Topic: Basic Vanilla CTF Teamplay Guide

Dear Tees,

As a follow-up to the Great Vanilla Revival Initiative, I have decided to open our treasure vault and make this guide public. It is provided as a courtesy of the ÆON Teeworlds Team. If you have more specific questions you can reach ÆON on their forum.

While this guide is very basic, it will allow you to dive in the world of Vanilla tactics. While my focus is on competitive games, many of the points presented here are perfectly valid for public games such as CTF5 or other mods. Without further ado, I present to you...

Basic Vanilla CTF Teamplay!

In the Vanilla Teeworlds community, we do like a public/free-to-join game from time to time, but what we like most are competitive games, especially in Capture The Flag.

Now, when you compete in any team game or sport, a very important aspect of the game strategy is teamplay: how each player of the team complements each other in order to make the strength of the team more than sum of the strength of its individual members!

The most basic element of teamplay is positioning.

CTF Positions

Have you ever seen a competitive football game where players just run around as they want, where they have no special role: no goalkeeper, etc? It can happen the last minute of the game when there is nothing to lose and all to gain. But most of the times, players have positions.

It's exactly the same in CTF. Here are the main position categories:

  • Defender (aka def): His main role is to defend the flag, but also to keep the base clean from opponents.

  • Attacker (aka att or atk): His main role is to get the enemy flag and return it for capture.

  • Midfielder (aka mid): Usually posted in the middle of the map, the midfielder helps his defender by preventing enemy attackers to get too many pickups, while covering his own attackers when they return with the flag.

The player who carries the enemy flag is known as "our" flagcarrier or simply flagger.

Sacred Rules

  1. The flagcarrier has priority for all pickups (weapons, hearts, shields). It means that if he shows any interest to any pickup, you have to let him have it and not block them while he tries to. I repeat: always leave hearts and shields to your nearby flagcarrier!

  2. Weapons in your base are reserved to the defender, unless the flagcarrier shows interest. The defender can show you you can take them by pointing at them with the pistol and fire a few times. Obviously, if an opponent is about to take them, you should rather try to have it.

  3. The better a player is, the more priority to have pickups. Don't take a shotgun if you're going to die in 2 seconds while your teammate is carrying your team to victory! You can still contribute with the hook, pistol and hammer. Know your team mates and their strengths: don't take the laser rifle from a very good aimer!

  4. Support your team mate, especially the flagcarrier, instead of playing solo. Try not to block your teammate!

  5. If you already have a weapon, try to leave another to a weaponless team mate.


Blocking is any action that prevents a teammate from achieving a move he could have done otherwise. For instance, if your teammate is faster than you, and you are following the same trajectory, you are the one who has to "let him go", because altering his trajectory will reduce his speed.

The fastest tees always have priority in Vanilla Teeworld's highway code.

Another kind of blocking include hooking your teammate (even by mistake). When you use your hook to move, you have to be careful not to hook him, and that means predicting your teammate move by understanding his intention. You also have to understand his intention when he gets height to start a run, and instead you go right in his upcoming trajectory.

To summarize, you have to know how your CTF partners move so you can predict it and avoid being on the way. In return, they will return you the favor so that your whole team can move quickly.

The last kind of blocking is blocking the projectiles trajctory. If you stay in between a teammate with a laser rifle and the opponent, you will block his shoots. You might obviously block any kind of projectiles (pistol, grenade most), or hook the enemy tee away from a hit your teammate would have made. When you fight a tee in close combat, you have to make your your position does not impair your teammates ability to shoot for longer-range!

Other terms

Here's a glossary of commonly used terms:

  • Flag escape: The moment during which an enemy attacker has taken our flag and his carrying it back, through the map, to his base for capture.

  • Flag return: When you touch your flag so that it returns to your flagstand.

  • Flag lockdown: When both flags have been taken by each team, and each are trying to recover it, while both flagcarriers try to survive.

  • Flag Hunt or Chase: When attackers go after a flagcarrier to return the flag.

Positions by format

As in any competitive game, the positions are not fixed and are decided between players (as they would be decided by the coach in football) before the game, and evolve through the game depending on the success of their strategy.

These are common positions in competitive formats:

  • 2on2 ctf1: One attacker, one defender. Both may act as midfielder: the defender when the attacker attacks (if he's not busy fighting an enemy attacker), and the attacker when there is a flag escape.

  • 3on3 ctf3: One defender, one midfielder/attacker, one full-time attacker.

  • 4on4 ctf3: Two defenders, two full-time attackers.

  • 5on5 ctf2: Two defenders, one midfielder/attacker, two full-time attackers.

  • 6on6 ctf2: Two defenders, one midfielder/defender, three full-time attackers.

These are the positions during "normal" times, that is that they change during flag escapes. It is considered wiser to protect the flag at all costs, rather than try to get the enemy flag and risk to die. Thus, during a flag escape, most players become mid/defenders from their position and focus on flag chase. A flag escape for one team being the opportunity to capture for the other, most team-mates of the flag carrier try to protect him during the chase.

Different kinds of defenders

Starting at 4on4, there are two defenders.

A bit of history. In the early times of CTF in the Vanilla Teeworlds community, we used to have 2 or even sometimes 3 defenders in-base. This situation lasted for maybe one year until a team tried to rethink teamplay. That team was called Qi and realized that having two defenders in the base offered more problems than solutions:

  • The two defenders often block each-other

  • In ctf2, there are pickups under the base that were mostly taken by opponents

  • Enemy attackers would just wait below base to "synchronize" and attack 3 at once to maximize their chances of escaping with the flag

  • When enemies escaped, both defenders were still in base and powerless to stop them

Because of this, Qi introduced a new kind of defenders that have since become standard in all Vanilla games starting at the 4on4 format: prebase defenders (or simply "predef"), who complement the regular kind of defenders now called base defenders (or simply "basedef").

