Belle, in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast sung “Little Town, It’s a Quiet Village; Ev’ry day like the one before, Little Town full of little people; Waking up to say: Bonjour!” She’s a funny girl that Belle, falling in love with a hulking beast and singing about a board game many years before it was published. But the facts speak for themselves, and in fairness, she’s managed to carve out quite the legacy in doing so.
Belles’s prognostication, Little Town, comes in the form of a tile and worker placement board game. With player’s competing to be the best architects in a new settlement.
Setting up the game is nice and easy. There are different amounts of cards, workers and houses that need to be distributed depending on player count. Each player also gets three coins and three hidden objective cards. The rules suggest using buildings with robins on for your first plays. After that it offers an alternative for selecting the buildings which I really like.
Once the above is all sorted you are good to start playing.
Players are competing for the most victory points over four rounds. Each round will be a balance between gaining resources, erecting buildings and gaining money. All the while, also trying to complete secret objectives.
There are four main resources to gather. Wood, stone and fish are instantly available and wheat is added to the mix once fields have been placed. Wood and stone are used for buildings. Fish and wheat are used to feed your workers after every round. All can be used when activating certain buildings too.
On your turn you will place a worker on the board, they will gather nearby resources and activate the neighbouring buildings. Alternatively the worker can be used as a builder if you have enough resources. All buildings will provide victory points, but also add other bonuses when activated, such as converting resources from one type to another, providing coins or gaining further victory points.
Coins are useful as you can use these for certain building’s activation. You can also use them to pay other players for the use of their buildings, or swap some out for resources.
Finally, feeding your workers after each round is vital. The punishment for a hungry workforce is a hefty three victory points per unfed worker. You will therefore need to be sure you have a fish or wheat token for each of your workers.
What it’s like
You will be up and playing in no time, especially as the turn phase is simple to get the hang of. The first few rounds sway towards resource gathering and building the occasional structure. However, this shifts as you start to reap the benefits of your buildings in later rounds.
The name of the game is Little Town and the board begins to feel small after the first two rounds. Working out what to erect and where to place buildings is a nice predicament to contemplate. Maximum yield and hidden objectives will need to be considered, this adds a nice level of lighter strategic depth. As the board shrinks your opponents start to gain benefits from your buildings. Despite them paying a coin for the privilege it still feels like they are stealing from you! Especially if they take the space of prime yield.
Feeding the workers is a brilliant twist. Gaining enough fish and wheat is tricky when balancing all the other things you want to achieve. You will often be down to your last two workers, about to create a majestic building, when you have to go fishing instead or lose three victory points per worker, which is, as I’ve said, a brutal penalty.
This is a great family game for 2-4 players. I can confirm it is a joy at all player counts. Because of the reduction of workers for more players, the game length is pretty much the same amount of time regardless of how many are playing. It probably goes a bit too quick with more players and you never quite feel like you have enough turns to carry out everything you want to achieve.
While the rulebook will get you up and playing quite quickly. I think it could be improved upon by adding a bit more information around the buildings and their activations. I needed to seek one rule clarification around the Watchtower tile that was not answered in the rulebook. It was unclear whether workers surrounding it counted as empty spaces. Fortunately someone else had the same issue, and boardgamegeek came to the rescue with another user offering a translation of the original Japanese rulebook which was more explicit. In case you care too, it states that it may ‘not contain a building nor resource terrain, but may have a worker on it’.
The board is double-sided offering differing tactics and alternative optimum placements. All the components are wooden and good, worker meeples, houses, first player token and round marker. The star shaped score markers are beautiful too. It would be nice if the resource cubes were shaped like the objects they represent but it doesn’t affect the game.
The artwork is charming and family friendly, but that might incorrectly put off those without children!
Final thoughts on Little Town
This game surprised me in a good way. I had heard excellent things about it from others in the board game community, but I tried not to get too excited about it. It’s easy to get caught up in hype and then be disappointed. It isn’t doing anything new or clever, but what it does do, it executes extraordinarily well. It is a quicker board game to play but one that still has plenty of substance to it. Little Town usually provides a close game for all involved and I’m a big fan of nail-biting final scoring!
It’s a really enjoyable and lovely introduction to worker placement and resource management. With enough about it to entertain the more seasoned board gamer and their family too. It is a lighter weight game, but in its class, it is a brilliant option.
The double-sided board and different buildings means that games are different enough to add longevity to the game. After quite a few plays, it feels like an expansion with more buildings and gameplay twists would be beneficial. Don’t get me wrong, it is a great game as is – I’m just greedy and enjoy it so much I want more!
Number of players: 2 to 4
Board Game Review Recommended Age: 8+
Publisher’s Recommended Age: 10+
Playing Time: 40 minutes
Setting Up and Take Down Time: 3 minutes
Designers: Shun Taguchi and Aya Taguchi
Little Town has been an absolute hit for me since it arrived. I have no hesitation entering it in the Board Game Review Hall of Fame. This board game is easy to learn and teach with fantastic components. It is one of those games, like many of the greats, that offers so many amazing things to do and yet, too few turns to carry them all out.
Artwork and Components
Value for Money
- Quick to play
- Easy to learn
- Brilliant introduction to worker placement
- Family friendly
- Good replayability
- Box Art
- Rulebook is light
- Some tiles can be slightly overpowered
Buy Little Town
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