Hard Vacuum is a sci-fi space combat game based in a fictional World War II. The players take on the roles of pilots from either the U.S. Space Corps or the German Raummacht in about a dozen well balanced scenarios spanning from around 1942 to 1945. The game requires you to supply the playing surface (the rules are designed for either a hex field or a completely free form field) and the dice (which ideally should read 0-5 instead of 1-6). The counters are supplied on a laminated piece of paper roughly the same quality as the cover of the book, you must cut them out.
Each turn begins with each player secretly marking down how much thrust they are applying to which thrusters on their ships. These are simultaneously revealed, and thrust markers are added/removed as needed. Because space is a vacuum, thrust applied in one direction will mean you go in that direction until you compensate for it!
The next part of the turn is the combat phase. Players must roll the dice to determine if they can still see their opponent. If they can see their enemy can they shoot. All the players fire their weapons simultaneously, and then they apply the results of hits and criticals at the same time. The turn is now complete.
There are significant technological differences between the American and German spacecraft. The German craft are generally more powerful, but have a limited supply of fuel and weapons, while the American craft are weaker, but their fuel and weapons supply automatically recharges each turn.
Hard Vacuum is aimed at any fan of classic sci-fi, dogfight, or space combat games. It has a lighter, almost comic book quality in its setting and the game does not get bogged down by complex rules or mechanics. Once the game mechanics are mastered (which does not take long), a complete game can be played in under an hour.