Ben Brode, lead developer on Marvel Snap

Developer Update for the Week of June 14, 2023: Post Patch Edition (45+ 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 have a jam packed session with answers to a ton of Conquest questions, answers about why the developers made those OTA changes, will that annoying customization UI be fixed, 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 highly anticipated Conquest mode patch! If you haven’t seen the patch notes, make sure to check those out first so some questions make more sense! Many questions also refer to last week’s OTA update, so make sure you are caught up on those changes as well!

Read more about how Conquest works in this guide!

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 Conquest mode 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: In the OTA patch notes, how did the Spider-Man nerf actually effect Galactus decks?
A: Glenn “We considered this Spider-Man change neutral for Galactus. The target was the High Evolutionary lockdown deck, where having a spare Energy on turn 5 mattered a lot in addition to curving into Professor X. Rereading the notes, I recognize that could’ve been communicated more clearly.”

Q: Has the team taken a look at Sera decks? You seem to be nerfing every deck that reach top meta and yet sera remains untouched and more versatile?
A: Glenn “Sera’s a card I keep a very close eye on, but it hasn’t been among our top 5 decks recently nor has the Sera card had a very strong winrate. The deck is often a bit overrated by our more competitive players.”

Q: Can High Evolutionary’s cards be changed with OTA updates, or do they have to wait for big updates?
A: Glenn “We can, though most of them don’t have great OTA knobs owing to the specifics of their implementation.”

Q: Will Stature ever get more cards that support her ability? Right now there are only 2, and one of those isn’t very good.
A: Glenn “I don’t expect to give offensive discard much more support, though it won’t be zero. It’s an effect we don’t want to have in the game at high volume.”

Q: Is Spider-man 2099 like Kingpin & Stegron, in that he can affect an un-flipped card if you have priority? Or does a card have to be face up for him to destroy it?
A: Glenn “face up”

Q: Lockjaw seems to be consistently at the top of the meta. How are his numbers performing in your data?
A: Glenn “Lockjaw’s been a strong card, but he’s isolated to specific strategies and not exceeding any of our metrics. I’m optimistic he’ll stay the same for a while.”

Q: When galactus destroys cards that are played but not revealed (flipped over) yet, they still seem to add to knull’s power. is that intended?
A: Glenn “Yes. A card doesn’t need to be resolved in order to be considered destroyed, also demonstrated by Yondu.”

Q: Does the new Galactus change mean his power is calculated when he activates? If so, I don’t see how his gameplay is going to change.
A: Glenn “It does. Feel free to play him and see 😉 Most importantly, we can now change it further if necessary.”

Q: What do you define as polarizing with Galactus decks? And how did this change midigate it?
A: Glenn “What’s most polarizing is that the winner of the game was determined the vast majority of the time by which cards from a small set were drawn in each game and in which order, rather than by the core gameplay of MARVEL SNAP.  Not every deck could afford cards to counter Galactus, and not every player wanted to play those cards–nor should they have to. The goal of the change was to make conventional play an effective tool in the matchup and to give us an OTA knob for future balance adjustments.

The threat/outcome of Galactus can be very exciting–there’s a lot of tension, it makes different cards strong, and the deck is unique. Those kinds of qualities are usually worth preserving in a game piece, and the popularity of Galactus makes clear there’s an audience that feels very passionately about that.”

Q: When you balance High Evolutionary, will you nerf one card (Hulk) and buff another (shocker)?
A: Glenn “Given that every card in the package is performing well, Shocker included, I don’t think any of the cards merit buffs. After all, one of them has to be the weakest.”

Q: The Spider-Man nerf most directly impacts the HE lockdown deck. Looking at just the cards is understandable, but why specifically hit a deck which is not even at the top of the meta? Why is there no specific nerf designed for Sera Control, HE Jane Jaw, or even Galactus? These are the top decks. Also the deck has only been existing for less than a month.

So my main question would be why does the recent balance changes seem very deck specific and biassed. (HE lockdown and Stature Blackbolt). Are you trying to wash out a fire before it even starts? Is that the new approach?
A: Glenn “The High Evolutionary Lockdown deck actually was at the top of the meta. For the last two weeks it’s been the most-played deck, had the best winrate, and had the best or second-best cube rate. All the other decks you named perform worse–except for Black Bolt/Stature, which was a very slightly deck since it had only one bad matchup.

Our balance changes often focus on specific decks–they’re designed to target outliers in the data. We tend to try and avoid snuffing things out too quick, though the High Evo deck preventing people from playing their cards didn’t merit that kind of generosity. For example, we purposefully delayed the nerfs to Black Bolt and Stature for several weeks after we first saw their results, to let people enjoy learning the deck, playing it, and trying (albeit failing) to beat it.”

