Ben Brode, lead developer on Marvel Snap

Developer Update for the Week of July 12, 2023: Spotlight 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 even more info on Spotlight caches, answers to how the new shop reward function works, do the dev team predict the meta before cards release, 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!

Last week we didn’t get a weekly update, as the devs took a well-deserved vacation. They are back now and answering questions, so we are back to report on it! This week’s edition comes after the launch new season Rise of the Phoenix, as well as the release of the new card Jean Grey, and the new patch! If you haven’t seen the patch notes, make sure to check that out so questions make sense. Also make sure to check out our top decks to try with Jean Grey!

Answers and questions may be slightly rephrased for more clarity and ease of reading. This weeks topics will be divided into Card Specific Questions, Other Questions, and Spotlight Cache 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: Is it intended that Phoenix Force can’t move after being copied in many circumstances? Or that cards like Iron Lad won’t retrigger their text when revived?
A: Glenn “The issues with copied cards is a bug. I haven’t observed the Iron Lad interaction you’re describing myself; my Iron Lad-Phoenix triggered the previously copied On Reveal when I’ve done it, but I’ll poke into it next week.”

Q: Why can’t I see what Iron Lad copied without tapping on him afterwards?
A: Glenn “This wasn’t the intended implementation, and it’s in the queue to adjust.”

Q: Is the difference between Iron Fist and Zero intended? They have similar on reveal conditions, but Zero activates immediately while Iron Fist activates after the reveal. If Shanna spawns both cards, Iron Fist will move SIhanna but Zero won’t cancel her.
A: Glenn “Zero and Iron Fist don’t have the same condition. Iron Fist moves a card after it resolves, so he sees Shanna finish resolving and moves her. Zero, like Shuri or Forge, applies before a card begins to resolve, and Shanna is already underway. If Zero worked like Iron Fist, it wouldn’t synergize with Sentry, while if Iron Fist worked like Zero… well, that just wouldn’t work.”

Q: Does echo stop only the first ongoing enemy card or every enemy ongoing card that’s played there?
A: Glenn “Each card.”

Q: When reviving Mr Sinister with Pheonix Force, instead of cloning the power of Pheonix + Mr Sinister, it just made a 2 power Sinister token. Is this the proper interaction or is this a bug?
A: Glenn “This is the appropriate interaction. On Reveal effects take precedent over just about everything, so as soon as Phoenix revives Sinister, he pauses her to make his Clone before the merge can begin, as that’s the order Phoenix executes her own effects in.”

Q: It’s difficult and unintuitive for players that do not have the card and have not seen/heard about High Evolutionary and its effects to know what it is and what it does. The fact that High Evolutionary is rarely played out in the decks that use him and that the text on the ability-less cards evolved by him not mentioning HE mean that there’s not a lot of communication to opposing players what is making the opponent’s cards have an ability that theirs do not. Is there a fix for this planned in the pipeline?
A: Glenn “Our matchmaking incidentally addresses issues like this by limiting players’ potential opponents based on their collections for their early SNAP experience. No one encounters High Evolutionary until they’re pretty familiar with SNAP. That’s not to say it doesn’t occasionally cause confusion, just that it’s relatively rare and placed later in the learning curve anyway.”

Q: I love the functional change to Gambit, but why not update the text to reflect that the actions are now connected for those who previously understood the text represented two distinct functions? Maybe it could be “Discard a card from your hand. It destroys a random enemy card.”
A: Glenn “Part of why we made the change was the sheer number of people who already believed the existing text worked this way. We also want to be able to make similar cards in the future without setting ourselves up to have precedent for more awkward templates. I think either choice is solid, but when that’s the case I tend to prefer the decision I think I’ll like more ~5 years from now.”

Other Questions

Q: Why are we now recieving season pass xp as a weekend mission reward?
A: Glenn “This was referring to that specific week’s rewards. Weekend Missions are a new feature; we’re still experimenting with their rewards in the interest of learning what’s best long-term.”

Q: Why are locations worded like this “After turn 3/4 do this” instead of “At the end of turn 3/4 do this”?
A: Glenn “The phrases are synonymous in the game, locations just have the shorter template due to text length. We’re actually planning to standardize everything to “After” in the near future. I don’t think the interpretation you’re suggesting would follow intuition for the vast majority of players.”

Q: Do you track the meta globally or by region?
A: Glenn “Just globally. While regional could be interesting to look at it, the differences are ultimately not actionable so not where I spend my analysis time.”

Q: Will the team add a function to undo end turn if your opponent snaps?
A: Glenn “This is a feature on our list to evaluate and test.”

