What Are The Rules of Capture The Flag?

Capture The Flag

Capture the Flag is a popular game that can be played both indoors and outdoors. The game consists of two teams, each having its own flag. One flag is typically blue, while the other is red. Each team has a home base where the flag is kept protected from the opposing team. The goal of the game is to make it to the opposing team’s home base, steal their flag, and make it back to your side without getting tagged. If you are tagged, you are frozen in place or put in jail until you are freed from your other teammate, depending on how you want to play.

What You Will Need to Play Capture the Flag?

Capture The Flag Equipment

Things you will need to play:

  • A large open space inside or outside with enough room to run around without injury
  • Two different color flags, one for each team
  • Three or more players on each team
  • Comfortable clothing

Rules of the Game

The rules of Capture the Flag are simple. You must first start by picking the teams. Teams should be as fair as possible for a more evenly matched game. You want to aim for a balance in age or fitness level amongst the teams. After that, you must find and designate your playing area. You want a big and open space to run around in without fear of injury. Once you find your space, you must decide where your home base will be to keep your flag safe from the opposing team. There is one flag placed within each home base, and once the flag is placed, it cannot be moved or touched by its team members. After that, you are ready to start the game.

To start gameplay, all players must start at an even neutral location on their side of the border, so there is no cheating. The border of each side can be marked by cones, rope, or tape, depending on the location you are playing in. Once started, players will attempt to cross the border into their opponent’s territory to capture their flag. Some teams will use pre-planned strategies to distract opponents and capture their flag, while other teams will simply improvise. This depends on the team or the team’s captain. One common way of strategizing is that some players stay behind closer to their flag to focus on defense while sending the other half of their team to their opponent’s side to capture their flag. This strategy aims to provide protection on their own side and retain defensive players if their teammates are captured on the opponent’s side.

Once a player crosses the border onto their opponent's side, they can be tagged. Once tagged, the player must either freeze in place or get sent to the opposing team’s jail, depending on the rules designated before the game. The only way to get out of jail or become unfrozen is to be touched by a team member. A team member cannot move from where they are tapped or the opponent’s jail unless they have been saved from their own teammate, as this is against the rules. If this occurs, the game comes to an end by forfeit. Normally, the game ends when one team captures the other team’s flag from the hidden spot and makes it back to their home base without being captured or tagged, hinting at the title of the game, “Capture the Flag.” 

What is “Jail” in Capture the Flag?

capture the flag jail

Jail in Capture the Flag is the area that people are sent to after being tagged by the opponent. They wait here to be “saved” or tagged by a teammate, which frees them from the jail location. While some versions of the game have players get eliminated after being tagged, others have players go to their opponent’s jail. Each team’s jail is typically in the back of their territory, closer to their flag. The further back the jail is, the more difficult it is to free the players that are stuck there. In some games, players will give the option of a “jailbreak.” During this, all players may become free from jail and return to their home base. Typically, this happens when a team’s side starts to get low on players. In order for one person to be freed from jail, another person from their team has to come to get them out. During the game, one player can only free one person, not multiple people, when going to jail. When returning to their home base, players are free from being tagged by opposing players. Once they return, they can be tagged going back onto the opponent's side.

Making The Game Yours

Although the rules of the game itself have been listed above, some players like to make the game more of their own by coming up with their own rules. A few of the common rules that are added on include:

  • Freeing a team from jail: One player being able to free everyone from jail instead of one player freeing only one teammate.
  • Visibility of the flag: Some players may want the flag to be completely hidden, while others may say that each team has to have visible sight of the other team’s flag.
  • Flags being moved mid-game: Some players may want to give the option for a team to move their flag mid-game if spotted by the other team or if their flag has been attempted to be stolen multiple times.
  • More than one flag per team: If decided upon by both groups, adding a second flag is a way to make the game more challenging.