Capture the Flag

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The bridge area in the center of 2Fort.
The bridge area over the crevasse on Double Cross.
I got it, I got it, I got it!
The Scout capturing the Intelligence

Capture the Flag (commonly abbreviated as CTF) is a game mode which features both RED and BLU teams with their own Intelligence briefcase (known as the flag). The goal for both teams is to capture their enemy's Intelligence continuously until they have reached the game's capture limit (default limit is 3) whilst preventing their enemy from achieving the same. If no team completes the capture limit before time runs out, the match enter Sudden Death mode (unless either Intelligence has been taken and is still in play, in which case Overtime occurs until both teams' Intelligence are secured again).


A RED Scout carrying the Intelligence.

The Intelligence, also known as the "intel", "flag", or "briefcase", is the eponymous flag and objective of the Capture the Flag game mode. It is a team-colored briefcase sporting a complicated numbered lock pad on the front and papers protruding out of its joints. Once picked up by an enemy, the case begins to glow in the carrier's team color and will emit paper particles and a long team-colored trail.


During a Capture the Flag round, each team is given their own Intelligence located within their section of the map. It must be retrieved from this location by the opposite team and returned to a defined point, usually the opposing team's capture zone where their Intelligence is stored.

The Intelligence can be taken by any enemy player that walks up onto it, but can not be interfered or moved by a friendly player. Once picked up by a player, the Intelligence then appears on their back and the Announcer notifies both teams that the Intelligence has been taken. The Intelligence indicator located on the HUD then points in the direction of the carrier, who must make their way out of the enemy base and back to their own. Carriers are visible to their respective team players as they emit a green, yellow, or red glow (based on their current health) that can be seen through walls.

While carrying the Intelligence, players become more vulnerable. Additionally, certain conditions may result in the player being unable to pick up and carry the Intelligence.

  • Intelligence carriers cannot use Teleporters.
  • The ÜberCharge of the Medi Gun cannot be used on or by the Intelligence carrier, nor can a player pick up the Intelligence while ÜberCharged by this weapon (the charges from all other Medi Guns can be activated and work on both the Medic and the patient, even if one of them is carrying the Intelligence).
  • Scouts are unable to drink Bonk! Atomic Punch while holding the Intelligence, and may not pick it up while under its effects.
  • Soldiers equipped with the Rocket Jumper and Demomen equipped with the Sticky Jumper are unable to carry the Intelligence.
  • Spies are unable to carry the Intelligence while cloaked, but can pick it up while in disguise, removing their disguise. They cannot disguise or Cloak while carrying the Intelligence.
  • The Intelligence is dropped if the carrier is killed or enters a resupply area.
  • Engineers that use the Eureka Effect can teleport via the weapon's taunt, but the Intelligence drops at the spot the Engineer teleported from.

Once the Intelligence is taken to a capture point, the successful team gains one point shown in the Intelligence indicator, and receives ten seconds of crit boost. There is no need for the capturing team's own Intelligence to be on their capture point at the time of the capture.

The Intelligence can be dropped manually if the player carrying it presses the drop-item button (default key: L). Once dropped, a clock-like timer ring appears over the Intelligence. If the default 60 seconds pass without an ally picking it up again, it is automatically returned to its original position in the team's base. If an ally picks up and subsequently drops the Intelligence, this timer resets. Teams are required to defend the dropped Intelligence during this period or face losing it.

If the Intelligence carrier is killed by an environmental hazard that prevents the dropped Intelligence from being touched, like a pitfall, it is forcibly returned to its original position. This functionality is not inherent to the intelligence itself, but must be added to the map manually by its creator. While Valve official maps all share this for specific bottomless hazards, not all custom maps may utilize this function.

Certain maps depart from the standard formula of Capture the Flag. On Crasher, players must carry the flag from their own base to a capture zone located inside the base of the opposing team. On Haarp, BLU team must carry their own Intelligence to a capture point that RED team must defend in an Attack/Defend format.


Main article: Community Capture the Flag strategy


Main article: List of maps

Capture the Flag maps carry the ctf_ prefix; community maps are identified with italic font.

Name Picture File name
2Fort Ctf 2fort bridge ss.png ctf_2fort
2Fort Invasion Ctf 2fort invasion.png ctf_2fort_invasion
Crasher Ctf crasher.png ctf_crasher
Double Cross CTF DoubleCross RedBase.png ctf_doublecross
Doublefrost Ctf doublecross snowy.png ctf_doublecross_snowy
Frosty Ctf frosty.png ctf_frosty
Haarp Ctf haarp.png ctf_haarp
Helltrain Ctf helltrain event.png ctf_helltrain_event
Landfall Ctf landfall rc0005.jpg ctf_landfall
Pelican Peak Ctf pelican peak.png ctf_pelican_peak
Sawmill CTF Sawmill Center.png ctf_sawmill
Snowfall Ctf snowfall final.png ctf_snowfall_final
Turbine CTF Turbine Center.png ctf_turbine
Turbine Center Ctf turbine winter.png ctf_turbine_winter
Well Ctfwell04.png ctf_well

Related achievements

Leaderboard class scout.png Scout

Belittled Beleaguer
Belittled Beleaguer
Kill an opposing player that has your intelligence while holding theirs.

