Ben Brode, lead developer on Marvel Snap

Developer Update for the Week of April 19, 2023: Post Patch Edition (40+ Questions)!

In this week's edition of Developer Update, we get answers to questions from the team at Second Dinner about Marvel Snap over the past week.

Hello all! Welcome back to this week’s breakdown of what’s happening over on the Marvel Snap official Discord! This week, we get answers to all of your Kitty Pryde questions, does the team consider collateral damage when nerfing cards, are the devs concerned about the play pattern of Galactus, and more! If you want to stay up to date with what’s coming and what answers developers have for the community, make sure to check back here each week!

This week’s edition comes after the new monthly patch, as well as the release of Jeff the Baby Land Shark! Make sure to check out the patch notes so today’s questions make sense. This edition also comes after the announcement of the future of Kitty Pryde and the compensation for her delay, so catch up on that news as well as there are a lot of Kitty Pryde questions today.

Answers and questions may be slightly rephrased for more clarity and ease of reading.

With a continued large volume of questions this week (keep up the great questions!), it will be divided into three sections for ease of reading: Kitty Pryde questions (there are a lot), Card Specific questions, and all other questions.

Kitty Pryde Questions

Q: Does Kitty return to your hand before or after the card you draw that turn?
A: Glenn “The reworked Kitty returns to your hand before you draw a card, but after the next location reveals (if it’s turn 2 or 3).”

Q: Does Kitty gain +2 when returned to hand with Beast or Falcon after her rework?
A: Glenn “You’ve interpreted the new text correctly. We decided to add this compatibility in the rework as compensation for some of her lost strength elsewhere.”

Q: Will beast return Kitty to zero cost when she is reworked?
A: Glenn “Yes, Beast’s cost reduction should now stick. His effect will now also give her +2 Power.”

Q: Will Kitty’s interaction with Wave stay the same as pre-change?
A: Glenn “She will now cost 4 when Wave is active, as the reason she didn’t before was that the game had not yet resolved her in your hand. Now she’ll be there and subject to abilities affecting cards in your hand.”

Q: Will the Kitty Pryde avatar be exclusive, or is it planned to be unlockable?
A: Stephen “We thought about making it exclusive, but decided not to do it. We wanted this to be a moment everyone felt good about both their own compensation and the compensation other players get”

Q: Will the new Kitty be stopped from returning to hand by Professor X??
A: Glenn “Correct, Professor X will ground her for the rest of the game”

Q: Is Kitty Pryde’s interaction with Collector going to be fixed after the rework?
A: Glenn “Yes.”

Q: When is priority determined in a turn where Kitty Pryde’s return ability triggers at the start of the turn: before she returns or after she returns?
A: Glenn “After she returns”

Q: Sometimes you are satisfied with Kitty’s power and want to leave her as is on the board and play a 6 power card, can you choose to keep her there?
A: Glenn “That was possible with the original Kitty Pryde, but it won’t be possible with the rework.”

Q: You mentioned Kitty was changed due to game engine stuff, but are there any thoughts of upgrading the engine to support future cards at a later date?
A: Glenn “There are. One of the reasons we went this route was that when we do perform such an update, we didn’t want Kitty to have created a situation where we improvised a solution that makes future dev work more complicated than it already needs to be”

Q: Does Kitty return to hand when you have 7 cards?
A: Glenn (Reworded for Clarity) “Kitty stays in place until there is an opening in your hand”

Q: Does “everyone” getting Kitty Pryde include people under CL 500, as the Signed Nick Fury did?
A: Stephen “Yes to all active players”

Card Specific Questions

Q: Are you concerned about the play pattern of Galactus?
A: Glenn “Galactus decks shouldn’t be one of our strongest or one our most popular, because the gameplay is polarizing both emotionally and mechanically. If these decks do exceed our desired ranges, which are lower than our typical range for balance action, we’ll make some kind of adjustment.”

Q: Is it intentional that playing Snowguard in bear form into the Raft when you have 4 cards there does not give another free 6-cost card?
A: Glenn “This is intentional. The Raft only rewards the first player to fill it, and only once.”

Q: Why Doesn’t Snowguard work where you can choose hawk or bear when played? It seems like that’s the case for simplicity sake. Will we ever see a function in game where you can choose a specific card?
A: Glenn “Possibly. That’s roughly the idea with cards that need specific location slots to work, like Quake, but it hasn’t played out that way since there are a lot more variables than just getting the option.”

Q: Does the team feel like Shuri still needs a nerf? I’m hardly seeing any Shuri after the OTA change and it seems like other decks are dominating much more.
A: Glenn “Whether we still wanted to nerf her or not, the timeline for patching the game requires we implement those adjustments in advance. The Shuri nerf discussed on our 4/6 OTA article has been done well before we published that. For what it’s worth, Shuri’s metrics are definitely healthier since the 4/6 OTA shift. But she’s still overall slightly stronger than we’d like, so I’m happy with where we landed for the next patch.”

Q: What are the dev’s thoughts on armor?
A: Glenn “Armor is very strong; possibly strong enough to lose a Power or change to a different Cost. However, she doesn’t outcompete tons of other 2-Cost cards in multiple different strategies, so I’m largely happy with her.”