The role of the prebase defender two-fold:

  1. Control the incoming attackers and prevent too many of them to enter base at once, so that the base defender can kill them

  2. Block the escape passage when an enemy attacker has flag to prevent the escape

While being a prebase defender is a hard task, the best defender is most of the time assigned to the base because in CTF, protecting the flag is considered the priority.

Attackers teamplay

Attacking in CTF can be very difficult against good defenders. In high-level games, a 5on5 game can last 1 hour. This is the time to bring back 10 flags, so we are talking about very experienced attackers capturing about 1 flag every 6 minutes, with 3 attackers versus 2 defenders! A 4on4 game, with 2 attackers versus 2 defenders, can also last 1 hour. If both teams have a strong defence, we are looking at 1 flag every 10 minutes!

Thus, attackers have to use any weapon at their disposal to capture, and the strongest is by far teamplay. Good attackers synchronize their attack, try different feints and come from different paths, preferrably using surprise.

It is thus considered common for attackers to "meet" for synchronization wherever they can. Prebase is a good place, but often protected by a prebase defender, so they can meet at the map middle ("mid") instead. Again, the opposing defence will do everything to break that coordination and force attackers to come one by one.

All of this has to be done while keeping a high-pressure on the enemy defence, so that they can't refill completely (defenders have at their disposal many shields and hearts, and remember, priority!), so both attackers must cross the map quickly, themselves try to get pickups for the upcoming fight, synchronize, snatch the flag, make the way back...! A job for a true hero!

Flag lockdown teamplay

When the two flags have been taken, usually the flagcarrier is the attacker who brought back the flag. His attacking teammate becomes his bodyguard while the defenders go hunt with the flag they let go. This can vary between teams but it is a common configuration.

A very common mistake is to be too impatient and leave your flagcarrier alone against his hunters. It might work for one round but after a while he is bound to lose the flag without support, unless if the game is very unbalanced.

After the flag has been returned and the capture, the attackers are supposed to stay in defence for a while until the assigned defenders can regain control of their base.

Different skillset for different jobs

Different players have different qualities that have shown to apply better to certain roles. While there are some players considered as all-rounders who will excell in any position, many players have a position dictated by their own playing style, their skillset and their preferences.

  • Defenders: They are usually very strong close-combat players, with exceptionnally good hooking skills. Many of them are not very fast (some of them are full-time dynamic camera users which prevents high-speed, but most of the time they are low-sens users, which helps aim precision in detriment of speed).

  • Attackers: They are players with very good movements, feints and grenade jump mastery. There are different styles of attackers, from those who kill the whole enemy base to the flag snatchers who just come and run. A key attribute is obviously patience and genius to seize the right occasion.

  • Midfielders: Usually tactical players with good laser/long-range aim, they are the link between defenders and attackers and help their team keep control of the flow of the game.

What kind of player would you be?

Dynamic Beats Static

Now, all of this guide provides the basic strategy, but the best players are the ones who know when to bend the rules, leave their post and make the difference. Good defenders always come up mid to support their flagcarrier on his way back, and good attackers always stay to help return the flag when defenders ask for help because of an escape. A good attacker won't even need to have his defenders ask for help: he'll just know by keeping a timer of the time his flag has been away from its stand.

This a basic guide

But I hope you enjoyed it and will find it useful! There are many more advanced topics in CTF, that come under the moniker of mapcontrol: how you much weight on the game, how you can synchronize with the pickup respawns to prevent your opponents from arming themselves, how you can destroy an opponent's momentum without stopping on the way to his base, and more! But you will have to discover it yourself: Discovering those strategies has been a lot of fun and I wouldn't want to spoil it for you wink


Re: Basic Vanilla CTF Teamplay Guide

Awesome guide! Thanks for this. Hopefully newer players take a look at this so as to improve their skills and strategy. This guide can be just as useful for public servers as private clan games.


Re: Basic Vanilla CTF Teamplay Guide

My only addition would be the good manners of not killing a someone who's typing if they're not a threat.


Re: Basic Vanilla CTF Teamplay Guide

Stryke wrote:

My only addition would be the good manners of not killing a someone who's typing if they're not a threat.

I don't kill them, I hammer twice then move on. smile

Make a sticky that lists rude behaviours.  I got kicked from a vanilla server without any reason given.  Over use of the hook?  "Spraying" with the grenade launcher?


Re: Basic Vanilla CTF Teamplay Guide

kokhba wrote:

Make a sticky that lists rude behaviours.  I got kicked from a vanilla server without any reason given.  Over use of the hook?  "Spraying" with the grenade launcher?

These aren't rude, but on some servers thanks to the vote kick system people will make their own set of rules, which someone make little sense. There is a reload time between grenade shots so I never saw the problem with spamming grenades, but one's mileage may vary.


Re: Basic Vanilla CTF Teamplay Guide

Even though standard TW isn't my thing,
I can recognize this tutorial as being a very good one, and a quite accurate one, if I could say.
Awesome! This might be my motive to start playing Teeworld alot, again.



Re: Basic Vanilla CTF Teamplay Guide

Nice guide! I used to just rush tongue

-RAINBOW DASH big_smile