Ben Brode, lead developer on Marvel Snap

Developer Update for the Week of August 16, 2023: Lady Deathstrike 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 will DeathWave ever return, what Killmonger changes have been considered, can the devs make a smarter AI for Captain Marvel, 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 launch new card Lady Deathstrike as well as the new season Big in Japan! If you haven’t seen what’s in store this season, make sure to catch up by reading the Season Hub! If you aren’t sure if you should open those precious Caches for Lady Deathstrike, make sure to check out our weekly Spotlight Cache analysis and recommendations!

Answers and questions may be slightly rephrased for more clarity and ease of reading. This weeks topics will be divided into Card Specific questions and Other questions.

Remember, you can check out our new Marvel Snap Developer Tracker to see all questions and answers in real time! Topics can also be searched, filtered, and sorted.

Card Specific Questions

Q: Why can’t Leader find the result of a merge effect (like Phoenix Force) and activate his ability, but other cards can?
A: Glenn “This is a bug. Most other copy effects trigger on something the card getting copied is doing, which makes it easy to reference in the behavior of the copy effect, but Leader doesn’t.”

Q: Did that Crystal rework from a while ago improve her performance?
A: Glenn “She’s doing better, but not by an especially meaningful margin. Stay tuned.”

Q: Has Living Tribunal performed well after his buff? I feel like that extra power makes him worse since he loses to Shang-Chi now.
A: Glenn “Since his and Magik’s buff, a deck built around him has occupied a fun niche with a modest win percentage. We love it when that happens—the larger the spread of viable strategies the better. We haven’t worried about that Shang pressure since it’s relatively easy to duck priority until you play LT and there are a few cards like Invisible Woman or Cosmo to also protect him.”

Q: Are there any internal discussions about an Adam Warlock rework?
A: Glenn “He’s an interesting case. He has some good bones—often a simple reward for playing a 1-Cost right, “combos” with Bast, and offers a very powerful incentive: card draw, although his 0 Power means it plays a bit more like deck-thinning. These are all ok “hooks” for future cards.

However, he is a weak card and very difficult to adjust safely. We’re not actively planning to rework him right now, but I agree he’s the sort of card that could theoretically be a candidate for that, similar to Crystal.”

Q: Will DeathWave ever return?
A: Glenn “The functionality of Wave will not return to combine with cost reduction. That interaction would eventually have forced us to stop making cards that reduce cost or change Wave, and we chose the latter.”

Q: One thing that really caught my eye about the Spidey change, was that his ability was not ‘fun’ to play against. How does the team feel about Hela? Imo, it’s the least fun card to play against. Yes, the deck has a ton randomness, and it’s inconsistent, but if player agency is something you’re prioritizing, watching someone play haphazardly and then Hela on t6 for a massive win is about as un-fun as I’ve found in Snap. Any plans to adjust/remove her effect?
A: Glenn “We did change Spidey, in part because he wasn’t fun to play against, but also in part because Spidey should feel like a fun and lovable character. Hela shouldn’t—she is mean and powerful and commands legions of the dead, so her card effectively manifests her character.

Pulling off ‘big endgames’ that feel amazing is a core part of the best games, imo. It satisfies the player types that Magic referred to as ‘Timmys’ and Bartle referred to as ‘achievers’ and we have lots of decks for them, including Zola/Nimrod, Living Tribunal, Galactus, and Hela. All of these decks offer tons of counterplay and/or require very specific combinations of cards, in exchange for feeling (and often being) extraordinary when they work. There can be big decisions on both sides of those games, and even when there sometimes isn’t, that’s also ok. We’re not chess, and that’s on purpose.

When these decks aren’t healthy, such as previous-Galactus, we’ll make an adjustment. But Hela is currently the kind of deck we’re happy to support. I know that’s not what you personally hoped to hear, but please understand that our goal is to contain a large variety of decks that countless players can love.”

Q: How do you feel about the Nimrod meta, where the card’s only real counter is a well timed Armor or Cosmo?
A: Glenn “Nimrod is fueling a viable deck that isn’t dominant on any metric, with a range of good and bad matchups. That’s not a problematic profile for a card or a deck.”

