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Subject: Controlled Area Gaming Review: Grand Austria Hotel rss

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Tahsin Shamma
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Gamers love games where they 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.


2 – 4 players | 60 – 120 minutes | Medium Difficulty

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.

Presentation

• 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.






Gameplay

• 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 players should consider if the tension is due to their opponents 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.

Fun

• 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 players even if they'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 unavoidable.

• 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.

Collection Management

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.

Summary

Presentation - 65%

Gameplay - 70%

Fun - 35%

Overall - 57%

Luck-dependent action selections along with quality presentation looks enjoyable, but really frustrates.

EDIT: Fixed bullet point spacing.
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Super Turtle
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Congratulations, I have never read I review that describes my feelings for a game so accurate. However I thinγ you are a bit strict on the fun. I believe is one of the best paced euros for two players and making combos is pretty satisfying.
 
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Jack
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I will have to politely disagree with you on the fun factor. This game is a blast and an absolute 10 with 2p and a very good game with 3p. With 4p, all it takes is one person with AP and it will feel way too long, but with 2 it's awesome.
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Tahsin Shamma
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Thanks Super Turtle.

My thoughts on the fun come after quite a few 2 player games. I feel like there aren't enough dice or mechanisms to mitigate the rolls, so the game ends up punishing you. I was really confused why people praise this game so much. The mechanisms are fine, almost straightforward, but the dice action selection combined with the Emperor track punishments just really didn't make me want to play it again.

Thanks for reading!
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Tahsin Shamma
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senorcoo wrote:
I will have to politely disagree with you on the fun factor. This game is a blast and an absolute 10 with 2p and a very good game with 3p. With 4p, all it takes is one person with AP and it will feel way too long, but with 2 it's awesome.


Thanks for reading Jack. To each his own. I can understand what people enjoy, but it's not my kind of fun.
 
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Jack
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No problem. Thanks for taking the time to write it. Personally, I love the pressure of the Emperor's punishment, but it could just be that I'm sick like that. devil
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Ken Thibodeau
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senorcoo wrote:
I will have to politely disagree with you on the fun factor. This game is a blast and an absolute 10 with 2p and a very good game with 3p. With 4p, all it takes is one person with AP and it will feel way too long, but with 2 it's awesome.


Once again, I agree with your point of view, Senorcoo.
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Jimmy Mero
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This game can definitely be very punishing if you fall behind on the emperor track or god forbid you run out of money. Part of me wishes the emperor track was dialed back just a little but I still enjoy this game a lot with 2 and 3 players.


My other issue is that score track goes up to 75 which makes calculating scores unnecessarily difficult when they go above that number (which they almost always do. The track should have gone up to 50 if they didn't have room to go up to 100.
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Ken Thibodeau
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Jimmydm90 wrote:

My other issue is that score track goes up to 75 which makes calculating scores unnecessarily difficult when they go above that number (which they almost always do. The track should have gone up to 50 if they didn't have room to go up to 100.


I wish I could give more than one thumb up to your post.
 
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Jack
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The suffocatingly tight money is one of my favorite elements.
 
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ozzy perez
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senorcoo wrote:
I will have to politely disagree with you on the fun factor. This game is a blast and an absolute 10 with 2p and a very good game with 3p. With 4p, all it takes is one person with AP and it will feel way too long, but with 2 it's awesome.



Cosigned.
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David B
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The font used on the staff cards is egregiously bad. Trying to match them up with the descriptions in the rule book was needlessly tedious.

I personally found the game more frustrating than fun even though I soundly won my only play of the game. I know for a fact it will never be in my collection and the likelihood I play it again is quite low.
 
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Kevin M
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The game isn't perfect by any means but I still think that it should be rated much higher than it is. People knock it because of how long it plays with 4... has anyone played Le Havre with more than 3? And... how is it rated?

Yes... I'll agree that the staff cards are egregiously bad. Whoever picked that font should have their head smacked... but the gameplay is solid. The game should highlight the importance of the cards a lot more as well because a person with good synergies of cards will destroy players that don't but that's something that is learned over time. The problem though is that a bad first... or second... impression can devastate a game.

Anyway... I could go on about how great the game is but there are enough posts about that. I appreciate your opinions and do think that game has faults but ultimately don't agree with your final assessment.

Keep up the goo work though.
 
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Tahsin Shamma
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XxaviorR wrote:
The game isn't perfect by any means but I still think that it should be rated much higher than it is. People knock it because of how long it plays with 4... has anyone played Le Havre with more than 3? And... how is it rated?

