Capture the Flag › III: Strategies

III: Strategies

One player attempts to grab the glow in the dark flag in a game of Capture the Flag.

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An illustration of people playing Capture the Flag in the forest. The heading reads "21 Ways to Win Capture the Flag."

1. BEGINNER – ASSIGN ROLES AND SECURE THE BEST FLAG PLACEMENT

The main objective of Capture the Flag is to find or capture the other team’s flag and bring it back to your base, then gloat for a bit before saying “good game” and playing again. If you really want to be the one gloating, it pays to give your team a competitive edge by discussing some simple strategies with your team before you begin. Two of the best basic beginner strategies include:

  • Finding the best flag placement for your team
  • Assigning the right roles to the right players on your team

A. FLAG PLACEMENT

Flag placement seems like it would be a no brainer. Most teams will put their flag as far away as possible from the opposing team, thinking that the farther away it is, the harder it will be to capture it. However, that isn’t always the case. Here are three new flag placements to try for your next Capture the Flag game: 

  • In the middle of your territory
  • Against a boundary
  • In the opposite corner of your jail
A drawing of a person standing atop a hill.

It’s often easier to guard the flag if it’s closer to the middle of your territory. This way, your team is able to keep an eye on the flag while you make your moves onto their territory. Instead of leaving one lone teammate to guard the flag, the bulk of your team will be close enough to the flag to tag anyone sneaking their way towards stealing it. Your go-to guard will thank you for sending extra troops to guard the flag!

Another simple-but-smart flag placement strategy is to place the flag against a wall or boundary that the opposing team cannot cross, such as a fence. This cuts down on the number of ways that they can approach it. For example, if you place the flag in the corner of a fence, they only have two sides they can approach from whereas before they could attack it from all four sides. With this simple strategy, your guards will have half as many sides to protect, and that leaves you with more players on the offense.

If you’re still having a hard time finding the best place to hide your flag, then divide and conquer. Place your flag in one corner of your territory, then mark your jail in the opposite corner. This strategy forces your opponent to focus on only one target at a time – finding the flag or freeing their teammates. In addition, both your flag and jail will be protected by boundaries on two sides.

One player attempts to grab a glow in the dark flag during a game of Capture the Flag.

B. TEAM ROLES

When you are considering strategies, don’t forget to discuss the strengths of your teammates. If you have one sneaky and fast player, let them be the one that has only one task – to reach the flag without being caught. This sly person can spend their time spying on the other team to learn where their flag is and then lie in wait until the perfect time to capture it. If you have teammates that are younger or perhaps not as fast, then let them be the ones to guard the flag while the others race out to enemy territory. Just remind them of the guarding rules and also not to be so obvious that it gives the location of the flag away. Whatever your strategy, make sure you mix up your tactics from game to game so that the opposing team doesn’t know what to expect. Winning at Capture the Flag takes planning and creativity.

2. ADVANCED – USE DECOYS, ALL TEAM “FAKE OUTS” AND MORE

There are those that play Capture the Flag for fun, and there are those that play it to win. If you are serious about winning CTF bragging rights, you need advanced tactics, along with some trickery and distractions to outwit the other team. These strategies are those highly competitive players who want to take Capture the Flag to the next level. They require players to stay focused on their roles and perfect their timing. Try some of these advanced tactics during your next Capture the Flag game: 

  • Use a decoy
  • Hide the flag close to jail
  • Have players defend a fake flag location
  • Tire the opposing team out

A. USING A DECOY

You have to know your teammates strengths and be ready to use them in the smartest manner possible. Where a beginner tactic might be to send your fastest player straight in for the flag, an advanced tactic might be to use him or her as a decoy. If they make a straight run for the flag, you know their defenders will all be there waiting to take them down. But, if you send that player to an area where they can distract three or four of their defenders, then you can have your remaining attackers ready to make a run for the flag. They won’t know what hit them until it’s too late!

A drawing of people playing in the forest.

B. HIDE THE FLAG CLOSE TO JAIL

Another beginner tactic might be to separate the flag and jail as far apart as possible, but an advanced tactic is to hide the flag as close as possible to the jail’s location. This way, you’ll only have to guard one area. Just make sure the flag is hidden well enough from the prisoners. Because so few players would think of using this technique, your opponents will have a harder time figuring out your flag’s location. But beware: once they do discover its location, you might have to double up your defenders to come out victorious.

C. HAVE PLAYERS DEFEND A FAKE FLAG LOCATION

For an advanced technique that will really leave them stumped – have multiple players defend nothing. That’s right, choose a fake location and act like the flag is hidden there. This works well if you have players that are good actors and can really pull it off. Find a great hiding place for the real flag and then let the actors do their job defending the fake hiding place to lead the opponents to the wrong location. Your enemies will assume the flag is where they are guarding and focus only on that area. Obviously, you will need to change strategy once they discover where the real flag is, but it might buy you some time for your offense.

D. TIRE THE OPPOSING TEAM OUT

If you’ve tried out-tricking them, next try out-lasting them with this strategy. Have a player sprint as fast as they can onto enemy territory to look for the flag, then get the opposing players to chase after them at full speed as they run back to safety. As soon as they return, have another teammate do the same thing. Keep continuing with different teammates until their defenders are worn down. Once they’re so exhausted they can barely move, you’ve got a straight shot to the flag. 

A drawing of four kids running.

The best thing about Capture the Flag is that the more you play, the more strategies you can try and perfect, but be sure to pay attention and decipher what tactics the opposing team is using. Some teams will focus on offense, and some will focus on defense, but the team that wisely balances both will often come out the winners. Whether you win or lose, working to develop new and advanced strategies will make you a better player and a better thinker.

3. COMPLETE GUIDE – EVEN MORE STRATEGIES!

Get a FREE copy of our e-book “21 Ways to Win at Capture the Flag” here.