Q: How does the team feel about Jean Grey’s performance? I feel she fits the bill for a buff to a 3/5 since she has a downside like Polaris.
A: Glenn “Jean’s effect does qualify as potentially negative for the user, but she’s unique from Polaris in that we also don’t necessarily want to see a lot of Jean at the top of the metagame, similar to Sandman in that sense. She’s supposed to be more niche than Polaris, and she is. We’re keeping an eye on her, though.”

Q: Seeing the bundle avaliable with Punisher, is there any way we see this card buffed? Perhaps with a rework that makes him destroy cards instead?
A: Glenn “Not for a rework, no. As one of the cards players acquire early on, we have some specific parameters for the Punisher that don’t apply to cards like Crystal and Spidey.”

Q: What Series will Lady Deathstrike and Silver Samurai be launching in?
A: Glenn “They’ll be Series 5.”

Q: Could you create a smarter system for Captain Marvel so she doesn’t fail at moving to winning locations so often?
A: Glenn “There needs to be a logical sequence for all end of game triggers, which is currently resolution order. Even if we gave Captain Marvel her own window, we’d still need a sequence to cover cases in which two were on the field, which means we’d be creating a third endgame timing window that has the same confusions, just less frequently.

Q: Has the team considered changing Killmonger to only destroy cards in his lane?
A: Glenn “We did try this a long time ago, it just wasn’t an effective enough card at its role.”

Q: Why does Evolved Hulk not lose his bonus power when played on Deep Space?
A: Glenn “If Hulk receives Power while in-hand, he’ll keep it whether he keeps his ability or not. This is essentially the same interaction as Nakia buffing a card in your hand that you then play to Deep Space.

If the Hulk was played as a 12 and went to 14 after the last turn, that would be a bug.”

Q: Are there any plans to buff or rework Colossus since he rarely sees play or is very replaceable in decks that use him?
A: Glenn “Not right now.”

Q: Should the text for Knull be updated from “has the combined power of all cards destroyed this game” to “adds the combined power of all cards destroyed this game”? That’s a more accurate description of what happens.
A: Glenn “It’s been debated, but I haven’t heard words I liked better yet. (We wouldn’t use ‘add’ because that’s the word we use for material additions like Doctor Doom’s Doombots.) ‘Has’ is in line with other Ongoing effects, but those usually refer to groups of cards (Blue Marvel) while Ongoing cards that boost themselves usually don’t use a verb at all. Knull is just unusual.

If we do update, I expect something like ‘Ongoing: Has [extra] Power equal to…’ is the direction we’ll start in, but perhaps not end up.”

Q: After seeing your Killmonger response, how do you feel about Killmonger destroying cards in locations other than his? So he destroys 2/3 of the board instead of 1/3.
A: Glenn “I have, and while I think it might be all right on pure balance, it’s not a direction I like.

Generally, it’s intuitive for cards to care about at least where they are, not where they aren’t, and as Killmonger is an early series card I value retaining that. Note there are good exceptions to prove the rule–for example, Klaw is a great gag that calls to his right hand being his weapon.

This is similar to the reason we avoid starting cards at negative Power unless there’s a flavorful justification, we just want to have some good heuristics for how you can expect cards to work.”

Q: Why do both Blade and Sword Master have identical abilities? Will one be changed ever to separate their abilities?
A: Glenn “This isn’t a reason we would change either card. The same effect can work with different sequences at different costs, and wind up in different decks. For example, Blade used to be played with Dracula and Red Skull in a “Zoo” deck, but Swordmaster wouldn’t have worked in that deck at all.”

Q: Why does Cosmo and Enchantress target both players (symmertical) but Shang-Chi only targets the opponent (asymmetrical)?
A: Glenn “Those cards aren’t symmetrical because of any heuristic about how we apply effects. They’re symmetrical because it provides synergy opportunities with existing cards, such as using your Cosmo to improve your own Maximus or Destroyer. This kind of emergent gameplay is fun and gives decks more reasons to vary in card selection. There aren’t any 9+ Power cards you play for the purpose of blowing them up the next turn, so there’s no interesting upside to making Shang-Chi work that way.