Other Questions

Q: Will there be more full reworks of cards in the future? Like changing Spider-Man to a move card to match the others?
A: Glenn “As the game grows and we add new functionality, I’m sure some cards will change when that functionality better executes what they’re already doing–something like Howard could be an example.

When we discuss “full reworks” we mean ripping out the card’s mechanics completely. Crystal is the only full rework we’ve done since I started; even Leader’s changes were just very intense changes to the same core functionality.

The bar for a full rework is *incredibly high* because it’s equivalent to removing a card from players’ collections. No matter how many people dislike a card, there will always be someone for whom that card is one of their favorites. In addition, the amount of internal resources a full rework consumes is nearly equivalent to making a new card from scratch–the only thing we don’t redo is the art–so it’s not a simple thing for us to do just from a time and resources perspective, either.”

Q: Would you consider creating a game mode where all 3 locations are ruins?
A: Glenn “Personally, I don’t think SNAP is a very engaging game without the variance of the locations and that most players would come to the same conclusion after playing without them for a bit. Our deck size is small enough that the variance there is reduced, meaning games will play out pretty monotonously each time, especially in matchups where one deck is a strong favorite.”

Q: We’re Bounce decks really performing above your threshold to warrent such a big nerf?
A: Glenn “Bounce has been the strongest or one of the strongest decks for the last month. Its matchup spread is the most favorable of any deck, with only 4 bad matchups among the 28+ decks we track, though two of those (High Evo and Galactus) are very bad and pretty popular. In this way, Bounce is actually protecting its own predators by pushing *their* bad matchups out of the metagame.

We timed it today because that’s the closest we could get to next week’s patch, which I believe would otherwise further buff the Bounce deck. We weren’t sure which changes Bounce would or wouldn’t need when we locked that patch in a month ago, but we’ve gathered enough data since to act via OTA.”

Q: You mentioned in a previous answer that you have a list of 28 decks that you monitor. Can you share that list? Also, in those tracked decks, do you clump all similar styles together (Patriot) or separate them out (Ultron-Patriot, Doom-Patriot, Bastriot lists)?
A: Glenn “I won’t disclose the list, but it also changes weekly, even daily sometimes.

We use data to look for “clusters,” which are groups of cards that get played together with a certain frequency. Those thresholds determine whether decks get separated or not, but within each cluster we also measure the frequency a card appears in that cluster and its winrate within the cluster.

If two decks have “merged” then we can take steps to dissociate them—for example, Sauron-Shuri wasn’t played much, so for a long time it was just represented by the low frequency of play for Sauron and Typhoid Mary in the normal Shuri cluster. We went looking for actual Sauron decks to get a better idea of their data.”

Q: I think the infinite card backs standout when you have the gold (yellow) in it but this time you went for an orange that is similar to the red in the original card back. Any chance you guys will change it to gold like the past infinite cards have been?
A: Nicki Broderick “We won’t be changing/updating this season’s cardback. Depending on where you view the cardback there’s difficult lighting (collection, in gameplay, etc.) so you might see more of the gold in different areas! In general we strive to make the Infinite cardback feel very unique/distinct.”

Q: Is there a way to see what foils will look like on a card before buying them? It’s hard justifying buying some bundles if I’m not sure how it will look in gold or inked.
A: Nicki Broderick “We’ve talked a lot internally about giving players a way to view different rarity upgrades for a card before purchasing (uncommon, common, rare, etc.) – but we haven’t really discussed mods! I’ll bring this up with the team.”

Q: Why is there a 500 credit discrepancy between the miles bundle in the newsletter and the actual store?
A: Nicki Broderick “We shared an update in the game update channel – but we’ll be sending the 500 credits via the inbox to players who purchase the bundle. This was an unintended bug 🕷️”

Q: Any plans to bring back beta variants for new players?
A: Nicki Broderick “Yes! We’ll be releasing our beta content to all players – some of it very soon! we have a great plan for getting all of the beta season content out for global players to access, but we’re still working on a plan for the ranked rewards and how we’d like to reintroduce those.”

Q: Will we ever get more symbiots like anti venom, toxin, riot, etc?
A: Glenn “I’d say that’s a when, not an if.”

Q: Are there characters that you think are too difficult to design cards around?
A: Glenn “I don’t, but that’s my mental approach. In design, I try to maintain the perspective that every problem has solutions, and work from there.”

Q: Will all cards eventually get their own animations/ vfx?
A: Nicki Broderick “Yes! We are working toward all cards and locations having fx some day. The artists that work on vfx for cards/locations also support fx for features, etc. — so we typically prioritize fx for cards that need to communicate important gameplay mechanics. But we are aiming to go back and give some love to cards that don’t currently have fx.”

Q: How do you manage/ balance power creep with new cards? Do you have a range of acceptable power for each cost?
A: Glenn “We have some general “bands” for what you can get for a certain amount of Energy and its restrictions, though they can be pretty flexible.

