Introducing The River to Carcassonne can impact the game slightly and thus, the strategy for the game will change when compared to playing base Carcassonne.
Force the Issue
One of the biggest changes that The River offers is the opportunity for players to play in their own little tucked away corner of the map without interference from other players. Whereas in base Carcassonne you’re starting off one singular tile, The River allows players the opportunity to place off of ten tiles once fully placed. That is a lot of real estate available and if left unchecked, players have the opportunity to build and complete long Roads and large Cities without conflict. Due to this, players may need to expend more than the normal amount of effort to engage their opponent(s).
With ten tiles placed before the “real” game begins, the opportunity for early Farms increases. Players can play a risky style and place a Farmer early with the idea of connecting Cities to their Fields throughout the course of the game. In addition to that, Fields may now be much more connected due to the large path created by The River. This can cause large scoring opportunities for well-placed Farmers. It can also cause a bust if an opportunistic player pins an opponents Farmer after their initial placement.