Ben Brode, lead developer on Marvel Snap

Developer Update for the Week of April 5, 2023: Animals Assemble Edition (35+ 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! 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! A new Development Roadmap has been released, so make sure to check it out as many questions this week revolve around the content of the roadmap!

This week’s edition comes after the start of the new season Animals Assemble! If you haven’t seen what is coming up this season, make sure to check out the breakdown for this season, as well as info on the new card Hit Monkey!

We got a TON of submissions this week with a lot of great content! This week we get answers to why the free variant was removed from the season pass, will Cosmo get a counter, will we be getting new styles of Mystery Variants, and more! Answers and questions may be slightly rephrased for more clarity and ease of reading.

With the large volume of questions this week, it will be divided into three sections for ease of reading: Card Specific questions, Location Based Questions, and all other questions.

Card Specific Questions

Q: While there is nothing strictly wrong with Cosmo, are there any plans to create cards that counter him?
A: Glenn “Coincidentally, we’ve designed a couple cards that can uniquely affect Cosmo (among other things) recently.

Q: Sunspot is the most used card in the game by far with 45% usage by snapfan statistics. So it’s basically in every second deck. It also appears to have a high win rate compared to other 1 costs. How do you feel about the card, its performance, and its frequency in matches?
A: Glenn “Sunspot’s usage is higher than we’d like across more decks than we’d like. However, we are extra cautious about nerfing cards from an earlier series because their availability naturally boosts their play rate, plus we do want players with smaller collections to have solid competitive options as they continue collecting Series 3 and above.

Q: Currently Shang-Chi has an asymmetrical effect, as he only effects opponents cards and not your own. Have you considered making him more symmetrical like other tech cards like Cosmo and Enchantress?
A: Glenn “We have, but don’t think it would be an improvement to the gameplay of the card or the incentives involved in deckbuilding. It would just discourage playing with high-powered cards that cost 4 or more energy on a different axis”

Q: Super Skrull currently does not display the VFX of opposing cards it copies. Is this intended, or a bug?
A: Glenn “It’s on our radar, but a lower priority. Part of the complexity is that Super Skrull makes it possible for a very high number of effects to be applied simultaneously, and a VFX solution should account for those cases too.”

Q: Any plans to add a collectible rock card to the game?
A: Nicki Broderick “We don’t have anything set in stone yet. 😉”

Q: How do you feel about Red Skull since the last patch?
A: Glenn “I’m not happy with the current performance of the Shuri-Taskmaster deck and Red Skull is one addressable part of that problem in the short-term, so stay tuned.”

Q: Can the upcoming card Jeff the baby landshark be moved into locked locations by other cards too? Such as iron fist punching Jeff into Miniaturized Lab on turn 3-5?
A: Daniela “Yes! Nothing can stop Jeff 🦈💪”

Q: Can you put Jeff onto the Space Throne as a second card at the location?
A: Daniela “Jeff can sit on Space Throne whenever he wants”

Q: If there’s a sandman in play, can I play Jeff as my second card for the turn? Or is the sand too strong for him?
A: Glenn “No sand is strong enough to stop Jeff.”

Q: Can Jeff be played or moved into a full location?
A: Glenn “No, he can’t break the 4-card limit.”

Q: Can you please add further context to Snowguard’s Hawk ability please? It says “ignore location abilities next turn”- does this mean you can play into restricting locations like Sanctum Sanctorum, flooded, plunder castle, ect?
A: Glenn “Yes, both players will be able to play to those locations if Bear is played”

Q: If Attilan shuffles Snowguard in Bear form into your deck, what form will Snowguard be in once drawn?
A: Glenn “Snowguard goes from Hawk first from her base form. Once she’s in that loop, she never leaves it–Hawk or bear only from there, and she changes at the end of each turn she’s in your hand. If you shuffle the Bear into your deck, you’ll draw the Bear. If you don’t play the Bear, she’ll become the Hawk at the end of your turn.”

Q: We’ve seen the devs use the term polarizing for cards like Galactus. Have you ever considered Leech to be in the same category? Also, have you thought about updating Leech to get the Nakia treatment and only remove the ability of X cards instead of the entire hand?
A: Glenn “Yes, Leech is a polarizing card–in more ways than one. When I use the term ‘polarizing’ as a designer, I usually mean that a card or strategy tends to be either very weak or very strong in practice much more often than it’s middling. It’s also accurate to say that there’s a sharp emotional divide around both Galactus and Leech, however. We did consider that adjustment, but that Leech change wouldn’t serve a role for us. It would just stop getting played, which we do understand is an outcome many players would be fine with.”

