This was my first purchase of a JBE product. I had read the discussions on the MGT board and was interested in taking a look at what was being offered.
The supplement is 11 pages in total, of which only six having gaming information. The other five are the covers(2), a page covering the required OGL legalese and another information page with some more license/acknowledgements, and finally and introduction by the author talking about the sector and the direction he's taking with the supplement (it also includes some backstory for the sector as well). The additional backstory is a nice addition, the rest of the pages are to be expected.
Now, let's get on to the meat of the product. There is a sub-sector map page and accompanying table providing the breakdown of each system on the map. There are a total of 28 systems listed. Each of the major sub-polities (there are two) has their system clusters marked off on the map. There's also a single Zhodani planet along with a few empty hexes marked off as claimed by the Zho. No Imperial planets.
There's a page and a half detail for the subsector, providing some backstory on the region as well as an overview of the economics and political alliances. And there's some backstory on the pirates who flourish here as well. Fortunately for PC's, the pirates in this subsector are more concerned with smuggling than ship stealing or raiding.
There's a total of seven planets that have descriptions provided, with each one getting about half a page. I really enjoyed the detail provided for each one. Kudo's for the editing, since there's enough description provided for each of the detailed worlds to help a referee build a backstory around an adventure. Plus there are the always enjoyable snippets of information that helps provide character to each world. For example one world, known as the breadbasket of the People's Militia (one of the two multi-planet empires), has a problem with pollen that affects offworlders who have to wear filter masks. The author goes on to describe the social/economic layout of the planet in enough detail to provide adventure hooks. The rural nature of the planet offers opportunities for trade and adventure. Smaller towns offer potentially hostile or ill-tempered locals who need something done. And of course there's the built-in opportunity to do some profitable, if risky, smuggling.
The remaining six planets each get a similar descriptive breakdown - providing enough detail to set them apart from the rest while offering reasons and hooks for adventure.
I have two reasons for giving the product a three. The first is that the covers are in color, but the subsector map is black and white. It's easy enough to generate a color map, and the front and back covers (as well as some other pieces) are in color. In this day and age I expect color to used where it's most useful. And maps are (or at least should be) a primary focus of this.
The second, and main reason, I only gave this three stars was the lack of information on the remaining systems, and, to a lesser extent, more background on the two main political entities. There are 28 listed on the map and where system details are provided. But only seven get descriptions. The remaining systems only exist as far as system UPP's go (with a few exceptions to base listings, including pirate). There are two systems listed as Red zones and ten as Amber, so I would expect at least SOME description of why. A handful fall within the seven systems that are listed, but most aren't.
What I think should have happened was that the other 21 systems be given a paragraph description. And any system listed as Amber or Red definitely needed to have defined why they were listed as such. I find it annoying, to say the least, that planets get marked this way and no reason given. If there isn't a reason, then why bother? A referee can easy mark a planet as such if they so choose. If you are going to mark it you need to give a reason. I think it would have helped to provide more information on the two empires. There's mention of nearly 20 pirate bases in the region. I'm sure most are independent outfits, so it would have been nice to know which bases are known as the best places to fence stolen goods or ships, where you can go to repair damage or to get better weapons.
I think the supplement shows a lot of promise, but it's a bit light on details for my tastes. Hopefully the next ones will have more. I wouldn't mind spending double ($6 instead of $3) to get what I'm looking/asking for. It's still inexpensive enough that price isn't an issue.