Battle Mode 1.0 Developer Update: Insights from Design Director

Marvel Snap will release version 1.0 of its brand-new competitive mode in just a few weeks. As Second Dinner puts the final touches on this beta feature, here's deeper insight from Associate Design Director, Kent-Erik Hagman.

Marvel Snap’s Battle Mode, first previewed in the January 2023 Developer Update, is an unranked game mode where players can challenge each other and determine the winner over multiple games. In case you missed it, here’s are some quick facts:

  • Each player uses an unique code to match up against each other.
  • Each player starts with 10 Health, and each player loses Health equal to the value of the Cube.
  • Players lock in a deck and use the same deck throughout the matches.
  • No ties – winners or losers only.
  • It’s a friendly battle so your rank is not affected.
  • There will also be a tournament format that players can also use for organizing events, and so on.

It should be making its first appearance with the next patch on January 31st (tentative confirmed date), along with the first Series Drop! In the meantime, Second Dinner’s associate design director Kent-Erik Hagman has shared the design process and some insights into the Battle Mode. Some new information and key takeaways:

  • The first release of the Battle Mode will be region locked.
  • After round 5, higher stake rounds begin that double the amount of Cubes wagered as to not prolong matches too much.
  • You can only bet with Cubes with the amount of health you have.

Check out the full updated post below that is now live on the News section of the in-game client in Marvel Snap, or the original post on the Unity Blog.

Battle Mode 1.0 is coming soon!

MARVEL SNAP will release version 1.0 of its brand-new competitive mode in just a few weeks. As we put the final touches on this beta feature, here’s deeper insight from Associate Design Director at Second Dinner, Kent-Erik Hagman.

Promotional image with character sampling for MARVEL SNAP
Promotional image with character sampling for MARVEL SNAP

Introducing Battle Mode

When designing MARVEL SNAP, it was absolutely critical to us to make the most fun, accessible card battler ever. We wanted a card battler anyone could get into so that more people than ever before could experience just how fun card games are! But that was just the beginning.  We also wanted an ultra-competitive way to play against friends. Something that takes the gameplay, bluffing, and mind games to the next level.

Enter our newest game mode: Battle Mode. It’s the most fun, competitive way to play MARVEL SNAP.

Great, but what is Battle Mode?

Battle Mode pits two opponents against each other through multiple rounds. Each player starts with 10 health. Instead of Cubes, what’s at stake is the amount of damage the winner will deal to the loser. If you can deplete your opponent’s health to zero, you win!

In Battle Mode, the stakes become front and center. Every SNAP and Retreat takes extra meaning, as every point of health is critical to remaining alive.

Further, each player’s deck is locked for the duration of the Battle. This means you’ll quickly learn what cards are in their deck, and your opponent might be aware of what sneaky tricks you’re hiding.  Keeping track of what cards in your deck haven’t been seen by your opponent can make all the difference in whether you can squeeze out an extra SNAP.

It’s turn 3, Bar Sinister just appeared. Your opponent SNAPs… you know they’re playing Green Goblin since you saw it last round. If you stick around another turn, you’ll lose 2 health! But if you retreat now, you’ll only lose 1! But you have Nightcrawler in hand, which your opponent has NOT seen yet, and your cards flip first…so you SNAP back and hope your opponent takes the bait!

Design Philosophy

When coming up with a more competitive, head-to-head format for MARVEL SNAP, it was critical to us that we kept the ability to bluff and tactically retreat. If anything, it was important we bring those elements to the forefront.

We also knew that over a series of games, the mind games of learning and anticipating what was in your opponent’s deck and their specific playstyle was something that would add a ton of fun. There’s pure joy in knowing what your opponent wants to do and trying to guess if they’ll do it or if they’ll feint in another direction.

Finally, it was really important to have a mode where it was clear who the winner and loser was. In a normal match, there’s a lot of wiggle room for just how many Cubes you win or lose by, and we wanted a definitive winner. There are no ties in Battle Mode!  Aside from proving who is best among your friends, this will unlock the ability for the community to run MARVEL SNAP tournaments!

Still of Baby [card name=
Still of Baby Groot from MARVEL SNAP

Mistakes Along the Way

While developing Battle Mode, we tried some things that ended up not quite working. We tried a bunch of different Health values. We tried a mode where the Reality Stone transformed cards in your hand before each game. Developing in Unity, it was super easy to jump in and try out wild new ideas.

Early on, we saw players playing no cards in games 1 and 2 to scout their opponent’s decks, paying a couple of Health to gain critical information. Back then, Heath Pools were much larger so a couple Health meant very little, and as we lowered total Health, those first couple games could make all the difference

Battle Mode takes about 20 minutes, but in early playtests between two players who retreat back and forth for a series of 1 Health games, it took much longer.  To keep Battles around 20 minutes, we added “High Stakes Rounds” which kick in starting on Round 5.  High Stakes Rounds start with the stakes at 2 Damage, so it’s much more deadly.

Another thing we learned was that if players took some early beats and were 1 game away from running out of Health, they could SNAP with impunity since it doesn’t matter if they end up at zero or negative 6; death is death. We wanted to reward players for early victories, so now, you cannot deal more damage than you have Health remaining. It means that coming from behind is possible, but those early victories don’t become irrelevant. And the “bluffing” aspect of the Snap remains intact as your opponent cannot risk health they do not have.

We’re Just Getting Started

At launch, Battle Mode will only allow players from the same matchmaking region to play against each other.  We’re working on global matchmaking and that will come a bit later.

Wrapping It Up

We’re very excited to get Battle Mode out to everyone as soon as we can. This has truly been a labor of love, and we can’t wait to see how players enjoy this first cut of Battle Mode!!

A sampling of card designs in MARVEL SNAP
A sampling of card designs in MARVEL SNAP

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