Today we’re going to talk about several fun variations of Capture the Flag. Now, if you’ve ever played Capture the Flag you know it’s one of the best outdoor games ever created. But did you know there are multiple different ways to play besides the traditional manner?

The basic concept of Capture the Flag is defending your territory and invading the enemy team’s turf. Stealing their flag and returning it to your side of the field is the ultimate goal. Along the way, you must avoid getting captured and sent to jail. Click here to learn how to play Capture the Flag. The following variations of Capture the Flag add twists and turns to the rules and tactics.

If you have a large group playing CTF you might wanna think about adding some spice to it. How do you do that? With multiple flags! One college set an actual world record for the most people playing CTF. They used a pile of flags and it looked like a Braveheart scene.

Everybody loves Halloween so why not have a costume based Capture the Flag game? We’ve heard stories of people dressing up like Star Wars characters, Marvel characters, and other superheroes to play CTF. This variation adds quirky fun, especially for younger children.

Getting stabbed in the back is no fun as an adult – you know, devious coworkers and all. But having a turncoat involved with Capture the Flag is quite fun. It adds a twist to have one spy on each team working behind the scenes for the other team. This traitor, chosen randomly/secretly, gets one chance to steal the flag and take it to his real team. If he gets caught he has to go to jail like a real spy would. This is a big shake-up that makes everybody nervous, making for a better game.

There are ways to play Capture the Flag with only one flag. Some people refer to this as  “neutral base” Capture the Flag. This variation involves having the flag in the middle of the field. Each team tries to get it back to their specified home base. This often turns into a big tug-of-war as the flag sometimes moves only inches at a time. This fun variation of Capture the Flag is a war of attrition, so be ready for a long battle.

Groups who mix paintball with Capture the Flag create an epic gamer concoction. The game is played the same way as if you were tagging the players except now you are using paintball guns. Get hit by one paintball then you go to jail or are out of the game. Obviously you want to wear protective gear just like when playing regular paintball. This variation is great for teens and adults.

One of the best ways to mix things up is to make the flag throwable. You simply use a ball for the flag. This can be a football, tennis ball, soccer ball, etc. Once a team member grabs the ball-flag they can throw it to their teammates. This can make the game go really fast. One thing to note is the players cannot throw the ball-flag all the way over the line to their own territory. We refer to that as cheating!

For water lovers, there are fun variations of Capture the Flag just for you. Teams have played using kayaks or in their swimming pools. You need a floating flag for a lake unless you want to go all in for scuba gear. Expensive!

Another water variation is using water balloons instead of tagging players. Get hit with a water balloon, go to jail, soaked.

What about multiple teams above the standard two-team CTF? All you need to do for three or four teams is divide the playing field up into thirds or fourths. This is a chaotic way to play the game since teams will be attacking from many directions. No worries. Chaos means added fun when we’re talking outdoor games. And since you need lots of players for this awesome Capture the Flag variation, it’s a good excuse to meet new people as you invite them to play.

Get out of jail options make for an interesting variation of CTF. There are reports of games where players can get out of jail in other ways besides being saved by a teammate tagging them while in the pokey. Here are a few:

  1. The jailbird has to say the alphabet backward to a ref.
  2. 50 push-ups frees the captured player.
  3. Trivia questions from a ref can free a player who is incarcerated.

 

Once you’ve tried all the daytime variations of CTF what are you gonna do after dark? Play Capture the Flag Redux… duh! Since our game glows in the dark, teams don’t have to quit this outdoor game after the sun slides behind the horizon. This fun variation of CTF is the most popular version created in modern times. The main concept is protecting your glowing flag while hunting down the enemy team’s flag. All players are visible to each other as they wear glowing wristbands. CTFR has many variations of its own, including:

  • Hunters vs. Werewolves
  • Fugitives
  • Fireflies

 

If you have your own fun variation of Capture the Flag please let us in on it in the comments section below. Other outdoor game lovers want to know. A simple twist here or there can make for bonus excitement when it comes to classic games. To enjoy the game even more, here is an article we wrote on how to throw an unforgettable Capture the Flag Redux party.

Today we will explain how to play Capture the Flag for those who are new to this game. We will also mix in some variations for those who have played the traditional version before. There will be a general overview of the game concept. Then we will drill down into the details.

Download our FREE eBook: “21 Ways to Win Capture The Flag” (pdf)

Scroll down to the bottom of this page to watch a video on how to play Capture the Flag.

Capture the Flag is a game of defense and offense. There are two teams playing on a divided field. Each team has a flag that they try to protect as the enemy team tries to steal their flag. It is a game of strategy, speed, and even sacrifice. It is not easy to steal the other team’s flag while you are busy defending your own!

