How To Play: Carnival

Diving into Carnival, we covered key strategies from knowing your opponent to optimizing booth placement. We outlined game components, rules, and wrapped up with refining your strategy for victory. It's a mix of smart planning and fun, ensuring your next game night is both competitive and enjoyable.

Hey there, Carnival lovers and curious board gamers! In this post, we’re taking a fun ride through the vibrant world of Carnival, a game that’s all about strategy, laughs, and maybe a bit of friendly competition. Below, we’ve got an easy outline of how to play Carnival, plus some of the best strategies to help you win. Whether you’re new to the game or looking to up your game, you’re in the right place.


What’s in the box

  • 1 Game board
  • 24 Attraction cards (6 types, 4 each)
  • 48 Ticket cards
  • 1 Cotton candy spinner
  • 4 Player tokens
  • 12 Performance tokens (3 each of 4 types)
  • 1 First player marker
  • 12 Gold coin tokens
  • 20 Silver coin tokens
  • 30 Bronze coin tokens

How To Play Carnival: Rules Summary


Let’s get the carnival started! First, lay out the game board and shuffle all the cards. Deal five attraction cards to each player. Then, place the ticket cards, cotton candy spinner, and coin tokens beside the board. Each player picks a token to represent them on the board and places it at the starting position. Don’t forget to appoint a player to be the first marker holder.

  1. Lay out the game board.
  2. Shuffle and deal five attraction cards to each player.
  3. Place the ticket cards, cotton candy spinner, and coin tokens beside the board.
  4. Each player picks a player token.
  5. Select a first player marker holder.


Now, let the games begin! The player with the first player marker starts. On your turn, you can play attraction cards to open new booths, spin the cotton candy spinner for special actions, or use ticket cards to move around the board. Always keep an eye on your opponents and block their moves whenever you can.

  1. The first player starts the game.
  2. On your turn, choose to play attraction cards, spin the spinner, or use ticket cards.
  3. Try to block your opponents’ moves.


Winning at Carnival is all about strategy and a bit of luck. To win, be the first to fill all your booth spots with attraction cards. Keep your moves unpredictable and seize every opportunity to advance.

  1. Fill all your booth spots with attraction cards to win.
  2. Stay unpredictable and seize opportunities.

Special Rules & Conditions

In Carnival, there are a couple of twists to keep in mind. If you land on a ‘Cotton Candy’ space, you get to spin the cotton candy spinner for a bonus. Some ticket cards have special actions that can either help you leap ahead or set your opponents back. Play smart!

  1. Land on ‘Cotton Candy’ spaces for bonuses.
  2. Use special action ticket cards wisely.

Best Carnival Strategies

Mastering the Art of Reading Your Opponent

When playing Carnival, knowing your opponent is as crucial as knowing How To Play carnival itself. It can turn the tide in your favor.

Spot Their Strategy Early

  1. Watch their opening moves. Are they aggressive or saving up?
  2. Notice the tickets they collect. It reveals their game plan.

Adapt to Their Playstyle

  1. If they’re aggressive, build your defenses. Collect tickets they need.
  2. For a more cautious player, speed up your game.

Use Their Predictability Against Them

  1. Once you see a pattern, block their key moves.
  2. Force them out of their comfort zone, making mistakes.

The Ultimate Guide to Mastering Ticket Strategy in Carnival

1. Prioritize High-Impact Moves

Firstly, always aim for the tickets that let you make big moves. This means going for actions that either set you up for a future win or disrupt your opponents’ plans. It’s all about impact.

2. Balance Your Ticket Use

Secondly, balance is key. Don’t blow all your high-value tickets early. Spread them out to maintain a strong position throughout the game. This keeps your opponents guessing.

3. Adapt to the Game Flow

Lastly, adapt. The game changes, and so should your strategy. If you see an opponent taking a lead, consider using your tickets to block them instead of sticking rigidly to your plan.

The Ultimate Guide to Mastering Booth Placement in Carnival

To truly dominate in Carnival, optimizing your booth placement is key. Here’s how:

1. Corner the Market

  1. Choose locations near game entry points to catch players early.
  2. Spread out booths to cover more area and block opponents.

2. Leverage Hot Spots

  1. Identify the most visited spots and place high-value booths there.
  2. Keep an eye on opponents’ successful areas and consider nearby placements.

3. Plan for the Long Game

  1. Place booths in locations that may not initially seem valuable but can become strategic as the game progresses.
  2. Adjust your strategy based on the flow of the game and opponent moves.

So, there you have it, folks! Playing Carnival isn’t just about slapping down tickets and hoping your booth draws in the crowds. It’s about strategy, a bit of luck, and knowing when to make your move and when to hold back. Remember, every game is a new opportunity to refine your tactics. Keep an eye on your opponents, make every ticket count, and place those booths like you’re the ringmaster of your own circus.

## Mastering the Midway Madness

As you pack up the board, remember the laughs, the close calls, and the triumphs. Carnival is more than just a game; it’s a battlefield of wits, strategy, and carnival dreams. Whether you’re playing with friends or family, each game is a chance to hone your skills for the next showdown. So next time you unbox Carnival, you’ll be ready to dazzle and dominate. Until then, keep dreaming of cotton candy clouds and the sweet taste of victory!

Want to know what we think of Carnival? Read our detailed review of Carnival here

Jamie in his proper element: With all of his board games
Jamie Hopkins

With years of dice-rolling, card-flipping, and strategic planning under my belt, I've transformed my passion into expertise. I thrive on dissecting the mechanics and social dynamics of board games, sharing insights from countless game nights with friends. I dive deep into gameplay mechanics, while emphasizing the social joys of gaming. While I appreciate themes and visuals, it's the strategy and camaraderie that truly capture my heart.