Community Capture the Flag strategy

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This article is about Community Capture the Flag strategy.

General strategy

  • Good players and good teams in CTF matches strike a balance between both offense, trying to capture the enemy Intelligence, and defense, trying to protect their own Intelligence. In most cases, it’s important to have at least one or two players constantly devoted to defending the Intelligence, since most classes are not mobile enough to both attack the enemy Intelligence and defend at the same time. It’s also very important for the defending players to communicate with the rest of the team that might not be paying attention, to inform them of when extra help defending the Intelligence is needed. In turn, attacking players concentrating on stealing the enemy Intelligence should inform their team of the location of dropped Intelligence, and ask for extra help in getting it out of enemy territory.
  • Many teams rely on Engineers for defense in CTF. While Engineers are certainly well suited for the role, assuming that Engineers alone can prevent the Intelligence from being taken is a mistake. There is no such thing as a Sentry Gun that perfectly defends the Intelligence all by itself, even if it is placed right in the Intelligence room. Engineers are vital as the backbone of defense on a CTF map, but it’s important to have some other classes nearby to help out on the defensive end as well.
  • Extreme aggression from an entire team can often backfire, since it concentrates the enemy inside their own territory, making it that much more difficult to grab the Intelligence, and it also leaves the aggressive team open to easy captures.
  • The faster any enemy capture attempt is stopped, the less likely it is for your Intelligence to be brought out to an area of the map where defending it is much harder.
  • Capture the Flag maps vary in terms of how defensible the Intelligence is. 2Fort is notorious for being defense-oriented, whereas the map Double Cross has a much more open and easily accessible Intelligence room, and benefits teams that are being extremely aggressive in their capture attempts.
  • All CTF maps have general structural similarities. There are always several routes to access the Intelligence room: one that is direct and accessible to all classes but highly trafficked and obvious, and one or two more that are either longer in terms of distance or only accessible to the more mobile classes. For example, the three main routes on 2Fort are through the battlements (Sniper deck), through “the grate”, and through “the courtyard”. On Turbine, these routes are through “mid” (the direct route through the middle of the map), “spawn”, or the “vents” (the ventilation shafts).
  • The middle area of most maps is generally open and easily covered by Snipers. Quite often there is a constant battle being waged for control of this part of the map. The middle of the map is also the only location where both defense and offense can occur simultaneously, since the Intelligence of either team almost always has to pass through this area to reach the other team’s base for a successful capture.
  • Remember Capture Critical hits! Quite often the Crit buffs can allow a team that gains a successful capture to get another one soon after by tearing through the enemy team. Lay low somewhere until enemy Crits have worn off. If you are about to capture the Intelligence, inform your team so they can prepare to let loose. In close or very competitive games, pass the Intelligence off to a defending player such as an Engineer to capture so as not to waste potential firepower from the capture Crits.
  • Scouts and Spies are by far the best classes for reaching, grabbing and moving the Intelligence even when it is well defended. Even if they get annihilated soon after touching the Intelligence, they can buy time for a real attack to break through and secure it. Scouts and Spies are great for penetrating enemy Intelligence rooms and bringing the Intelligence at least partway out of the enemy base. Against vigilant enemy teams, help from the other classes is usually needed to bring it all the way home, but every little bit helps. Defenders beware: give Scouts and Spies an inch, and they’ll take it a mile.
  • The Pyro’s Compression Blast is a very effective way of preventing and even undoing an Intelligence carrier’s forward progress. At least one Pyro is vital for defending dropped Intelligence.
  • If you are carrying the Intelligence and the enemy team is attempting to knock you back with the Compression Blast or some other ability, drop the Intelligence before they are able to erase your forward progress.
  • If you are carrying the Intelligence and a faster class such as a Scout is nearby, drop the Intelligence for them to pick up. The Intelligence will likely reach your capture area much quicker this way.
  • The capture score can determine how aggressively teams can afford to play. If a team is one capture away from victory and the other is not, the losing team will usually try to defend at all costs and attempt to force a Sudden Death or Stalemate. The leading team can afford to be very aggressive, however it can risk losing its lead if too many players choose not to defend. For this reason, even a team that seems to be hopelessly behind should have least one player trying to capture the enemy Intelligence if for no other reason than to force the enemy team to divert some resources to defending.
  • The key to winning CTF is a balance of offensive and defensive classes. Balance out your team with a variety of offensive and defensive classes to be the most effective.

