Tactical Campaign Playtest

I’m pretty hyped about the new Federation-Klingon War Tactical Campaign. I will use the system for my Shackleton Expanse Campaign (as an admiralty game set in Admiral Hebert’s conference room at Narendra Station). In order to do so, I need to adapt certain aspects for a more sandboxy/explorational style of game. Of course, I will post the results in my thread on hex-crawling the Shackleton Expanse!

Yet, I need to test first. And I deciced to share my tests with you.
Feel free to comment at every time on everything in the test!

The Method

I will use only the strategic layer and no missions. While I do own Captain’s Log and thus could play out every mission assigned to be roleplayed, I decided not to do so. The focus of this game is testing the campaign layer and this is what I will do. So, I will use plain campaign rules and, for the assigned missions, roll a d20. On a complication, the mission will be a failure. Otherwise I’ll assume the mission to be successful. Let’s be honest: Players win almost every time (and rightly so). For everything else, I will use the random tables within the Tactical Campaign if possible and as applicable.

In this report, I will not go into specifics about stats. If you own the Tactical Campaign, you’ll be able to follow all my decisions in-depth. If you don’t, simply enjoy the ride. :wink:

Each post will probably encompass one Turn of the strategic layer. The test will take some time, probably.

The Setup

I randomly generated the following five initial assets:

  1. Resource: Cunning Ploy
  2. Ship: USS Montana (Archer Class)
  3. Character: Janet Wallace
  4. Character: Vice Admiral Cornwell
  5. Resource: Federation Agent

Turn 1

The Battle at the Binary Star just happened. The war started. The war is in early stage, pace is 5, complication range is 1.

Phase 1


The following points of interest appear:

  1. Exploration: A Federation ship is drifting through space but is completely silent.
  2. Routine: Flight Test for a new computer system

Also, three unknown points of interest appear.


The USS Montana will conduct the routine flight test. If it’s successful, it will be upgraded with the tested computer systems, so I will employ the Cunning Ploy resource as assist. Narratively, the ploy will act as a distraction so the Montana has the necessary legroom to conduct the test.

Janet Wallace is sent to one of the unknown points while Vice Admiral Cornwell will deal with one of the others.

The exploration point of interest would be played out as a mission. I will not play the mission, but “Can I Play With Madness” from the “Mysteries” Mission Briefs Pack (it’s free, btw!) seems like a good basis for the mission. I decide that, if the mission is successful, I will generate an additional Ship asset. In case the mission fails, the USS Montana will be unusable in turn 2 as it has to fulfill the mission originally tasked to the drifting Federation ship.


It turns out the Intel on the drifting ship was wrong. Yet, this will present only a minor nuisance (this event is only flavour in this case).

Phase 2

I roll a 9 on the mission that would have been roleplayed, so it was successful. I apparently rescued the U.S.S. Republic (Constitution Class) that is consequently added to my roster as 6th asset.

Vice Admiral Cornwell has to deal with a Mysterious Disease (Med 1). Despite this is a lucky combination, the role fails. I decide to succeed at costs; hopefully the Vice Admiral will be well. Yet, the dice dictate she’s seriously injured. Ouch.

The flight test goes exceptionally well. Due to the distraction of the Cunnig Ploy, I generate 2 Campaign Momentum. Should’ve done this before sending out the Admiral, actually. :person_facepalming:
Anyway, the USS Montana is now a better Science ship. Yay!

Janet Wallace’s ship is boarded by Klingons (Per 2). She fails and withdraws.

One unknown point of interest turns out to be a diplomatic problem that is untouched this turn.

Phase 3

Two “unknown” points of interest were left unresolved so the next turn will bring two additional points of interest with increased difficulty. I generate exactly enough Progression Points to make one progression roll. Next time a character is injured the plot will be spiced with a miraculous escape! :slight_smile:

Reinforcements arrive. The USS Kae Nemoto (Orberth Class Prototype) and the USS Rickenbacker (Engle Class) join my little fleet.

So far, the system is: interesting and fun! I can’t wait to see what will happen during the next Turn!

Lessons learned until now: The Trackers don’t work well for me; in the long run I will have to design my own sheets. Also, some rules questions popped out, but that’s a good sign, I think. :slight_smile:

Cool! :heart_eyes:


I will buy the book probably in March, but I am very curious how do you proceed with the playtest. I also plan to run Shackleton exploration campaign someday.

