Gameday First Play – Carnival Zombie

Zombie Survival in Venice…

Can you escape before the Leviathan awakes?

The ancient manuscripts talk about a Leviathan, a huge creature lying on the silt bed of the lagoon on whose back the city has its foundations. All manuscripts agree on its eternal sleep and they all tell that the beast will wake up one day, shaking the city from its muddy roots, smashing the vitrified stilts on which the city stands, and crashing it into the seething sea where the monster will rise. The ancients say, however, that there will be signs; it is written that the Venetians will feel the tremors, that they would therefore save themselves from the monster, who will recover his freedom by plunging into the waves a deserted city.

But there were no signs. What ancients did not know is that the Leviathan is not alive. For centuries, the city lived and prospered on the back of a corpse. That corpse, though, is now awakening – and with it the dead arise from the lagoon…

So this is essentially a co-op Zombie Survival game with fantastic dark artwork and fun game play. The aim of the game is to survive multiple locations over several nights and days and get out of Venice.

This is done by a round of Zombie invasion in the Night then a day phase of healing up, equipping and moving around a map to the next location.

This map movement and multiple ways of escaping is great and makes it more than just a one shot ‘survive the night’ game.

The game takes place in a beautiful board with each player taking on a character. This 3 player game let us control 2 each and I was very happy to have Helloquin as one of my guys. It’s not a ‘Jester’ but it’s close enough. 🙂

Carnival Zombie Helloquin

One of the bad guys is a Joker too, again just like Helloquin, it looks amazing.

Carnival Zombie Joker

Enough about them, how do you play?


Well you start in the middle and you’ll be attacked from all around and yes the comparison will be made to Castle Panic (or Dead Panic to be more accurate). But there’s more to it that that…

You have Barricades around your centre safe area. The regular Zombies, represented by cubes drawn from a bag, move from the outside towards you each turn.

When they get to the Barricades they will knock them down, then they will start damaging players.

The Villains, represented by Cones and Cylinders are again drawn randomly from the bag then their position on the map is determined by a random card draw. They have special abilities like causing extra Zombie Spawns etc

Lot’s of random draws which makes the game unpredictable which is great.

The board starts to look like this…

Carnival Zombie Board

The players can attack outwards from the zone they are stood in. You must attack the closest target to you and work your way out. Your Weapons have a range 0-3 and a certain amount of damage. You pick off as many as you can to stop them taking down your Barricades because if they get to your Barricades you have to use a Melee attack which not every character is very good at and you generally only attack 1 target.

The game is all about Stress. When you take damage you gain stress, you can gain stress to take an extra action in your turn. But it’s not just the characters who gain stress…

When you kill Zombies, the corpses have to go somewhere and sadly those cubes do not go back into the bag. All the Zombies you kill on your turn must be ‘dropped’ onto a not-too-big gravestone. Any that fall off go back into play and your character gains stress.

Canival Zombie Dead Zombies

As you can see it builds up. When you take an action using a big weapon and take out 5-6 of them and you’re happy, then you realise you have to drop them onto THAT with all the other players watching you, it gets TENSE! In fact, a number of times cubes have stuck to my fingers as I dropped them due to the tension!

Night happens for a few rounds with 3 spawn phases and players attacks. The last round of night there are no spawns but you need to clear an Exit. See you’re navigating around Venice using a Map and trying to escape so you need to have that clear path in the direction you want to go.

There are multiple routes to escape but this is handled in the Day time.


In the day you have so many hours to perform actions with your guys and move around Venice. Moving takes a lot of time but is key to getting into position. You can heal up Stress (Which is also important) on your guys and use their abilities.

After all this, which ever location you are at on the board you set up the next level and Night begins again.

I haven’t mentioned everything, just the key parts but that is how the game is played.

I have to say for a co-op game this is great. I generally don’t like them unless there is a traitor mechanic to stop the Alpha Gamer issue but maybe is was down to playing with a good group of people that I didn’t feel that way.

The working through the Map giving a point to the game and not just having it as a Zombie survival game. The ‘dropping the cubes’ portion while weird, really fits into the whole ‘stress’ element of the game. The characters are different and great, the art is lovely and it’s just all round fun.

This is a game I will look to pick up in the future.

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