Class-specific strategy

Leaderboard class scout.png Scout

The Scout’s speed and maneuverability make him an obvious choice for Intelligence stealer and carrier. Using Bonk! Atomic Punch, the Force-A-Nature, and the Sandman is a great combination for an Intelligence-grabber Scout, since it maximizes his ability to breach and bypass enemy defenses, utilize alternate routes, and make a successful getaway by stunning or knocking away anyone who tries to stop him. Aside from attacking the enemy Intelligence, the Scout can also be useful for harassing enemy Snipers, being a general distraction with Bonk!, and also by being a sort of “midfielder”, playing both on offense and defense as the need arises.

Leaderboard class soldier.png Soldier

As a strong all around general combatant, the Soldier can play any role in CTF. The ability to Rocket jump and the speed boost of the Escape Plan can make the Soldier effective at taking alternate and unexpected routes to the enemy Intelligence room, and he is one of the few classes capable of single-handedly dealing with enemy Engineers or other defenses that might be protecting the Intelligence. On defense, the splash damage of the rockets are great for disrupting the movement of enemy Intelligence carriers making it a good all-rounder class in CTF.

Leaderboard class pyro.png Pyro

The Pyro shines on defense in CTF, keeping the area around the Intelligence Spy-free. As in any match, the Pyro is also an excellent guard for Engineer positions, blunting attacks and disrupting enemy ÜberCharges and sap attempts. The compression blast is a vital tool for preventing the Intelligence from being picked up, and can also be used to prevent or reverse the movement of Intelligence carriers. When it comes to defending dropped Intelligence, a Pyro on the scene is a must.

Leaderboard class demoman.png Demoman

Aside from his normal role of dealing massive damage and wrecking enemy Sentry Guns, the Demoman has a lot of other options in CTF. The long and often defensive nature of rounds can really reward the use of the Eyelander to build up a massive bonus in speed and health. The Scottish Resistance is great on defense to seal off multiple access points to the base and the Intelligence, and also on offense to diffuse similar traps from enemy Demomen. Sticky traps on dropped Intelligence can stop a single capture attempt instantly, but aren’t always the best for preventing the Intelligence from being touched in the first place. Beware of enemy Bonk! Scouts and Dead Ringer using Spies causing you to trigger your traps prematurely.

Leaderboard class heavy.png Heavy

While the middle of many CTF maps are often a no-man’s land for the Heavy due to Sniper cover, the team bases are usually much more claustrophobic and a talented Heavy supported by a Medic can become an almost unstoppable force in these locations. Heavies are excellent for spearheading an assault to capture an Intelligence briefcase that has been partially brought out of a base by another, faster teammate, since going all the way to the enemy Intelligence room takes a long time both going in and coming out and requires plowing through a lot of resistance. Always defer to a teammate in picking up the Intelligence unless you are the only choice. On defense, the Heavy can be quite an effective Spy-checker and can use his high health to block doorways or other routes to prevent the escape or entrance of enemies going after the Intelligence. The Natascha is great for slowing down Intelligence carriers and making them easier targets.

Leaderboard class engineer.png Engineer

The Engineer provides a vital first line of defense against the easiest offensive tactic in CTF – the Scout. Even modestly well-placed Sentry Guns can completely deny Scout capture attempts, and unlike human players Sentry Guns never get bored of waiting for enemies. Boredom however can be common for Engineers on CTF maps, especially during stretches where the enemy team might not be trying particularly hard to capture your Intelligence. This can be the biggest pitfall of CTF for Engineers however, since often your team assumes that you have the Intelligence under guard, and if you fail to be vigilant, there is actually very little standing in the way of the first person who finally decides to steal your Intelligence. While many players try to relieve their Engineer boredom by building bases in forward locations or even in the enemy base, the wisest course is to build near your own Intelligence. CTF maps are usually never big enough to really require a Teleporter to ferry your team, and Teleporters can actually be detrimental if they divert your team away from your base. The Sentry Gun is usually best placed within range of your Intelligence, otherwise Bonk! Scouts can bypass it, though if there are other Engineers on your team you can gain more freedom to build in other areas of your territory. Never build a Sentry right on top of your Intelligence, since Spies can sap it and start escaping with the Intelligence without being shot down. Staying close to home has the advantage of being near a Resupply Locker, and you can even retreat there carrying a Building during moments of extreme danger and rebuild once the coast is clear. While an Engineer base can protect the Intelligence from many threats and most single enemies, call for help if it looks like you’re being seriously attacked. Medics or Spies accompanying other classes can overrun you very fast, so fight for time while calling for help. On many maps it is possible to use your Sentry and Dispenser to block access through doorways and hallways. Finally, always remember to move or rebuild your Buildings where your Intelligence has dropped. A Dispenser as well as a Sentry is important to allow your teammates to keep defending the Intelligence without having to leave to refill on ammo.

