Place is a new Swedish boardgame, the first offering from Spelmakarna i Sverige Ltd who are based near my home. After reading about their product in the local paper, I asked them for a review copy, which they kindly delivered to my doorstep. (No, we're not acquainted.)
It's a geographical trivia game with five main parameters contributing to who wins.
1. The ability to recognise scenic places worldwide from pictures
2. The ability to place them correctly on the world map
3. The ability to answer trivia questions about the places
4. The ability to remember the answers to the questions
5. Blind luck
The game has an odd age recommendation: 15 or higher. This might suggest complicated rules, but no: they fit on half a piece of paper. Instead the age thing has to do with the fact that you need a pretty solid eduction to do well at parameters 1-3. My kids, 13 and 8, weren't very good at those. But they each have a good memory, and the dice aren't less friendly to them than to grownups. So what happened in our first test game was that Junior won through use of parameters 4 and 5. He remembered the answers to the questions and got lucky with the dice.
More importantly, both kids quite enjoyed playing the game despite not doing well at the aspects of it that I might consider important. The game is a good educational tool since it encourages memorisation of geo-trivia. So I suggest 10 years as the age recommendation for future print runs.
The graphic design and the selection of images are two of Place's strengths. Very good-looking product. But I have issues with the trivia questions. They're poorly copy-edited. They vary wildly in difficulty. And some are filler text with an unrelated question at the end. "Blah blah seed bank blah safeguard botanical diversity blah blah great big underground refrigerators. What's the capital of Svalbard?"
I give the game a middling grade because winning it is to such a great extent based on chance rather than knowledge, and the strategic element is slight. The player who liked it the most in our group was 8-year-old Juniorette. But I realise that nobody in our group belongs to the target audience, half of us being grade schoolers and all of us being boardgame hobbyists with a taste for meatier strategy games.
Another good one :
[Maybe a bit demanding for younger kids, though]
It isn't a board game, there's a free educational game called kgeography that is good for learning and drilling geography facts: http://userbase.kde.org/KGeography
When I was a kid my parents got the educational game "Where in the world?" and then proceeded to complain that all the countries had changed since they learned geography (this was right after the break up of the USSR, so a lot of the map was new).
I don't remember much about the game (it was hard!) but if you got stuck finding your country you could spin a little wheel for a hint. Sometimes these were helpful (does this country have a seaport?) but I was amazed to find the number of countries that have the dollar as their currency. Hopefully this game is a little better constructed.
Pandemic is a great game! I've won once. :)