Ben Brode, lead developer on Marvel Snap

Developer Update for the Week of August 23, 2023: X-23 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! This week, we get lots of answers to your Shanna change questions, what shocking data have devs seen, are there any abilities that were completely scrapped, 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 of the new card X-23, as well as the release of the new card PC client! If you haven’t seen the new PC mode, make sure to check that out! Also make sure to check out the new Twitch Drops that can get you exclusive variants!

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: After the OTA that changed Crystal, how does the team see her ability? The description mentioned you are wary of creating more draw mechanics, and you gave her a 3/3 stat line so that she isn’t too powerful. Why not give her an entirely new ability not draw related?
A: Glenn “We already don’t design new cards with draw abilities. Crystal already exists, and with this simplified ability we can use her to test the boundaries of the effect and learn where it might be fun or strong. Since she’s one of our least played cards, it doesn’t cost anything to explore the space with her and see if there could be a fun, safe home for something like this. Maybe one day we’ll rework her again, but until then why not poke around?”

Q: Why make Shanna a 3/2 when she was already a 3/4 before the OTA? Why not just give her more power?
A: Glenn “She was a 4/4, although sometimes she could be a 3/4 in Zabu decks. However, her play rate was very low in both Zabu and non-Zabu decks, so we’re seeing if a more efficient cost puts her in more of the latter. Since Zabu decks don’t need more strong cards, buffing her to be a better 4-Cost card didn’t interest us.”

Q: A follow-up to the Shanna answer: Would it not be better to overbuff her to get people to play her? Her statline is less than the zabu 3/4 and her potential downside is huge (Ebony Maw locking a lane, Blade discarding a card, Zero negating a card, demon adding -3 Power).
A: Glenn “Re: overbuff: There are times and places to experiment with an overbuff–remember 4/6 Enchantress?–but when we’re trying to diagnose what a card might need long-term or how future cards should be structured, a clear overbuff is counterproductive. As a hyperbolic exaggeration, if we’d made Forge give +7, we’d learn nothing to apply to future cards seeking to enable Deadpool, Lady Deathstrike, or Brood–we’d just learn 7 is a really big number, and we already know that. Our goal isn’t just to guarantee more people to play the card, it’s to find its healthiest home and apply those learnings.

Re: stat line: Shanna is already larger than a 3/4 because of the average Power her other cards add. These cards come at an additional cost in the open slots, but they don’t cost more Energy and they can also provide positive as well as negative effects, or just a lot of raw numbers (17 is quite a high roll). That makes their rate hard to quantify, but the average is a great rate for a 3-Cost card. Of course, the average was a good rate for a 4-Cost card too…

It’s a little underappreciated, but the gap between 3-Cost and 4-Cost cards is different than the gap between 4-Cost and 5-Cost cards. That’s because the game structure lets you play two “equivalent” 3-Cost cards on turn 6, assuming there isn’t a balance outlier. This is the reason Zabu and Sera have been fundamentally strong decks. Maybe we’re shooting a little low on Shanna here, but I’d be surprised if 3/4 was correct. We don’t want Shanna + another 3-Cost card to threaten the majority of 6-Cost cards on rate, but we are curious if it’s strong enough to be a competitive option when you don’t need Zabu or Sera to enable the play.”

Q: Why not buff Shanna by making her spawn specific 1-drops instead of random ones? This would make her similar to how Doctor Doom spawns predictable Doombots.
A: Glenn “Put simply, diversity is more interesting. Shanna’s variance appeals to different kinds of players than Doom’s consistency, and can be costed differently.”

Q: Will Killmonger ever see an adjustment? He is rated online as the 3rd most played card and he completely wipes out Zoo decks single-handedly, making them not viable in the meta.
A: Glenn “Depends on how you define Zoo–and to be honest, I’ve never really understood the community’s definition.

If you mean a deck that commits a lot of Power by playing often and early to the board, I’d argue the current “deck of the week” featuring a Silk and Kraven package is pretty Zoo-like.

If you just mean a deck playing tons of 1-Cost cards, that deck’s going to have a rough time during “destroy season.” Killmonger is seeing play to blow up Muramasa Blades and Deadpools without even trying to hit enemy cards. But the live metagame is cyclical, and times will change.

Fun fact: Killmonger was the most popular card with a negative winrate last week.”

Q: According to your data, is Baron Mordo the worst card in the game?
A: Glenn “He’s not the worst card, but he’s very weak.”

Q: Is there any chance Kingpin will be changed back to the beta version where he destroyed cards on every turn?
A: Glenn “Kingpin is likely to be changed, but not to that.”