Q: I am currently at 3/10 purchases. Does this reset back to 0/10 every week, or every 10 purchases?
A: Stephen “It does not reset.  You can save your progress until you complete it and collect your free rewards”

Q: I am currently at 2/10 on Daily Offer Rewards. However I know for a fact I have purchased more than 2 variants from the variant shop. How was it determined what the starting number for each player would be?
A: Stephen “All daily offer purchases in the last 30 days were given as progress on Daily Offer Rewards!”

Q: The patch notes mentioned the bug “fixed an issue that would see some cards target a specific card in hand/deck rather than at random.” Can you please elaborate on this bug fix? What cards were not targeting randomly, and which cards where chosen specifically rather randomly.
A: Glenn “This is just a duplicate of the Black Bolt issue lower down, as we realized his code had been repurposed for some similar cards and fixed them all at once: Lady Sif, Colleen Wing, Spider-Ham, plus some unreleased cards.”

Q: How well does the team predict what decks will become meta when testing a card before launch?
A: Glenn “Generally we get the good decks right but are off the optimal builds by a couple cards. We found all the decks you listed, even some weirder ones like Iron Patriot–although not everyone believed me on that deck!

The most common “mistake” I think we’ve made is overestimating a deck’s strength based on a new card, where I think we’ve improved over the last couple months.”

Q: Will there be a series drop this month?
A: Glenn “No, there won’t be a Series Drop this month. We’ve launched Spotlight Caches with essentially the minimum viable pool of S4/S5 cards for the scope of the feature.”

Q: Why did Bounce decks recieve no changes this patch? Is the team aware of its dominating presence?
A: Glenn “Bear in mind that our full patches are both a) finalized over 4 weeks in advance of release, and b) primarily used to make behavior changes to cards. OTA changes, which can be turned around in about a week, are our primarily balancing tool.

In addition, this patch was unique in that our “summer vacation” required us to finalize the notes earlier than we usually would and removed one of our OTA windows.

Bounce is one of our best decks, and slightly better than we’d like. It’s actually not far outside our winrate, cube rate, or play rate threshold, but its matchup spread is highly polarized, with a lot of very good matchups balanced by a small number of bad ones. That, in conjunction with High Evolutionary, is creating a warping effect we’d like to soften. Fortunately, as a deck defined by numbers, Bounce is exactly the kind OTAs address best.”

Q: Will you be giving a keyword to cards that have abilities that are neither On Reveal nor Ongoing? For example, The Collector, Dracula, “Evolved” Cyclops, etc. I’ve always thought it’s a bit strange that these cards can’t really be interacted with in the same way that Enchantress, Onslaught, Odin, Cosmo, etc. can interact with Ongoing/On Reveal cards.
A: Glenn “Our decision to avoid keywords is largely based on accessibility. Having to learn keywords makes a game less approachable, so we’re currently using the bare minimum.

Will that change in the future? Almost certainly. But I doubt we’ll use keywording much in the way you described, to create avenues for cards to be attacked. We can just make cards that do those jobs in other ways.”

Q: I feel like same locations appear repeatedly through one battle in conquest mode, as if some locations are picked at the start of a battle and appear from those each round. I’ve heard that I’m not the only one who feels this way. Is it a bug or intentional?
A: Glenn “It’s neither,  just a sampling bias. Unlikely things happen over a large number of battles, and when they do they’re memorable.”

Q: The purchase option for 120g/150 credits is gone but there are no patch note mentions. Is this an intended, permanent change?
A:  Nicki Broderick “We forgot to include this update in our patch notes – sorry! These are the primary credit offerings we’ll have moving forward, and we don’t currently plan to bring back the smaller credit package.”

Q: Was it intended that some ultimate variants got changed to Super Rare variants, or is it just a visual bug?
A: Glenn “This is in error, it’ll be adjusted.”

Spotlight Cache Questions

Q: Apart from the new release and the mystery S4/5, how are you going to choose the 2 remaining spotlight cards for each week?
A: Glenn “Because our goal is to make each week about as awesome as the next for Spotlight Caches, we’ll balance the card selection to that end. For example, you might be more likely to see a Big Bad the same week as a new Series 4 card, while an existing Series 4 card may be more likely to appear alongside a new Series 5 card. These aren’t firm rules, though.”

Q: Can cards appear in the spotlight for a second time before all other S4/5‘s have showed up at least once (Similar to the token shop rotation)?
A: Glenn “Yes, a card could theoretically appear twice before another appeared once. The selection process is manual, not automated, and that’s to ensure we’re making appealing lineups. I’m not sure if it will happen; that depends on the card and circumstances.”

Q: With Spotlight caches launching, will cards be on a regular downgrade schedule of 2-3 months like they used to?
A: Glenn “We no longer have fixed drop schedules for cards. Drop rates may vary, and will be in support of Spotlight Caches.”

