Ben Brode, lead developer on Marvel Snap

Developer Update for the Week of August 9, 2023: Big In Japan Edition (30+ 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 Post-Patch Spider-Man questions, are Booster Magnets still coming, are First Edition badges in production, 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 Daken 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! Also, in a rare event, the newest patch has also dropped with the new season. The patch notes are a major part of this edition, so make sure you are aware of the changes first!

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: Did you consider swapping Vision and Captain Marvel‘s changes to make Vision 4 so that he can move around for more than 1 turn?
A: Glenn “We did consider flipping which one went at which Cost, but we thought this ultimately made the most satisfying pair of changes for our goals.

By costing Vision at 5, it creates incentives to build into making his movement more significant, with cards like Magik, Lockjaw, Wave, Electro, etc. All of these cards have seen play with Vision in the past. In general we prefer to push players towards synergies that differentiate their decks, rather than collections of singularly strong cards.

As for Captain Marvel, the earlier she’s in play, the more interesting it is to play against her. Costing her lower turns up the heat on her opponent to figure out a way to win through her if she gets played on turn 4.

It’s also true that Vision is a bit of a complexity add, but just because something fun might be complex in heavy doses doesn’t mean you should avoid small doses–it usually means you should aim for them.”

Q: With how powerful Zabu and Silver Surfer are do you feel they limit the design space for cards that can cost 3 or 4?
A: Glenn “They’re a consideration, and if they prove too constraining over time we’ll just change them.”

Q: When does Dagger‘s ability actually trigger? My opponent moved Dagger with Cloak, so I planned a Shang-Chi but it missed because her ability didn’t trigger yet.
A: Glenn “She triggers when her move fully resolves, which depends on which player has priority and what order they play/move cards in.”

Q: Why is Snowguard designed to activate for both players instead of just the one who played her?
A: Glenn “We decided to do both players for Hawk because many locations (Asgard, Muir Island) could have direct benefits for the opponent that are also worth countering, and similarly locations like Sokovia or Central Park could be used by Bear aggressively. We wanted both to line up, and thought that was ultimately more interesting.”

Q: Why is it that when Dracula discards Apocalypse, it sees the +4 power, but when arnim zola copies deadpool, it doesn’t see the doubled version?
A: Glenn “I’ll look into it when I’m back in the office, interesting comparison.”

Q: When you play Legion on Sakaar, the two newly created locations don’t pull cards from your hand. Why is that?
A: Addison “Hi, this is a bug. Currently Sakaar is triggered appropriately for the copies if Legion duplicates the location on the turn that it was revealed at.”

My understanding of the issue is that If the copies are made after the original fired they will inherit the same “this turn” that the original had…which already occurred…so they don’t do anything… 🙃

We’ll hopefully get this resolved soon but I don’t have an eta on a fix at the moment.

Q: Do you think the new Spider-Man and Polaris are too similar as they occupy the same space as a 3/5 that moves an enemy card?
A: Glenn “We believe they’re different enough–Spidey is especially good at targeting larger cards, or jumping into locations like Sanctum Sanctorum, while Polaris is better at specific disruption based on smaller cards, often making her better earlier in the game. It’s always possible we’ll make a change later.”

Q: With the new Spider-Man change, Galactus now has lost its most toxic line of play. How do you feel about Galactus now?
A: Glenn “Overall, I’ve been happy—the Galactus deck has been a small winner or a very small loser most weeks. It remains to be seen how Spidey’s change affects Galactus.”

Q: Is there a reason why Spider-Man 2099 can’t destroy an unrevealed card but Stegron can move an unrevealed card?
A: Glenn “We don’t allow face down cards to be destroyed except for Fisk, his Tower, and technically Galactus. Cards that move based on known info, like Stegron or Aero, can affect unrevealed cards.”

Q: It seems like 3/5 is becoming a normal statline. Could we see a buff to Sabretooth making him a 3/5?
A: Glenn “3/5 is a common baseline when the ability has enough variance to potentially be a drawback. Sabertooth’s ability is virtually never a drawback, so he’s not eligible for a pure 3/5 stat line.”

