Capture the flag is the classic team game type. Anywhere you go, you’ll be able to find a paintball field that runs a CTF game mode of some sort. When on a team you’ve practiced and trained with, CTF can be a great way to show off your skills and go up against other competitors without getting into advanced game types that have complex rule sets. Or, when you’re out on your own at a public arena, CTF allows you to work with a team towards a dedicated objective other than just shooting at other players. You’ll need more than fast reflexes and sharp aim to win rounds of CTF, so here are a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up over the years.
Tips and Strategies for Paintball Capture-the-Flag
1. Mix Up Your Strategy
The easiest way to lose a game of CTF is to approach every round with a predictable style and strategy. Adding in a variety of different approaches forces the other team to play defensively and prevents them from countering your attacks. For example, on one round, you may wish to approach the flag from an elevated right flank. Even though terrain and cover might work to your advantage, you should avoid repeating this strategy since the other team may post extra players on that side or open up new lines of fire to shut your attack down. Attack from the left instead, or perhaps go with a more spread-out “default” strategy on the next round.
Changing up strategy is easier when you have a dedicated team and can practice different tactics, but you can still organize a random grouping of players on a public field to try out different approaches. I’ve found that it isn’t tough to get a loosely organized team to support you while you make a play, or to get some extra strength on a particularly important section of the field. Add variety in any way you can, and the enemy will never be able to counter your assaults.
2. Suppress the Rushers
You’ll always get a few players who try to rush the flag or push through fire to grab it. They try it because it works, especially in public matches. The only way to counter these players (and anyone else looking to grab the flag) is to lay down a barrage of suppressive fire and punish them if they try and poke their heads up. Suppression can only work for a limited amount of time since the other team will attempt to counter-suppress you, but it buys your teammates precious time to push up and gain the upper hand.
3. Don’t Bait
Baiting is when you allow your teammates to rush out from behind cover and get hit while you try to shoot whoever shot them. I’ve found that this is rarely a good idea since your teammate is all but guaranteed to get knocked out, but you may not be able to hit an enemy shooting from behind good cover. Act like a real backup instead, and push together as a unit.
4. Never Go Alone for the Flag
Unless you’re trying to go for a surprise rush tactic, you should never approach the flag without someone to back you up. Most of the time, the first person to grab the flag gets shot, especially if you’re at an arena that likes to place it in a very central location. But, with teammates to back you up, you should be able to absorb one or more losses while still getting the flag back to a safer location. Going alone will get you nowhere or, worse, possibly turn the flag over to the other team.
5. Know Your Playstyle
A good CTF team has a mixture of different players and playstyles to grant it a more balanced composition and enhanced versatility in the face of any opposition. If you’re a good shot and have an eye for advantageous positions, you might be able to specialize in flag or corridor defense while other teammates push for the objective. If you’re like me, with good reflexes and physical fitness, you might be better off pushing up and strong-arming your way through the other team to get to the flag.
Just make sure not to hang too far back if you play on the defensive side. If you’re positioned too far back, you won’t be able to prevent the other team from going up and snatching the flag or a vital position no matter how much suppressive fire you lay down on them.
In capture the flag, teamwork is more important than any amount of individual skill. You can be the fastest runner and the best shot in the whole state, but you’ll still lose to a random mix team if you don’t have anyone to back you up. Work with your team and incorporate these tips, and you should start winning more on the field.