Legions Players

Capture the Flag: The Basics by The_Phroo

Last updated on Fri, 10 Apr 2009 02:09 UTC

Skiing around randomly, killing noobs, and doing whatever you want to do may work well in pubs. However, you and every player on your team will get your asses kicked if you try to pull that in competition. Your team will need a tight and efficient strategy laid out long before the match begins in order to have a chance against your opposition.

CTF strategy means teamwork. Team structure almost always breaks down to individual assignments of well-defined positions, each with their own roles, and the efficient execution of functions specific to those roles. A good CTF team is like an engine. Each player is a different part of the machine. Also like an engine, if your teammates don't perform their assigned functions, then they won't sync with the other parts of the machine and it will break down - along with your chances of winning.

And if players are the gears in the machine, then the efficient execution of plays is the oil that keeps the machine running smoothly. Each player should have an idea of what he or she should be doing at any point and be able to execute with some degree of competence. Though player skill levels vary, a good, synchronized team effort can ultimately overcome any sloppily organized outfit, no matter how good they are with their chainguns (unless the other team is super godly).



Flag Awareness

The ultimate goal of CTF is to capture flags, not to rack up kills. The immediate game state, defined by the status of both team's flags, should be the ultimate concern of each player on your team at all times. Each player's actions should be derived from this awareness. I cannot stress the importance of this very simple fact enough. Any distractions which lead you away from your assigned function in a play can lead to your flag being captured. Flag awareness is paramount.



Game States

There are four basic game states of which you must be aware:

1.  Both flags are home.
2.  Your flag is home; the enemy's flag is away.
3.  Your flag is away; the enemy's flag is home.
4.  Both flags are away: standoff.

Your team is safe from giving up points only during the first and second game states. The latter two game states possess varying degrees of danger for your team. Of course, the position of the flags in the field respective to either team's stand and whether or not either flag is held by a player will greatly determine the proper course of action for you team as well. There are instances when having your flag in the field is safer than having it present on your stand. I'll say more about these specific instances in a later article.

While there are an almost infinite number of variables that can affect your decision in game, you should always, at a minimum, be aware of the status of each flag. That way, you and your teammates are more likely to be on the same page, and thereby support each other, when the momentum of the game rapidly shifts in your favor or turns against you.

Summary of the most important bit of information in this article:

Your role, given your position, is always dictated by the current game state as well as the positions of flags that are not on the stand.


Positions: Overview

A player's position is usually chosen by the team captain before the game begins depending on his or her available skillset. There are two basic modes: offense and defense. Within each is a number of possible positions which sometimes bridge the gap between them. For this guide, offense and defense will be separated for the sake of clarity and consistency, though be aware that most game-time situations do not allow for such rigid roles.

A number of factors must be determined when choosing what position a person should play. They can be broken down accordingly: skiing maneuverability and speed; combat and aim; and flag play and flag awareness. Specializations such as using the Sentinel, sniping, and midfield flag pickups (none of which I will cover in this article) are also important in the grand scheme of things. Of course, the ultimate skill is whether or not a player knows what to do at any given time during a map.



Offensive Positions

Offense in Legions has a dual role depending on the game state.

When the enemy flag is home, offense should be concerned with getting the enemy flag home to score by capturing the enemy flag, or capping.

When the enemy flag is off their stand and your flag has been grabbed by the enemy, the offense should be concerned with returning your flag.

There are really two main positions for offense: capper and distraction.


As a capper, your main responsibility is simple: get the enemy flag, then bring it home. When your team's flag is home, you'll score a point for your team.

The key to capping is to grab the enemy flag without being (severely) damaged or slowed down by approaching the hostile stand with a good mixture of stealth and speed, utilizing the other offense to distract the defense, and then getting away the enemy flag stand without being killed before you get home. This taks is challenging, as every enemy on the map will know exactly where you are with their beloved flag, and try to kill you to return it.

Speed and stealth are acquired by learning "routes," or set ways of approaching the flag by using the terrain to hit the enemy stand at very high speeds and from odd, difficult-to-see angles. Take the time in a server by yourself to learn or invent routes so that you can execute them efficiently when the time comes. Also, be sure to communicate with your teammates on offense. Coordination is absolute necessary against a strong defense so that you don't disrupt another capper or hit a wall of defense and fail to complete your mission.

On occasion, when the enemy kills one of your team's other cappers and the enemy doesn't return the flag immediately, you can pick it up midfield if you are slick enough. Use stealth and speed to grab it before the enemy shoots it out of the way! However, if you fail, you'll almost assuredly won't usually get a second chance for a successful midfield pickup. It's better just to start a new cap route.

