Blind Luck – The Last Engineer
45 – 60 Minutes
Blind Luck – The Last Engineer is a solo RPG that gives you control of the last survivor against the spider-like scuttlers. The only way to rid your town of these nocturnal arachnids is to search through the ruins for parts to fix the generator and restore power. While scavenging, you’ll come across food, weaponry, and scuttlers.
Lots and lots of scuttlers.
Designed exclusively for one player, I’ll admit Blind Luck is a little out of my wheelhouse. A lot of my love for this medium comes from the social component. Even so, I recognize a solo RPG’s value, especially after this drawn-out quarantine. As is often said, “you didn’t like the game, you liked the people you were playing it with.” Solo RPGs help us really get into the nitty-gritty of what makes an RPG work, free of distractions.
Admittedly, I found Blind Luck to be closer to the board game end of the tabletop game spectrum. Character creation amounts to picking from three classes. Player choice mostly comes down to which of the four parts of the town you’ll venture to each round.
Don’t worry about talking to yourself, there’s no one to interact with besides carnivorous monsters. Blind Luck is fun as a survival horror resource management game but those who look for a strong narrative will find the game wanting. Plenty of RPGs manage to instill a ton of personality in a short page count but here the basic premise is well conveyed but not much else is. The town is decently described but not all that evocatively.
There’s some appeal to the idea that this could be anyone’s town torn apart by voracious scuttlers, perhaps even yours. But it means the game entirely rests on the mechanics. In place of dice, Blind Luck uses a diceless system that lives up to the name. The game comes with a sheet of numbers from 0 to 5. Players close their eyes and randomly make a circle with a pencil. The numbers need to add up to the success range: over the minimum but below the maximum.
It’s certainly a novel approach. One that assumes you have ease of access to a printer. I’m not entirely convinced it goes beyond gimmick territory. It adds a level of immersion, as the players fumble around in the dark. But it’s a lot more time-consuming than just rolling dice and I wonder how well Blind Luck would hold up without that veil.
A little more justifiable and better thought out is the exploration system. A deck of cards is required, with each suit representing a different part of town or major building. Aces are placed at the bottom of the deck, each one leading to the generator where six parts can be used to beat the game. It leads to some great tactical moments, as the player guesses where they’re most likely to find sorely needed resources or run into scuttlers, all while ensuring they have the necessary parts before reaching the generator. It works well and adds something a dice roll doesn’t quite replicate.
While exploring, weapons, food, and candles can be found, beyond the parts needed to win the game. Weapons add small bonuses to the success range when fighting Scuttlers. Food restores your health. Candles are consumable items that allow you to circle the number sheet with your eyes open, while also scaring away scuttlers. It adds some dimension to the game but you do end up lugging around a lot of similar weapons by the time you reach the generator.
Overall, Blind Luck is a simple game with quite a few moving parts. It’s more memorable than some similarly stripped-down RPGs I’ve played but it doesn’t approach the best that rules-lite has to offer. The new systems are interesting but don’t entirely justify the extra steps compared to just rolling a die.
I will say everything is concise and well presented and the addition of a printer-friendly PDF is nice, even if it does keep the stock photos of devastated towns and blurry images of arachnids. But I guess it just shows you really can’t escape the scuttlers.