Capture the Flag Rules, History, Tips & Equipment

A history of Capture the Flag, how to play, tips for improvement & necessary equipment

How to Play Capture the Flag

Capture the flag is a traditional outdoor game composed of two teams. The object of the game is to capture your opponent's flag. If caught in an opponents territory players are brought to jail and can only be saved by a teammate who can free them.

Capture the Flag History

It is believed that the game of capture flag finds its origins on the battle field. In the past, soldiers knew when the war was over when the enemy's flag was captured. It did not matter how many soldiers died or were captured, a war was not declared over until the flag was caught. During the American Civil War soldiers who were able to capture the enemy's flag or protect their own, were awarded the Medal of Honor. Children have been playing capture the flag in the boy scouts and at camp for over 60 years.

Capture the Flag Rules

Capture the flag can be played indoor or outdoor. However playing outdoors usually provides more space. Players need to agree on the size of the playing field, and divide it into two territories. Together the players should designate what areas will be their jails, where they take captured opponents when they are caught. Each team has a flag that they hide in their territory. A team wins when they capture their opponent's flag. To capture the flag a player must enter the opponents territory take the flag and bring it back to their territory without being captured (tagged). If a player is caught in their opponent's territory by being tagged they are brought to jail. They can only escape jail if one of their teammates is able to elude defenders and reach the jail safely. When this happens the player can choose to rescue one of his teammates and they have a free trip back to their territory.

Some variations include:

  • The number of people one player can rescue from jail.
  • If a player is caught they are out of the game instead of going to jail.
  • There is safe area around the flag for enemy players.
  • One hand or two hand tags denote player capture.

Capture the Flag Tips

Players should strategize with teammates to determine what players will attack the opponent's flag and which will defend the team's flag. Teams should have some attacking players pose as decoys to distract the opposing team. The flag should be hidden in a good spot away from enemy territory.

Capture the Flag Equipment

To play capture the flag you need two objects that can serve as flags. It helps if each team has some sort of uniform ie. light or dark shirts. Teams need objects to mark boundaries, and the two jails.