Players defend against the enemy from the opposing team by tagging them, which sends the attackers to a “jail.” These jailbirds can be freed by their teammates who can rush the jail area and tag teammates, which gives them a free pass out of jail. The game is over when one team captures the other team’s flag and carries it back to their side of the field without being tagged in the process.

Simple enough? That is the broad overview of how to play Capture the Flag. See this video for a visual demo. The devil is in the details so let’s dive deeper.

Some Capture the Flag concepts are comparable to other sports. In football one team wants to reach (capture) the opponent’s end zone for a touchdown. The opponent must defend their end zone by playing defense. The teams go back and forth on offense and defense trying to get to the goal – the end zone.

In Capture the Flag, both teams are on offense and defense at the same time, sort of like basketball. Part of the team is defending and part is attacking. And a defender can turn into an attacker in a split second if he sees an opening. Just like when a basketball defender steals the ball and races to the opponent’s goal for a dunk.

Capture the Flag is also similar to warfare. Remember the Trojan War? You know, the one that started when a Trojan prince was crushing on a Greek queen? The goal in that war was to retrieve the queen from behind the walls of Troy. The Trojans were on defense and the Greeks were on offense trying to capture their queen and return her home.

Now let’s break down the steps on how to play Capture the Flag

Two teams are needed, so divide your group up equally. If you have more than three players on each team then you need a way to designate one team from the other. One team can have blue flags (think flag football) and the other team can have green for example.

The playing field is divided in half and marked with a natural border or you can use cones, string, or a line of rocks – be creative. Each side needs a jail area marked off so captured players can be “locked down” until they are rescued or the game is over. Before the game starts, both teams have a chance to hide their flag in their own territory. They can’t put it under objects, but the idea is to put it where it is not easily found.

Flags can be actual flags on a stick. Or they can be a frisbee, a ball, or even a towel. Just make sure each team’s flag is marked as their own. You don’t want two flags exactly alike since that would be confusing!

The game begins and both teams try to capture the enemy’s flag. It helps to have a strategy before the game erupts. But some teams prefer to wing it. I’d put money on the team that takes time to create a plan. Having certain players be defenders and others play as attackers makes for an organized team. A team with no plan may have too few defenders and lose their flag due to all their players being out of position to protect their flag.

In a good game of Capture the Flag, there will be a back and forth battle. Players will be tagged and sent to jail. They will be freed in daring jailbreaks by their teammates. Sometimes stamina plays a role in who wins. Long battles can tire out players. So those in better shape will still be fast after running around for 30 minutes or more.

Other times cleverness wins the game. Tricky strategies like the Greeks using the Trojan Horse can be the difference in a Capture the Flag battle.

Certainly, teamwork wins many games. Players on the same page are more likely to overcome a team who doesn’t work as well with each other. Planning before the game and communication during the game are the hallmarks of good teamwork.

To answer more questions on the micro details of how to play Capture the Flag, and variations here we go.

  • Tagging method – You can use two hands or one. Or use flags like are used in flag football (DIY idea – cut up old T-shirts).
  • When players are freed from jail there needs to be a rule about how they get back in the game. They can either walk back to their turf before continuing or maybe they can get right back into the action as soon as they are free.
  • Decide if flags can be passed to teammates or even thrown if using a ball or frisbee.
  • Once the flag is hidden, can it be moved by the protecting team during the game? You decide and mix variations in to keep the games fresh.
  • More than one flag for each team can be used if there are lots of players on each team like this world record game (video).

The bottom line with Capture the Flag is comparable to boxing. Hit and don’t get hit! Attack, but don’t forget to defend.

The Trojans were good at defense for many years versus the Greeks in the Trojan War. But they let their guard down and ended up losing that war. It was a hot mess with soldiers crawling out of a wooden horse in downtown Troy!

Keep that in mind when you and your tribe are playing Capture the Flag. It only takes a few seconds to lose your flag to the enemy. Winning the game takes good offense and a vigilant defense.

If you have any more questions about how to play Capture the Flag, please ask in the comments section. It’s a fun simple game, but there are many options and ways to enhance the experience.

If you enjoy playing Capture the Flag, you’ll love our exciting glow in the dark version that you can play at night called Capture the Flag REDUX.

Capture the Flag Redux Game Image

It feels pretty great when your team wins a game of Capture the Flag. Not only did you defeat the enemy team in a fun game based on speed and agility, you outwitted them too! That’s why this game has been so popular over the years. Brains and muscles combine for hours of fun competition.

If you do not know how to play this great game, here is an article we wrote on how to play Capture the Flag.

There are many variations of Capture the Flag. It has been around for years as an outdoor game. And in recent years it has been incorporated into online video games like Overwatch and Call of Duty. An exciting glow in the dark version of Capture the Flag is also available by us here at Starlux Games.

