30th Oct2019

‘Little Town’ Board Game Review

by Matthew Smail

little-town-box

Whilst the idea of building towns and villages feels as if it should be a very common occurrence among board game themes, I find myself struggling to recall many classic city building games, outside of the obvious ones like Suburbia and Quadropolis. Some city building games layer in a lot of complexity, especially when multiple resources are situations are concerned in games like Founders of Gloomhaven and NEOM.

Little Town offers a simpler, more immediate level of access and it plays in a much shorter timescale, but in many ways the result is a similarly satisfying outcome. Little Town is a worker placement and resource management game in which the players collectively build their town on a shared plot of land whilst attempting to achieve the most victory points for their contribution. Aside from the points gained for constructing buildings and monuments, each player has a hand of secret personal objectives that can be completed during the game.

Each game of Little Town plays out in something like 30 minutes on average, depending on experience and player count, but the main thing at all counts is to note that it’s a quick game that can be taught easily. There are always four rounds of play, and each round consists of each player taking a turn to either gather resources and activate buildings, or to build a new building from the face up display. These actions are very simple and work exactly as you’d expect them to, so I’ll explain them at a relatively high level.

To gather resources and activate buildings, the player takes one of their available workers and places it onto the board next to whichever resource spaces they wish to activate. Such spaces include water (fish,) trees (wood,) and rocks (stone) as well as buildings of various kinds ranging from wheat fields to fishing huts. The interesting thing about this choice of action is that any player can take the benefit of activating a building, even if it was built by someone else. The catch is that using someone else’s building will always cost a gold piece.

With regard to the build action, a player simply needs to take the number of resources shown on a building that they wish to build, then pay them to the supply and place the building. They will then place their worker meeple into the construction area, and put a house of their colour onto the building. Some buildings have effects that trigger at the end of each round of turns, and players will need to look out for their own buildings that do so, since such benefits will only apply to them. Almost all buildings are worth some victory points, which can be added right away.

Each turn plays out in a similar way, but the board obviously becomes more crowded as the game goes on. Perhaps more importantly, choosing where to place buildings is key throughout, since each one adds either new resource options, or the chance to trade in combinations of resource for different kinds, or even gold. Since players can’t use their building for at least one whole round of turns, placing a building in a very juicy location that has free space next to it can really benefit your opponents during their next turn.

The components in Little Town are largely up to the very high standards that IELLO always set. The board, manual, cards and tokens are all bright and colourful, with clear text and nice artwork that brings a childish charm to the proceedings that would struggle to offend anyone. The meeples and a few supporting components like the first player token are made from wood and are shaped in unique and detailed ways, leaving the only downside being that resources are represented by cubes, which is a little dull. This is a minor complaint though, given the asking price.

Playing Little Town is always a relatively charming and pleasant experience. It is quick to setup and easy to teach, with more complex rules (like building effects) being introduced as time goes on, rather than upfront in a wall of text. This also means that players of all ages can pick up Little Town without too much difficulty, although some knowledge of maths and good spatial awareness are important to success. On the downside, despite a random setup of building tokens at the outset, there’s little depth or variation from one game to the next, meaning that Little Town is unlikely to appeal to fans of heavier strategic games, or those who like a lot of complexity.

Overall, I think Little Town is a nice addition to a games collection that is looking for a simple, small box construction game. Little Town does lack the depth of a Founders of Gloomhaven, but in the same time as it might take to conclude a single game of Isaac Childres follow up title, you could likely conclude a very close best of five series of Little Town. Considering the price point, the flexibility and the component quality, I think Little Town is a winner, and well worth your consideration.

***½  3.5/5

A copy of Little Town was supplied for review by Coliedspring Games/Iello.

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