Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

Get in touch by emailing thegameshelfblog@gmail.com

Saturday, 17 August 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Little Town

Game: Little Town

Publisher: Iello

Designer: Aya & Shun Taguchi

Year: 2019


If you're a convention go-er, a BoardGameGeek addict, a Twitter junkie or a frequent podcast listener, then it can sometimes be hard not to be swept up by the exciting and interesting games coming out of Asia. It's great to see games that are designed from completely different perspectives and I'm certainly a gamer who likes to look at this category of board games and seek out some of the different titles at conventions and through friends who travel to that part of the world.

Fortunately though, publishers like Iello also keep an eye out for titles from Asia that can be brought to a wider market and Little Town is one of those titles. However, Little Town certainly doesn't feel like a quirky Asian game. It's routes are truly in eurogames with tile laying and worker placement aimed at the family gaming end of the spectrum.

Gameplay

A game of Little Town takes place over 4 rounds, each round you will take turns placing a single worker either as a gatherer, to collect resources from the map, or as a builder to build new buildings. After placing all your workers you'll have to feed them, so make sure you gather food as well as construction material.

Whenever you place a worker on the map it will gather from every square around it orthogonality and diagonally. The map starts with various lakes, forests and mountains on it, which generate fish, wood and stone respectively. As you build the new buildings will be extra spaces that can be activated when you place workers. These vary from the simple farm which generates much needed what, to some of the more complex markets which let you trade money or goods for points. Placing a worker in the building section of the board allows you to build one of the available buildings. These require resources (typically wood and/or stone) to build, but reward you instantly with points. With the exception of wheat farms there is only one of each type of building in the game. When you use a building that an opponent placed you have to pay them a coin, so ensure you get the desirable buildings if you want a good income!


In addition to all of this, each player is given three objective cards. These give you various targets to go for, such as building something that needs both wood and stone, or feeding your workers only with fish at the end of a round. Complete one of these cards and you'll get instant points. At the end of the 4th round each player will total up their points earned during the game with any earned at game end from special buildings or money left over and the player with the most wins.


Amy’s Final Thoughts

Little Town is a simple and sweet game. It presents worker placement in a visually simple way. Place someone next to a tree, get a wood, place them next to a building, activate that building. The board starts super simple. with only a few obvious gathering spots, but grows dynamically as the game goes on. As players place buildings new locations on the board become prime worker placement locations, and locations can even get filled up by a building if you won't want your opponents using it! This certainly makes every game unique!

Another aspect that keeps the game variable is the fact that you only use a random selection of all the available buildings. This can make interesting games where money or certain resources are comparatively scarce. Though I have to say we didn't have much fun when we played a game which had zero money generating buildings, but several markets that needed coins to function. Perhaps the game could have benefited with some suggested building combinations much in the way Dominion suggests some card combos to make for good and interesting games.


Little Town isn't a game with a tremendous amount of complexity or depth. You aren't going to need dozens of plays to understand how the core mechanics intermingle. Your objectives are simple, each round get enough food, and try to gather enough resources spare to build some things. But as the map fills feeding (usually) becomes simpler, giving a flow to the game that makes you feel like the town is advancing and progressing. The combination of tile laying and worker placement is so elegant that the game is a breeze to play and great fun. I would have liked a few more varied buildings mixed in and slightly clearer instructions would have prevented a few minor issues. Overall Little Town is a lovely game that's well worth a try if you are looking for a light worker placement!


Fi’s Final Thoughts

Little Town is a pretty lightweight game, but it's one that has surprised me with its staying power. I love that it's a worker placement game, but one where the spots on the board are constantly changing and different each game. As well as having this huge variety, each spot doesn't have a dedicated purpose - you don't go to one place for wood and another for stone, you get a mixture of things for every worker you place. Balancing that mixture and creating the right pool of resources to complement your strategy is a really interesting and different gameplay experience.

The game definitely ramps up as you play, with the early rounds being a bit of a grind to get enough food to feed your people and try to do something interesting with your turn, but my round three and four, you really have a whole lot of resources and its fun to figure out the best way to use them to maximise points and not give anything too juicy to other players. The central game board is a real test of how well you can read other people's strategies to figure out if you're creating a great spot for yourself or something that will just be swooped on by an opponent.


Little Town kind of reminds me a very condensed game of Charterstone. It's ideal if you like the idea of building out your own worker placement board over the course of a game, that's a common ground for everyone with slight benefits to you if you built a specific building. The four rounds of Little Town are a very condensed and simpler version of four games of Charterstone, with each round getting progressively more interesting and powerful. Little Town is undoubtedly simple, but it does create some interesting spatial choices and resource management challenges that are quite delightful to explore, especially in a short, light game.


You Might Like...
  • Little Town really captures town building, much like classic tile-laying games like Carcassonne.
  • There's a high level of player interaction, built by creating the board over the course of the game.
  • It's quite easy to formulate a strategy to gather resources and identify the ways you want to use them.
You Might Not Like...
  • The game is quite simple, and can lack variety over the course of a number of plays.
  • A random setup can result in some redundant buildings, for example those that use money in games where no money is generated.
  • Little Town uses the much maligned 'feed your people' mechanism.

The Verdict
7/10 Little Town is not just a light worker placement and tile laying game, it's actually doing something different. There's a great common ground with a board that you build together over the course of the game, but also a real competition to get the right buildings for your strategy and get the best spots on the board. It's a fantastic easy to grasp game, that also demonstrates some great ingenuity in gaming.


Little Town was a review copy kindly provided to us by CoiledSpring Games.

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