Carcassonne paves the way for different variations. This one is a rather easy one that creates a fun start to using the river tiles.
According to the official rules you are supposed to take out the source and lake tiles of the river and shuffle the remaining tiles. Next, put the the source tile on the top of the stack and lake tile on the bottom.
The following two variations are simple to do, but really help change the strategy of strarting off.
Variation 1 – Random River Source
In this variation you simply shuffle the source tile with the rest of the river tiles. Then you place the lake tile on bottom and get started.
This little change will give you the possibility to place river tiles on either side of the river until you pull the source tile.
Variation 2 – Random River Length
This next variation has you shuffle all the river tiles and then starting the game. This means both the source and lake tiles are shuffled with the rest of the river tiles.
This change will mean your river could be anywhere from two tiles in length, up to the standard twelve tile length.