Place patterns and plot reset.
I will explain these steps in more details below, as well as the logic behind them - but let's give a short, quick answer first.
The secret to getting the town you want is twofold: first you lock down your town with patterns, so only the places you want houses to be are free. Then you use the plot reset technique to reload the villagers into the space you want them to be in.
Villager houses and where they spawn
A villager house takes up 3 x 3 + 1 tiles:
They need a 1 tile wide area of free space on each side, meaning it cannot be blocked by your river, public works projects, other houses, rocks, etc.
Villlager houses are not blocked by trees, shrubs or flowers, meaning that if you have a tree or flower area somewhere, houses will just spawn over them.
However, villager houses are blocked by patterns.
If you make sure you free a 3x3+1 space where you want your villagers to be, and all other possible 3x3+1 spaces are blocked by patterns, your villagers can technically only move into the space you have freed up.
However, restricting every free 3x3+1 spot won't be enough - villagers can move into a 3x3 spot, even if it's blocked with a pattern. Their plot will spawn in the 3x3 area, and they will remove the '+1' tile when they move in.
To map out my town like this, I used the patterns below to indicate what goes where. The 3x3+1 shape of a house surrounded by house tiles, an X-tile to block other 3x3+1 areas from being available, and even temporary placeholders for where bushes and trees were going to go.
Feel free to use the patterns below.
Note that, when a villager moves out, they vacate a valid 3x3+1 space that can theoretically be immediately taken by a new villager the next day. In 'normal' AC:NL, this scenario would be quite rare. However, if you use amiibo to move in new villagers and kick out old ones, it seems the new villager will strongly favour the space the old villager vacates. To counter that, read about plot resetting below.
Plot resetting: the most boring yet foolproof way to get a villager where you want.
As mentioned above, amiibo villagers will strongly favour the vacated place of their predecessors. And sometimes, you don't want that. But if the first villager moves out on rollover at 6 am, and the new one moves in at exactly the same time, how would you have time to cover the old area in patterns?
And that sucks.
But fear not, because there is a way around it: plot resetting.
Let's expand on the theory first:
The game's "midnight" is at 6 am. That means the previous day ends, the new day begins, fossils spawn, mail gets delivered, fruits grow - everything happens at 6 am, including the moving in / out of villagers.
A villager's moving out happens in two steps: the first day, they pack their stuff in boxes, the second day, they're gone. A villager moving in happens in three steps: first there's a plot; the day after, there's a house with boxes, and the third day, they are unpacked.
In 'vanilla' AC:NL, it rarely happens that the day a villager is in boxes is followed by the day another villager installs a plot. This gives you ample time to cover the newly vacated 3x3+1 with some patterns or a pwp, so that any new villagers wouldn't move into that spot.
However, when using amiibo, that is exactly what happens 100% of the time: you ask a villager to move out to make place for a new one, and they are immediately in boxes. The day after, they are gone and the new villager has placed a plot. This gives you absolutely no time to cover up the plot. Additionally, the new villager seems to strongly favour the old villager's spot (it was a good spot, after all). Tough luck, but there is a work-around.
The first time you boot up your game after 6 am, is when the plot "settles". It picks a spot at random, places the plot, and when your Mayor enters town, it says, "yup, this is it". Even if you find the plot and find it's not in your preferred place, resetting your game doesn't work, because that pesky Mister Resetti will be there to tell you off and remind you that the villager has, in fact, chosen the wrong spot.
That's where plot resetting comes in.
Instead of loading up your Mayor, you choose "new save file".
Note that this doesn't erase your town or anything, it simply creates an extra character that lives in your town. You can delete this character after the plot has been correctly placed, but your town will need enough space to temporarily place this character's house.
You sit through the awkward train ride with Rover for a bit.
I suggest you make up crazy names and give him weird answers to keep yourself entertained, because this could be the longest train ride of your life.
Once you arrive in your town (and Porter goes 'eek eek' a few times), you explore the town and find the newly added plot.
Now, there are two options:
- The plot is exactly where you want it to be; or
- The plot is in a place you really don't want it to be.
Let's be really straight-forward and honest here: it's probably going to be number 2 for a couple of times. Yeah. Sorry.
What you do then, is you DON'T continue playing, you're not going to see Isabelle, you don't pass GO and you definitely don't collect this villager. Instead, you restart your game, create a new character again, sit through the talk with Rover again, and you rinse and repeat until you either find a good spot, or give up. #realitycheck
The logic behind it: as I said, the plot is settled as soon as your character enters the town. But this isn't a character yet - not until you put down your tent and save your game. So every time you restart your device, you load up the game for the first time after 6 am again, and the plot is once again randomly placed in your town.
Amiibo villagers will favour the old spot, so be prepared for the house to be in the same spot for a couple of times in a row. This isn't a sign that the plot resetting isn't working, it only means you have bad luck and statistics hate you. That's okay. Be persistent.
If you find yourself lucky and your villager placed his plot in a space you approve of, you need to continue the tutorial until you meet Isabelle and she saves your game. This includes picking a place to put your tent, so make sure there's space left for that. Once your game is saved, the villager is locked in place. You can then load the game with your Mayor and you can delete your newly created character.
Tadaa, your villager has now moved into a place YOU chose.