Q: Why is Wasp the only “no Ability” card that isn’t a starter card?
A: Glenn “From a game balance perspective, Wasp is easily the strongest of these cards. However, that’s within the context of more advanced gameplay than is available to new players. The other ‘no abilities’ cards also teach players the rough curve for stats that they need to know, but Wasp doesn’t do that since 0-Cost cards are very rare. She just doesn’t have much of a role for those players yet. In Series 3, players have advanced enough to appreciate Wasp and developed collections she’ll improve, so acquiring Wasp there is more satisfying.”

Q: What will the new America Chavez (Bottom of the deck) interaction do when interacting with locations like Attilan or cards like Crystal that shuffle your deck?
A: Glenn “Her function hasn’t changed, just where she starts.”

Q: With the new change to Lockjaw, are you keeping an eye on Quinjet? My reasoning is that Quinjet was busted before because you could dump 0 cost cards into Lockjaw on turn 3, but now you can’t do that with Lockjaw.
A: Glenn “We’re more likely to look at other ways to buff Quinjet that reverting that nerf. Part of why we made it in the first place was that Quinjet creates an ongoing design consideration for future cards as long as it has the potential to make them cost 0.”

Q: With the new changes made to Lockjaw, can you play a card plus Jeff onto Lockjaw on the same turn?
A: Glenn “You can, but Lockjaw will only spin the first card you play.”

Q: How will the new Leader interact with 0-powered cards or ongoing cards like Knull, Taskmaster, Hit-Monkey, Darkhawk, Dino, or Mystique?
A: Glenn “He’ll evaluate them based on their modified power if revealed, and their base power if unrevealed.”

Q: With America Chavez now always being on the bottom of the deck, will Cable users be stuck only pulling her the majority of the time?
A: Glenn “Against America, who isn’t in the majority of decks, Cable is a bit worse now. As we continue balancing, perhaps he will change.”

Q: With Chavez now at the bottom of the deck, will Domino follow the same logic and always be the 2nd card in the deck, or be 2nd to the bottom?
A: Glenn “We didn’t see a reason to change Domino, so we didn’t. Domino continues to be randomly placed within your deck.”

Q: With the new Leech text, will cards still have no abilities on a turn 7?
A: Glenn “Leech continues to permanently remove abilities.”

Q: Did you decide deliberately that Leech triggers before the final card draw, and if so, why?
A: Glenn “It’s actually the default timing for that trigger, but we preferred to keep the drawn card safe. There should be some tension for the Leech player if the game is going to continue.”

Q: Are there any plans to adjust Wave or Sandman? They tend to overlap with the ability to block hand dump decks, Sandman feels too strong when used on turn 4 (or earlier), and Wave can break equilibrium between you and your opponent.
A: Glenn “We’re always monitoring the balance of the cards contributing to strong competitive decks, and both of these cards qualify.”

Q: After you play Shuri, if locations swap (i.e. Quake or Asteroid M), does the target card need to go next to her or the location originally played on?
A: Glenn “The actual location. This interaction is the same with Hawkeye and Rescue.”

Q: Is a VFX aid in the works for Shuri to clarify which location the next card must be played in?
A: Glenn “One is in the works. We decided to ship it without VFX rather than leave the card unchanged, even though that’s not ideal.”

Other Questions

Q: Are there requirements for a card to be Permanent Series 5?
A: Glenn “Other than the base prerequisite of being exciting, no.”

Q: Has it been considered to release cards in bunches instead of one at time? Like releasing 4 cards at the beginning of the month?
A: Glenn “We prefer ensuring there’s constantly something new to look forward to in our release structure.”

Q: Will you add a location that messes with cubes in any way? What are the limitations in terms of taking away control of the player does the team have in mind when coming up with new location abilities? Additionally, is the team up to balancing/tweaking the effects of current locations?
A: Glenn “I’d say it’s a ‘when’ not an ‘if’ on locations messing with cubes. In general, removing players’ agency isn’t something were aiming to continue doing with new locations. We want to challenge players to make interesting, unexpected decisions with locations, and there are many upcoming locations I’m excited to show you throughout the year based on that approach. We are open to modifying locations in the future if revisiting them will improve the game, but it’s not something we’re actively pursuing right now.”

Q: Will there be an OTA patch on the same week as a monthly patch?
A: Rada “There won’t be additional OTA balance updates the week of a patch, the patch itself will have balance changes in it.”

Q: If you already have variants made that aren’t saved for bundles, why not release them all at once instead of randomly without notice?
A: Nicki Broderick “We’ve got a lot of plans for future ways to deliver variants to players – plans that actually go all the way into next year! So while it may seem like some of these variants have been chilling for a bit, rest assured we’ve got cool plans for them.”

Q: I just wanted to ask if there are any plans to put Dan Hipp Iron Man (Hulk) into the shop or in any way?
A: Stephen “We are planning to add them both as Rare variants in a future update, so everyone who missed out to collecting them at launch will be able to pick them up in either the Daily Offer shop or Mystery Variants”

Q: How do you choose which characters will be cards first for the game?
A: Glenn “We try to find a theme that’s appealing and includes characters we’re excited to design around and release. Sometimes we’ll weigh whether there are specific opportunities for cool variants with a given theme.”

