Tag Archives: ctf

Capture The Flag IRL with 3d Printing

capture the flag set

In the Early Days, before there was Team Fortress, and before there was Quake, and before even Doom or Wolfenstein were ideas, in the Early Days when baudrate was a term yet unheard and then forgotten when 56K became the norm, in those Early days did we play Capture the Flag outside, with our very bodies, and in those Early Days we skinned our knees and laughed and played and lost and played ’til the shiny fireflies bid us return home to suckle from the hose of gardens and collapse into mud-streaked sleep.

Zerg rushes of anonymous children punctuate summertime in Barrio de Zheng. They overrun the defenses, screen door swinging, slamming, swinging again. One on the Ouya, two on the xBox, three on the Wii, most doing end runs around their parents’ summertime video game restrictions and conveniently not informing me of the fact.

But enough of pixels and vectors and voxels, little ones. I shall teach you the Old Ways, swaddled in furs sufficiently nerdy to invest you mentally in the game before you become physically addicted to the running and laughing with others of your ilk, for the creaking of my joints is the harbinger of wisdom, and I know how to manipulate younglings as I was once manipulated.

Go, now, and play, before Summer wanes and study begins anew, for the Early Days that belong to you will not last ever long.

download I’m assuming that all 1/2″ PVC is cut from the same thicket off the coast of South Carolina, but you may need to scale the diameter of your rings by some constant factor. I used a 4-foot length of PVC.

I noticed some variance in the internal diameter of my PVC, so I designed the finial and butt spike with some wiggle room. You’ll be filling that space with adhesive anyway.

The rings should be snug but I recommend adding a drop or two of glue to hold them in place once you have them in position.

The butt spike is fairly dull and is designed so that the flag can be snatched from the ground by a running 7-year-old. Don’t plant the flag too deeply in the ground.

capture the flag set

Those who come to CTF IRL with only gamer experience to guide them may be shocked to learn there’s little killing involved. In fact, it’s completely optional, and even discouraged in most venues.


Step 1: Choose sides by whatever means work for your particular rabble of kids. Try to divide teams evenly. Smaller children are valuable as sentries, jailors, and sacrificial lambs during a bum rush.

Step 2: Determine the boundaries of play. A yard, a block, a park, whatever you’ve got. In theory you could play this game in a pool.

Step 3: Divide the play area roughly in half. The midline of play needs to be clearly understood by all players, for reasons that will be clear later. Plant your team’s flag somewhere in your territory, preferably as far from the midline as possible.

Step 4: Designate an area within your territory to serve as a jail for captured opposing players. Note the flag guards and jailors hanging back in the setup diagram below.

capture the flag set


The object of the game is to steal the opposing team’s flag and carry it across the midline. Assume two teams, Red and Blue. The same rules apply to both teams, so you can swap Red and Blue as appropriate from here on out.

At the start of the game, Red and Blue line up in their territory, along the midline. Taunting is encouraged.

A player is safe from capture in his own territory but can be captured with a tag (or tackle, depending on your injury threshold) when in the opponent’s territory.

If Red crosses the midline and is tagged by Blue, Red must immediately go to Blue’s jail and wait until freed with a tag from another free Red player. A Red player can only free one Red at a time from jail.

Newly liberated Red and his liberator get immunity from Blue while walking back to Red territory, and cannot touch Blue’s flag or free other Reds until they have crossed the midline twice and returned to Blue turf.

If Red is able to snatch the flag and carry it across midline, Red wins. No throwing or handing off the flag to another player. A captured flag runner drops the flag where he is tagged.

Some illustrations:

Here, a Blue has crossed the midline and grabbed the Red flag, and is speeding towards the midline pursued by a mob of Reds. One Red and one Blue have been captured in each jail. The Red jailor has left her post to pursue the flag.

capture the flag set

But Blue doesn’t make it back to the midline! Tagged by a Red he must go to jail. Note that a sneaky blue has worked his way around behind the Red jail.


Sneaky blue frees the captured player! Captured Blue walks back across the midline and may now cross back into red territory to make another attempt on the flag, or free his remaining teammate.


The player that freed him has immunity, but cannot free the other jailed blue player or attack the flag until he goes back into his own territory and steps across the midline again.