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Part 5 - CTF Strategy

The best offense, is a good defense
In the game of hockey no matter how good an offense you have you can't win without a good goalie. The same is true in CTF. You can be an expert at stealing flags, but that's of little use if the other team can just waltz into your base anytime and make off with yours. If you recall standard CTF rules, a flag is only declared captured once you return it to your flag at your base. So if you get to your base and the flag is gone you'll have to wait until your team gets it back to make the actual capture.

Defense is the key. It's usually a good idea to have at least 2 - 4 people defending the base at any given time (if there are enough people on your team to allow for that). 2 could stay inside the base to guard the flag, while 2 more could patrol the perimeter of the base watching for opponents.

I should point out that in CTF camping is definitely OK. In fact if you're on defense and you aren't camping, you aren't doing your job. People on defense need to position themselves in the most advantageous spot, which usually means above the flag area in a sniper position. When invaders make it into the base you can then shoot at them from above. A second base defender could then go after them on the ground. If invaders manage to make it out of your base with the flag then you should follow and try to get your flag back.

Offense needs to be sneaky
When you're on offense your job is complicated greatly. Instead of just camping at a spot you need to be devising ways to infiltrate an enemy base. This is very hard if the enemy has a well organized defense. The standard CTF maps however do have areas that can let invaders sneak into a base. Explore the CTF maps on your own before playing actual games. Run around them and get a feel for weak points you may be able to penetrate.

The big point I'm trying to make here is that usually the most obvious entrance to an enemy's base is going to be heavily guarded, so you'll need to find other ways in.

Travel in groups
One of the best offense tactics is to travel in teams of two. One person is responsible for grabbing the flag and getting it back to base, while the other acts as a bodyguard. They're responsible for defending the flag carrier by attacking enemies or taking fire for them.

Large groups can also be effective, but you may want to split them up into smaller teams to confuse the enemy more.

Grapple Hanging
One popular maneuver of base defenders is grapple hanging. Quite simply it's just grappling to the ceiling and hanging there with a weapon drawn waiting for invaders. Here's how you accomplish it:

  1. Find a part of the ceiling where you will have a good view of the entire room but will still make you difficult for invaders to spot at first (usually the best spot is just above the entrance).
  2. Pull out your grapple, fire it at the ceiling, and hold the fire button down.
  3. When you've reached the ceiling pull out another weapon, while still holding the fire button down.
  4. Once you've drawn your weapon you can release the fire button.
  5. You are now hanging freely, waiting for someone to come in.
  6. You can release yourself at any time by hitting the grapple key again (it's the "Q" key in the configuration I suggested).

A demo of this maneuver is included in my demo pak, which can be retrieved from Download Central.

Watch out for grapplers
Now that you know how to grapple and hang be aware of enemies who are doing that. Grapple hanging has the advantage of surprise but it can also leave the grapple hanger in a tough position, as he/she is often an easy target. When entering rooms or open areas with large ceilings be sure to give a quick scan up to see if anyone is attached to the ceiling. Remember that grapple hangers often like to hang just above doors so they can surprise you upon entrance.

When you've got the flag
Here's the situation: you've managed to sneak into the opposing team's base and make off with their flag. You've also skillfully evaded any pursuing enemies. Upon returning to your base though you quickly discover that your team's flag has also been captured! You can't make the capture until your flag is returned. So what do you do?

First off you'll probably want to tell your teammates they need to get your flag back (in case they haven't been watching the status icon of your flag). Next you should find a safe place to hide from roving enemies who are also looking to get their flag back. If you've got a couple of defenders with you then stay put in your flag room. Although this is the most obvious place for you to hide you still have teammates with you who can fight off any would-be assassins. Also you'll be in close proximity to your team's flag once it returns.

If you're on your own however you should probably steer clear of your flag room. Hiding with your flag can be difficult because it puts off a pulsing light that can be seen almost anywhere. I recommend finding a room nearby your flag room where there are plenty of dark areas and funny corners where you can't quickly be seen. Or you should choose a location that will let you get the jump on anyone that should find you.

Using the grapple for speed
When you're playing CTF you may notice some players who are using the grapple to move across an area and not up to some normally unreachable perch. For example they may be at one end of a long hallway and they shoot their grapple at the other end of the hall and "grapple" down to that end. This is an old technique that has its roots in the original CTF for Quake.

The theory behind it was that you could move around much faster with the aid of the grapple than you could by normal running. While this was very true in the original Quake CTF it's not as true in Quake 2 CTF. The designer of CTF has said he never really meant for the grapple to be a speed device. It was always intended just to get players to positions that would normally be impossible to reach (like hanging on the ceiling). It just turned out that the grapple could be used for speed movement in the original CTF. So when time came to design Quake 2 CTF the designer (Zoid, as he is known on the net) designed the grapple more towards his original intention.

So for the most part, it is not a good idea to be using the grapple to quickly "run" across maps. However there are still some cases where it can be quicker to grapple to one location rather than running; particularly underwater.

Changing Teams
Sometimes when you're playing CTF you may get complaints from other players that the teams aren't balanced. Hit the F1 key and a listing of all the players and what teams they are on will appear. If there's 8 people on one team and only 2 on the other then the game is definitely unbalanced. In situations like these some members of the larger team will have to volunteer to switch to the other team to make things fair.

Switching teams is just a matter of typing in a console command. If you want to switch to the red team type "team red" at the console. To switch to the blue team just type "team blue". Remember that when you do change teams you will loose all the points you've accumulated so far and any weapons and items you may have. You will also respawn in a new area of the map.


Phew! Congratulations because you're just about done with this tutorial. Before we say goodbye though I thought it might be good to give you a few links to some great Quake sites. These sites can provide you with a wealth of information and are a great resource for novices and experienced players alike. Click the link to continue.

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