The new Vehicle Handbook has as some serious advantages, which is important for Referees and gamers. But, it has one notable fault, a lack of imagination and innovation, that restricts it from the greatness that is the Central Supply Catalogue.
There is also the matter of price, but that’s for the end of the post.
From a dedicated Mongoose ref perspective, the Vehicle Handbook is very useful, with the construction of a vast range of craft — land, sea, air, underground, and undersea — in less than five minutes. This level of abstraction is a disappointment for those of us who cut their teeth with Fire, Fusion and Steel, or even GURPS Vehicles (for the GURPS Traveller guys), but for those who like to focus their game on group role-play rather than individual design — a matter of taste, true, but a common one — then this would be quite a boon.
Naturally, things are lost in the ether because of the abstraction: most notably weight, but also speed (besides categories like “Very Slow”, “Fast”, etc.), sensors, etc. That’s the price for fast design: and admittedly, today’s Travellers have little interest in the design/engineering side of things.
From my perspective, the great flaw is the lack of imagination in the various designs. Only a few things really light the fire, like so many items in the Central Supply Catalogue. Even six or so tables, giving out a wide range of possible modifications, the modifiers they provide, the cost, a bit of colour text, and good graphics, would have raised the value of this supplement.
And that leads to the problem of cost. For the goods provided, it simply costs too much at $29.99. I was expecting fewer typos and more cool ideas and graphics, but that just wasn’t there. Perhaps if this was sold at a lower price point, and another Vehicle product was provided with an impressive variety of possible cars, grav vehicles, beanstalk cars, etc, then it would have worked out nicely.
Traveller needs to be affordable to a larger market than just grumpy old grognards.