Even so, it was considered. However, this would make the decks that play Shang-Chi while playing no vulnerable targets themselves much stronger than decks that play both—one such deck was among our best decks last week. This means that while Shang-Chi could see less play with this change, the metagame might actually be even more unfavorable to cards with 9+ Power.”

Q: I used Yondu and my opponent’s card was not revived on turn 5 with Valley of the Dead active. Is this intended?
A: Glenn “It should come back in that case. If you encounter this bug, please report in-game.”

Q: Why does Baron Mordo not reveal the card he hit, but Spider-Ham does? Will either card be adjusted to buff or nerf using this function?
A: Glenn “Baron is underplayed, but these cards also aim to do different things in different decks. If we decide to change either card, we’ll let you all know when we do.”

Other Questions

Q: Would you add a keyword “face-up cards” to cards like Doctor Strange or Heimdall to differentiate between cards like Spider-Man who move unrevealed cards?
A: Glenn “The vast majority of card effects affect only face up cards, so we’d either be introducing a new inconsistency (some cards apply to revealed cards without saying so, others say so) or adding words to a ton of cards. We’re not eager to do either of those things. We’ve poked at some templates to specify when cards can affect unrevealed cards, as that seems like the more promising direction, if we were to take action.”

Q: Has there been any thought on revisiting decks that contain only lower cost cards and aim to empty their hand? It feels like we haven’t had that since the strong guy balance change over a year ago. That change made him one of the least played cards since, which gives the impression it wasn’t a play style the team liked.
A: Glenn “The opposite; we like those decks a lot. However, we do want to encourage styles of them that don’t hold tons of cards for turn 6, which are among the reasons we made the Medusa and Hawkeye buffs. I personally find ending a game with an empty hand quite fulfilling 🙂”

Q: Will you add more move cards that shift cards to the right?
A: Glenn “Yes. We actually considered that for Spidey, but decided against it.”

Q: Has the team noticed the variance in Silver Surfer decks versus the set lists Zabu makes? Silver Surfer lists can be widely varied in what 3 cost card they run, but Zabu seems to always run Shang-Chi, Enchantress, Rockslide, and Darkhawk.
A: Glenn “A lot of it is their function. Surfer is a point slam endgame card, so your other cards can be flexible, and distributing them correctly will let you maximize the application of the Surfer buff, regardless of which cards are which.

But Zabu doesn’t do that, he just adds Energy efficiency, so your 4-Cost cards need to carry a fair amount of Power on their own. The “Zabu shell” has just been the most successful mix of pure Power and disruptive elements. Plus, they’re interconnected in many cases: You can’t switch out Rockslide without cutting Darkhawk and then probably Korg, but you can swap 3-Costs in and out more easily.”

Q: Are any card tools being created to help Cerebro 2 decks? Right now they have no help with things like Monster Island or X-Mansion.
A: Glenn “Over time, every Cerebro deck will gain and lose various elements through new releases and OTAs. Such is the life of Cerebro.”

Q: Will there ever be a card that allows you to get a better hand? For example: “On reveal: Shuffle your hand into your deck and draw 3 cards”
A: Glenn “Unlikely, unless it’s heavily conditional. SNAP decks are already so small that reducing that variance is unnecessarily risky.”

Q: Will future Weekend Missions ever be catered to a players individual card collection? That way, a player never gets left out on missions like they currently do.
A: Glenn “I don’t expect us to pursue that direction for this feature.”

Q: What other designs did you try for Spider-Man?
A: Glenn “Anything we didn’t use here we might use elsewhere, so we’ll keep those to ourselves. Odds are they’d just wind up on future Spiders anyway.”

Q: Was the tutorial Spider-Man changed since the base card is changed now?
A: Glenn “No; the tutorial Spider-Man has always been different from the one in the actual game, so there wasn’t any need to update it.”

Q: What has been the most OP deck to exist since the game launched?
A: Glenn “Raw highest wins/cubes? Probably Silver Surfer during the last couple weeks of Zabu season, with 2nd place likely Lockjaw Thanos when Quinjet could reduce to 0.

