One of my very favorite mechanisms in gaming is cards that have multiple uses. This means that the cards that you get can be used in several different ways. It’s a fantastic way to introduce strategy with very few components. Normally a game would print multiple different decks to accomplish the same thing. A game that is able to shrink those decks into a simple deck with multi-use cards brings another level of strategy of making hard decisions. There are not very many games that utilize this mechanism but it should most definitely be looked at more often. Some games just have simple ways to use the cards in different ways but the ones that make the choice painful really helps with the depth.  So let’s make some good use of the Best 3 Games with…Multi-Use Cards!

3.  Inhabit the Earth


Inhabit the Earth is a fantastic example for multi-use cards. The cards allow you a multitude of choices through out the game on how you are going to use each one.  The choices even get harder and harder as the game progresses.  Most of the actions you take, require you to discard another card. So, right off the bat you are thrown into tough decisions. On your turn, you can use your card to adapt to certain terrains, evolve into another species, add more creatures of an existing species or move forward up the different tracks on the continents. Every card in the game has a special action or scoring bonus for the end of the game…..but remember that only the card that is showing can be used for the ability or scoring, not the cards ability that is stacked under the animal. Deciding what card to use for what action is almost overwhelming at times but the cards work well.

2.  Lewis and Clark

imageLewis and Clark is a fantastic race game that uses multi-use cards.  The cards you use each have a special action that you can take when playing them. But in order to activate those actions, you need to use one of your other cards. On the back of the cards there are a number of Native Americans that need to be used to activate the ability. The number is ranged from 1-3. So that means you can activate that action 1-3 times.   But the more Native Americans on a card the better the action is for that card.  You can also get rid of cards to buy newer cards by using them for crates. You are getting better cards but for a price, and don’t make the mistake of discarding the wrong card.  It could lead you to struggling in the final parts of the game.

1.  La Granja


In my opinion, La Granja is the master when it comes to multi-use cards.  Every time you add a new card to your farm it is painstaking!  The fact that there are very few opportunities to add cards also makes it a critically important decision.  There are four different things you can use your cards for; adding a section to your farm which will add capacity for additional hogs, provide a silver each round or give additional deliveries, adding a field to your farm to grow wheat, olives or grapes, creating a barrow to take to the market to sell or using the upgrade to enhance your farm by adding a worker with a special ability. Every round you get to play only one card (unless you take a revenue die or use a trade commodity) using it for one of the four ways, for free.  All the other times you have to work for it.  The decision between using an amazing power or creating a barrow, but you need fields to get goods to put on the barrow but you need money each round so it would be better to expand your farm makes this game the best at multi-use cards.