Designers should spend some time in between projects challenging themselves. One of those challenges should be to figure out multiple ways to accomplish the same result using completely different components and mechanics.
If you have a set of cards that represent different market conditions, is it possible for you to use tokens and a bag draw to do the same thing? If you have a turn based auction system, can you figure out a way to resolve the auction with one action? If you want to pass around hidden information on cards, what else can you use to hide information from certain players at the table?
The questions you can ask yourself are limited only to the number of mechanics you are using for your games.
Why bother you ask?
This is related to cost of production and, should you get your game picked up by a publisher, the ability to be flexible with how your game does what you want it to do. Publishers might take over the game completely or they may ask you to be part of the continued development of the game. Having various way to accomplish the same mechanic at the ready will be helpful in the final construction of your game. Maybe the pieces in the game take up a little bit too much room in the box, maybe the publisher wants to turn the game into a card game.
I think you get the point. Not only is this exercise good for your designer skills, it is good to show other people in the industry and you can be flexible and create games that are versatile and easy to work with.
If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment here or email Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have made it this far, would you like to go a little farther? We have a regular Google hangout with other designers. We talk about the games we are working on and share helpful tips and ideas on how to make designing our game easier. We meetup every other Saturday. Either comment here or tweet me or email me and I will add you to the list and send you a link to the Google hangout.