Q: If you feel the Spider-Man change was needed to prevent lockout situations that feel bad, why keep Professor X? Spidey could be played around with move cards, Jeff, and Doctor Doom, but Professor X stops all play besides Jeff.
A: Glenn “Professor X is a much higher tension lockout piece, because unlike Spider-Man, you need to be winning when he resolves (barring the occasional Jeff or Klaw or whatever). That’s a huge difference, and makes the card much less one-sided since the player has to take risks and the other player can commonly gain a large advantage via enemy Professors by playing well.

In addition, Professor X’s mechanical ability is a stronger match for his brand and canon powers. I believe many Prof X fans are satisfied with this expression.”

Q: Is Spider-Woman up for a change into the move category now to fit the theme?
A: Glenn “Not really. Purely creative motivations don’t hit my own threshold for full-reworking a card. Bear in mind that the actual work behind a new card and a remake like Spider-Man is 100% the same except for art, so it’s a fairly large spend of dev time to do it. We need cause, and Spider-Woman is already a fun card with an appropriate ability.”

Q: Is the new Spider-Man supposed to move unrevealed cards?
A: Glenn “Yes, this functionality is available to move cards that don’t need card-specific information, like Juggernaut and Aero.”

Q: Is it correct for Iron Fist to trigger itself when revived by Phoenix Force?
A: Glenn “This is the current ‘correct’ outcome based on the same logic used to let Iron Fist move a Multiple Man’d Hulkbuster or a Phoenix that revives any other card—it sees the merger as the card it’s moving, but actually moves the fully merged card. However, we’re looking into whether this effect could be more consistently and clearly communicated, and its function could change if we decide that’s the best way to go.”

Other Questions

Q: How does Conquest matchmaking work?
A: Glenn “You’re matched within Conquest (so gold vs. gold, etc.) with prioritization towards players with the same number of wins and within a band that matches your collection level. The longer matchmaking takes, the more willing it is to use an opponent with different numbers of wins and/or a different collection level. Infinite has the “loosest” matchmaking as it more often has the least players.”

Q: I’ve noticed a slight trend among certain 1-drops. Cards like Howard and Uatu (and to a lesser degree Ghost and Echo) have really cool, unique effects, but simply just don’t see play.

The conflict here comes from the fact that these cards are already at the most generous stat line possible for cards with pure upside. They would certainly be worse at any other cost since the effect is the main draw of the card and they can’t really have higher power either since there are no meaningful drawbacks to the card. How do you feel about this?
A: Glenn “I don’t agree that these cards couldn’t exist at other costs. 2/3 or 3/4 are all similar efficiencies that would let these cards get into play fast enough to have meaningful impact. The reason we targeted 1-Cost for them is that in many cases, slipping them into play at the right moment is paramount (Ghost, Echo) or the effect is best earliest (Howard).

You’re right that these cards aren’t as easy to adjust as cards at higher costs, but we have some ideas for exploring how we could improve the non-Echo ones above—she’s still new and doing fine against the current metagame, so there’s not much need.”

Q: Have you scrapped Booster Magnets now that it isn’t on the roadmap but multi upgrades are?
A: Stephen “We still have booster targeting on our backlog.  We still discuss it and weigh it versus other priorities.  The multi upgrade system is not intended as a replacement for booster targeting.  The main purpose of multi upgrade is to be a QOL feature for players who want to upgrade a card multiple levels at once without waiting through many button presses and animations.”

Q: Will there be a limit to how many boosters you can buy with gold, or can a player cash in and get whatever they want?
A: Stephen “Yes it is limited to 1000 boosters / day purchased with gold matching the 1000 boosters / day that are grindable per day in gameplay.  We wanted to keep it level between a player that has the time to play to earn 1000 boosters and a player that doesn’t have the time but wishes to make that level of progress.”

Q: Will the new reserve rewards of 100 tokens and 1 gold ticket be truly 50/50 chance, or predetermined within a batch of 9?
A: Stephen “Yes it is batched to guarantee consistency and protect against bad luck”

Q: Since card border customization isn’t on the roadmap, is it ever going to happen seeing as it is the most requested feature since the beta?
A: Stephen “We want to do it.  Lots of conversations about this topic over the course of developing and running the game.  Traditionally we haven’t done it because of the confusion around whether a card is upgradable or not, but I think we are honing in on a potential solution.”