Q: Is it a fair assumption to say lady deathstrike releasing was a reason for this buff?
A: Glenn “Not exactly. We’d had a Forge buff planned for 2-3 months, but we aimed it for this week because Lady Deathstrike was releasing and it would be one more thing to explore.”

Q: I assume it’s hard to show truly concrete data about Forge’s OTA results yet but in general is his performance closer to what the team wants it to be?
A: Glenn “Generally, I wait a full week to look at OTA results. That lets me slice them more ways and cut out Hot/Featured locations while still keeping a good sample size. At least personally, I’m having a lot of fun playing him.”

Q: Why make Forge’s change give +3 power rather than make him a 1/0 +2 or 2/2 +2?
A: Glenn “When possible, we prefer to make changes that push players towards synergy, rather than generally raising the floor of the card. That’s why we went with 2/1 and +3 rather than 2/2 and +2.

As for why we wouldn’t do 1/0 and +2, generally we prefer to avoid cards with 0 Power, especially in early Series. Our core fun is choosing locations at which to play cards, and Power is one way we make that decision consistently interesting.”

Q: Now that time has passed, how does the team feel about Galactus’s metrics after his changes?
A: Glenn “He’s landed almost exactly where we hoped he would.”

Q: How does the team feel about the Leech resurgence in InSheNaut decks? Would you ever consider letting Leech only be active on turn 6?
A: Glenn “No. “Temporary” Leech was a popular suggestion for his first nerf, but I didn’t find it very practical. Just writing words that described the exact functionality we wanted and made sense to people was challenging. I’d have to see a lot more Leech than we do now to advocate for a nerf. (That’s not a challenge, though.)”

Q: Any plans to buff Klaw?
A: Glenn “Klaw recently enjoyed a pretty significant renaissance, so I think we’ll leave him alone for a bit and see how other changes settle.”

Other Questions

Q: How do you feel about the gap between new players and S3 complete players? How is it fair for new players to face opponents with a much higher collection level?
A: Glenn “Our MMR-based matchmaking naturally resolves large gaps between players’ likelihood to win a given game. If you’re a winning player, the difficulty of your opposition will increase toward an equilibrium point. That means if a CL1000 player is consistently playing against CL7000+ players, it’s because the former is beating them ~50% of the time.”

Q: Why are there no achievements that unlock a variant for a card? This could show players “You can see I use this card a lot because I have this prestigious variant.”
A: Glenn “The split system serves this role in our game. Cards that players play the most offer them more splits and combinations of cosmetics to choose from, especially harder-to-get ones like inked, gold, and whatever the future may hold.”

Q: The vanilla curve in Snap (Wasp, Misty Knight, Shocker, Cyclops, The Thing, Abomination, and Hulk) offer as a basic stat line in which you balance cards. Will this always hold true, or will other cards become the standard?
A: Glenn “The “vanilla curve” of cards without abilities is more meaningful as a reference to most card games than it is to us. Elements like uncertain game length, variable resources, and attrition all make that true, while our game system is more about how you use the cards you have in a fixed span of time under different conditions.

In addition, our balance philosophy is very different from other games. We’re treating live balance a lot more literally, with cards churning around rather than finding fixed points to live at. However, our vanillas aren’t very likely to change, because the largest purpose they serve is onboarding and tutorialization of the game. They serve that function well, but you’re not meant to compare every 6-Cost card to Hulk in order to figure out if it’s good forever.”

Q: Is the new music being added this season, next season, or in the future?
A: Nicki Broderick “I’d recommend playing our September season with sound on. 🙂”

Q: Are there any plans to add more location VFX?
A: Nicki Broderick “Yes absolutely! A good chunk of our art team’s focus has been on preparing an amazing PC experience for our players. We’re looking forward to getting more card and location FX into the game.”

Q: Is there any reason why there aren’t lore texts for cards?
A: Nicki Broderick “We’ve talked about doing something like this, we just don’t have it prioritized on our roadmap yet. 🙂”

Q: After seeing the new text for cable being “draw the top card”, does that mean other draw effects don’t always draw from the top?
A: Glenn “Draw means the top card of the deck by default. We specified with Cable specifically because he used to do something very different–once people are used to the current card, we’ll standardize him.”

Q: Could Lockheed (Kitty Pryde’s dragon) ever be added as its own card?
A: Glenn “Sure, I think we could make a Lockheed card if we wanted to.”

