The 10 Fun Capture the Flag Variations Explained

  • By: Kevin
  • Date: October 4, 2021
  • Time to read: 8 min.
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Capture the flag has many variations which include using multiple flags or multiple teams. Players can capture a ball instead of a flag and the games become more fast pace throwing the flag to another player. At nighttime glow in the dark CTF is awesome with glowsticks or flashlights. Add a spy on each team for a fun twist.

Warm summer days are a perfect opportunity for kids to get outside and play. Capture the Flag is an excellent game to include in your arsenal of outdoor games, but it can be played with some modifications depending on how many people you have playing.

If you don’t have enough players for two teams, some of these variations will allow everyone to participate!

Original Capture The Flag

Capture the flag is a great game that has many benefits for learning. The main idea is to play with a group of 8 or more people, best to play with 10+ depending on the size of the playing area.

First, we have to figure out the playing field and in the middle, a neutral line needs to be added similar to how a basketball half-court is. The left side would be the red team and the right side would be the blue team.

You would need two flags to play the game as well. Each team hides a flag that can still be viewable as in you can’t hide it under a rock or inside anything.

Both teams would try to get the opposing team’s flag by going into the enemy territory. At any time you can get tagged by the other team if you are in their area and then you are sent to jail.

Jail is located in the middle of the enemy team’s territory. You can then be set free by getting tagged by your teammates.

When one team is capturing the flag and brings it back to their side of the field they have won the game. Now you can play again but the teams must switch sides to keep it fair.

Capture the Flag Variations

There are a lot of different variations of the game capture the flag as it’s such a fun game and people love keeping it fresh. You will also see CTF in all types of video games as it’s very fun and strategic.

1. Multiple Flags

One of the best ways to spice up the game is to add more flags to find on each team. This is best for a large group of people that are playing together.

Make sure to add an equal amount of flags on both sides.

2. Multiple Teams

This is a great way to play to add lots multiple aspects of the game, it makes the game very fast pace and you never know where someone is going to come from. The game is played with 3 to 4 teams.

The team members will constantly change who they are going after depending on who appears to be in the lead. It’s easier to gauge this if you are also playing with multiple flags.

When making the rules specify how one team wins, you can either have a team drop out if they get their flag captured, or the first team to get one flag wins it all.

3. Among Us

I call this among us because it’s kind of like the game, some will be SUS! This version of capture the flag is easy, it’s exactly the same except at the start everyone on each team gets a piece of paper.

One person is actually a spy for the opposing team! There will be one on each team and they will try to help the other team win.

This variation is so much fun but once the “spy” identifies themself by trying to win for the other team then the spy is officially on the other team and can be tagged and sent to jail right away.

4. Halloween Theme

Halloween is always such a fun time of year everyone dressing up in their costumes, why not add a variation like this for the students to play at school. When the game starts it will be just like the original capture the flag only difference is they are all dressed up for Halloween.

5. Night Time

Playing capture the flag at night can be a lot of fun if you can see it! There are two main ways you can play this. Some people use flashlights, when using a flashlight you are not allowed to run but you can sneak around.

To run you have to turn the flashlight on. It’s a great variation but be careful and it’s recommended to play on a flat field if it is too dark to see much.

Another twist you can even use with this is glow in the dark. There are some products you can buy to have glow-in-the-dark flags to plant and wear.

This goes the extra level, they also have an expansion kit if you are looking to have a lot of teammates for this.

6. Paintball

These games require protective paintball equipment and paintball guns. It’s the same idea but instead of tagging if a teammate gets hit with a paintball they are out of that game.

It’s very important to use cover the best you can and try to flank the other players in this CTF variation. Try to hide behind big rocks and trees.

Take a small rock and throw it to the side to distract them and you could get them to move enough so you can take them out. I have played this before and I have seen someone win 1 on 5, so it’s never over till it’s over.

Very fun game!

7. Water Play

Here we use water balloons as tagging and if you get hit with a water balloon you are out of the game. Keep going till you get the flag or a whole team is out. If the balloon doesn’t break, you are still in.

Some people even play if you catch the water balloon without it breaking the person that threw it is out, we will let you decide if you want to do it this way with your own rules. That’s the fun thing about capturing the flag game variations, you can make them any way you want.

8. Throwing the Flag

This method changes the flag to a ball or frisbee. Once you get it you have to throw it to someone else, but not automatically to your base.

Some people allow 2 steps and then they have to throw. Again with the rules, you can make it if the ball hits the ground it stays where it is or it goes back to its original location.

9. Werewolf

Here you take one person and they are the werewolf vers everyone else. If the werewolf gets a tag that person becomes your teammate and has the same power as you do.

The opponent’s team can shrink really fast if you get off to a good start. The rest of the CFT is played the same way.

10. Single Flag

Want to make things really fast pace just put a flag in the center on the neutral line instead of being hidden at the back ends of the field. This will really give you a physical workout as it is very hard to bring the flag back to your area.

I like to play this one differently and instead of the usual where you go to jail instead you freeze in place if you get tagged. To get unfrozen you have to be tagged by a teammate.

This is a great version if you have a small playing field. The first team that gets the flag back to their base without being tagged wins.

Extra Capture the Flag Rule Variations

Make sure to set basic rules like one hand or two hand tags for example.

Jail Variations

Most people prefer something different than the classic jail version because it keeps people out of the game and doing nothing but waiting.

Physical education recommends having a task to complete when you get tagged to go to jail.

This keeps the kids continuing to move and they can quickly get back to search for the flag. An example of this would be if you get tagged you have to go to the jail area and do 10 jumping jacks or 10 situps and then you can be released.

Another version has people walk all the way back to their own flag after the opponent got the tag. If you don’t want to set up a jail at all you can set up freeze as an alternative.

When the teams are tagging instead of going to jail they freeze in place. At that point, you have to wait for your own team to tag you to unfreeze you, but make sure to have a rule if all your teammates get tagged and are frozen.

You could also hang ribbons from the player’s belt and they only have so many lives, if you take a ribbon they lose one and usually have one left after they walk back to their base. Once they have no more ribbons they are captured for good and no longer able to play.

Odd Amount of Players

If you have an extra player we recommend having them be the referee and they can also hide the team’s flag so even the students don’t know the territory before the game starts. After the first game is over, send the extra player to the team that has lost so they will have a better chance of winning the next game, this could be a huge game-changer for them.

If you rather just have the extra person play right away, put him on the team that has the least space and hiding areas for the flag.


Capture the flag is one of the best outdoor games of all time. You can play it with lots of friends or students can play it at school in a large space or field.

The higher the number of players the more fun it will be to search for the flag in the other team’s territory. Looking for another outdoor game to play with fewer people, check out how to play cornhole.

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