Picture yourself owning your own hotel, and making it the most grand in all of Austria! Your hotel is in the heart of Vienna and all the cool people like artists, politicians, and, of course, tourists are looking for the hottest spot to stay and dine. So, cozy rooms and good food are a must! The goal of Mayfair Games’ Grand Austria Hotel is to have the most Victory Points (VP) after seven rounds by running your hotel the best!
Was this Game Easy to Learn?
Admittedly, the first time we played Grand Austria Hotel it took us a while to grasp a few things, but after we played through a full game it became much easier. One of the components – the staff cards – have symbols on them that say what they do, but when you first play the game you need to glance at the legend in the rulebook to understand the symbols to strategize your play. And, you want to do that because you may have a playable card in your hand that you should use to your advantage!
How is it Played?
Each player is given a hotel game board which shows 20 rooms, but most of the rooms are not ready to be occupied. There is also a café and kitchen where the manager can entertain up to three guests at a time. Each player starts out with 10 krones ($), and six staff members (cards). There are turn-order tiles which differ based on how many players there are. For two-players, one card shows 1 & 4 and the other 2 & 3 – which means the per-round turn order is: First player goes first, second player goes twice, and then first player goes one last time to complete the round, with a total of seven rounds per game. Each round, the players switch turn-order cards to make it fair, and starts with one of each food cube for their kitchen (one coffee, one wine, one cake, and one strudel).
The main game board has a place to put five guest cards as a tableau to choose from, a scoring track for the VP earned, a section to place three “politics cards”, a round tracker, and an emperor track where you can earn more Victory Points – but, bad things can happen there, too. There’s also an actions board which consists of six columns, with a die atop each, numbered 1-6. For a 2-player game you use 10 dice; more for additional players as warranted.
Before the game starts, players prepare three rooms, placing a token on each room to show it’s available, which you turn over when it’s occupied. Rooms must be placed adjacent to another prepared room on the board, and there’s a cost for each one you prepare. The rooms are blue, red, or yellow, which correspond to the color of each guest’s card – for example, only yellow guests can check into a yellow room. However, there are green guest cards which can stay in any unoccupied rooms you have prepared. Each player can also choose one guest from the tableau to invite to their café for free… Some guests cost kronos to bring in. When a guest is taken, the tableau is moved to the right and you fill in new guests from a draw pile.
Play is as follows:
Additionally, you can do other actions like paying 1 kronos to use up to three items (cubes) from your kitchen to satisfy what the guests want. Once a guest is satisfied, you can move them into a room – when you do, you gain the VP on that room floor and any other additional bonus from the customer card (sometimes $, sometimes food, etc.). There are politics cards on the main game board that you can put your player token on, assuming you meet the criteria on the card, which gives you bonus VP. For example, if you meet the criteria of having three red rooms and four blue rooms occupied, you get extra VP.
This gives you an idea of all the moving parts of the game – you need to watch and strategize as you are playing to maximize all the ways you can garner Victory Points.
When each round is over, you switch turn tokens and start again, until the 7th round when the game ends. On rounds three, five, and seven, you also score VP for the Emperor Track; however, players also move back that many spaces on the track. If you are on the zero space, you could take nasty losses.
All in all, Grand Austria Hotel does have a lot going on, but once you get the hang of it, a fun time is had! Phil won both games that we played, but Jane is determined to beat him in the next one!
Timing of the Game
It took us almost the full 90-minutes for our first game, but the second one we played was under an hour as we were more comfortable on how to play.