Carnival is an intriguing mix of card and dice game that pits you against your friends as you try to collect all the parts to open your carnival first.

Special thanks to Dice Hate Me Games for the photo!

A turn consists of rolling the dice, choosing two of the three and getting actions based on those values. These range from simply drawing a card to stealing parts of other players’ midways. You can block some of these actions using one of three tickets you start the game with, and can earn more by completing attractions.

I was impressed with this game. I’m not a huge fan of dice mechanics, but each die value has something valuable and I wanted the ‘weak’ rolls as often as the strong ones. The shielding mechanic from the tickets made choosing who to take from an interesting decision each time it came out.

I apparently took a risky strategy by waiting to play cards until later that all of my opponents. It allowed me to know what I wanted out of my overall strategy before rushing into more cards by playing as much as possible. My opponents all took different maneuvers, from building broadly, to focusing on one ride at a time. The pieces were all good quality, and the price isn’t bad for a boxed card game.

Overall, I really liked my experience and look forward to playing it again.

I think this is going to appeal to both the hobby gamers and those who prefer more traditional fare. And coming from a family that has both, that’s always a good thing.

Oh, and beware the triple six.

EDIT: As chance would have it, Dice Hate Me Games launched a kickstarter for their next game as this post went live. VivaJava is a semi-cooperative board game, which already puts in on my list for unique ideas, and the theme looks fun. It’s also got a brilliant kickstarter page, so do yourselves a favor and go check it out!