Yes... I'll agree that the staff cards are egregiously bad. Whoever picked that font should have their head smacked... but the gameplay is solid. The game should highlight the importance of the cards a lot more as well because a person with good synergies of cards will destroy players that don't but that's something that is learned over time. The problem though is that a bad first... or second... impression can devastate a game.

Anyway... I could go on about how great the game is but there are enough posts about that. I appreciate your opinions and do think that game has faults but ultimately don't agree with your final assessment.

Keep up the goo work though.


Thanks for reading Kevin. Of course, everyone has their gauge for fun. This one just didn't hit any of those spots for me. It wasn't just one thing. It was a few things working simultaneously and the difficult rulebook and staff card font didn't help.

Thanks for your opinions!
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Kevin M
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veector wrote:
XxaviorR wrote:
The game isn't perfect by any means but I still think that it should be rated much higher than it is. People knock it because of how long it plays with 4... has anyone played Le Havre with more than 3? And... how is it rated?

Yes... I'll agree that the staff cards are egregiously bad. Whoever picked that font should have their head smacked... but the gameplay is solid. The game should highlight the importance of the cards a lot more as well because a person with good synergies of cards will destroy players that don't but that's something that is learned over time. The problem though is that a bad first... or second... impression can devastate a game.

Anyway... I could go on about how great the game is but there are enough posts about that. I appreciate your opinions and do think that game has faults but ultimately don't agree with your final assessment.

Keep up the goo work though.


Thanks for reading Kevin. Of course, everyone has their gauge for fun. This one just didn't hit any of those spots for me. It wasn't just one thing. It was a few things working simultaneously and the difficult rulebook and staff card font didn't help.

Thanks for your opinions!


I agree totally that every game isn't for everyone. I'm happy that you even tried it to make that decision. I'm sorry that you didn't enjoy it but, as long as you're enjoying the hobby, that's all that I can hope for.

Keep up the good work.
 
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ozzy perez
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senorcoo wrote:
The suffocatingly tight money is one of my favorite elements.


Some people just can't take the stress. I love everything about this, except the font on the cards which yes, is annoying. But the gameplay is awesome, the artwork is fresh and most importantly for me, it's sublime with two. Easy 10 for me.
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SapoLJackson wrote:
senorcoo wrote:
The suffocatingly tight money is one of my favorite elements.


Some people just can't take the stress. I love everything about this, except the font on the cards which yes, is annoying. But the gameplay is awesome, the artwork is fresh and most importantly for me, it's sublime with two. Easy 10 for me.


I have played a game where I didn't have the opportunity to gain more than 2 dollars. It is no I cannot stand the stress, it is just felt imposible to win.
 
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Chris Funk
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S0laris wrote:
SapoLJackson wrote:
senorcoo wrote:
The suffocatingly tight money is one of my favorite elements.


Some people just can't take the stress. I love everything about this, except the font on the cards which yes, is annoying. But the gameplay is awesome, the artwork is fresh and most importantly for me, it's sublime with two. Easy 10 for me.


I have played a game where I didn't have the opportunity to gain more than 2 dollars. It is no I cannot stand the stress, it is just felt imposible to win.


Never had more than 2 4's?
 
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FunkyBlue wrote:
S0laris wrote:
SapoLJackson wrote:
senorcoo wrote:
The suffocatingly tight money is one of my favorite elements.


Some people just can't take the stress. I love everything about this, except the font on the cards which yes, is annoying. But the gameplay is awesome, the artwork is fresh and most importantly for me, it's sublime with two. Easy 10 for me.


I have played a game where I didn't have the opportunity to gain more than 2 dollars. It is no I cannot stand the stress, it is just felt imposible to win.


Never had more than 2 4's?


In the whole game I could not had taken more than 2 dollars in total, not in a turn. I meant without the dice action. In the whole game I could not had taken more than 2 dollars in total, not in a turn. But in a game you have 14 dice actions, how many times you could waste an action just to take money and win an experienced player (having at least around 140 points)?
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Tahsin Shamma
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S0laris wrote:
FunkyBlue wrote:
S0laris wrote:
SapoLJackson wrote:
senorcoo wrote:
The suffocatingly tight money is one of my favorite elements.


Some people just can't take the stress. I love everything about this, except the font on the cards which yes, is annoying. But the gameplay is awesome, the artwork is fresh and most importantly for me, it's sublime with two. Easy 10 for me.


I have played a game where I didn't have the opportunity to gain more than 2 dollars. It is no I cannot stand the stress, it is just felt imposible to win.