If you get away from their stand cleanly but your flag is not home, then you should either "cluster" with your defense to prevent the enemy team's chasers from returning their flag, or pass the flag off to your defense and go back on offense to try to return your flag, depending on your team's strategy.

Clustering generally involves dueling or dodging chasers until you're hurt, then passing the flag to an uninjured (or at least less injured) teammate. Your team's home defense should help you. During lulls in the action, take time to pass, then heal or respawn. Pass intelligently and pass often. Be ready to cap in a moments notice.

Distraction (Llama / LO)

As distraction offense (also called a distract, llama*, or LO**), your job is to assist your cappers cleanly grab the enemy flag. Distract and disrupt the enemy defenders so they have to focus on you instead of your team's cappers. Time your distraction with your capper so that you attack defenders who may otherwise disrupt your teammate's route. Good communication is key.

During standoffs, you should stay at the enemy base and help get a flag return. Attack their flag carrier, but also try to stay alive in order to llama just in case the enemy's offense returns their flag and your chasers can't finish the job. This position requires enhanced situational awareness and the ability to predict the likelihood of an enemy cap. Remember above all else that when the enemy's flag is off the stand, they can't cap-so pay attention to their flag! Llama grabs, or grabbing without a setup route, are very important in situations where moving the enemy's flag is required to prevent a cap for the opposing team. You can sometimes bring the flag all the way home due to the confusion of standoff situations; however, even grabbing and throwing the enemy flag away from their stand prevents an immediate cap and can allow your team enough time to either return your flag or successfully re-grab theirs.

Note: A "llama" can also refer to players in public servers who grab without any speed or concern for the enemy's defense, thereby moving the flag a few meters and then dying, allowing the flag to be shot into some crevasse out of which you may never successfully grab it. This use is derisive, and so this scenario should be avoided by players with an ounce of pride in them.

Note: The term LO is a hold over from the Tribes days when distraction offense was primarily played by players in light armor loadouts. LO is often played by Raider, which is the medium armor class, in Legions, so I don't use the term LO in this article.



Defensive Positions

Defense also has a dual role in CTF depending on the game state.

When your flag is home, the defense should be primarily concerned with stopping incoming cappers while killing the enemy's distraction to prevent llama grabs.

When your flag is off their stand and the enemy flag has been grabbed by your team, the defense should be clustering to retain possession of the enemy flag. Certain defense (chasers) may go on offense to return your flag.

There are two main positions for defense: chaser and home defense.


The singular role of the chaser is to keep the friendly flag home at all costs. As a chaser, when your flag is on your stand, you should avoid (or kill) the enemy's distraction until while trying to stop incoming cappers from grabbing your flag-or hurt them on the way in and out. If any cappers get away, chase them down and kill them! The concept is simple, but executing flag defense and chases properly can be extremely difficult against a good offense.

Properly timing your returns is an absolutely crucial element behind executing smart flag defense. When you kill an enemy capper, you should first ensure that your base is clear before returning the flag in the field so that an enemy llama doesn't grab your flag immediately after it teleports safely to your stand. Next, find out if your capper is en route to your base with the enemy flag so that you can time your return at the moment that your capper hits the stand. The less time there is between the return and cap, the harder it is to prevent.

Remember that if you must return the flag at any time, or if the enemy team caps your flag, respawn and get back on defense ASAP! You may be tempted to stay on offense after chasing an enemy back to base, but the rest of your team will be short-handed if you don't return to your position.

Chasing is a complex position and deserves more coverage in a later article.

Home Defense

As home defense, your primary job is to protect your flag stand and to ensure control of the enemy flag when one of your cappers makes it back to base safely.

When your flag is home, do everything in your power to keep the stand free of enemies while helping to stop incoming cappers. If you flag is grabbed, unless it falls in the immediate vicinity of the stand, you should begin to concentrate on killing the distraction offense and llamas at your base to prevent llama re-grabs in the event of a return.

Alternately, when your capper is coming home, regardless of the situation, you should drop everything and get ready to receive a flag pass from a capper, or at least protect a reasonably healthy capper so he can score or pass the flag and heal. During standoffs, cluster with your team's capper to protect the flag.

Above all else, never leave your flag stand unprotected. If you must respawn or if you are killed, immediately return to your stand and protect your flag or flag holder. Leave the chasing to the chasers! If you cannot depend on your teammates, then you may as well hang it up on the spot.




The variety of strategies you may employ from here is practically endless. At the highest levels of play, teams may choose strategies that forgo the game-state/position model I just described. Some teams employ midfield offense or defense. Snipers may also be used for offensive or defensive purposes. However, practicing and learning this basic model of teamwork will teach you to focus on the flag and prepare you for some of the advanced topics that will be covered in successive articles.


— The_Phroo