Most oppressive to the metagame? I wasn’t working here, but my dark horse pick would be the first Mister Negative decks, during beta. Otherwise probably original Zabu, which defined 3 of our top 5 decks during my first month at work, which was pretty *savage*.”

Q: Any new plans to show what has been discarded or destroyed in a match?
A: Glenn “We’re considering whether and how to make those game elements easier to see, but it’s not a high priority right now.”

Q: There have been dev mentions of an upgrade to the collection screen, but it’s not mentioned on the roadmap. What is the status of this now?
A: Stephen “Initial phase of it is being done while we build out emotes and emojis!  Its a huge undertaking so will happen in multiple waves as part of other cool new features.’

Q: When designing the cards, which card has been the hardest so far in giving a card an ability that matches their character in the Marvel universe?
A: Glenn “For me, Echo. We wound up not finding anything we liked that felt like a strong creative match, but we already had what would become her effect worked out as something to add to the metagame. It felt justifiable given she both defeats enemies with pure martial mastery as well as becomes a host of the Phoenix and its wide set of powers.”

Q: When I encounter the location White Hot Room, it always seems like the player who activates it will win. Does this seem fair, and does your data support this?
A: Glenn “Our goal for locations aren’t that each one is ‘fair’ to both players–quite the opposite. With a huge pool of locations that favor different decks and cards by significant amounts, their randomization ensures decks can win bad matchups and that the metagame can’t be fully solved. White Hot Room, Death's Domain, Kamar-Taj, etc. are all in this space.

In particular, I’m a big fan of locations that encourage aggressive early play, like White Hot Room. Committing many cards early is a default ‘weak strategy,’ so the payoffs for doing so need to be strong. Also, if these locations are warping the outcome of the game, it becomes apparent well before the final double, which limits the amount of cubes they can cause to change hands.”

Q: Why are there so many locations that favor destroy decks, but not nearly as many that favor decks, such as discard?
A: Glenn “There are a larger variety of Destroy decks than more niche strategies, like Discard. And other archetypes can more frequently engage in or work around destroy-based locations than discard-based ones.”

We are trying something relatively new this season, with the content of the season lining up around very deliberate mechanical themes. We ran a similar experiment with move during the Spider-Verse season. Just like then, we’re looking forward to seeing what kind of metagame develops and how players respond to it.”

Questions From You!

Each week, I ask 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!

This week, we got several questions from readers! While not all questions got answers yet, I will try to fill in the blanks where possible:

Q: Does the ladder contains way more bots at the start of a new season?
A: No official answer yet, but it may be from the shift of players ranks, the fact that this season started with an update that many players did (or didn’t) update to match versions, and some players take a break from ranked at the start of a season to avoid “try hards” who are pushing to infinite quickly on reset. I’ll update with an official response if I get one!

Q: If you play hobgoblin on lockjaw, will he cycle?
A: Yes, but the cycled card will return to your board side.

Q: Are we getting series drops?
A: Glenn “As previously announced, Series Drops are no longer a fixed, regular occurrence each season.”

Q: Can you explain the considerations the team takes into account when determining the Spotlight Cache Fallback from the S4/5 random outcome?
A: The fallback reward lately changed from a random premium variant to 1k tokens. The team have responded to these questions by encouraging players to leave feedback on how they feel about this on social media, their discord, and their surveys so that they can continue to improve the syetem.

Q: Why can Taskmaster find Hulk Buster after the merge, but Phoenix Force can’t? Or Ghost Spider? Or Iron Fist?
A: Phoenix Force can’t find the target when reviving Hulk Buster refers to when Hulk Buster revives AND merges with a card on its revive. As in, if Hulk Buster revives, merges with a Multiple Man, Hulk Buster now “Is” Multiple Man. This means Phoenix Force can’t see a Hulk Buster, because it identifies as Multiple Man now, so it fails to add its power. If you revive Hulk Buster on an empty lane, Phoenix Force should find Hulk Buster with no issues. The other cards you mentioned don’t care what the card is, only that it is the last (or next) card played. Hope this explanation helps!

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!

