The Zombies gathered in a bloody pack inside the safety of the flag zone. They were shredded and gaunt, with sunken eyes and gaunt limbs. Regardless of their condition, they were in possession of the enemy flag and they had only one choice: to make a break for it. They huddled and muttered their plans when suddenly a siren blasted them back into reality: a camouflaged Commando had sprinted from Zombie territory, past a line of defenders and burst through the DMZ into home base. The score was now 4-0.
“Zombies vs. Commandos: Capture the Flag on Governors Island” was our latest NYCentric Event. The rules are simple: two teams on opposite sides of a field had to invade the enemy territory, grab their flag and return it to home base without getting tagged and captured. POWs go to jail and languish there until brave team members charge through enemy territory to free them via jail break. Again and again, bloody Zombies challenged green clad Commandos as battles raged over the combat field. Most of us have played Capture the Flag as children, a summer-time camp favorite. We Levys learned it as Boy Scouts in Troop 8, Flatbush, one of the oldest troops in NYC, sadly now gone. But we wanted to spice it up.
When we first conceived this event, our military themed strategy and combat game was the perfect choice for Governors Island; a bucolic, car free setting resembling an empty Ivy League campus. Without a doubt, Governor’s Island, a former Army and Coast Guard base, is the coolest, newest old thing in New York City.
Most New Yorkers know that the Dutch founded New York as New Amsterdam in 1624. Few know that their first settlement was on Governors Island, which they named Nutten Island (for the walnut trees.) This strategic spot in the harbor was a military base for over 200 years. Benjamin Franklin ordered a garrison to be built on the island, and those cannons fired at British warships as they sailed up the Hudson River – the British warships were eventually destroyed under the shadow of the Palisades. Forts were built before the War of 1812 and Confederate prisoners were held on the island during the Civil War. Eighteen minutes after war was declared on Germany in 1917, soldiers departed from Governors Island, boarded German steamships in Hoboken, NJ and took the sailors captive as Prisoners of War.
I guess this military history really inspired our players , because many more arrived as Commandos, which at first overwhelmed the outnumbered Zombie team. Then Super Zombie (aka Matt Levy) came to help. Slathered in fake blood and howling an insatiable thirst for brains, Matt’s secret ability was to tag Commandos in their own territory and clear the way for a few flag points. But the Commandos had their own secret weapon: Gideon as SuperWeapon X, covered in green camo paint, assisted by a swarm of 11-year-old recruits, were able to cover the enemy field.
We played about a dozen rounds over the course of two and a half hours. Some rounds went by lightning fast and some seemed slow as reloading muskets. Some involved intricate tactical strategies and some involved simple bursts of speed and daring. Some rounds were frustrating and some were exhausting but from the very moment people started marching down Colonel’s Row for a big game of Capture the Flag, we knew for certain that everyone was in for a long afternoon of unabashed, exhilarating fun.
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By Jonah Levy.