This was our first time through the game. Both Brad and I read all the FAQs, online docs and user comments and felt we had a decent understanding of the game flow. SV sounded outrageously funny and we had very high expectations. Brad downloaded the two-sided figures, glued them to cardstock and laminated them for Jill and me as a gift. These turned out to be the highest quality components in the game. Don't get me wrong, you will enjoy the attention to detail in the artwork but the components are far from sturdy. Be particularly careful punching out the secret tokens that are placed face down in the rooms. The backing on one of mine frayed from the picture--now the location of a dead cat is no longer a secret. We decided the cat could be smelled throughout the station.
To start, the four of us each took an accent. My wife, Jill, chose a cockney "Spice Girl" cadence. I took Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter. Kriky! Brad took Abu from the Simpsons and Genevieve pulled out an 80's valley girl. Right! Now that the important decisions are out of the way we laid out the ship tiles. Interestingly two hallways were placed next to each other to reach the shuttle pod. This left an oxygen tank exactly ten spaces away. After tiles we placed sucking vacuum tokens in a string of rooms starting from the shuttle bay. Finally we each placed our characters in different rooms with oxygen.
The four of us were bouncing from room to room looking for parts to space suits and the fuel disk. I'd failed to go through the pictures on the tokens before placing them face down in the rooms so Gen and Jill were a bit confused with what the pictures meant. Oops! I was surprised to find that the game documentation didn't include pictures by the text for the items. So Brad and I did our best to describe what the women might be looking for. Most of the rooms had an atmosphere so the first part of the game had us scrambling around looking for items and largely ignoring each other (aside from the wonderfully accented cross-talk).
During the endgame phase Gen had everything she needed except for a co-pilot. She was waiting in the bay. Abu (Brad) had a full space suit and was poised by the oxygen tank to make the run to the pod. He had stolen and loaded the fuel disk from her earlier when she was clawing for breath on the floor. Gen, our valley girl, was still a little hot over the incident and would rather Abu not join her in the pod. Yet, what other choice was there? Spice Girl was measuring out her breath and looking for a helmet while armed with only radioactive teddy bear while The Croc Hunter (yours truly) was halfway across the station looking desperately for pants when I realized Abu was my ticket out of here. I was two turns away by foot but... turning over a jet pack, I darted for a port leading outside the spaceship and moments later was standing beside Abu with five breathes left, a Louisville Slugger, and a big smile on my face. WHACK! I took him down to five oxygen but not enough to hork the pants. I moved to the tank for a breath.
Valley Girl hinted I should just make my way to the pod and pray for pants but Abu and I both knew that given the two corridor setup you need a full set of lungs to make it unless we had backup O2 (which we didn't). Unfortunately the rolls weren't with me and Abu had a strange metal box that stung for -5 O2 whenever he connected. After three turns of trading blows by the O2 tank, I realized there was a better way. Besides, Valley Girl was three away from sucking vacuum herself. I stayed back to take another breath and let Abu make a dash for the pod. I ran up behind him and > I connected while he missed! That knocked all the wind out of him. "Oy! You won't be needing your trousers now Mate!" Next turn I made my way to the pod with Abu crawling behind me.
"Rumor has it you're looking for an Aussie to sit shotgun, Miss." Abu crawled to her ankle and winked at Valley Girl with a bulging, bloodshot eye before passing out. She spent an O2 to look over his inventory took a mysterious item, climbed in the pod and launched as the Crocodile Hunter fell to his knees. "Kriky! I forgot about the automatic pilot!"
We realized after the game was done that Abu could not crawl towards the pod as he did. The rules state that when you are sucking vacuum you must move toward the nearest O2 stand. Oh well, it made the end of the game priceless.
We were also playing if you depleted your oxygen to sucking vacuum your movement was over. This doesn't make sense though because you would be better to end a turn on Sucking Vacuum than 1 O2 because the following turn would give you two spaces instead of one, respectively. We opted in the next game to allow up to two spaces after landing on sucking vacuum provided you did not exceed the allotted seven spaces.
Game play-wise Sucking Vacuum actually met our outlandish expectations. It's hilarious, fast moving (once you get the hang of it), and yet has some unexpected twists and tactics. Our group is anxious to play it again.