When I first read about Mongoose Publishing releasing a rather expensive update to their Traveller 2nd Edition core rulebook I expected a cash grab. Over the years I have often criticised Mongoose for over-priced products with questionable quality. Especially the editing was often bad to non-existent. But I have to admit that their second edition of Traveller products were actually an improvement. I really liked the modernized layout and higher production values, even though some of the artwork was really, really bad.
Another reason why I haven’t bought anything in a while from Mongoose was their treatment of third party publishers during the transition from 1st Edition to 2nd Edition of their Traveller line. This combined with the questionable quality of their products lead to me avoiding them for quite some time.
Even after all this I was still slightly intrigued when the new corebook was announced. The improved layout looked like a good start and the fact that this corebook included starship generation rules made me think that just maybe Mongoose had learned a lesson. Eventually I made up my mind and ordered a print copy from Mongoose Publishing directly. Why? Because it’s the best deal available. You get the hardcover book plus the PDF for £45 plus shipping, which is totally fine.
After ordering I expected to get access to the PDF at once, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. My PayPal transaction was still on hold, so I reached out to Mongoose. Interestingly enough, you have to email Mongoose’s owner Matthew Sprange directly and to my surprise he responded pretty quickly and immediately made the PDF available to me. That is actually pretty good customer support especially if you consider that at this point I haven’t even paid the guy. The transaction was still on hold until they were ready to ship the hardcover book a few days later.
To my surprise the book came directly from Studio2Publishing in the US which Mongoose obviously cooperates with. The about 260-paged hardcover book is well bound and looks a lot better than the original 2E corebook from a few years ago. I’ve included a couple images from the book below.
Content-wise not that much has changed from the older version of the rules with the big exception being that they included starship generation this time. I assume that all the errata has been included but – to be honest – I haven’t actually checked yet. At a first glance bad editing doesn’t seem to be an issue this time. There are still a few pieces of art that don’t look that great but overall the quality is in my opinion much better.
One thing which might put off old-school Traveller fans is that everything looks modernized – gone is the retro-SF charm older editions of Traveller had. Personally I don’t mind. At this moment I am much more interested in using Traveller to springboard my own ideas than using it for a traditional Third Imperium game. Given my recent track record I guess I won’t get any game off the ground, but that’s another matter…
Would I recommend anyone getting this book? That depends. If you already own their last core rulebook and are happy with it, there’s not much reason to get the new one. Sure, the art is nicer and the layout is more readable, but overall the mechanics are the same. The addition of the starship creation rules is a nice tough, but at this point most Traveller fans probably already own a copy of High Guard anyway.
If you are new to Traveller, I highly recommend getting this book. It contains everything you need to start playing and it’s a clear improvement over their older rulebooks. Everything else from the 2E line should also be still fully compatible although I guess in the future they’ll eventually update a couple of other books as well.
To my total surprise I really like what Mongoose did with this new book and I wish they had done so from the start. I am still a bit cautious because of their track record, but overall I am looking forward to where things are going. Even though I have a few ideas for campaign settings I am still tempted to check out their new line of 2300AD products, which got a similar update as well.
By the way, alongside with the new core rules Mongoose recently released Traveller: Explorer’s Edition for $1 (or your local equivalent). This PDF (there will be a printed version for £15 later this year) contains all the rules needed to play plus sector generations. I think they also didn’t include all the careers so it’s no full replacement for the core rules, but it’s great if you want to get your feet wet.
I really wish Mongoose Publishing all the best with this new line of products and hope that they’ll not repeat some of the mistakes of the past. It would be a welcome change being able to wholeheartedly recommend their products in the future. The Traveller Core Rulebook Update 2022 is a great start!