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And on I go! :smiley:

Turn 2

I couldn’t wait to boldly go further with this. :rofl:
I start turn 2 with seven assets, two Campaign Momentum and one saved progression. Knowing how many problems I will have to face, I can say: This will be fun (and a bit stressful :sweat_smile: ).

Phase 1


The following points of interest appear:

  1. Tactical: Klingon fleet movements are spotted in this sector.
  2. Tactical: Several enemy scouts have been reported in this sector.
  3. Tactical: A recon mission is required to determine enemy plans.
  4. Routine: Flight Test (new drive system).
  5. Tactical: An independent world is weighing whether to side with the Federation or Klingons. (increased Difficulty)
  6. Exploration: A populated world is suddenly experiencing an unexpected decaying orbit. (increased Difficulty)

Also, one unknown point of interest appears.


That is a lot of work and I’m very happy for all the new ships that were deployed to my fleet. With all these tactical threats, it seems that I’m now joining the Federation’s war efforts.

The Klingon fleet movements is the point of interest that would be played out as a mission. I will not play the mission, but I decide that the Klingon fleet Movements are part of the plot of the “A New Threat” early war Mission Brief on p. 105 of the Tactical Campaign.
The Brief comes with its own results on success/failure which is very handy at this point.

The USS Republic will conduct the routine flight test and will hopefully profit from the new drive system. It will, hopefully, prove useful in combat.

I already experience a certain feel of… urgency as there are so many problems. Time is of the essence, so the USS Rickenbacker, a medical ship, is tasked to find out what the enemy scouts are searching.

VAdm Cornwell is sent for the reconnaissance mission. She will probably pull some strings to get all necessary measures set up.

I will send the USS Montana, assisted by a team of Federation Agents (they appear to be diplomats) to the independent world.

Finally, the USS Kae Nemoto is sent to the world with the decaying orbit. I send Janet Wallace to assist.


I choose one point of interest on random and apply the event. It’s the Recon Mission and now, if it’s successful, there will be a benefit for the character. That’s pretty lucky and I hope that I’ve not yet run out of luck. Some of the problems will be pretty tough.

Phase 2

I roll a 6 on the mission that would be roleplayed, so I get special Intel and 2 Campaign Momentum. These are needed.

The USS Republic conducts a successful flight test. I actually remember the rule on “Primary Powers” (yay) and due to the re-roll, I generate one additional Campaign Momentum. Also, the drive will now be permanently installed in the USS Republic. The ship will now perform better in combat.

The USS Rickenbacker fails to find out what the enemy scouts were searching for. Maybe I have more luck, next time.

Vice Admiral Cornwell is not very lucky, either. I decide to succeed at costs. While reviewing the rules on succeeding at cost, I realise that the mission scenario should be played after all the points of interest have been resolved. I either forgot or this is never explicitly stated in the rules. Yet, the condition in question would represent no real cost in my setup, so I will ignore it completely. Instead, I will generate an additional point of interest during next turn’s phase 1. I already regret this decision! :person_facepalming: :sweat_smile: Yet, raising Conwell’s primary power is too sweet to let this go.

The mission of the USS Montana fails even with the Federation Agent’s assistance. Again, I decide to succeed at costs. Perhaps the Klingons attack the Montana at the end of almost failed negotiations. Set back by the Klingons’ violence, the independent world finally sways towards the Federation. But the Montana… is heavily damaged during the battle and won’t be available in Turn 2. That’s a set-back.

Finally, the mission of the USS Kae Nemoto and Janet Wallace. It’s a tough one so I decide to invest all my Campaign Momentum in 2 additional dice. Maybe one would have been sufficient, since I get one Campaign Momentum back. But the mission was a success, nontheless. Scientists on a Federation Science ship doing science. Yay! That’s what Starfleet was founded for and excels in. Even during war.
This is so Star Trek. :heart_eyes:

Phase 3

The “unknown” point of interest was unresolved and I succeeded at costs in a mission, generating another problem. I will start the next turn with two additional points of interest (again), one of them with an increased difficulty.

I increase urgency and difficulty of the Klingon fleet movements and also the scout movements.

No progression (in terms of progression points :laughing: ) this time, so that was it with turn number 2!