Q: There are lots of cool team ups and synergies in the game, but no filter to sort them that way. Is it possible to add tags like “X-Men” or “Sinister Six” to make them easier to find, and to create the possibility of achievements like “Win while having Avengers on the board”?
A: Glenn “They’re possible. The largest benefit from my perspective would be widening the design space to include faction-centric rewards.”

Q: How’s the team’s general feeling before the patch goes live?
A: Glenn “Well, it’s always during working hours, so mostly we just work normally. The design team does usually chat through the social media response later in the day and evaluate opportunities to improve our messaging or any concerns we may have missed.”

Q: How much consideration does the team give to collateral damage when nerfing cards? For instance, the patch notes mention Lockjaw’s Change was largely due to Thanos decks, however by nerfing Lockjaw, you’ve effectively destroyed a lot of other lockjaw decks (Lockjaw Discard, Lockjaw, Lockjaw Dracula)
A: Glenn “We look at every deck the card is played in to review the impact of our changes. If we thought we were ‘destroying’ those decks, we wouldn’t have made this change.”

Q: Since the patch, when receiving boosters for a card that you are using with an infinite border, it will instead display a variant/split in your collection that isn’t fully upgraded. I just want to be sure that this isn’t affecting the increased chance for boosters?
A: Stephen “It is not affecting the 2x booster chance! The goal of this change was to enable players to play with their cool infinite cards if they wish while still being able to quickly upgrade the latest split for that piece of art”

Q: With the new updated board, will there possibly be new seasonal themed backgrounds? I think that would be a really interesting tie-in for seasons.
A: Nicki Broderick “It’s not something that’s on our list right now but we are excited to explore more with our board in the future!”

Q: Looking at the power ratio of vanilla (no ability) cards:

  • Misty Knight: 1/2 – 2.0
  • Shocker 2/3 – 1.5
  • Cyclops 3/4 – 1.33
  • The Thing 4/6 – 1.5
  • Abomination 5/9 – 1.8
  • Hulk 6/12 -2.0

You can pretty easily see the most energy-to-power efficiency at the lowest and highest costs – 2x on both extremes! There is a pretty smooth dip down to the lowest point. What are the reasons for this dip? Why not just have every card sit at 2x output and balance from there? What design space considerations went into this curve?
A: Glenn “There are more factors to consider than pure ratios, including the amount of board space a card takes up, with each extra space being worth ~0.5 Power or ~1 Energy, depending on the base Cost of a card. A few others:

Opportunity cost: Drawing Hulk costs you the opportunity to draw a card you could play on every turn except 6, while drawing Cyclops after turn 3 might still be useful to play multiple cards and efficiently spend your Energy.

Our ‘True Curve’ is hidden: Our ‘no ability’ cards aren’t the real base curve of the game, because there’s Patriot and other content adding context to their existence.

Number are finite: Technically you can scale your game on any number set to get more granular knobs, but if Hulk was 120 Power so that so that we could make Magneto 116, that’s a larger cost to our accessibility than it is a gain for our balance. So imperfect decisions have to be made.

If you are interested more on this topic, GDC has a free talk from a colleague, Dylan Mayo, that breaks down costing card games from general principles:

Questions From You!

Recently, I asked readers of the weekly dev update to leave their questions down in the comment section. That way we can ask those questions on your behalf, or let you know the answers if those questions have been asked before! I read each comment you leave, so I will be adding this section at the end of each week’s edition to highlight your questions that you asked last week!

Q: Do the devs plan on making more changes to cube gain in ranked matching (specifically to address the problem of grinding rank 1-2 cubes at a time)?
A: From the newest roadmap “(In regards to matchmaking changes) We know there’s more work to be done. We think the journey to re-climb to a previous season’s rank is too difficult. To that end, we are exploring change to how many cubes are required per rank, how many bonus cubes are granted when a player achieves a new Tier, and potentially how much of a reset is incurred each season.t”

Q: Is it possible to have a same art style for the cards that were generated from other cards (E.g: Bucky-> Winter Soldier, Dr. Doom -> Doombots, Squirrel Girl -> Squirrels)?
A: It’s technically possible. However, it doubles the resources our Art Development team needs for each card using a ‘token.’ At the moment, this would be too inefficient for our small team to consider. We know this is a popular ask, and we’re exploring it for the future.”

Q: Is there an ETA on getting the Inbox for the PC version?
A: Stephen “News/Inbox will be part of our full PC release later this year””

Keep Your Questions and Feedback Coming!

That’s all for this week’s update! Be sure to check back here at Marvel Snap Zone for next week’s update! If you enjoyed the amount of content in this edition, make sure to keep asking your questions to the developers by submitting it in their official Discord in the “#ask-the-team” channel. If you have questions and don’t use Discord, leave your questions for the developers in the comment section here, and I will make sure your question has been answered by the devs!

If you have feedback or changes you would like to see with these weekly updates, also let us know in the comment section!

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