Capture the enemy intelligence 25 times.
Steal and then capture the enemy intelligence without firing a shot.

Triple Steal
Triple Steal
Capture the enemy intelligence 3 times in a single CTF round.

Leaderboard class pyro.png Pyro

Cooking the Books
Cooking the Books
Ignite 5 enemies carrying your intelligence.

Leaderboard class heavy.png Heavy

Crime and Punishment
Crime and Punishment
Kill 10 enemies carrying your intelligence.

Leaderboard class engineer.png Engineer

Trade Secrets
Trade Secrets
Kill 20 players carrying the intelligence.

Leaderboard class sniper.png Sniper

Have a Plan
Have a Plan
Capture the flag in CTF.
Robbin’ Hood
Robbin’ Hood
Take down an intelligence carrier with a single arrow.

Update history

October 8, 2007 Patch (Pre-Released)
  • Sudden Death only starts in CTF mode if both flags are at home.

October 10, 2007 (Initial Game Release)

  • Added Capture the Flag mode.
  • Added map: 2Fort.

November 7, 2007 Patch

  • Fixed exploit that allowed players to teleport with the intelligence.

November 20, 2007 Patch

  • Updated server log entries for flag captures to detail the number of captures and the tf_flag_caps_per_round value.

January 25, 2008 Patch

  • Added map: Well (Capture the Flag).

March 20, 2008 Patch

  • Updated CTF mode to remember the player who stole the intelligence from the enemy base and reward that player if the flag is captured by someone else.

June 19, 2008 Patch (Pyro Update)

  • Added map: Turbine.

February 24, 2009 Patch (Scout Update)

  • Fixed obscure bug where spectators were able to carry the flag.

April 20, 2009 Patch

  • Scouts now drop the Intelligence if they're carrying it when they start phasing.

August 13, 2009 Patch (Classless Update)

  • Added map: Sawmill (Capture the Flag).
  • Capturing the flag in a CTF game mode now gives the entire capturing team 10 seconds of crit-boost.

December 17, 2009 Patch (WAR! Update)

  • Added map: Double Cross.

October 6, 2010 Patch

  • Your Eternal Reward no longer disguises the Spy if they are carrying the flag.

January 19, 2011 Patch

  • Added a glow effect to the team intelligence entities when they're not being carried.

April 15, 2011 Patch

  • [Undocumented] Intelligence no longer appears on the backs of players who are carrying it.

May 5, 2011 Patch (Replay Update)

  • Fixed the briefcase not being drawn on players when it's being carried in CTF maps.

June 27, 2012 Patch (Pyromania Update)

  • Friendly players glow when carrying the flag.
  • Fixed rare cases where flag could fall out of the world.

July 25, 2014 Patch

  • Fixed a client crash related to the CTF HUD.
  • Fixed the CTF HUD not updating properly.

January 15, 2015 Patch #1

July 23, 2015 Patch #1

  • Fixed being able to carry the flag with the Rocket/Sticky Jumpers.

October 6, 2015 Patch (Invasion Community Update)

  • Added map: 2Fort Invasion.

December 17, 2015 Patch (Tough Break Update)

  • Added map: Landfall.

March 28, 2018 Patch #1

December 3, 2020 Patch (Smissmas 2020)

  • Added map: Snowfall.

December 2, 2021 Patch (Smissmas 2021)

  • Added map: Doublefrost.

October 5, 2022 Patch (Scream Fortress 2022)

  • Added maps: Crasher and Helltrain.

December 5, 2022 Patch (Smissmas 2022)

  • Added map: Frosty.

July 12, 2023 Patch (Summer 2023)

  • Added map: Pelican Peak.

December 7, 2023 Patch (Smissmas 2023)

  • Added maps: Haarp and Turbine Center.


A BLU Demoman with an outline as if he were carrying the intel, when he is not.
  • Occasionally, the status on the bottom center of the HUD does not change when a player takes or drops the Intelligence.
  • Rarely, some bomb-related responses can be pronounced when a player carrying Intelligence is killed.
  • If a player has the Intelligence and then the map is reset, the next round has the player who had the Intelligence continue to glow until another player has picked up the Intelligence or that player has died.


  • The Neutral Intelligence briefcase is a white-colored version of the standard briefcase that appears in the game files. It remains unused by Valve in official maps; however, it was included by them for use by Community developers in custom game modes (such as "Single Flag CTF", FortWars, and "Achievement Servers"). Valve later employed a version of the neutral Intelligence case as the initial pickup for the Special Delivery game mode, with the intelligence being remodeled into an explosive suitcase.
    • Certain custom flags used in community-made maps, such as 2Fort Invasion and Helltrain, also follow this trend, with matching neutral versions that go unused.
  • As placeholders during early stages, Valve used modified versions of Team Fortress Classic's flags, which can be still be seen in the game files, featuring the faces of TF2's development team. The face that appears on the red flag is that of Robin Walker, the co-creator of the Team Fortress series, while the blue flag bears Charlie Brown.
  • Some Achievements related to the Intelligence can be obtained in Doomsday, a map for the Special Delivery game mode.
  • There is an option that allows servers to specify the length of a crit boost on a successful capture, or to disable it entirely (tf_ctf_bonus_time).