Gamers love games where you get to run a business. Whether it be a grand energy conglomerate or a local dog-washing business, it all makes for a potentially great game. Grand Austria Hotel is an entry to the scene where players run… wait for it… a hotel.
Like many other management games, players are presented with player boards, a main board for dice actions, a main board for cards and scoring, cards for customers, staff, and goals, a set of dice, tokens for hotel rooms, and tracking markers.
For setup, players take a random draw of staff cards into their hands and set up their player boards (representing their hotel and dining room) with prepared rooms. During the game, players will take turns selecting new customers from a card row and taking dice actions (dice are rolled at the beginning of a round). These actions revolve around serving customers, preparing rooms, hiring staff, and impressing the Emperor or gaining money. Over seven rounds as players are trying to complete customer orders and place guests in rooms, they must also be concerned with moving up on an Emperor track. On certain rounds, if they have achieved a certain position on the track, bonuses are awarded. However, failing to make enough progress means suffering the punishment of royalty by losing resources or points.
- The art is lovely and appropriately stylized to the tone and theme.
- The rulebook layout is fine, but a lack of a comprehensive icon guide for all the different types of icons is annoying.
- Component quality is good, but the money tracking marker feels like it could be more appropriately sized.
- Setup and learning time is adequate, but continual rules references are debilitating.
- Play is straightforward, but very much mired in tactical decisions based on dice rolls and combining efficient actions. It doesn’t feel like any strategy can go very deep because of the luck. There are optional rules to reduce some of the luck in the staff card draw.
- Tension is present, but you often wonder if the tension is due to your opponent or the difficulty of being able to accomplish goals.
- Analysis of play options can be time consuming, especially because players can only truly start analyzing on their turn.
- Play moves and flows well as a two player game. Higher number of players gives high downtime for some players.
- The luck of the dice rolls and customer card row is shared, but this also can result in opportunities for some over others depending on the available combos to be made with staff cards. From one game to the next, this could feel dramatically different, increasing with fewer players. Players should consider what degree of shared bad luck they can tolerate in a game with penalties (see next).
- The game can penalize you even if you’re not able to complete actions to increase your position on the Emperor track. The psychological effect is annoyance and frustration, much like being punished for something you could not avoid.
- The intended theme is very much divorced from mechanisms. Serving guests and making combinations with preparing rooms is intriguing, but also feels like there is something missing. The reasons why guests must be served at the restaurant before taking a room, the order of preparation of the rooms, and why is there such a strange randomness to the actions available are not made clear and so the actions feel disconnected from motivation.
Players who enjoy dice games and management style games will find a keeper. Grand Austria Hotel could replace a game like Yspahan. When analysis is not a problem, the game moves quickly, but only with two players will it likely play less than an hour. Players looking for a good dice selection game may find the fun in this, but it can definitely turn on the whim of a few dice.