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Grand Austria Hotel: A Game of Coffee, Wine and Strudel for Two

Grand Austria Hotel is a game that has me fairly torn. Having previously played and loved Coimbra, and then doing some further research, I found that Lorenzo il Magnifico, The Voyages of Marco Polo, and Grand Austria Hotel were all great follow up choices. While I plan on trying all of them, Grand Austria Hotel is the one I already had in my collection and thus gave a shot.

It was good. Not great. It was a solid game that based on the first play, is one that I would never turn down, but would nearly always rather something else. The basic premise is that you are a Hotelier, acquiring guests who benefit your hotel, feeding them and then rooming them. You do this primarily through 14 main actions throughout the game, selecting dice to take the desired action, and trying to ensure that everything combines neatly turning a single action into one with cascading benefits. The guests will help, impressing the emperor will help, having the right staff will help...and it hopefully all comes together with one large point total in the end.

The game is solid, everything fits together neatly....but at the end if primarily felt like multiplayer solitaire. Now I don't mind doing my own thing, but I always prefer the tension of feeling like everything you do matters as much as everything I do. 

Comparing it to Castles of Burgundy for instance, in CoB, I always feel like we're competing for the same tiles to finish off our player board. In GAH, I rarely if ever felt like we really were going for the same guest. The actions definitely had a bit of competition, but again, rarely felt that upset if you took one thing, leaving me with something else. Or comparing it to Coimbra, in Coimbra, I always felt like my move was always a guess of what you were going for, how much you were willing to pay, and therefore how I was going to hedge or not hedge to get what I want. Not once in GAH did I think through that in the slightest. It was a solid optimization game, with a decent playtime (for 2) but if I never played it again, I wouldn't lose any sleep over it.

Based on the high critical acclaim, and based on my enjoyment of Coimbra, I plan on giving it another shot. We'll see how it fares after that....at the end of the day, if not playing a game again doesn't bother me...then I can't justify playing it when there are so many other great games I don't play enough.

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