Finally, reinforcements. That’s good, since I already miss the Montana in the upcoming turn!
Dr. Carol Marcus and an unexpected local hero (represented as a resource, not a character) join my ranks.

Even more immersive than the first turn, I expected a sense of urgency with all the tactical threats popping up everywhere. The next turn will come up with even more pressure. Luckily, I rolled well on all the asset rolls, so I have now eight assets that are available for the nine problems that will have to be dealt with during the next turn. Not that they will be deployable 1:1, but that’s an issue I’ll adress later. :sweat_smile:

I like that some of the points that were not addressed do persist for the next round.
I think in my adaption for an exploration-style game, I will expand this mechanic to more, maybe all problems. This will have to be carefully balanced with Pace (will probably have to be reduced) and reinforcements, though, to not overwhelm the players with a plethora of problems. This turn I had 7 problems and allocating resources wasn’t easy. Next turn, I’ll have nine. I’m relatively well-equipped in terms of ship/character to resources ration and the war’s Pace hasn’t even reached its maximum. For a war-centered campaign this is cool, the system can be used “as is”. For a peace-time campaign this probably is a bit too much.

Also, it’s funny that my asset “toolbox” (so to say) is not able to be mapped 1:1 to the problems. Meaning that I sometimes had to use assets not exactly within their best abilities. These decisions to send a ship “ill-equipped” for the mission to said mission because all assets more tailored to the task were needed elsewhere… it worked well. The deployment phase is a game of prioritizing – as wars are. Well-designed, imho! :heart_eyes:


I’m enjoying the read. Hope you keep it going!


I can imagine only one possible answer to this one. :wink:

Turn 3

What better start in a weekend than a nice little turn of my little Tactical Campaign?
Right, cannot imagine, either. So here we are!

Two tactical problems persisted and escalated in the last turn. Also, there’s one unresolve unknown point of interest, that will spawn one additional point of interest, on top of the campaign’s pace. And there’s the additional problem that resulted of me succeeding at costs. That’ll be fun. :sweat_smile:

Phase 1


The following points of interest appear:

  1. Exploration: A resource-rich planet has ceased shipments; if unresolved, I’ll have to discard an asset.
  2. Tactical: A secret research site is testing illegal weapons.
  3. Tactical: A renowned enemy captain is operating in this sector.
  4. Tactical: A federation-friendly world is threatening to defect to the Klingons.
  5. Tactical: A prototype weapon requires field testing (difficulty increased as this was the roll that resulted of the unresolved unknown point of interest).

One tactical problem persisted from last round: Several enemy scouts were seen in one sector, intentions unknown. (Halfway through Phase 2 I realized that I forgot to take of the Klingon Fleet Movements off my list; the players dealt with it the last round).

Also, two unknown points of interest appear.

So, a secret research site is testing illegal weapons, and a prototype weapon requires field testing? Uhuh. Definetly so not suspicious! I feel if I manage to resolve both missions and I receive an additional character during the reinforcements phase, I’d have to search for stats for either Philippa Georgiou (late-series version, of course) or Ash Tyler. If that wouldn’t break canon (and also my own head-canon), that is. Maybe I find stats on Leland, he could definetly around (and behind) this.


Anyway, someone has to deal with all this.

I send VAdm Cornwell to the defecting planet. It’s a bit risky to send her alone as I really want the sweet, sweet benefit of an exploration point (nice mechanics btw!) and also, losing an asset will hurt. But the problem lies very well in her strengths, she has quite a crit range and I can use her primary power and some Campaign Momentum, so this will probably all fine.

Dr. Carol Marcus will oversee the prototype weapon test. You see? Now it all comes together! Really, no idea what this weapon could be. Not a clue, not at all. This one has clearly nothing to do with that test site only a few lightyears away, no no…!

I send the USS Kae Nemoto, my Orberth Class prototype to investigate the scout movements. Maybe her advanced sensors can spot the scouts and make a sense of what they’re searching for!

