How Does Scoring Work In Capture The Flag?

capture the flag scoring

Unlike many other sports and games, there is not a distinct score in Capture the Flag. Instead, the game is continued until one side has achieved their mission of capturing the flag from the opposing territory and bringing it safely across the center line. In many instances, the two teams switch sides once a game has been won by one of the teams.

Setup of the Game

capture the flag setup

Capture the Flag can be played at any age level but is most commonly played in a Physical Education or Gym class in Elementary and Middle Schools. Capture the Flag can be set up in different ways, and no two games look exactly alike, but in its most basic form, there must be two sides that are even in size with two teams that are split up evenly. There is a center line that separates the two halves, and each side has an area reserved for their flag, as well as an area reserved as a prison or jail.

In some games, especially games that are played outdoors, the teams are allowed to hide their flags to make it more difficult for the opposing team to capture the flag. However, when the game is played indoors in a gymnasium or other area, there is typically a designated spot for each team to hide their flag since there is not enough space for the flags to be hidden.

The game starts with each player on the side of their respective team. While on your own team’s side, you are guarding your own flag and considered safe from being tagged by the opposing team. However, once crossing onto the opponent’s side, they risk being tagged and placed in jail. While the idea is to have a flag on each side, the “flag” can be substituted with pretty much anything that can be easily carried, and all the competitors are able to run with the object.

Basic Rules

capture the flag basic rules

The object of Capture the Flag is to safely acquire the opposing team’s flag and return it to your side without being tagged. If a player is tagged while on the opposing team’s side, they must go to prison and remain there until one of their teammates is able to break them out. The prison is set up in the opposing territory, and another player must safely tag the player in jail in order to break them out. There are also versions of the game where the captured player must do a physical activity, such as jumping jacks or pushups, before they can return to the game. In some games, there can be a jailbreak time where everyone in jail on both sides is free to return to their team and continue playing the game.

In order to make the games fair and fun, there is a designated area around the flag where no one can be tagged, and players on the opposing team can stay in this safe area as long as necessary until they are ready to leave. The players must leave the safe area with the flag eventually in order to capture the flag and bring it to their side. In most games, the safe area around the flag is marked by a circle that is typically between five and fifteen feet in diameter around the flag. The team must not enter their own circle unless the other team enters first. Players are not allowed to pass or throw the flag to a teammate, or else that player will end up in jail, and the flag will be returned to the safe zone. Some versions of the game allow for a tug of war where two players on opposing sides try to pull each other onto their side and tag them.

The field of play is different depending on the game’s setting, and strategy shifts along with this change in the playing field. For example, games played in an open field or gymnasium are often more defensive, and players are less willing to risk being tagged by going on the other side. However, in games played in a forested area or areas with many hiding spots, defending the flag is much more difficult and it allows teams to be more offensive and take more risks. This is because the availability of hiding spots allows for players to be more sneaky and not just purely rely on speed or athleticism in order to capture the flag.

Winning a Game

capture the flag winning a game

A team wins the game when one of their players safely captures the flag and returns it to the opposing side. However, just because one team wins one game does not mean that play has to be stopped. If a game is won quickly, then both teams switch sides and play again. In many instances, the winner of the game goes to the team that has won two out of three times the game has been played. Since the game is typically played in gym class or in a summer camp, there may be time constraints, and sometimes neither team has captured the flag in the time allotted. In this case, the winner is the team with the most prisoners in their jail at the time the game stops.


How is the winner determined in capture the flag?

The winner is determined once one of the teams has successfully captured the flag in the opposing team’s territory and returned it to their own territory without being tagged by the other team. A player can not throw or pass the flag to another player, and the flag will be returned to the safe zone if this occurs. If a player gets tagged, they are sent to jail and must remain there until someone breaks them out.

What if neither team has won and time runs out in capture the flag?

If neither team has captured the flag and the game must end due to time constraints, the winner is typically declared by those who have the most prisoners captured when the game has ended. Games can run out of time due to natural constraints, such as weather or lack of sunlight, or an imposed constraint set by those who have set up the game.