Q: How does the team feel about Aero after her latest nerf?
A: Glenn “She’s still a winning card, one of the 10 most-played Series 3 cards, and one of the 20 most-played cards overall. The nerf hit her almost perfectly for our goals.”

Location Based Questions

Q: Why do you keep creating locations like Krakoa, Ego, Mindscape, District X, Subterrania, Mindscape, ect. Do you have data that shows these are good for the game?
A: Glenn “Location variance is really important to SNAP. It keeps games from being repetitive, adds depth, softens skill and matchup gaps, and even can churn the metagame sometimes. It is important that some manifestations of that variance be disruptive, in the same way that Magic the Gathering needs mana screw, chess needs time pressure, and poker needs bets with incomplete information. We do like to experiment with different manifestations of disruption. We have gone to the deep end of that pool a couple more times than we likely needed to lately, and you can expect to see somewhat softer locations among the new ones later this year–but not exclusively, as we want to keep a certain frequency for disruption.”

Q: Would you consider creating a mode with every location being Ruins?
A: Glenn “We might one day temporarily offer a game mode that does something like this, but I wouldn’t expect it to become a frequent offer (nor a PvP mode). Locations are important for games remaining engaging long-term.”

Q: With an ever expanding list of locations, will there ever be seasonal rotation?
A: Glenn “I hope so! Potentially devising play modes using locations mixes to build unique metagames was one of the things that most attracted me to working on SNAP.”

Q: Have you considered asking the community for new locations?
A: Glenn “We don’t accept or solicit designs directly from the audience; it’s a legal consideration. We’re always happy to hear feedback about favorite and least favorite existing locations, and I’ve got many in the queue I’m excited to debut.”

Q: I had a game today where Titania was played on Luke's Bar prior to it’s reveal. I expected this to lead to a fun and unique interaction where my opponent and I would play cards there to fight for her to flip to our side, but when either of us played there, she never moved. Is this intentional?
A: Glenn “This is a bug. If you encounter it in-game, please submit a quick report in the settings to help us pull the data. Thanks!”

Other Questions

Q: Why did y’all remove the free mystery variant from the pass?
A: Second Dinner (On Twitter) “Some of you have noticed the Season Pass Mystery Variant moved to the paid track from the free one. This is a bug and NOT the experience we want for @MARVELSNAP players. As an apology, we’ll be gifting everyone a FREE Mystery Variant inbox. Stay tuned for more details!”

Q: Is it possible we could see a ranked mode that allows players to ban cards then make decks and play?
A: Glenn “It’s possible.”

Q: What sort of criteria does the team consider when deciding which card will be released in the season pass vs Series 5?
A: Glenn “We’re still experimenting, but so far we recognize that people really enjoy Season Passes that enable brand-new decks or create their own twists on existing content. Series 5 cards aren’t as constrained. Currently we decide which character we want to be the Season Pass, and then build the card set from there. MODOK was a great season pass card. No balance issues, but strong enough to be popular and exciting for a few different shells. We always love cards that encourage players to reconsider cards or decks they might not have played yet, or may have set aside for whatever reason.”

Q: Does the dev team have any unique identifiers that make them stand out from other players so we know when we see them?
A: Stephen “We haven’t done it yet but we want to give the team a unique cosmetic that shows we are devs. Maybe sometime soon.”

Q: Does Second Dinner have a Quality Assurance team? After the major issues of Kang and Kitty Pryde after release, I wonder how your testing system works.
A: Glenn ” We do have a QA team, in addition to testing combinations of cards and interactions we expect to be popular among players. Kang and Kitty are unique cases, and I’m sure we’ll continue iterating on our process with learnings from their issues. I don’t have any expectation of it changing our card release schedule.”

Q: Ultimate variants look great, but for their pricing of 5000 tokens seems to be too much considering they don’t have special VFX or voice lines. Can we expect changes in the future?
A: Stephen “We have plans to spice up ultimate variants when we build the tech for mythic variants”

Q: Do you have more card designs like Thanos that bundle cards (the stones) with the base card?
A: Glenn “He’s not the last, but it’s a space we want to be careful with. It should feel amazing and special when we do it, plus it costs us more time and resourcing to do it as well”

Q: Do you guys have any plans on communicating better when new variants are added to the game other than the season pass ones?
A: Nicki Broderick “Yes! We’re working on lots of updates to new variants coming to the game – we want to better highlight them both in the shop, and in our carousel (the stuff that cycles through on the main menu). Typically wee add a batch of new variants to the game on Tuesdays, but we’re actively working on making it so we can add new variants every day.