Q: Are there any times you could share about shocking or interesting data that you have seen?
A: Glenn “The most memorable was the day when TheThing was #10 on winrate–before High Evolutionary had even been spoiled, in the thick of Shuri’s reign. The small but talented pool of “Gunny Patriot” players were really doing a lot of work that week.

Generally speaking, people would be surprised by the range of winrates, as most of the public databases include wider ranges than the full pool of players. For example, I’ve never seen a deck with an average winrate above 61% in a week or season.”

Q: Are there any plans to re-release the Dan Hipp Dino?
A: Nicki Broderick “We don’t currently have plans to re-release variants that were sold in bundles.”

Q: How are we supposed to track our progress towards the 2, 4 and 6-hour rewards?
A: Nicki Broderick “I believe you can check your Twitch Inventory to review drop status: https://www.twitch.tv/drops/inventory”

Q: Why does The Vault location reopen on turn 7 with Limbo? Couldn’t it stay closed permanently after turn 5?
A: Glenn “That’s one way we could implement the location, we’ve just chosen not to do it that way.”

Q: Why does Bifrost move cards left, but Heimdall moves cards to the right, we we’ll as most early move cards?
A: Glenn “We need a mix of movement directions in game, otherwise the cards have diminishing returns. The early cards move left because movement is complex to learn, but later cards (and locations) have more variable movement.

Plus, it’s good flavor for Heimdall specifically, who uses the Bifrost to both send and recall Asgardians.”

Q: Seeing your responses about Shanna and Zoo decks, how do you define a Zoo deck? I think most players see it as a 1-Drop deck that uses Kazar and Blue Marvel to buff lots of those smaller cards.
A: Glenn “I see the community using the word Zoo quite a bit, and to mean a few different kinds of decks. I don’t use it, so I don’t really have a definition for the word I consider correct.

As a game system, SNAP doesn’t align easily with common descriptors like aggro, control, etc. but it’s been fascinating to see the community adapt familiar language to the game. When I describe decks, I tend to focus on what they actually do. So I use terms like Lockdown, Go-Wide, Discard, etc. in the absence of defining single cards like Surfer or Lockjaw.”

Q: The team has mentioned they won’t share alternate card design choices since they may become cards one day. Are there any abilities that definitely would never become a card that you could share?
A: Glenn “It’s highly unusual for us to explore space that’s completely irredeemable. We start from the premise of “someone thinks there’s a cool card here” and it’s not like anyone’s suggesting “On Reveal: Draw your deck” or whatever.

The least likely to create candidates are probably just too close to a card we wound up making,  like “n/n – On Reveal: Remove all abilities from the top card of your opponent’s deck” which is very close to Spider-Ham.”

Q: With the mention that Series 1/2 cards are not as likely to be buffed or nerfed as often, does this mean cards like Shang-Chi or Killmonger (2 of the most picked cards) are not likely to be changed?
A: Glenn “It means the threshold for changing those cards is much higher, not that we won’t change them. More time, discussion, and playtesting takes place. For example, Hawkeye’s buff was in our playtest build for about two months.”

Q: Since the community seemed to be very happy with the new Spider-Man redesign, can we expect redesigns more often now?
A: Glenn “We’re not sure what the right cadence is for these, and they are a fair amount of work—about the same as making a new card. However, I agree it seemed to go well and that’s an indicator we should be more open to it in the future.”

Q: In a past question, you referred to Discard as a “Niche Strategy”. Can you elaborate on that, such as is this a good or bad thing? Is it better for a deck to be more widely popular?
A: Glenn “In that answer, which was referring I believe to location synergies, I was only highlighting that locations that directly benefit Discard decks is more narrow design space. For example, Altar of Death is an interesting location for plenty of non-Destroy decks, while Sokovia isn’t (and it’s not even that interesting for Discard). While we like locations favoring different archetypes, we also want them to add fun for other decks.

Discard is also a more niche strategy, because it lacks as many unique payoffs as Destroy: Death, Nimrod, Phoenix, Daken, etc. can all support unique decks, in some cases multiple ones. We’ll certainly add more of that to Discard, but not at the same clip because discarding cards is just not as fun as blowing them up and has less opportunities for synergy. We do know there’s an audience and an appetite for that gameplay though, and we’ll provide it. It doesn’t have the kind of constraint something like Sandman or Galactus has, as playing against self-Discard is fun for the vast majority of players, so we don’t mind it being strong.”

