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Carnival Zombie - Board Game Box Shot

Carnival Zombie

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The ancient manuscripts speak of a Leviathan: a gigantic creature lies on the lagoon’s muddy bottom and the foundations of Venice rest on its back. The manuscripts all agree on its sepulchral sleep and on its inevitable awakening one day which will shake the city from its muddy roots: the vitrified stilts supporting it will be crushed and the city will crash into the seething sea from which the monster will emerge...

There will be signs however. It is written that the Venetians will take notice of the Leviathan’s tremors and will be able to escape the monster which will regain his freedom by precipitating into the sea a city by then abandoned. But there were no signs. What nobody knew was that the Leviathan was no longer alive. For centuries, the city lived and flourished on a corpse’s back...

Now this corpse has begun to awaken, and with it the dead have risen from the lagoon.


In Carnival Zombie the players guide a Group of Characters fleeing Venice towards the mainland, far away from the terror emerged from the lagoon and unleashed on the Carnival’s teeming crowd.

Carnival Zombie is a cooperative game for 1 to 6 players that win or lose together because the game itself is the opponent. The Group of Characters must leave the city making their way through putrescent hordes of Infected. The players must however hurry: the Leviathan on which rest the foundations of Venice is awakening and it’s only a matter of time before the city sinks into the dark waters of the lagoon.

Each game is divided into several Nights and Days. During the night the characters take refuge behind improvised barricades to withstand the assaults of the Infected. During the day they move through the city shaken by tremors, when the Infected are called back by the groans of the Leviathan in the abyss, to move and free their abyssal master from the stilts nailing him down to the lagoon’s bottom.

The characters have several ways to leave the city, but little time to achieve it. Moreover, their path will be hindered by Bosses, the most relentless servants of the Leviathan.

Carnival Zombie components
images © ALBE PAVO

Goal of the game

The Players have two ways to win the game: flee Venice or kill the Leviathan.

Killing the Leviathan is very difficult and requires a bit of luck to recover an ancient artefact, whereas fleeing is the most direct way to win.

There are three ways to leave the city: run towards the mainland on the Freedom Bridge pursued by the Infected; navigate the dark and foggy waters of the lagoon by boat, trying to arrive on the shore before the boat is sunk by the dead swarming underwater; contact from St. Mark’s bell tower the airship pilot to get picked up at dawn on St. Michael's island.

User Reviews (1)

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Amateur Reviewer
46 of 52 gamers found this helpful
“Co-op Zombie Survival with a Brilliant Graveyard Mechanic”

In a nutshell: A group of survivors – themed on the Comedia Dell’arte – must work together to survive the zombie apocalypse and flee the city during the Carnival of Venice – the Carnevale di Venezia.

All of the game’s flavor reflects the theme of Carnevale and the Comedia Dell’arte, and particularly the player characters:
– Captain Terror (Il Capitano), aka, The Leader: his abilities generally work to support the group as a whole.
– Lady Columbine (Columbina), aka, The Sniper: she works best at killing single, high-health targets.
– Helequin (Harlequin), aka, The Soldier: great at gunning down masses of zombies.
– Brighell (Brighella), aka, The Muscle: great at holding the line and physically overpowering zombies.
– Pantaleone (Pantalone), aka, The Grenadier: great at making things go boom.
– Doc Pestilence (Il Dottore), aka, The Medic: helps keep everyone alive.

Gameplay occurs in 2 phases, Day and Night.

During the Day, you move on the city map, search for supplies, rest, build barricades, and otherwise try to accomplish the tasks necessary to flee the city. This takes careful planning, because there are several ways to flee the city, and one way to attempt to defeat the Ultimate Evil, and each objective has different requirements and paths. What makes it interesting is that as the game progresses, areas of the city will randomly flood, making passage in that direction impossible, and forcing the group to adjust their plans accordingly.

During the Night, you erect your barricades and fight off the zombie hordes long enough to see daylight again. There are no dice involved here. You see where the zombies are coming from, you know how fast each type of zombie is, and you know how much health each zombie has. So it is crucial that the group properly position their characters (located in the center of the “battle map” behind barricades) to have a firing arc on the right quadrants to effectively fight off the zombies. Each turn, more zombies spawn, based on a card draw, and zombies can vary from slow, weak fodder, to fast zombie dogs, to heavy zombies, to terrifyingly powerful zombie bosses.

And this is where the brilliant Graveyard mechanic comes in. At the end of each Player’s combat turn, they gather up the pile of zombie tokens they just killed, and have to physically DROP THE TOKENS on top of a separate Graveyard board. If the tokens land on the board, they stay dead. IF THE TOKENS FALL OFF THE BOARD, THEY RETURN TO PLAY THE NEXT TURN. Making this even more interesting is that different types of zombies are represented by different shaped tokens. So while fodder-type zombies are simple cubes, tougher zombies are represented by cylinders and cones, making it progressively harder to remove zombies from the fight the more you kill.

This also sometimes forces you to pace the rate at which you kill zombies. It’s easy enough to properly drop 1 or 2 zombies on top of the pile of zombie tokens on the Graveyard, but let’s say you use a grenade, and just wiped out 5 zombies in one shot – that makes it significantly more stressful to dispose of the bodies on the Graveyard pile.

It is this aspect of physical dexterity that really elevates the game and adds a whole other layer of stress to yet another zombie-themed boardgame. Couple that with the excellent theme and many decision points presented by the game, and you have an, excellent, enjoyably stressful zombie boardgame.


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