Dale Yu: First Impressions of Little Town

Little Town

  • Designers: Shun Taguchi, Aya Taguchi
  • Publisher: IELLO
  • Players: 2-4
  • Age: 10+
  • Time: 30-40 minutes
  • Times played: 7+ overall, 2 with review copy of new edition provided by IELLO

We have reviewed it before – https://opinionatedgamers.com/2018/01/20/tokyo-game-market-part-2/ –  it was originally released in a JP only version in 2017 or so. 

Per Lorna –

One of my favorite games to come from TGM in recent years is The King of Frontier which is a delightful mash up of role selection and tile placement. I was really excited to see they had a new game this year, Little Town but a little apprehensive because sometimes the follow ups just don’t quite meet expectations.

Little Town Builders manages quite nicely in being a great follow up game. I’d call it a mash up of worker placement and tile placement. It comes with a double sided board for variety which is really nice. There are preprinted resource areas on the map which is made on a large grid. Each player gets a set of workers and a set of buildings. The game also comes with building tiles reminiscent of King of Frontier, wheat fields and a set of goal tiles (in Japanese, paste ups made the game easier for us). Each player also gets a hand of random goal tiles.

Game play is simple.

Players can place their worker on any open space on the board and activate the surrounding tiles directly orthogonal and diagonal. If the tile has a tree or mountain you collect wood or stone. If there is a pond you collect fish. If there is a building and you own it you may use it’s ability. If your opponent owns the building you can pay them 1 coin to use it.

You can build a building if you have the resources for it by placing your worker on a building area. In addition to abilities buildings are also worth points.

At any time if you meet one of your goals you may show the goal and collect the points.

At the end of the round after everyone’s workers have been played, you must feed you workers with either 1 fish or 1 wheat.

The game last only 4 rounds and the player with the most points wins.

The IELLO version is functionally no different, but there is a serious upgrade in components.  The game board is now a sturdy actual board, and I must say that the little worker meeples are awesome!  Also, for me, it’s super nice that all the goal tiles are now easily readable without pasteups :) As far as I can tell, there are no substantial changes in the rules – but I am making this statement from memory alone as I never owned a copy of the original.

Little Town provides the gamer with an interesting decision point between placing workers in the field to capitalize on the best spaces versus spending resources to build buildings to take advantage of a fairly limited supply of buildings.  The buildings come with some VPs on their own, and it’s really quite nice to have a steady stream of income – whether you use that income to buy resources, to be able to use other people’s buildings, or to convert them into VPs!

The buildings offer a neat way to chain actions together (Assuming they are put in the right places), but once the buildings are down on the map, anyone can use them, so there’s also a nice race feature to get your workers on the best spots before someone else takes them!

I have played a number of times now, and for me, the sweet spot here is 3p.  Though we more often have 4 at our table, players only get 3 actions per round with 4p, and man – that just doesn’t feel like enough.  It also ends up that nearly the entire first round of the game is spent collecting resources just to be able to feed your three workers.  And, yes, I realize that at the end of any given round with any number of players, there are a total of 12 actions, and a total of 12 food needed  – but I like having a slightly larger proportion of the actions each turn.  With 2p, it’s quite easy to just work on your own buildings and not have to interact with the opponent; with 3p, you’re forced to work with the other players, and it’s the right fit for me.  Of course, that’s not to say that I don’t enjoy playing with 2 or 4, and I certainly wouldn’t turn the game down just because of the player count.  It works just fine with 2 and 4 – just better with 3 (for me).

There is a nice amount of variability from game to game if you choose to randomly choose buildings – or to allow players to each choose a few to include in the market.  Depending on the buildings, sometimes coins are the most valuable resource, but other times, maybe you want wheat or stone. It all depends on what actions are available. Heck, sometimes it’s just best to try to build the most VP valued buildings if there aren’t many buildings available that convert resources to VPs. In one game, I saw a player win by blocking off the possible spots for VP conversion and preventing others from scoring points thru them.

The only thing to watch out for is to ensure that all players get goal cards which can at least be theoretically completed.  The cards that may have issues have a warning icon on them, and players should definitely look at the market to start the game to make sure that the card could be completed.

sometimes the building action space gets filled up quickly!

I still adore this game, and I’m glad to have a version that is readily available. Now, I have an updated version of this as well as their previous game, King of Frontier (redone as Skylands). I would highly recommend this game, and I am definitely keeping an eye out on this design team in the future!

Until your next appointment

The Gaming Doctor

About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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