Grand Austria Hotel is a 2-4 player game designed by Virginio Gigli and Simone Luciani (Lorenzo il Magnifico) and was released in 2015. In Grand Austria Hotel you play as a café owner, trying to turn your café in to the greatest hotel in all of Austria and gain the favour of the emperor.
Grand Austria Hotel, is a dice rolling, resource collection, set collection game where you serve a variety of customers with a combination of coffee, cake, wine and strudel whilst preparing their hotel room. Once their room is prepared and their needs have been met your customers can move in and enjoy a stay in your hotel. Every time you move a customer in to a hotel room you gain a bonus.
A player can also hire staff members to help them run their hotel, offering unique bonuses or end game scoring opportunities. There are three randomly selected emperor tiles which act as scoring opportunities during the game as well as three randomly selected politics cards which act as objective cards offering big scoring opportunities.
Grand Austria Hotel lasts a total of seven rounds with each player have two actions per round. The first of the two actions are taken in turn order with the second action being taken in reverse turn order. In rounds three/five/seven the player’s position on the emperor track is scored followed by final scoring after the seventh round. The objectives for the emperor track at each round are selected randomly at the beginning of the game.
At the beginning of each turn the first player will roll a number of dice (depending on the player count) and place them on the action board based on their value.
Once the dice are rolled a player may obtain a new guest for their hotel, assuming they have an empty table in their café. The cost of these depend on the position on the board and range from 0-3. Guests come in four colours; red, blue, yellow and green. The new guest is placed in your hotel lobby ready to be served a combination of cake, strudel, coffee and wine before they can be moved in to a prepared hotel room. There are only three colours of hotel room; red, blue and yellow.
Green guests, act as wild and can be placed in any colour room. Once a guest has had his/her needs fulfilled and moved in to a prepared room then a bonus is received. The hotel is divided in to sets of coloured rooms which provides a set collection aspect to the game. Once a set is complete and guests have occupied the rooms in a particular set then a bonus is received depending on the colour of the set. A set of blue rooms gives you victory points, a set of red rooms gives you money and a set of yellow rooms gives you influence with the emperor.
A big part of the game is the action phase. The dice rolled at the beginning of the turn impacts on which actions can be taken. Beginning with the first player, each player takes a die from the action board and performs the action. The interesting aspect of the action board is the number of die rolled of the same number corresponds to how many of that action you can take.
For example, the number three action space lets you prepare hotel rooms. If two dice are rolled with a number three and the first player takes one of them, that player can prepare two hotel rooms. However, if the second player takes a three die, in the same round, then they can only prepare one hotel room as one of the die has already been removed by the first player. The actions that can be taken depending on the dice rolled are:
- Number One Space – Obtain strudel and cake (can’t take more cake than strudel).
- Number Two Space – Obtain wine and coffee (can’t take more coffee than wine).
- Number Three Space – Prepare hotel rooms.
- Number Four Space – Earn money or increase influence on the emperor track.
- Number Five Space – Hire one staff member (with a one krone discount per die).
- Number Six Space – Wild action allowing a player to perform any of the above (costs one krone).
When a resource is taken at any point in the game it can be delivered straight to an awaiting guest, if there is space. If there is no space, or a guest that requires the resource obtained then it will be delivered to your kitchen. When preparing rooms, the number of rooms that can be prepared is equal to the number of dice of that value. When preparing rooms on the first, second or third floor the cost of preparing that room must also be paid, preparing rooms on the ground floor is free.
When hiring a staff member the cost to hire the staff member is deducted from the number of dice on the five action space. Some of the staff cards can be hired for free depending on the number of dice rolled.
The number six action space is a wild action but costs one Krone to use. The player can take a six die and perform any of the other actions. This is particularly useful if there is an action that a player needs but the corresponding die is not rolled.
In addition to the actions listed above a player, at any time, may perform any number of the following actions:
- Pay one Krone to add an “invisible” die for the action selected. (Only once per round).
- Pay one Krone to move up to three resources from your kitchen to awaiting guest(s) in your cafe.
- Place one disk on a politics card if you have met the requirements.
- Move a guest that has his/her needs met in to a prepared hotel room.
- Activate staff cards.
Thoughts on Grand Austria Hotel
For me Grand Austria Hotel is a fantastic game. The box states 60-120 minutes gameplay and a two-player game (which is the only player count I have played this with) typically lasts about 60 minutes. I can see how this might increase to 120 minutes with four players, but with experienced players that a familiar with the game, this should reduce. The game offers a perfect mix of play length, complexity and strategy that just works for me.
The gameplay itself is pretty straightforward, however, the rules can take some explaining. After the first round though the game should flow smoothly with the occasional rule book clarification for guest or staff cards. There is enough variety in the customer cards and the staff members that I am still discovering new cards every time I play. In addition, the hotel boards are double-sided. One side is identical for each player with the reverse offering a different configuration of rooms for each player.
There is plenty to think about in the game and some interesting decisions to be made. Hotel rooms have to be prepared, guests have to be satisfied, staff members need to be hired and a player has to gain influence with the emperor or suffer some harsh penalties, all the while keeping an eye on the politics cards and trying to achieve the objectives. The staff cards add a nice twist to the gameplay offering either one time bonuses, once per round bonuses or on going bonuses. Although there is a lot to think about, the game doesn’t feel complicated to play.
The action selection mechanism using the die value and the number of dice of each value works really well and offers some variability to the actions that can be performed each round. This adds another layer on to the game which, for me, makes it stand out as a fantastic game.
There is minimal player interaction in this game, there is no fighting amongst your fellow players, you can’t steal other player’s resources or staff members. The meanest that this game has to offer is that you can, on occasion, take a guest that would be perfect for another player, or take an action that another player may need. I can just imagine two competing hotels in Austria simply trying to do the best that they can with the resources they have.
As you can probably tell I enjoy Grand Austria Hotel, a lot. It is fun, makes you think (but not too hard), is easy to play and doesn’t require a significant time investment. I am always happy to get this to the table and with the variety in the emperor cards, politic cards, staff cards and guest cards, as well as the double sided hotel boards I can see this being in my collection for a long time and raking up a high number of plays.