Publisher: Mayfair Games, 2015
Players: 2 – 4
Time: 60 – 120 Min.
The theme of Grand Austria Hotel is about filling your hotel with guests better than your opponents. Guests are selected, fed, and then shown to their respective rooms over a period of 7 rounds. Some guests are easily satisfied, while others are a little more finicky – each will have a prescribed order. Additionally, most guests require a certain type (color) of room. A few ideal guests will take any room that is available.
Mechanically, the game is pretty straight forward. Dice are drafted from a central pool. Each of the 2 dice you select for a round will give you the option of 1 to 5 different actions. Actions include acquiring the four different food and drink items necessary to serve the guests. Another action is to prepare and make available rooms for the guests. Or you can choose the action to hire additional staff that provide added benefits in managing the hotel. The final action option allows you to move up the Emperor track. The Emperor is a stern task master. Satisfy him or pay the price. Bonuses are awarded for satisfying the Emperor and equally, penalties are inflicted for not satisfying him. In either case, points are scored based on where you are along the track. This is checked three times during the game and is crucial to your success.
Grand Austria Hotel is a medium to heavy level of game play. Don’t let the straight forward mechanics fool you. Making good decisions in this game is not that easy. Money is tight, resources can be scarce, and the Emperor can be really tough to satisfy. There is no direct conflict in the game, but another player can really make you squirm if they nab the guest you need or the dice you have been waiting for. The box says this game should be about 90 minutes long. That seems about right for a 2-player game. A game with 3 players will probably take a little longer unless all players know the game and play quickly anyway. A game with 4 players is going to be long.
We love this game at 2 players. There are 4 starter decks of staff cards to begin the game with. We put them face down on the table and each select one at random. Rather than shuffle the remaining starters into the rest of the staff deck we put them back in the box. That leaves more powerful staff members readily available. We like the game at 3 players and find that at 4 players it really bogs down. This is a great game if you are looking for a 2-player or 3-player game with seriously meaty decisions.