Enjoy our content? You can Support Marvel Snap Zone and your favorite content creators by subscribing to our Premium community! Get the most of your Marvel Snap experience with the following perks for paid membership:

  • No ads: Browse the entire website ad-free, both display and video.
  • Exclusive Content: Get instant access to all our Premium articles!
  • Meta Reports: Exclusive daily meta reports, such as the Top 10 Decks of the Day, Top 30 Cards, and Top Card Pairs tailored for you!
  • Team Coaching: Join our free weekly team coaching call sessions on the Discord server. Claim your Premium role and gain access to exclusive channels where you can learn and discuss in real time!
  • Premium Dashboard: Get full instant access to the member-only dashboard, the all-in-one page for all your benefits.
  • Support: All your contributions get directly reinvested into the website to increase your viewing experience! You get also get a Premium badge and border on your profile.
  • Special offerFor a limited time, use coupon code SBYREX4RL1 to get 50% off the Annual plan!
Articles: 69


  1. I’m probably being a bit pedantic but given that 50 collectors tokens can no longer be received, plenty of players have those 50 tokens that they will never spend, as all items cost a round number. Can this be fixed, such that those 50 tokens are rounded up? I.e. Instead of having 2150 on my account, I will have 2200

  2. Questions for the Devs:

    1. With the buff to Magik allowing an extra turn for players to play more power, what are the devs seeing in regard to average power output per game? Is there a power creep that the devs are monitoring? Are tech cards such as Shang-Shi, Lady Deathstrike, and Alioth enough to tame such power creep?

    2. Are there further plans to overhaul the Daily Offers variant section? Will there be a way for players to pin a card in their collection so that more variants of that card may show up in their Daily Offers? What was the reasoning behind making the rotation of purchasable variants rotate every 24 hours instead of every 8 hours like how missions are added every 8 hours? Which type of variants or which artists are you seeing as being more popular that the player base is purchasing?

    3. In our cards collections, are there plans for players to sort and filter by types of variants and variant artists?

  3. Question for dev:
    Do you plan any form of example traits? I Will give a example: i love fantastic 4 and i would love to play them together, but they are not working together in any way in one deck. Is there na chance that any feature like that can come to the game?my idea is something like that: cards that make sance would have trait Avengers: if your deck contains atleast 5 avengers give them some buff. With HE in the game it could be similiar. When i see spiders in the game they can work all together in one deck. Thank you for answer

  4. What is the point of Snowguard variants? I have seen this question in the discord before and have not seen an answer yet, but it seems that Snowguard will be in the caches during the Alioth week and I would be extra annoyed if I ended up spending a spotlight on a variant I can’t even see in my own hand…

  5. Question for devs: When a card gets an adjustment in cost, how do you determine its new power? Crystal went from 4/4 to 3/3, which seems proportional, but Shanna went from the same cost/power to 3/2, which is a major drop in power. Shanna has way more potential downside than Crystal, as she can spawn quite a few 1-cost cards that detriment your play. Why did she get the bigger power drop?

  6. I am referring to this question: Why can Taskmaster find Hulk Buster after the merge, but Phoenix Force can’t? Or Ghost Spider? Or Iron Fist?

    The explanation does not help.
    The devs say ” merges with a Multiple Man, Hulk Buster now “Is” Multiple Man”. Ok. This is clear. But there is a big BUT:

    “The other cards you mentioned don’t care what the card is, only that it is the last (or next) card played”

    So, when i play an Hulk Buster on whatever card it becomes the “old card”. But the “old card” was not the last card played. For example i play Multiple Man and Iron Fist in one turn in exactly this order. In the next turn i play Hulk Buster on Multiple Man and now Hulk Buster becomes Multiple Man (as you said), Multiple Man is neither the “next card you play” nor the “last card played” (because he was played before Iron Fist). So theoretically, Iron Fists ability shouldn’t trigger, but it does.

    So, why not grant Phoenix Force the same “power” as Taskmaster, Ghost Spider and Co?

  7. There is speculation that Snap use some kind of modified matchmaking algorithm, such as EOMM or SBMM, for bot matches and/or PvP. Can the devs clarify, once and for all, exactly how their matchmaking works, for both bot games and PvP?

Leave a Reply