Before a game of capture the flag, some may envision a Rambo-esque version of themselves. A lone soldier, strolling through enemy lines with a sense indifference. While fun to imagine, in practice this strategy is destined to fail. Capture the flag is all about teamwork. And like any team sport, the lack of communication leads to mistakes and mistakes lead to defeat. Having a game plan — even with strangers — is better than unstructured chaos. There are few ways to develop a game plan for capture the flag.
But before we get into specifics, you need to understand the environment you will be entering. Whether it’s your first match or your 1,000th, pre-game jitters are common. Even more so in the minutes leading to your first match. You will see and hear a lot. The sound of paintballs slapping barricades like bugs on a windshield becomes louder with each consecutive crack. Knowing that soon that cracking sound will be your skin. Your anxiety levels rise with each passing moment. This environment is intimidating. Do not let the sights and sounds get in your head. Because let’s face it, entering a game with fear is not only weak, it’s distracting.
The best way to mitigate pre-game anxiety is by understanding how to play paintball and its game variants. In this case, our focus is to capture the flag. Don’t think that having the best paintball gun will save you, entering the game knowing the basic rules and tactics will. Not only will you look prepared, but you will also have an upper hand. You may be wondering where to find this information. Look no further. To ease your mind, we will now feed you some knowledge one tiny spoon-full at a time.
Before we talk about how to play capture the flag, you first should stop and observe. Many call this walking the field. Spotting potential sniper positions, flanking routes, and choke points will give your team an upper hand. This is common in other sports. Do you think F1 drivers enter a race without driving the track first? No, they don’t. Being familiar with your surroundings is imperative to you and your team’s success.
Now that you know the lay of the land, we will cover the basics of capture the flag. When you get down to it, the rules are simple. Each team has a base, and within that base sits a flag. The objective is to penetrate the enemy base, capture the flag, and return it to your team’s territory. Some rules only require you to capture the flag without the need to return it, but this is different from place to place. Sounds simple, right? Eh, not so fast.
You need a game plan. This means deciding a roll for each teammate. The number of players will differ from one game to the next, but the rolls are the same. Your main focus should be on defense. Defending your flag is priority number one. Let’s say you have a team of five, at the minimum you want three players to hang back. Two close to the flag and one player in the middle of the playfield. Ideally, you want one of these players to act as a sniper. Finding someone with the best paintball barrel will help along with the best paintball sniper will help your team fill this role. Their job is to pick off advancing enemies and report movement to nearby teammates.
Now that your flag is under proper care, you will need some runners. Smaller more nimble players are best for this position. Larger players are easier to spot and hit. A runner’s job is to penetrate the enemy base and secure the objective. Deciding how to approach this will come with trial and error. Heading down the middle of the playfield is risky, but with a diversion, it can be successful. Flanking is a classic and successful tactic as well. You may find that after all that planning your teammates start dropping faster than you’d expect. At this point, if you haven’t already, you should fall back to your base. In some ways, you may have an advantage now. Enemy players will have to be more aggressive, they have to come to you. And since you already observed the playfield you know the best position for your last stand. Just because the odds are against you does not mean all is lost.
Capture the flag is a classic game. In paintball, it takes knowledge, teamwork, and preparedness to be successful. With the tips we provided for you today, you are well on your way to waving the enemy flag in victory.