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Now, before we launch our attack on the Institute, we need to address another threat... the Railroad. They're a small, but capable group that uses subterfuge and guerilla tactics to harass their enemies. Our tactical analysis says they could possibly hamper, or harm our operations which is a risk I'm not willing to take. If we strike them now, we should be able to maximize the amount of damage we do to their organization.Lancer Captain Kells

Tactical Thinking is a Brotherhood of Steel main quest in Fallout 4.

Quick walkthrough

Brotherhood of Steel main quest: Tactical Thinking
Speak to Lancer Captain Kells.
Enter Old North Church.
Kill Doctor Carrington.
Breach the door to the lower levels.
Kill Tinker Tom.
Kill Deacon.
Kill Desdemona.
Reprogram P.A.M.
Destroy P.A.M.
Report to Lancer Captain Kells.
Reward: 500+ XP
Leads to: Spoils of War
Ad Victoriam (if Spoils of War was already completed)

Detailed walkthrough

Advancing in this quest will make the Sole Survivor an enemy of the Railroad, so if there are any loose ends to tie up with them, do so before speaking to Lancer Captain Kells. Even having this quest active in the log will shut off access to conversation or side quests with some Railroad personnel. Bear in mind, this quest appears automatically at the conclusion of Blind Betrayal. If the player character is not ready to close off activities with the Railroad, avoid turning in that quest for now.

At the start of the quest, the Sole Survivor is informed that Kells wishes to speak to them on the command deck of the Prydwen. In this discussion, Kells orders the Sole Survivor to assault the Railroad HQ and kill the Railroad leaders located there. The list of people to dispose of includes Doctor Carrington, Glory, Deacon, Tinker Tom, and Desdemona.

After agreeing to Kells' orders, head north into the North End neighborhood of Boston, and enter the Old North Church. Resistance from the Railroad is met immediately upon entering the Church. After dispatching all enemies in the church chamber, proceed to the crypt. Several more Railroad personnel attack in the tunnels before the player character can reach the end. When the player character has reached the entrance to Railroad HQ, instead of needing to solve the dial puzzle from Road to Freedom, the Brotherhood of Steel has planted explosives which will blow a hole in the wall and grant the player easy access to the final segment of the mission.

After entering through the destroyed wall and into Railroad HQ, the player character is met with several Railroad threats. While only the people on the list provided in the quest details need to be killed to complete the quest, it may be easier to clear all of Railroad HQ of assailants, save for P.A.M.

After all of the personnel on the list are dead, there are two options for proceeding: the player character may reprogram P.A.M., which is the desire of the Brotherhood, or destroy P.A.M. To reprogram P.A.M., find the P.A.M. mainframe terminal, located near the main area of the Railroad HQ. In the mainframe, use the P.A.M. decryption program holotape that has been provided to successfully reprogram P.A.M. If choosing to destroy P.A.M., skip the steps with the terminal and simply locate her and destroy her. Whichever method is chosen, all of the tasks in Railroad HQ for the quest will be complete.

To complete the quest, one must return and report to Kells on the Prydwen. The Brotherhood will express disappointment if P.A.M. was destroyed rather than reprogrammed. On the other hand, if the player character managed to reprogram P.A.M., she is later transported onto the Prydwen.

Quest stages

Quest stages
StageStatusDescriptionLog Entry
10 Speak to Lancer Captain KellsI've been informed that Lancer-Captain Kells wishes to speak with me on the Command Deck of the Prydwen.
30 Enter Old North ChurchLancer-Captain Kells has ordered me to infiltrate Old North Church and completely destroy a group of guerrilla fighters who call themselves the Railroad.
40 Kill Carrington
50 Carrington Killed - Destroy the Secret DoorIn order to find the remainder of my Railroad targets, I need to breach the door to the lower level of the Old North Church.
60 Kill markers/P.A.M. marker placed
70 Glory killed
80 Tinker Tom killed
90 Deacon killed
100 Desdemona killed
120 P.A.M. destroyed
130 P.A.M. reprogrammed
140 Speak to Lancer Captain Kells
255Quest finishedQuest completeMy mission was a success, the Railroad has been completely destroyed.
355Quest failedQuest failed


