I have an old 3DS XL, and I recently downloaded the new AC:NL update. I understand that the amiibo cards can now do some neat things, but I don't want to buy a $20 peripheral for 1 game. Can I just use a camera to scan the cards with the camera or do I need the reader/writer?

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    It's worth mentioning that the Amiibo reader/writer is usable with all amiibo, not just the cards for Animal Crossing New Leaf. You could use it for SSB4 or Fire Emblem Fates (assuming you have the appropriate amiibo), as well. – Vemonus Nov 15 '16 at 21:40
  • @Vemonus I know that the reader/writer can be used with other games, but I don't have any other use for amiibo besides this game. Nonetheless, I appreciate the answer, and you deserve top answer by far. – Glacial Nov 15 '16 at 21:45
  • ah I see. Well, unfortunately you'll need the NFC adapter. Maybe you'll find another game you like in the future that you can use it for, though! – Vemonus Nov 15 '16 at 21:47
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    @Vemonus Hey, you never know. What's your friend code? (if you want to play Sm4sh or Animal Crossing sometime) Mines 0361-6682-4264 – Glacial Nov 15 '16 at 21:50
  • Oh, I never even thought of sharing that. I'll go put it on my profile, give me a second. – Vemonus Nov 15 '16 at 21:51

Amiibo Cards work the same was as regular Amiibo figurines, in that they require a special reader/writer. Meaning, if you don't have the new Nintendo 3DS that comes with this reader/writer built-in, you will need to buy the NFC adapter that you've mentioned.

For reference, see this tutorial on how to use the Animal Crossing Amiibo cards.

Namely, this step:

Follow the instructions and when prompted, place the Animal Crossing amiibo card of the animal you want to visit on the NFC area of the touch screen (New Nintendo 3DS system) or on the NFC Reader/Writer.

These are the only two ways to access the Amiibo Card, or an Amiibo, with a Nintendo 3DS for that matter.

It's worth noting that this isn't the only game that you would be able to use the NFC for. Two enjoyable games that you could use the NFC with applicable Amiibo for are Super Smash Bros. for the 3DS and Fire Emblem Fates.

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    The cards work exactly the same as the actual figurines. They work with an NFC chip. So even if someone tried to do a camera reader, they wouldn't be able to read the NFC chip with a simple camera. – Karlyr Nov 15 '16 at 21:43
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    @Karlyr thanks, I'll add that to the answer for completion – Vemonus Nov 15 '16 at 21:44

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