Q: Will there ever be cards that are for a different version of the same character, such as Peter Parker to Spider Man or Bruce Banner to Hulk?
A: Glenn “We don’t have a hard line yes/no here, so it’s possible.”

Q: Would you ever consider excluding pixels from mystery variants in bundles?
A: Stephen “We plan to make new cosmetic mystery types that are more targeted (i.e. venomized mystery variant or Dan Hipp mystery variant, ect)”

Q: Currently, there is no official data regarding usage and winning rate of each card. Are you planning to share some of this information in the future?
A: Glenn “Not regularly or upon request, but we will share data like this that we think is interesting or useful from time to time.”

Q: What do you think about cards that synergize like “If you played Spider-Man last turn, this card gains +2 power”?
A: Glenn “We aim for Synergy when we can, but it’s not always going to be the right card to make for one reason or another. We also value the complexity level of SNAP, and try to “do one thing well” with most cards. I do prefer more subtly executions, such as Jane Foster grabbing Thor’s Mjolnir or Zabu making Ka-Zar and Shanna cheaper (plus they combo too). By designing for synergy this way, we get exciting team-up synergies, but also widen the total number of interactions to get excited about in deckbuilding.”

Q: Has buying levels with gold been removed from the game, or is it a premium only feature?
A: Stephen “It is a premium only feature. Interesting question…makes me wonder how many people wish they could buy levels regardless of owning the pass🤔 “

Q: Any plans to add universal boosters?
A: Stephen “We have discussed this a ton at SD! The main thing holding us back from adding them as a new additional item is US/UX complexity. Tracking them, displaying, and determining which is spent alongside all of the Character boosters is a tough problem. We have no plans to replace character boosters with universal boosters. If we added it, it would be in addition not instead of.”

Q: What are the considerations made when deciding if a card should be ongoing, vs not (i.e. Angela or Bishop)?
A: Glenn “we have rules for what can be Ongoing or not, though it’s true mechanical ideas can often be executed somewhat closely within or outside those rules. However, it doesn’t come up as a meaningful balance knob too much for us, since most times the best version is the cleanest by the rules. The most obvious is code–if the behavior we program uses Ongoing functions, that’s a clue what it should be. Cards that want trigger events aren’t Ongoing.

Another rule is that an Ongoing ability is constantly applying. Colossus could say ‘When anything tries to destroy this, move it, or reduce its power, counter that’ or whatever, but that’s a mouthful (and we’d still prefer to code it as an Ongoing). Ongoing abilities are applied passively, which is why Vision isn’t–the player actively uses his effect. Yet another is that we actually have unique VFX demands on triggers vs Ongoing effects as well, so that’s occasionally a consideration.”

Q: I am series 3 complete and my ‘choose your Series 3 card” section says I’ve already claimed a card. Will the next Series drop update this section to let me pick a free Series 3 I don’t have, or am I locked out until next season?
A: Stephen “Yes when there is a Series drop the new Series 3 cards will be available in your choose a card shop”

Q: With this season being about Animals Assemble, there wasn’t an announcement about other variants releasing outside of the bundles. How do we get them or will there be another variant rush for them?
A: Nicki Broderick “They’re being added to the general pool! Keep an eye out for them in your daily offers!”

Q: Are all cards fair game to be drawn when it comes to locations like The Hub?
A: Glenn “All cards are fair game here, with the exception of Kang. If The Hub could generate Kang, it would risk looping the game.”

Keep Your Questions 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!

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    • Devs have mentioned they are aware of collection bloat from unwanted spits, and that they don’t have an immediate solution but are working on it. If I don’t see any update in the coming weeks I’ll ask for one!

  1. MTG doesn’t need Mana Screw. It happens as a result of bad luck, or improper land distribution in your deck. You try to mitigate it as much as possible when you build your deck so it doesn’t happen to you. No one likes playing a game of MTG when you’re not drawing the land you need while your opponent does. The only proper “mana screw” are ones done to you by an opponent, like land destruction or something. Otherwise, it sucks. Ever watch a pro game of MTG when one player doesn’t draw the land they need, and just lose? Yeah, that’s not fun for anyone.

    So, in that sense, Snap doesn’t “need” these annoying locations for any reason.

  2. If we tap our avatar, we can see how many cards we’ve discarded and destroyed during the match. Can you include some sort of integration with these areas to show which cards were destroyed, and more importantly, discarded? Sometimes I’m paying attention to my dog and only then notice we traveled to sokovia

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