Q: Would you ever add a system that have players a free spotlight cache each season that they could use to boost their chances during a week?
A: Glenn “There are multiple systems passively awarding Spotlights, including the free Missions. Adding specialized reward slots to the store isn’t how we would tune the feature to be more generous, plus it’s among the most resource-intense modifications to the client we could make.”

Q: Will Season Pass cards be featured in series 4/5 card sections of the spotlight shop?
A: Glenn “Yes, after the Pass ends they’ll be eligible selections, though we’ll give it a little time.”

Q: Two of the listed goals of Second Dinner for Marvel Snap are players having unique collections and preventing people from hoarding resources. With the new Spotlight Cache system, it feels like these goals are being deprioritized. Each week 75% of the offered cards in this method will be the same for all players (potentially 100% if the mystery card is consistent across the player-base as well) and people will want to sit on the Spotlight Caches to make sure they can guarantee a specific card they really want.

Does SD no longer feel the unique collection / no hoarding goals are high priority or do you disagree with the above ways of thinking and think things will shake out differently somehow (and if so, how do you see things)?
A: Glenn “We still hold this value. The Spotlight Cache system should accomplish this better than the current Token Shop system while also putting more cards in players’ hands. Tokens inherently homogenized collections because players spent them relatively similarly, but we don’t believe players will open Caches the same way as much.”

Q: To expand on the previous question, do you not think players will hoard caches to obtain specific cards, similar to how they spend tokens? How is this new system any different and how will this make collections less homogenized?
A: Glenn “Certainly many players will keep Caches and use them to target specific rewards. No one is saying that won’t happen, or that this system is some 100% shift in what card collections will look like. While we’re aiming to make Caches equally appealing from week to week, we’re also under no illusions that some weeks will be more or less popular–that’s inevitable.

The difference is that if many players use tokens to buy the same popular new card, their collections don’t build any differentiation through that activity. If the same players open 4 Spotlight Caches for a new card, their collections will have built some differentiation thanks to the randomized variants and potential random S4/S5 card, even though they all get the new card. That’s our philosophy for creating unique collections in action.”

Q: Will you be able to see the Spotlight Cache on the collection level track or will it be hidden as a regular collector’s reserve?
A: Nicki Broderick “It will be visually different/noteable, so you’ll know when you’re coming up on one!”

Q: I was wondering if the random series 4/5 card in spotlight caches end up being one of the featured cards ie for this first week be Jean gray, Knull, or high Evo, and then in turn end up getting the variant if opening another cache and rolling that same card.
A: Tucker “Yep, you nailed exactly how it works! The Random S4/S5 card can be literally any S4/S5, including the featured ones. So if you get High Evo from the Random S4/S5, you’ll get the variant when you get High Evo the “regular” way from the Spotlight Cache”

Q: Can you pull a spotlight variant from the random card slot if you roll a duplicate and get a premium variant instead?
A: Glenn “The random slot cannot award a Spotlight Variant for any card. Those are only available during the week of their release, and only from the “slot” for that Spotlight Variant.”

Q: The way the system currently works, there’ll never be Spotlight Variants for lower pool cards. Are there any plans to add cool spotlight variants that people would want for popular cards such as America Chavez in the future?
A: Glenn “Not Spotlight Variants, but we rather frequently feature cards from early Series in bundles and the variant shop.”

Q: Hey, I was wondering if there was any chance we could see each months spotlight variants at the same time the contents for each week are announced? Just helps us plan our caches accordingly.
A: Stephen “We plan to add a carousel item for the current spotlight variants soon and highlight them in the season blog in the future.”

Q: Are spotlight variants exclusive to their launch week?
A: Stephen “Our intent is to always have new variants in the spotlight cache every week so there is no guarantee it will be the same variant next time that character is highlighted in the spotlight cache.”

Q: What are the chances to roll a S4 card vs a Series 5 card in the mystery section?
A: Stephen “The S4/5 weighted chance is 66/33 and the fallback if you roll an already owned S4/S5 card is to give a Premium Mystery Variant (no pixels and chance to drop a 1200g variant)”

Q: Is it a bug that we can’t split the Spotlight Variants?
A: Stephen “Its a bug.  We are working on a fix”

Q: So I see that the Base Card of Jean Grey is available in Spotlight Cache with a 5 day timer. There is also Jean Grey available in the Token Shop for 6k tokens. If I wanted to target her spotlight variant without trying to open the caches 5~8 times, can I purchase the Jean Grey from the Token shop and will the cache content update itself to remove the Base Card from the Cache Pool?
A: Glenn “If you purchase Jean in the token shop, the “slot” in your Spotlight Cache should update to be the Spotlight Variant of Jean Grey.”

Q: The first cache I opened I received Spider-Ham which I already had. I expected a cool variant of Spider-Ham but instead got a Ghost Spider variant. Did I misread how the system works?
A: Glenn “No. When you “roll” a card you already own for the random S4/S5, you get a random Premium Mystery Variant.”

