My daughter and I have been enjoying this game lately, along with King of Tokyo (you can see her unboxing the game here: http://boardgamegeek.com/video/24613/fast-flowing-forest-fel...). I like the simplicity of the game, and it's a great game to play with your kids. It can be a little tricky for them to get the hang of "pushing" and the flow of the currents, but otherwise it's a relatively simple game to pickup. I also have a fondness for games that offer variable and flexible setups, as this one does.
The designer in me is always impulsively mulling over possible adaptations/variants when playing games, and one thing I thought of right away during our first play was that it would be interesting to add a "discovery" element to the game. Here's what I'm thinking...
Rather than have a completely predetermined course at the outset, only agree to a set number of river boards at the beginning and start with just one river board in play. When the first player reaches the rapids at the end of a river board, a new river board is randomly drawn (or, as randomly as possible--I realize the boards are different sizes and, thus, distinguishable in that regard) and placed, until the predetermined number of boards have been placed.
This variant will yield a more tactical game, as players won't be able to plan quite so far ahead and must, instead, be ready to adapt to the river as they discover it.
Let me know your thoughts if you try it out (or if you don't).
Fair enough. I think you're right about the game not consisting of a lot of strategy to begin with. Nonetheless, I do think there's some planning involved with respect to positioning (for pushing, the currents, etc.), and when to use certain-numbered movement cards--we will be trying it next game. I just like the idea of not knowing what's coming, though you're right about the variant not adding much.