I’ll send the USS Republic after the renowned enemy captain. The captain is briefed with the special intel on the D7 plans (the resource will assist) the players acquired in the last mission, which will certainly help when confronting the captain. After all, a renowned captain will be the first to have access to such a ship and it always helps to know of the tiny little weaknesses that could be exploited in battle… :wink:

The USS Rickenbacker will investigate the secret illegal weapons development research site. Nothing more obvious than to send a hospital ship to deal with illegal weapons! :sweat_smile:

Finally, I’ll send Janet Wallace as a diplomat to the Federation-friendly world that threatens to defect. There will be an unexpected local hero present to help her turn the tides (or jump in the way of the phaser shots if all goes awry)…

It is now that I realise that I erroneously left a mission on my tracker that was resolved in the last turn (it was the Klingon fleet movements the players dealt with; since it was handled differently than all the other missions, I forgot about it…). I wanted to task the players with this mission again and everything about my search for a suitable mission felt so so familiar… :man_facepalming:
I decide not to redo all my choices and just throw a random brief at the players as they’re investigating one of the two “unknown” points of interest. I come up with the early war mission brief “Propaganda’s Shadow” which will be interesting in both story and potential reward.


The event occurs on the secret research site and is actually applicable. Turns out I can use the element of surprise in my favour (really, nobody expected that Hospital Ship!) and immediately gain a Campaign Momentum. Sometimes, you just gotta love the dice and the stories they tell (and this comment is more on the element of surprise than the actual reward :rofl: )!

Phase 2

I spend one of the Campaign Momentum (where can I buy additional Momentum with Threat? WHERE?) to buy an additional dice for VAdm Cornwell and their quest to re-establish my supply chains. I immediatley re-gain the Campaign Momentum in (phew! :sweat_smile: ) and the mission is successful! Sweet!

Thus, Dr. Carol Marcus has access to the Momentum she will need to succeed in her mission to test the prototype weapon. It’s tough, but with the benefit of an additional dice, a re-roll and a good portion of luck not only do I succeed, but again re-gain the Momentum. I hope this streak of luck won’t break!

Proceeding with the USS Kae Nemoto, I again buy an additional dice with Campaign Momentum. For a Moment it seemed like my streak of luck was broken. Though I had enough successes with the other dice, one of them showed a natural 20. Luckily I could use the ship’s Power for a re-roll and – it turned into another critical success! So not only is a point of interest resolved and the Momentum spent regained – I generated another point of Momentum, for a total of 3! Yay!
(Btw. in the background there’s SNW season 2’s “Subspace Rhapsody” playing. Right now with Nurse Chapel’s part of the duet with Spock – what voices! :heart_eyes: I should make a habit out of this. :smiley: )

Now, off to one of the hardest points of interests so far. It’s pretty tough and thus a perfect candidate to be a player mission. But I didn’t want to re-deploy all my forces. Until now, the dice were gracious, I keep my fingers crossed (and, just to be sure, buy an additional dice with Campaign Momentum).
For what you ask? The USS Republic will have a stand-off with a renowned Klingon captain! But even with the special intel the Republic fails (to be fair: I would have needed all dice succeeding with at least one crit… not impossible, but chances were narrow, to say the least). Yet, I’m very lucky with the roll on consequences on succeeding at cost for the USS Republic and it returns with only minor damage.

So, let’s see how the USS Rickenbacker’s doing! You know, the Medical ship sent to the illegal weapon’s research facility… :man_facepalming: Better equip her with one Campaign Momentum, I think.
Well. That didn’t go too well. I test my luck on another success at cost. Which turns out to be a really costly success as the Rickenbacker is now heavily damaged. Dang!

Last, but not least, there’s Janet Wallace, the unexpected local hero and the defecting world. I decide to save my Momentum. While I do succeed in resolving this point of interest, I do not gain any additional Momentum. Both my resources will be lost, I’m afraid.

Finally, the mission. I send my imaginary players out (this would be the point to grab my copy of Captain’s Log, but that’s for another occasion) to play the mission. I roll a 16 which is high, but not high enough to deem the mission failed. I note the campaign impact for later and proceed.

Phase 3

That went pretty well, actually! Only one point of interest was left unresolved, so only one additional problem on the next turn!

I’m eligible for one roll on the progression table – and may upgrade some stats on my ships! That’ll come in handy!

Finally, reinforcements and supplies! The dice tell me that I receive one prototype technology and one character that happens to be Dr. Carol Marcus (again). Well. Well, well.
So, Dr. Marcus was involved in a successful prototype weapons field-test. After this, I get access to a prototype technology. And (another?) Dr. Marcus joins my ranks? SO NOT suspicious!
I should better roll again to not attract the attention of a time-traveling Sloan.
Now the dice tell me it’s Vice Admiral Cornwell that wants to join me. Now it begins to sound like a mirror-universe incursion. Or at least something with an alternate universe. The next “unknown” point of interest will obviously be the “Another Roll of the Dice” standalone mission – the dice have spoken!
Finally, it’s Commodore Robert April that really joins my ranks.

