of that crib sheet.

What is Feel No Pain?

It is special rule that allows you to ignore an unsaved wound of certain types by throwing a 4+ on D6. Although this might feel like a saving throw, FNP is NOT a saving throw. The process works like this:

The target model:
is hit > wounded > fails its save (armour/cover/inv) > can attempt FNP (if allowed).

Let's clear up some confusion as to what a FNP can be used against. The best way to remember this is to think from the firing weapons' point of view, not from the target model's. So if the weapon:

  • Is AP1 or AP2;
  • Is a power weapon or a power weapon equivalent;
  • Causes Instant Death (i.e. is double the target's Toughness);
  • Stipulates that no armour save is allowed or to ignore any armour saves.

then no FNP throw is allowed, regardless of what model is been targeted.

There are other very specific situations that aren't weapon-based where FNP can't be used:

  • Can't be used against Perils of the Warp;
  • Can't be used against failed Dangerous Terrain tests;
  • Can't be used against certain psychic powers that stipulate that no armour save is allowed or to ignore any armour saves.

Useage examples

Shown below are a few examples of when FNP can and can't be used. As these come up fairly regularly it's worth looking at them closely.


Question: A Scout with a 4+ save is hit by a heavy bolter of AP4. No armour save is allowed so does it still get to make a FNP throw?

Answer: Yes. Remember that if the weapon states "no armour saves are allowed", then the model taking the wound would not get FNP. But if the weapon has an AP value that would normally stop the armour from working rather then disallowing a save, then FNP may still be used.


Question: A Ravenwing biker with a plasma gun suffers a Gets Hot! result. Can I use FNP to save the model?

Answer: Yes. Don't be fooled by the AP2 of the plasma weapon because with Gets Hot! you can get an armour saving throw. As such there's no reason not to get an FNP throw too. For clarity, remember you are not actually shooting yourself with the plasma weapon and the Gets Hot! wound does not have an AP specified. It's merely a wound you need to save against.


Question: A DA marine has been hit by a krak missile from a missile launcher. The krak is AP3 so does he get to use FNP?

Answer: No. As the krak missile is S8 it is double the marine's Toughness 4 so causes Instant Death. FNP may not be used.


Question: A Deathwing Terminator has been blasted by a lascannon and has failed his invulnerable save. Can I use FNP to save the model?

Answer: No. As the lascannon is AP2 FNP may not be used.

Incoming power fist

Question: A DA Marine has been punched with a power fist wielded by an enemy Captain. Does he get to use FNP?

Answer: No. Because the fist doubles the users strength to S8 it thus causes Instant Death. FNP may not be used.

Incoming power weapon

Question: A DA Marine has been slashed with a power weapon from an Imperial Guard Commissar and has failed his armour save. Does he get to use FNP?

Answer: No. Because the rules for a power weapon state "Models wounded in close combat by the attacks of a model armed with a power weapon are not allowed armour saves". As a normal save is disallowed then no FNP is allowed either.

There are many more but these show most common weapon-source permutations.

Is it better then our 'old' Apothecary's rule?

Feel No Pain is a brilliant rule change for the Dark Angels. In terms of a direct comparison with our old Apothecaries' rule, there is no comparison as FNP is streets ahead. I look at it like this: increased survivability — especially in an army with a small model count like DW or RW — is always a huge bonus, that's what Feel No Pain gives you.

The way to kill TH/SS terminators (for instance) is weight of fire because heavy weapons are largely a waste on them. FNP makes weight of fire even more of a waste. On power-armoured marines it's slightly different but no less valuable, although without invulnerable saves AP1, AP2 and power weapons and weapons that cause Instant Death are still going to take their toll.

There is a greater risk from low AP and weapons causing instant death but this is hugely offset by far greater potential durability against massed medium AP and strength fire.

The real bonus is that FNP works in close combat too whereas our old Apoth's rule didn't. So effectively FNP has massively increased its potential use by being available in two phases per turn. It makes an Apothecary and Standard Bearer upgrade a more comfortable combination than the mutually exclusive one it was before.

From a game perspective the enemy will waste a lot of shots before you are forced to take models off the table. Not only medium strength weapons, but also the low AP stuff too. This means he isn't firing those weapons at other units of your army. OK, so there's no guarentee that every FNP roll will be a 4+ even assuming you need to use it in the first place, but overall the effect of FNP is to soak up firepower.


There really is no need for extensive mathhammering here, just remember that where FNP is used it potentially halves the number of models killed in any situation whether shooting or close combat.

However it is based on a D6 throw so nothing is certain. Any unit that suffer unsaved wounds, FNP could potentially save none, all, or an average of half of them.


Compared to one wound always being ignored as per the old Apothecary rule, the current FNP is riskier being based on chance. But on average is far better over the full length of the game as FNP can be used in close combat too. This pretty much makes the Apoth uppgrade a no-brainer in any army list where he can be taken.

Remember that an Unforgiven army list could have up to three Apoths: one unlocked by Belial, one unlocked by Sammy, and one in a power armoured Command squad because there's an IC present in the list.

From a practical standpoint though the DA Command squad is rarely taken meaning Apothecaries are only going to be making an appearance in Deathwing or Ravenwing units whenever (respectively) Belial or Sammy unlock the option. If taken in a Ravenwing Attack Squadron, go for 6 bikers as you can take a greater advantage of FNP. Deathwing squads only come in 5-men strong flavours so more limited yes but no less usefull. In fact a DW termy unit with storm shields and thunder hammers and an Apothecary is going to be a really hard unit to take down quickly.


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