Q: Is the new prestige on the roadmap going to be based on what we own, or what we unlock on a track after the feature goes live.  In other words, should we start saving caches for this?
A: Stephen “It will be retroactive”

Q: Are first edition badges scrapped since they haven’t been mentioned in a while and aren’t on the roadmap?
A: Stephen “Its not scrapped.  Members of our team that create these kind of art assets have been dedicated to developing our new PC release for the last while.  We are doing some work to explore special edition badges now as we are exploring a lot of new foils, flares, and other splits”

Q: How do you feel about 2 high meta decks (Sera Control and Darkhawk Good Cards) both using cost reduction (Sera and Zabu) and tech cards (Enchantress, Shang Chi, and Killmonger)? Is it OK that these decks keep popping back up once a large meta deck gets nerfed?
A: Glenn “Conceptually, you want your metagame to function like rock-paper-scissors. This creates a healthy ecosystem where players can react to one deck getting out of line by increasing the presence of another. Decks like Darkhawk and Sera, which are relatively “capped” on the raw Power they can generate in exchange for having “tech cards” to answer specific situations serve an important purpose in forcing other decks to adapt and play tactically.

There are reasons for both to coexist. The Sera deck is considerably more flexible, and can play a wider variety of cards more effectively. Its cap is lower, but its range is wider, so it’s stronger in “weirder” metagames or ones more hostile to Darkhawk specifically. That’s more rare, but meaningful to have, especially since Sera can be built from a variety of S1/2/3 cards in different ways.

These decks often see solid play rates because they’re known quantities and have fine winrates against everything, while often having few especially strong matchups. These decks are also overpopular among more sophisticated players, who tend to more often believe their play skill and familarity with the deck can make up the edge lost by playing a fundamentally weaker deck.”

Q: When you make a new card at 5 or 6 cost, do you ever have trouble finding effects that are strong enough to justify the extra energy without being op? Are there a lot of cases where you have to “buff” your five and six cost cards during development by making them cheaper or ever avoid designing high-cost cards?
A: Glenn “I don’t think we have explicit difficulty, but you’re right that certain cards and effects don’t work the higher you go. When we encounter that with an effect we like, the card tends to get cheaper, such as Iron Lad. I do think we’ve “under-targeted” designing for 5 and 6 Cost cards, and we’re aiming to correct that in the future.”

Q: Do credits matter when upgrading a card with gold instead of the boosters?
A: Stephen “Lets say you’re excited to upgrade a card from Ultra to Infinity, but you only have 300 credits and 30 boosters instead of the necessary 500 credits and 50 boosters.  After this feature launches, if you attempt to do that upgrade without enough credits or boosters you will get a popup giving you the option to fill in the gap with Gold.   If you say yes then you will spend your 300 credits and 30 boosters and the appropriate amount of gold then your card will be upgraded!

I’ll share another example too.  Lets say your card is at Ultra and you have 500 credits but only 30 boosters.  If you decide to upgrade it then you will spend 500 credits, 30 boosters, and some Gold to fill in the remaining 20 boosters.

We will not be putting gold upgrade in your face.  It will only show up if you try to do an upgrade without enough credits or boosters as a new option you can decide to use if you wish.”

Q: With buffs launching regularly every other week, do you feel like buffing many cards and buffing larger amounts like +2 power creates power creep?
A: Glenn “The metagame has been in a really healthy place lately, so we’re experimenting and taking direct aim at some of our absolute lowest performers as well as middling cards that could attack our stronger strategies. I wouldn’t say buffing the worst card in the game necessarily constitutes power creep–it more likely means that card was just improperly balanced for SNAP as it stands today. And buffing a card like Vision as a reaction to Thanos Lockdown and Legion aims to create a better tool where one was lacking.