Q: Will each week feature a new card in the spotlight cache?
A: Glenn “With the exception of Season Pass cards, each week will feature a new Spotlight Cache lineup that includes the new card.”

Q: So I opened my first Spotlight cache today and pulled Knull. Hurray because I have Knull. So I hit convert and it gives me an Electro variant. I thought if we pulled Knull we would get Knull variant. Is that right or wrong?
A: Glenn “It’s possible to pull one of the featured S4/S5 cards as a random one from that slot. If you do, and you already own it, it converts to a random Premium Mystery Variant. As you can see on the screen, your ‘Knull slot’ is still available to be pulled and has the variant.”

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 a Q/A because the devs were on vacation, and the week prior they stopped Q/A in preparation for vacation, so we had a lot of questions that stacked up! Many questions were about functionality of the new spotlight system or how cards work, but I thought it helped readability to include them in the main post instead of breaking them all apart. There were a few questions that didn’t get dev answers or were untimely, but I will include them below in case you are still waiting for an answer. Of course these answers are from me (not a dev).

Q: I’ve noticed that when I get Evolved Hulk on the board before turn 6, and then don’t use all my energy on turn 6, he doesn’t gain an additional 2 power at the end of the turn/game. Is this intended?
A: In case you didn’t see the patch notes, this was a bug and the new Evolved Hulk functionality should have fixed this issue.

Q: The animations for starting/finishing Conquests and collecting the reward or ending a lost battle are slow and unskippable in a game mode that already takes a lot of time (and they feel unnecessary once you play a lot of the mode). Does the team plan to make changes to these animations to make queuing into new Conquests faster?
A: We didn’t get a dev answer to this (so I don’t have an answer), but I wanted to highlight this question as it got a very high volume of upvotes on the discord for what questions typically get. So many players feel the same way but the devs seem quiet about answering it so far…

Q:Will the phoenix force card be a 5 point card or the value of the merged card like Hulkbuster? Asking for friend named Killmonger.

If Jean Grey and Goose are in the same lane and you have an open spot but only cards that cost 4 or more in your hand, will you be able to play?
A: Since we didn’t have a Q/A last week, this may be irrelevant now, but just in case you still need an answer, here you go:

Phoenix Force becomes the card it revives, so reviving nova for example makes it susceptible to killmonger.

In the instance you described with Jean Grey and Goose, it is currently a bug but yes it locks out the player from playing. A current strategy is to fill your Jean Gray/Goose lane and play wave, locking out your opponent from any possible plays if they have an open space in that lane.

Starting next week we should be back to a regular cadence with Q/A, so please leave your questions in the comments!

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 can vouch for being able to open a featured card in the random spot, because I had the absolute pleasure of opening the Knull Spotlight Variant as my first cache and then rolling Knull for my random. Luckily the random roll gets you a variant for a random card.

    Obviously, the best luck for this would be opening the new card at random and then opening the Spotlight slot for the variant (if that’s what you wanted).

  2. In explaining the new card acquisition system, you explained that removing Gold “cut out the middle man” as Spotlight Caches now provide great new variants. Similarly, Collector Tokens were effectively removed as a way to obtain new cards with regularity. What both of these currencies offered, though, was Player Choice. I got to save up and buy specific variants I want and wait for, and Tokens let me buy the card I wanted. As someone who is incredibly unlucky, I now have to hold off until I’ve saved 4 Spotlights and then hope to roll under that if I want to participate in a future week. With Spotlights being so infrequent, I find myself somewhat locked out of participating except maybe once a month. Would the team consider just making Spotlights choice-driven, so I can just pick the card I want from the three/four available options?

  3. I have asked 2 questions here: about new Emotes and cards that “negate” cards with inbuilt abilities like Dracula.

    Will add a question on top, because ive lost an important game yesterday.

    When Phoenix Force revives Hulkbuster and Hulkbuster attaches to an existing card, why does it only add his power and not also the power Phoenix Force?
    Hulkbuster (and only him, no attached card) was destroyed through Location Murderworld. In turn 4 i played Shuri. Turn 5 Phoenix Force on Shuri lane. Shuri only got the 4 from Hulkbuster. The doubled Phoenix Force “vanished” in thin air.

    • Ok, forget the question about “cancelling cards that have special abilities, you cant interrupt yet”. Seems like it is here now…
      Still the question with the emotes xD
      And the new one.

  4. Hi,
    Is Marvel Snap banned in any regions or countries?
    I am seeing many users unable to play Marvel Snap in Middle East, was it intended to ban a country or a region from playing the game?

  5. Do the random S4/S5 cards from Spotlight Caches have any weight towards presenting new cards to players? Because so far our group has been getting Rares from that slot and that feels really bad, especially when the pitch for Spotlight Caches was more new cards.

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