INTERVIEW: Carnival Zombie Co-Creator Matteo Santus


by: TJ Fowler

Foreword:  A few years back I caught wind of a little game coming out of Italy based of a Zombie Apocalypse rising out of the watery canals of the sinking city of Venice during Carnival.  As I looked more into this game I knew I had to have it and was finally able to track it down in Germany and through various connections was finally able to get it to me in Finland.  After having played the game many times with friends and dying at the hands of countless zombie hordes in Carnival masks, I have come to the conclusion that Carnival Zombie is not only a very fun game to play with friends but also a very challenging and not one you will ‘win’ very often but it is a game you will come back to over and over.  With great art, a unique aesthetic and cultural appeal Carnival Zombie is a game that every board game fan should own.  The 1st edition sold out fast but speaking to one of the game creators, Matteo Santus, in my interview below you can read about plans rising from the dark lagoons in Italy for a 2nd Edition and you can help summon the great dead Leviathan once again through some ritual called Kickstarter…


  • First let’s talk about your history as a game designer and what got you interested in making games.

I always loved to play and I started game designing when I was very young, in primary school I think. I always loved to design games and with a couple of friends (Jocularis and Gomez), did so for many years just for fun. Suddenly in 2009 Gomez passed away from a terrible illness and so Jocularis and I decided to honor him by publishing the games that we designed with him.

  • Now tell us about Carnival Zombie and the uniqueness of the setting and some of the ideas in the game.

The characters (dressed in Italian traditional masks) are in Carnival of Venice while the apocalypse breaks out and the dead start to rise from the lagoon. They have to flee from the city that is sinking because underneath it there is a huge undead Leviathan, the zombie’s overmind, that is awakening. During the day the dead are beckoned below the water to help the beast in freeing itself, while during the night they swarm the city and hunt for survivors. Thus the characters will have to fight during the night to survive and try to move as much as possible through the sinking city during the day to reach salvation (there are many ways to survive and flee the city)

I always was a fan of zombie and apocalyptic themes, but I never found a game that I really loved that captured the subject the way I liked. At first I got the idea of the overall development that the game should have, then I made a rough prototype and I gave it a try with Jocularis, who loved it, then came the idea of setting it up in Venice during the Carnival and we fell in love with the idea, so Carnival Zombie was born!


  • So…why no dice?

Because there’s no need for them! The most exciting thing about Carnival Zombie is the feel of the unrestrained and endless horde of the dead, you shoot at them and you cannot miss because they’re slow and dumb, but they never stop coming… and you scream in terror! So why loose time with rolling dices? I think that rolling die is just downtime and ruins the feeling that I wanted to give to the game.

  • The 1st edition was very successful tell us about that and these plans I hear about a 2nd

Carnival Zombie 1st Edition was very successful. It sold out in just 3 months after its release in November 2013 and was very well received by gamers. So we immediately started planning for a 2nd Edition on which we wanted to improve our game, both in materials and contents.Carnival Zombie also impressed the publishers, many of whom we immediately started talking to about a co-production. Unfortunately publishers wanted to change the graphics of the game because they found our zombies too gruesome and grotesque. Believe us, we know Italian zombies really well and they aren’t cute at all! We like our zombies the way they are and most importantly, we think that they are perfectly themed for Carnival Zombie’s setting. So we don’t want to make them cute. But ALBE PAVO is a small studio and we simply do not have the resources necessary to publish a reasonable number of copies worldwide to reach all the customers who want our game. So we decided to try the crowdfunding on KICKSTARTER.


Tell us about the Kickstarter you have planned

Planning the KICKSTARTER is a real challenge. We don’t want to waste the opportunity, so we are working very hard both in the game and in the campaign. There are so many things to do: study the crowdfunding, setting up a business plan, finding the best shipping solution, planning advertising, talking with the press, using social networks, doing the video, setting up the graphics…and on top of all of  that we are working on new content, which is the most important thing!

  • Can you tell us about the Pledge Levels?

We are not willing to set up too many pledge levels, but we definitely have a lot of things to offer, so there will be pledges for everyone I think! There will be room for people willing to buy just the game and also for people who want Jocularis’s original artworks or wishing to be more a part of the game itself… you will see!

One thing we have decided not to do is give an early bird discounted price and that’s because we think it isn’t fair for people finding our project by luck and it feels uncomfortable to see that there was a discount and you missed just because of luck or just time zone. I hope that people will support our game for what it is, despite not having an early bird discount.

I want to tell you that we will never forget the 1st edition owner, so they will have a pledge level for buying an upgrade kit for improving their edition.


  • Tell us fans what is the difference between 1.0 and 2.0 and why we want the new version!

In 2nd edition that will be KICKSTARTED we will improve many things:

  • MINIATURES: Miniatures for the 6 playable characters.
  • SCEANRIOS: A totally new gaming experience with new challenges for the heroes, giving you the chance to try different types of gameplay. More details below!
  • BOSSES: New Boss mechanics.
  • IMPROVED RULES: Improved and fixed rules details.
  • RULEBOOK: Total revision based on reviews and comments from many players.
  • NEW OBJECT CARDS: A new object for each character. (this will be a KICKSTARTER EXLCUSIVE)
  • IMPROVED COMPONENTS: Better board quality, darker barricade cubes, outlined terrain tiles, and improved graphics for easier reading and playing.


Scenarios are really really cool and will allow players to face totally new challenges.

Some of the features that you will find in scenarios are:

  • Tutorial scenario
  • Shorter games
  • Traitor
  • Scalability: variable number of characters in play (one character for each player)
  • More ability game
  • Night-only scenarios

The 2nd Edition will be released with new scenarios in addition to the base campaign that was already so successful in 1st Edition.

And we have a LOT of new gaming contents that we would like to unlock: objects, characters, bosses…

  • What kind of Stretch Goals will you have?

We have many of them, but I cannot reveal them here and now. I can tell you that we have many contents that we would like to unlock and most of them are not just eye-candy, but real new gaming contents.

Basically stretch goals will be divided in:

  • New objects;
  • New Characters;
  • New Enemies;
  • More miniatures.

And we also have a very special ending for the campaign’s final stretch goal: help us unlock it!

miniature 6

  • How long will the Kickstarter run/When will it start

We plan to launch the campaign in early spring 2016 and to run it for 40 days.

We thought that 30 days was too few for Albe Pavo because we’re small and not famous, but we don’t want to run it for a 60 days campaign wither because that seemed too long.

  • Everything sounds great so far with what you got planned. Here is your spot for any final words or messages you would like to tell everyone out there.  Go for it!

Please ask people to “like” us on our Facebook page to follow news on the campaign here:





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