Capture the Flag REDUX banner

We are going to lay out five strategies for winning at Capture the Flag in the real world outdoors. But for you online gamers, here are a few tips:

  1. Don’t overdose on Red Bull.
  2. Take a nap after 19 straight hours.
  3. Open some blinds so your body won’t reject sunlight when you finally venture outdoors.
  4. Drink pickle juice for thumb cramps.

 

Now, here are our top five strategies for winning when you play our versions of CTF in our original nighttime game or in our newest game, Glow Battle. We’ll also toss in some tactics that you should not attempt.

5. You probably won’t win very many Capture the Flag contests with an undisciplined team. Do you think the New England Patriots would win so much if their offense let any player be the quarterback? Ridiculous right? Every team needs to have its players know their role. A team needs some guards to protect their own flag. And some attackers are needed to go after the flag in possession of the enemy.

With defined roles, your team won’t risk leaving your flag unprotected. Faster players will make for better attackers and slower ones will make for better guards. Each role is just as crucial as the other though. A team wins the game, not a single player. Tom Brady is the right QB for the Patriots, but his team wins as a unit, not as individuals.

 

4. It sounds like a simple thing, placing the enemy flag on the best spot on your side of the field. Most of the time teams will put it as far away as possible at the edge of their territory. But your team should give thought as to whether there is a better spot. Maybe it would be easier to guard the flag if it were closer to the middle of your territory. It’s possible that your team could take fewer chances and keep an eye on the enemy better by placing the flag closer to the middle ground.

It’s crucial to pay attention to how your rival team is attacking if you play multiple games. If you’re losing consistently then why not change up the location of your flag? Doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results is the definition of insanity. Some would say playing video games for 19 hours straight defines insanity pretty accurately too!

 

3. Have you ever noticed football teams with great offenses tend to win a lot of games but often lose in the championship game? It’s true more often than not. There’s something about a fast-paced offense that does well consistently but loses when confronted with a patient defense. So your team can choose to attack aggressively to win a Capture the Flag contest. And you’ll likely win many games if you have speedy players able to dodge the enemy team.

But if you’re in a tournament you may wind up defeated in the end by a team that focuses on defense. In tournament situations, it would be wise to mix in a patient defensive strategy with an opportunistic offense to keep the other team off balance.

 

2. Use your best player as a decoy. If you have the fastest player on the field, you have a big advantage. But use him or her wisely. Just sending the speedster straight after the flag at the start of the game will get them knocked out of the contest early since the other team still has all of their players defending.

Instead of risking your best player in a direct attack, send them near the flag, then let them lure the defenders away from the flag. Your one player could occupy 3-4 enemy players as they try to catch your version of “The Flash.” This should make it easier for your remaining attackers to make a run for the flag.

*One tactic that won’t work – sending a herd of players bunched up in a barbaric attack on the flag. You might get a rush of adrenaline for a few seconds, but your team will get picked off easily as they are too close to each other.

 

1. “All warfare is based on deception.” –The Art of War. Pretty solid advice from the ancient Chinese war manual. To Capture the Flag and win bragging rights, you will need to outwit the opponents. Use trickery, distractions, and maybe allusions if you happen to have a magician on your team.

Telling “yo mama” jokes probably won’t be effective unless you use it on a hot-head. Not a good idea as you could end up captured in a headlock! Your team is better off using these deceptions to win the game:

  • Have a player act like he has the enemy flag, yelling like crazy for a few seconds as he races back from their territory. Think of it as a flea-flicker.
  • Your team could pretend one of the opponents has your flag when they are in attack mode. Just a few seconds of confusion could give you an opening to their flag.
  • Who says you have to go after the enemy standing up. You can crawl, roll, hop, skip, (generally act crazy while in motion). Whatever it takes to throw them off their game.
  • Send a line of blockers with an attacker behind them. This is a common attack mode. But instead of having them go all in, set up another runner to circle around the other side with a little delay. The blockers will draw the defenders out a bit so your circler has a shot at capturing the flag from behind.

All you need to do now is use these top five Capture the Flag strategies the next time you get a chance to play. Winning these games takes planning and creativity. You won’t win every time by using the same old tactics again and again. Mix it up in order for your team to dominate.

We all want to win in any competition. But Capture the Flag is one of those games that makes you smarter, more aware, and improves your endurance even when you don’t win. Experience is a powerful teacher, and in this case – a fun one.

Click here to download our FREE eBook: 21 Ways to Win Capture the Flag.

 

Capture the Flag Redux Game Image

* The featured image used in this post is by Kadena Air Base and can be downloaded at http://www.kadena.af.mil/News/Photos/igphoto/2000151764/