We’ve also experimented with “reverting” past OTA changes and the response has been good. That’s given us some confidence to pursue an approach in which we look at the strength of our game pieces as something that ebbs and flows, rather than trying to get them to a fixed and stationary point forever, and see what it looks like. We know some of what we’re doing is atypical relative to other CCGs–that’s the point, we want to learn where the genre can go.

In general, I think reducing costs is probably the least safe option for an OTA buff. That said, we try to explore the most satisfying revision in each case.”

Q: With the upcoming changes to Ultimate Variants, and the team previously talking about how select Spotlight Variants may return as Ultimate Variants, does this mean we can expect Spotlight Variants to receive the Ultimate treatment?
A: Glenn “It’s not set in stone, but it’s a reasonably likely outcome as things currently stand, at least for some of them.”

Q: Do you consider what cards are meta when choosing Spotlight contents? For example: I have seen much more Thanos being played after his spotlight week.
A: Glenn “Yes, and we consider that upside. One of the things that made the previous system dissatisfying for us was not enough new or higher-Series cards being distributed to players each week resulting in less churn/flux within the metagame.”

Q: After the Spider-Man change, would you rework cards to basically swap abilities? Such as swapping Wong with Doctor Strange?
A: Glenn “I don’t expect us to pursue straight-up swaps. While we might prefer a different distribution in hindsight sometimes, it’s ultimately introducing a ton of confusion to existing players for very minor gain.”

Q: How much do you take into consideration that a reworked card can feel like deleting a tool from our toolbox?
A: Glenn “We take it very seriously. For context, the design team had discussed adjusted Spider-Man periodically for months prior to this. We needed a very high bar of confidence the change would ultimately make Snap more fun and Spidey fans happier.”

Q: With cards like Thor creating Mjolnir and Daken creating the Muramasa Shard, is there any chance we get full cards released that are iconic tools/ weapons instead of as accessories?
A: Glenn “Probably not. It’s already a little weird to have things like Quinjet on the same level as our characters, but it’s at least big. I’d expect future ‘accessories’ to largely remain tied to actual cards.”

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!

Last week, we didn’t have any questions. If you have any questions, make sure to leave them in the comments if you want your question answered by the devs in the next edition!

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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  1. I have a question: Does the ladder contains way more bots at the start of a new season? If so, why? Asking from personal experience, in the first few days of a new season I got way weaker opponents that can not be explained by the rank drop or people returning for the new season. It kindda takes the fun of climbing the ladder away.

  2. @CanadianAlfredo Great job! I really like questions posts!
    If possibile… ask them for Series Drop… it seems that since the introduction of the spotlight, it has not been talked any more.

  3. Can you explain the considerations the team takes into account when determining the Spotlight Cache Fallback from the S4/5 random outcome? As someone with a relatively low number of missing cards, that slot feels more like a “cost” for participating any particular week rather than a reward, as in I need to account for the speed bump of the S4/5 duplicate to get to the far better outcomes in the other three slots.

  4. Along with the Armin Zola-Deadpool question why does Black Panther’s on reveal trigger when you play Armin Zola on him, but Taskmaster’s on reveal won’t trigger when Armin Zola is played on him. that’s not the only card either, Armin Zola seems really inconsistent when played on “on reveal’ cards, some trigger and some don’t. I’ve been asking this question everywhere for months and have never gotten an answer.

    • You already know that Taskmaster is copying the last card and that is Arnim Zola with 0 power. So what exactly are you expecting from an Arnim Zola Taskmaster Combo?

  5. Ok, when Phoenix Force revives Hulk Buster, Hulk Buster does not get the buff from Phoenix Force, cuz Phoenix Force “cant find Hulk Buster after it merges with a card”.

    Quote: Q: Is it intended that when Phoenix Force revives Hulk Buster, the Hulk Buster will merge with a card and not get the additional power of Pheonix Force or move ability?
    A: Glenn “It is correct, because Phoenix revives Hulkbuster first, and it the. Immediately merges itself with something. Once it’s finished, Phoenix can’t “find” it.

    Question: Why does Taskmaster can find Hulk Buster after the merge? Or Ghost Spider? Or Iron Fist? Seems very inconsistent.

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