Since I just completed turn Number 3, the scripted event and its connected mission would follow. The dice tell me that the players succeed exceptionally well (a four on my d20) so I decide to… handwave the campaign impact for very obvious reasons and award myself another miraculous escape progression. Don’t tell anyone! :wink:

Final thoughts

This turn went exceptionally well and, again, was a lot of fun!

Whoever came up with the idea that it’s exploration missions that really give you XP: what beautiful game design of a war campaign! True Star Trek. :heart_eyes:

This turn clearly showed me that I need other tools than the pre-designed trackers. It’s not that they’re bad, it’s just that I’m always double-checking everything in the deployments phase to not miss any asset and/or point of interest. For my next turn, I’ll take the time to print little asset “character sheets” not unlike the form on the Player Campaign Tracker to index cards. I can then, during Deployments put an index-card on every point of interest. That way, I’ll immediately see which assets are already committed, and, even more important, which points of interest still need coverage. During this turn, I placed a little tickmark next to every point of interest I sent an asset to. But I still had to always double check which was the right asset for what point of interest. Index cards will be better for me.
(For my adaption, I will probably expand on index cards as cards. Meaning that I will also print the points of interest on cards and can use the (shuffled) decks as randomizer. Stochastics can be so cool! :smiley: )

For anyone following until here: I’m not the only one who sees an advantage in printing assets on cards. Over at the Continuing Mission blog, resource cards, character cards, and ship cards have been posted a few days ago. I won’t use these, specifically, (if only to save ink) but they might prove useful and/or give you some ideas for your own design. :slight_smile:

Furthermore, I love how the random descriptions of the problems can be used in many ways to tell stories. Clearly, the most obvious interpretation of a secret research site that develops illegal weapons would be a Klingon research site. Yet, the way the dice rolled it could also be a Federation facility that worked on weapons only a certain non-mentioned part of Starfleet would use without second thought. That could be a hell of a plot! Another thought I had was to slightly modify the description simply saying that there were problems at a secret research site – and dropping in the “The Gravity of the Crime” stand-alone, if the players decided to run this point of interest as a mission.

It’s also cool that high difficulties attract players for their mission. Meaning that the higher the difficulty on a point of origin, the lower the chances on an asset’s roll. So, players will tend to most difficult problems themselves as their chances in succeeding during a mission are higher than an asset succeeding with a single role. Which is a very cool mechanic indeed!
Maybe I should, when playing this with a group, make a habit out of using the point of interest’s difficulty as the multiplier for starting Threat. I.e. 2 points of Threat for each player on a difficulty 2 point of interest, 3 points of Threat on a difficulty 3 point of interest etc. Or maybe difficulty 1-2: 2 Threat per player, difficulty 3-4: 3 Threat per player, difficulty 5-6: 4 Threat per player. I’ll have to think about this. :think:

Finally, I miss Threat. Like, really. But then again, the Campaign very much works like an “AI” (in the sense of a computer game opponent, not in the sense of the current marketing BS everywhere). Meaning: it requires little to no actual decisions on the side of the GM. Which, in turn, reduces overhead on preparation (if only mental resources :sweat_smile: ). That’s something I like very much. Threat would bring more human decision and less “automisation” into the game. So while I would like to have the opportunity to buy Momentum paying with Threat, I don’t want to have actual Threat in the Campaign mechanics. Maybe I’ll have to think of a mechanic that ties to flawed successes or is another random table or something like this. :thinking:

To everyone still reading this: Thank you very much for keeping up with my ramblings, this was a very long read! Hope you enjoyed! :slight_smile:

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Love the read.

For what it’s worth, upcoming episodes of Continuing Conversations will have Michael and I playing the tc, using the cards to track assets. Super handy.


One Gareth Mugridge published a set of blank asset cards that are way more beautiful than whatever I could come up with. I’ll test them out for my next run that will, sadly, have to wait for a handful more days. Just thought whoever might be interested in my test should definetly jump over to Continuing Missions and have a look at the cards. :slight_smile:

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