Never had more than 2 4's?


In the whole game I could not had taken more than 2 dollars in total, not in a turn. I meant without the dice action. In the whole game I could not had taken more than 2 dollars in total, not in a turn. But in a game you have 14 dice actions, how many times you could waste an action just to take money and win an experienced player (having at least around 140 points)?


This was my experience as well. In other games, spending the time to take money by itself is a less than efficient action. You're already punished. But in those games, the amount of money you can take is fixed and possibly comes with a penalty (At the Gates of Loyang, Above and Below, The Voyages of Marco Polo). This catch-up mechanism really helps keeps players who get into money trouble feel like the game is looking out for them and they still have opportunities, even if it's a foregone conclusion that their inefficient play will cause them to lose.

It's not that the game is bad, but extremely unforgiving. When you combine that with an already demanding track for the Emperor and a potentially slow game due to downtime, it doesn't make for a fun experience for some.

I perfectly understand if others don't mind these things.
 
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veector wrote:
S0laris wrote:
FunkyBlue wrote:
S0laris wrote:
SapoLJackson wrote:
senorcoo wrote:
The suffocatingly tight money is one of my favorite elements.


Some people just can't take the stress. I love everything about this, except the font on the cards which yes, is annoying. But the gameplay is awesome, the artwork is fresh and most importantly for me, it's sublime with two. Easy 10 for me.


I have played a game where I didn't have the opportunity to gain more than 2 dollars. It is no I cannot stand the stress, it is just felt imposible to win.


Never had more than 2 4's?


In the whole game I could not had taken more than 2 dollars in total, not in a turn. I meant without the dice action. In the whole game I could not had taken more than 2 dollars in total, not in a turn. But in a game you have 14 dice actions, how many times you could waste an action just to take money and win an experienced player (having at least around 140 points)?


This was my experience as well. In other games, spending the time to take money by itself is a less than efficient action. You're already punished. But in those games, the amount of money you can take is fixed and possibly comes with a penalty (At the Gates of Loyang, Above and Below, The Voyages of Marco Polo). This catch-up mechanism really helps keeps players who get into money trouble feel like the game is looking out for them and they still have opportunities, even if it's a foregone conclusion that their inefficient play will cause them to lose.

It's not that the game is bad, but extremely unforgiving. When you combine that with an already demanding track for the Emperor and a potentially slow game due to downtime, it doesn't make for a fun experience for some.

I perfectly understand if others don't mind these things.


The Emperor track can be harsh, but I plan for it. I really haven't had that much of an issue gaining the reward. Then again, I also concentrate some of my strategy around completing the room groups and scoring easy Emperor bonus points at the same time I'm putting yellow guests in their rooms. Same with money, complete a couple red groups and you've got free cash. The night side of the board has an easy 4-room red that will net you 10 kronor fairly early in the game.
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Ken Thibodeau
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S0laris wrote:
FunkyBlue wrote:
S0laris wrote:
SapoLJackson wrote:
senorcoo wrote:
The suffocatingly tight money is one of my favorite elements.


Some people just can't take the stress. I love everything about this, except the font on the cards which yes, is annoying. But the gameplay is awesome, the artwork is fresh and most importantly for me, it's sublime with two. Easy 10 for me.


I have played a game where I didn't have the opportunity to gain more than 2 dollars. It is no I cannot stand the stress, it is just felt imposible to win.


Never had more than 2 4's?


In the whole game I could not had taken more than 2 dollars in total, not in a turn. I meant without the dice action. In the whole game I could not had taken more than 2 dollars in total, not in a turn. But in a game you have 14 dice actions, how many times you could waste an action just to take money and win an experienced player (having at least around 140 points)?


Just to make sure:

- the experienced players also plays the same shared dice pool so he should have struggled as much as you.

- maybe you could have used 6s for taking money?

- you could have passed and rerolled, hoping for better results.

Yes, money can be tight sometimes, but I have seen several times people earn VPs through the "first to earn 20$" objective. So it's not always that bad.
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This excellent game is tough, and we like it that way. Go for card bonuses that provide money, Emperor points, and instant completion of rooms. Passing is gold and resources are King. Every little bit helps along the way. The more you play, the better you get at dealing with the randomness. In the end it is a dice game but with tons of strategy around it. Some games you'll be rolling in the dough and other games you'll be scraping by the whole time. Once there was a game where I won by a single dollar that set off a whole chain of rewards. That was a fun game.
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Jack
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To me, its always the sign of a good game when there are lots of good actions you want to take, but aren't able to take all of them.
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