Leaderboard class medic.png Medic

Many players know how vital Medics are for sustaining any kind of offense in enemy territory. Not everyone realizes that they are equally important for maintaining their team’s defenses in their own territory as well. Aside from being near Resupply Lockers and perhaps friendly Engineers and their Dispensers, there is no real advantage to fighting in your own territory compared to fighting in enemy territory when you're face-to-face with an enemy attack. Without Medics to provide immediate healing and overhealing buffs, the enemy team can easily overpower your team’s defenders for just long enough to steal and get away with the Intelligence. Simply because you get to respawn when you die doesn’t help defend in a critical situation, and preventing his teammates from dying is just what the good Doctor ordered. When playing as a Medic, it’s fairly easy to remain alive to build up an ÜberCharge if you don’t leave your team’s territory, though if you aren’t healing wounded teammates this will be a slow process. Things get a lot trickier if you plan to deploy an ÜberCharge in the enemy base. In most cases, enemy Snipers and Spies are your main worries, particularly if you cross the middle of the map. Depending on the situation, you should avoid Sniper territory entirely and try to take alternate routes to the enemy side such as through sewer tunnels. Once inside enemy territory, the ÜberCharge should ideally be used to break through Engineer positions to reach the Intelligence.

Leaderboard class sniper.png Sniper

“Go to the Sniper deck and shoot every head you see” can sum up how most people play Sniper in CTF. While doing this certainly helps your team, it’s important not to get so single-minded that you forget to do other things, such as defending your Intelligence. Bad Snipers will often forget that they have a responsibility to listen to Intelligence alerts just like everyone else. Since you, as a Sniper, are usually on your side of the map, you should always be available to lend a hand to stop an enemy Intelligence carrier, and know a quick response to situations. Generally, being scoped, you are not very wary of your close surroundings. This makes you a great target for Spies and other mobile classes. Jarate is an excellent counter to Dead Ringer-using Spies who can often be incredibly difficult to stop from grabbing the Intelligence, and the Huntsman can come in very handy for dealing with Heavies that reach your base. Finally, many players do not expect Snipers to be anywhere but Sniper decks (battlements), but you can easily pick off more vital targets if you choose a different spot to camp, such as the sewers in 2Fort.

Leaderboard class spy.png Spy

There is a lot of room for creativity and deviousness for the Spy in CTF. In contrast to the time pressure of some game types such as Arena, CTF rounds can often be long enough to allow the Spy some time to get into great positions to cause all kinds of mischief. Using the Cloak and Dagger, the entire enemy base can become your chestnut, allowing you to infiltrate practically any location with enough time and patience, completely unbeknownst to your enemies. However, this can depend a lot on the enemy team’s level of skill and vigilance. If you get sloppy and get exposed and killed several times, you might find that no amount of patience gets you anywhere once several Pyros start sweeping everywhere. Random Spy-checking happens all the time, so never assume that you can hide in a location that is completely safe from discovery. Once you successfully infiltrate enemy territory, the real fun begins. You can relay information on enemy defenses to your allies, including the location of enemy Sentry Guns and Stickybomb traps. Skilled Spies can guide their team’s Scouts to the enemy Intelligence, sap Sentry Guns to allow them to grab it, and then help complete the capture on the way out if the Scout is killed. Spies are also excellent at resetting the Intelligence timer since they can reach it invisibly or from behind and uncloak right on it. The Dead Ringer is an especially useful tool for this purpose since it enables you to approach the enemy without fear of being immediately killed. Aside from causing havoc in the enemy base, Spies can also be excellent defenders by posing a serious threat to enemy Heavies and Medics that can otherwise run rampant in your territory. One excellent way to get easy stabs is to use your team’s own Sentry Guns as distractions.