Q: Why have seasons been so heavily focused on X-men or Spider-verse? Why not focus more on bigger characters?
A: Nicki Broderick “We plan our themes for seasons many months ahead! We have a huge backlog of ideas and themes we want to explore that are a mix of comic inspired, Marvel’s show/movie schedule, etc. There’s a variety of factors that influence the theme, but we typically look at things like new characters to introduce, an artistic glue that can hold stuff together, an opportunity for cool/unique designs, etc.”

Q: Since Silver Samurai is on the horizon, will the game be updated to make ongoing cards not count their power in hand?
A: Glenn “Yes, we do plan to fix it. However, the change will mostly affect Knull—he’s the only one irregularly updating his Power right now. The other cards will operate the same, we’re just aiming to add a preview of their Power, not change its value.”

Q: Would you be willing to revisit past nerfs and change them back? Looking at Beast and Quinjet
A: Glenn “We’ve demonstrated we’re open to reverting nerfs in the past and will continue to do so. I don’t expect us to ever adjust Quinjet back, as its effect is fundamentally troublesome. Beast is still doing all right, but he could certainly exist at a lot of shapes and sizes. I do personally prefer bigger to smaller, since that’s more Beastly, but we’ll see how things go.”

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 a few dev answers to your questions last week!

Q:Will you accept card requests from players?
A: Glenn “We think it’s cool that people enjoy making the cards, but we don’t seek them out explicitly for inspiration. There are some ethical and legal reasons for that.”

Q: Are there further plans to overhaul the Daily Offers variant section?
A: Charlene “The short answer is: yes! There are definitely plans to take this further beyond showing new releases.  Personalized Shop is currently under active development to address how to better serve Variants to each of our players.”

Q: Are there any plans to implement sorting cards by artist?
A: Nicki Broderick “We’ve definitely talked about this internally, I’ll bring it up again with the team!”

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!

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CanadianAlfredo
CanadianAlfredo
Articles: 68

15 Comments

  1. Have you considered changing Wong’s effect, both to reign in the terrfying combos he can create (especially in combination with Odin) and to create some synergy with Doctor Strange?

    (Also neither of them can get into the Sactum Sanctorum by themselves, which is very silly)

  2. “We already don’t design new cards with draw abilities”
    I hope Bullseye comes out as datamined, he has an interesting draw. And if not, we see that effect in the future.

  3. Question for the devs: You mentioned that the win rates reported in public databases are different from the actual numbers. How close are the fan-sites, generally speaking, to reporting the actual meta? Are the strong/popular decks and cards being reported actually a match for what is happening in the game?

  4. Question for the devs: Will we ever get the ability to delete variants from our collections? I have so many infinity splits just taking up space and I’d like to clean them out.

  5. Question for the devs: I personally hate emote spamming and do my best to mute everyone I face. Is there a chance we could get a quality of life improvement in the settings that allows you to just keep emotes muted all the time instead of having to manually change it at the start of every single match?

  6. Has the team considered implementing duplicate protection for the Spotlight Cache Random S4/5? It seems that a lot of people including S3 complete players and new players alike that the Fallback Reward comes up a lot and, as is, is significantly worse than getting a new card or Spotlight Variant.

  7. Is there any plan for any different use for boosters? I have like 1500+ boosters that I will never use for high-use cards – like Killmonger and Shang-Chi. Maybe convert 500 boosters (which there are not many cards that I have that many for) to 200 credits? or 100 boosters convert to 75 boosters of another random card?

  8. Are there any plans to make Snowguard’s variants visible in gameplay? Getting a variant of her from a spotlight cache would feel really disappointing since it couldn’t be seen in game where she’s always the default bear or bird.

    Would it be possible to bring back the website that showed players their stats like most played cards and best and worst locations like we had in the cats vs dogs season? It was fun to see that

  9. Is there any chance of reverting Crystal back to her original power? She had great synergy with Lockjaw and Mister Negative decks. Your endgame cards are all in your hand in Round 3? Plunk down Crystal and reset! It’s plain to see her current “Draw a card” power is even less popular than her original.

  10. Question for dev:
    Do you plan any form of traits that would make Avengers or Fantastic 4 etc. to be in one deck and working together ? I love Fantastic 4 or Avengers and i would love to play them in one deck, but they are not working together. Is there a chance that any feature like that can come to the game? It could be similar effect like HE. If your deck has atleast 5 Avengers give them 1/1 or something like that. Thank you for answer

  11. Question for the Devs: In Conquest mode, I know players only play against other players within the same tier, do we also only play against other players who are in the same battle number? If I am in Battle 05 within the Infinity Tier, is my opponent also in Battle 05 of their Infinity Tier as well?

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