Full Disclosure: Jellybean Games sent a prototype copy of Jabberwocky so that I could write this Kickstarter preview.
The Jabberwocky campaign launches November 20 and can be found here.
What is this game about?
Jabberwocky, like its predecessor, The Lady and the Tiger, is not a single game. Instead, it is a collection of games that can all be played with the same components. Jellybean Games held a design contest to see who could come up with fun games to play, and each winner's work has become one of the games in Jabberwocky. One of those games, Bandersnatch, is a solo puzzle game.
In Bandersnatch, your goal is to score ten or more points by "broiling" various colored gems. What this means in terms of gameplay is that you manipulate cards in your play area in ways that cause gems to be added to or removed from the field of play. If you surround a card on all sides with cards that are "busy," i.e. cards that have gems on them, then that card is "captured." If there were gems on that card, the gems are "broiled" and put in your scoring area. There are three colors of gemstone, and while green and yellow gems that you broil will win you points, purple gems can lose points for you. On the flipside, green and yellow gems left on the field of play at the end of the game will cost you points, while you gain points for purple gems that are still in the play area when the game ends.
What I like about Bandersnatch
I think that Bandersnatch is a charming little puzzle game. There are plenty of decisions to keep it interesting, and a number of different strategies to try—especially in a game with so few components. The cards you put on and take off of the playing field can come back later with surprising consequences, and deciding where and when to add/remove gems makes for a fun challenge. I also love that the game has a shrinking field of play, so deciding which cards to "capture" will affect the entire rest of the game. Bandersnatch is also very small and highly portable, which gives it strong potential as an on-the-go game to keep in a backpack.
Possible concerns about Bandersnatch
Bandersnatch is an enjoyable puzzle, but it's just that—a puzzle. If you pick it up looking for theme, you will be disappointed. Additionally, I spent a lot of time referring to rule charts the first few times I played, because while the game is very simple, it's not 100% intuitive. I did not consider this to be a problem, but I also enjoy abstract puzzle games. Another thing to keep in mind is that Bandersnatch is not the whole show. Jabberwocky is a collection of games, most of which are not solo (although one other game in the box does come with a solo variant). If you are looking for a purely solo experience, I am not sure that Bandersnatch will justify the price of a whole new game. If, however, you are a gamer who sometimes plays solo but who also enjoys quick and charming games with others, then Jabberwocky looks like a good choice for you.
Should I back it?
If you are interested in the full package that Jabberwocky has to offer, then yes. The art in this game is excellent, and the possibility of getting several interesting games for the price of one is alluring. If you're strictly looking for solo, Bandersnatch might not be meaty enough to justify the purchase.