  • If Boston After Dark or a Railroad quest which involves certain characters being set to protected has not been completed, those characters may remain protected and may even follow the player character throughout the Commonwealth.
  • The player character is not flagged as a permanent enemy of the Railroad until the dialogue with Kells is completed. Thus, it is possible to retain one's good standing with the Railroad by either avoiding Kells until the quest is failed or destroying the Brotherhood of Steel. Deacon will also remain available as a companion until Kells is spoken to.
  • If Deacon is in a settlement, attacking him may make the other settlers hostile.
  • If Kells draws near enough to the player character, he will begin to speak. Walking away in mid-conversation by pressing the left control stick or movement keys will prevent the dialogue from completing, thus preventing the Railroad from becoming enemies. This can be done until the last part of the conversation with Ingram about PAM, allowing one to keep the P.A.M. decryption program, and avoid completing the talks with Kells, thus retain one's good standing with the Railroad.
  • This quest is failed upon either initiating the Minutemen ending (by completing Defend the Castle in the Minutemen quest line, after being Banished from the Institute) or becoming enemies with the Brotherhood of Steel. Failing the quest restores all dialogue and quests with the members of the Railroad.
  • After the quest is added to the journal, it will be impossible to progress through many of the side quests provided by the Railroad. This means unless the quest is reset or skipped through console commands (PCPC only) or failed by becoming a permanent enemy of the Brotherhood (taking the relay in Mass Fusion, murder of a Brotherhood member) or completing Defend the Castle, it will not be possible to speak to P.A.M. to obtain the ballistic weave mod for clothing. Thus, any quests related to P.A.M. and the ballistic weave should be completed beforehand, if one so desires.
  • It is possible to skip this quest and still complete the Brotherhood quest line, leaving both factions intact and non-hostile without having to proceed with the Minutemen ending. Once this quest is acquired, before speaking to Kells, one can complete the Institute quest line up to speaking to Allie Filmore during Mass Fusion and then choosing to 'Inform the Brotherhood' by speaking to Ingram rather than taking the elevator to the relay room and teleporting to the Mass Fusion building. This will automatically start Spoils of War and allow progression to Ad Victoriam while leaving the Railroad alive. Tactical Thinking will remain active in a Brotherhood postgame, so Kells must still be avoided after receiving the rank of sentinel in A New Dawn, but this tactic will allow access to the repeatable Railroad quests in the endgame. P.A.M. will still be unavailable, and Desdemona will not have any dialogue (Glory is normally killed in all four endings, though due to a bug she may still be alive), but Deacon, Tinker Tom, and Doctor Carrington remain available.
  • If Tactical Thinking is active in the journal, Ingram may simply direct the player character to speak to Kells, breaking this exploit.
    • This can be avoided by completing Blind Betrayal only after notifying Ingram about Mass Fusion.
    • PCPC PC players can work around this by using the console command "setstage fdc8c 0" to force-start Spoils of War. Tactical Thinking will be automatically completed and one will be teleported to Ingram to start the next quest (Spoils of War). The Railroad will remain intact and friendly to the player character but since this is not intended, there is a chance that on completion of the main quest line, Desdemona will have no dialogue options.
  • Tactical Thinking will not be added to the journal until Blind Betrayal is turned in to Elder Maxson. Thus, it is possible to learn the Institute's intentions from Allie Filmore during the early part of Mass Fusion and use that to warn Ingram, begin Spoils of War, and trigger the appearance of the Vertibird necessary to carry out that quest without any issue, then the player can turn in Blind Betrayal (to regain Danse as a companion, if he survived), avoid Kells from then on, and hop on the Vertibird to character break ties with the Institute whenever they wish (or return to the Institute, enter the relay room, and break ties with the Brotherhood to continue the Institute/Railroad main quests).
  • If one is Banished from the Institute before Spoils of War is added to the journal early and the Vertibird made available, the only road to completing the Brotherhood of Steel quest line runs through Lancer-Captain Kells, this quest, and the destruction of the Railroad. The Minutemen can still be used to destroy the Institute, but the storyline will be locked to the Minutemen quest line from then on.
  • X6-88 will have neither a comment nor an affinity change about the Railroad's destruction, even though the Railroad is the Institute's enemy.


  • PCPC Playstation 4Playstation 4 Xbox OneXbox One Deacon may appear shortly after the player character enters Old North Church, and if one kills him before the quest tells them to, it may not count towards the objective. Reloading to a save prior to entering Old North Church might fix this. Alternatively, speaking to Lancer Captain Kells once all other objectives are completed may still allow to turn the quest in.[verified]
  • PCPC Playstation 4Playstation 4 Deacon may become unkillable, unselectable in VATS but still shooting back. Reloading to a prior save and killing him with the Mister Sandman perk before obtaining this quest from Lancer Captain Kells might resolve this issue. [verified]
  • PCPC Playstation 4Playstation 4 Xbox OneXbox One Deacon may not be encountered inside Old North Church or the Railroad HQ. Instead his quest marker can be found at a random spot anywhere in the Commonwealth. Fast-travelling to a location near his position may only result in him being somewhere else far away upon arrival. Once having caught up with him he can be killed normally. This is more likely to happen if the player character took Deacon's mission Tradecraft prior to taking Tactical Thinking. [verified]
  • PCPC Playstation 4Playstation 4 Xbox OneXbox One Detonator may not appear, rendering the mission impossible to finish. By leaving Old North Church, fast travelling to another location, then fast travelling back, Doctor Carrington will appear in the first room of the church. By killing him the detonator should re-appear allowing the player character to continue the quest. He can also be shot through a small patch of wall on the left edge of the unopened secret doorway. VATS will pick him up with a 0% hit chance when you've found it. It is also possible to shoot through the wall with Lorenzo's gamma gun, killing everyone behind it. [verified]
  • PCPC If the Sole Survivor makes enemies with the Railroad before this mission (for example, performing some missions for The Institute without telling the organization), Deacon may follow the player character somewhere to try to kill him or her (For example: to Red Rocket truck stop). The mission may not be affected though the item on the quest may look unfinished. P.A.M. can be reprogrammed without problems. [verified]
  • PCPC Playstation 4Playstation 4 Xbox OneXbox One If one has installed the add-on Far Harbor and discovered Acadia, the player character is forced to tell Kells about Acadia before they can continue this quest. [verified]
    • One can skip the "Acadia report" by first reporting Kells about Acadia and response "Nothing else" and immediately pick Kells before reporting again: if it fails, try again until it works. [verified]