Little Town Review

Little Town
Worker Placement
Shun Taguchi, Aya Taguchi
Sabrina Miramon
Placing workers, Placing Buildings, Placing workers at those buildings

Little Town provides a worker placement experience that defies its small appearance and name.  While it's definitely on the mechanically simple side of things, its still a fun time!

In Little Town, you and your fellow architects will work to develop, well, a little town.  From gathering natural resources to feeding your work crew to planning out new structures, up to 4 players will collaborate on the layout of the town over the course of 4 rounds.  But did you catch that I said collaborate, not cooperate? – it’s every architect for themselves as you vie for points and the choicest building plots in town.  By cleverly combining worker placement and tile laying, Little Town is a quick-playing strategy game that can suit novice architects and seasoned designers alike!

We got a review copy of Little Town from IELLO so that we could check it out.

Keeping in line with the ‘little’ part of Little Town, there isn’t a lot of mechanical complexity to the game.  During each of the 4 rounds, players will take turns assigning their workers either to a space on the field or to the construction yard.

Placing a worker in the construction yard lets you turn in the resource cost of a building and add it to any empty space in the field.  The cost to build any given tile is in the upper left corner.  Placing buildings will get you points, and will also permanently add those buildings to the field, providing access to that building’s effects for the rest of the game.

But how do you gather those resources for building, you might ask?  Well, by placing a worker in the field, of course!  Whenever you place a worker out in the field, that worker will activate any buildings or terrain that are in the 8 surrounding squares.  For terrain (forest, lakes, mountains), you will collect a resource cube of the appropriate type (including collecting 2 cubes if, for example, a 2-square forest is within your area of activation).

That worker can also activate any buildings within that area.  Some buildings provide resources, while others give you points, coins, or even let you convert between different resource types.

You can always take advantage of your own buildings, of course, but what’s really neat is that you can activate other players’ buildings, not just your own. You’ll need to pay them a coin each time you do so, but by dropping your worker in a strategic spot, you can get a *lot* done with a single placement!

Every time you play Little Town, you will use a random assortment of buildings (aside from wheat fields, which are always in play), so there is a surprising bit of variety in strategy, depending on how easily players can get their hands on the different types of resources.  In some games, basic resources flow quite readily, but in others, you’ll need to be really clever with your building activations to convert goods into what you need to craft buildings.

At the beginning of the game, you’ll also get two secret goal cards.  These cards are worth points if you can manage to trigger them, and how easy or difficult it is to do so is often dependent on not only what buildings are available, but also how they get added to the field – a goal about converting resources or spending coins can be a lot harder to achieve if the buildings get too spread out.  On the other hand, there are times when a goal might be flat-out impossible to achieve, but they’re easy to spot at the beginning of the game and the rules tell you to just discard one of those and redraw without penalty.

The only other complication to Little Town is making sure that you’ve got enough resources to feed your workers.  At the end of each of the 4 rounds, you will need to discard enough wheat and/or fish to satisfy your construction team.  For every one who goes home hungry, you’re looking at a point loss, so keep those folks fed!

And, well, that’s pretty much it! Place workers, gain resources, build buildings, feed your people, and reap the rewards! After 4 rounds the game ends and whoever earned the most points wins!

I really love Little Town. It takes very little time to teach and, with only four rounds, its a super speedy game. Even playing with new players, we’ve gotten through reading the rules and a whole game in around 30 minutes.
I like it too. Every time I play it, I feel like it might be just a little too tight at 4 turns, but it somehow ends up working out really well.

Little Town may be an uncomplicated game, but it does what it does in a clever way.  The placement of buildings across the field is where the strategy lives, and the tension comes from whether you’ll get to activate that awesome combo you built yourself, or if someone else will swoop in and use it instead.

Of course, you get coins when someone else uses your buildings, but it can feel decidedly unpleasant when someone takes a look at your hard work and just slaps their own worker down in the middle of it.

Yeah, that’s one thing. But even worse than that is dropping a whole building in the middle of a player’s engine – now no one can use it!…not that I would ever do such a thing, of course.
Actually, you raise a good point. The potential for messing with other players can be pretty huge. But with a game that only lasts 4 rounds, it hardly feels devastating, and it’s almost always better to capitalize on someone else’s effort (and give them some coins) than to disrupt it completely.

At the end of the day, Little Town is a game that we had a good time with.  The experience between player counts all really came down to how much control you had – at 2 players, you could definitely spend more turns dropping buildings strategically.  At 4, the game was much more about taking advantage of the hard work of your fellow architects.  But the bottom line is that we’ve enjoyed it every time Little Town hit the table, and if you’re in the market for a light, relatively quick worker placement game with some interesting twists, we definitely recommend checking it out!

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