We don’t target specific “average value to win a location” because we expect locations to be won with enough variety that it’s not a very meaningful value to attach much weight to. Consider Shuri, Hazmat, Professor X, even Onslaught—lot of variation in numbers there that doesn’t correlate well to actual strength.”

Q: Do you take into account the different decks getting affected while introducing new locations? Aunt may’s, the upcoming location, is good for most but bad for cerebro 2. Just changing the power gain from +3 to +2  could encourage cerebro 2
A: Glenn “We do, but Cerebro decks are usually too narrow of a concern to warp the game around that way. Cerebro 3 doesn’t mind this case too much though 🙂”

Q: Are there any plans to change the collection interface?
A: Daniela “It’s on the to-do list 😊”

Q: Are you going to explore new keywords like “ongoing” or “on-reveal” that would create new archetypes?
A: Glenn “We’ve got some new keywords in mind for the future. However, we don’t really think about them as creating new archetypes on their own, that’s more card-level than system-level.”

Q: Has the team ever thought of having a card that says “you can have as many of this card in a deck as you want”, sort of like Magic the Gathering?
A: Glenn “We’ve considered ideas in this vein.”

Q: Why aren’t newly released variants promoted in the shop? I feel like I constantly see pixel variants”
A: Nicki Broderick “We’re actively working on improvements to the shop to achieve more goals just like this. Stay tuned!”

Q: If a card randomly moves to a lane that has either 3 open slots or 1 open slot, is the likelihood always 50/50 regardless? Or does the chances change based on open slots?
A: Glenn “Yes, two locations are each 50% regardless of the number of cards there (as long as at least one slot is open on each).”

Q: Any chance Snap will support mill decks in the future? Currently there is no punishment for an empty deck like other games have.
A: Glenn “Our decks are too small and our games too short to meaningfully support a mill strategy. It’s not very fun to be milled, and removes a lot of tension around snapping. Given how infrequently we want the deck to be empty, we don’t need to add a feature for when it is.”

Q: Are there any other modes being released before the PC client update?
A: Glenn “No, the PC launch is itself the next major feature we’re releasing.”

Q: Why were there no new vfx/sfx in the latest patch?
A: Glenn “Conquest and PC have been major undertakings for our VFX team which has slowed our backfilling on VFX temporarily. We’re making hires on that front and you can expect them to pick up in the future.”

Conquest Mode Questions

Q: Do featured locations impact conquest locations?
A: Glenn “Nope”

Q: Was unranked mode development canceled, or is the Conquest- Proving Grounds the substitute?
A: Glenn “Our plans still don’t include a dedicated Unranked mode. If that changes, we’ll announce it.”

Q: In Conquest mode, if I am in Gold Tier, will I only match players who are also in Gold Tier?
A: Daniela “Yes, you only match against people in the tier you are in”

Q: Is there a pool restriction for conquest mode? Currently in pool 2, tried conquest mode and went against someone with pool 3+ cards, including Howard the Duck
A: Glenn “The earlier Conquests have some banding around the collection scores of the player. Proving Grounds mirrors the ranked play experience, while Silver and Gold are less discerning. However, Infinite has no CL bands whatsoever.”

Q: Do unspent tickets and medals carry over between seasons?
A: Glenn “Excess medals and tickets will be exchanged for boosters at the end of each season.”

Q: After seeing excess medals will be exchanged, what is the exchange rate?
A: KentErik “Great question, and I’d love to clarify some confusion around the End of Season Medal ‘melt’ conversion ratio.

If you have leftover Medals at the end of the season, each Medal will be worth 0.15 Boosters for a random card. So, 100 Medals -> 15 Boosters.

Each season will have a different Medal Shop, and as a result could offer different pricing and inventory for its rewards. But one constant will be that the Medal Shop will ALWAYS give you better value than the ‘melt’ conversion at the end of the season. The end of season ‘melt’ moment is a safeguard for any player who was unable to convert their Medals before the Season rollover moment, but isn’t intended to be the best use for your Medals. So be sure to spend your Medals!”

Q: Why are there bots in Conquest? I thought it was confirmed before there will be no bots.
A: KentErik “Hi! First I want to acknowledge that we errored with some prior communication about conquest and bots.

The reason players are seeing some bots in Conquest is that, similar to our new player experience, we want to help people understand Battle Mode (and Conquest), and not feel punished/ultra unlucky in their first match with a really strong opponent.

Further, for most players, this will be their first experience playing Battle Mode, and they may not yet have a deep understanding of how it works, with the 10-health, back-to-back rounds, etc.

For a player’s first battle in a conquest tier, one of our robotic friends will be there. However, after that first match, that no longer applies, and you can expect to not see a bot opponent.
(Note: This first battle rule does NOT apply to Infinity tier).”

Q: Does the purchase progression towards the alt card in Conquest carry over between seasons?
A: KentErik “It will reset to 0 for the new season.”

Q: Why was Conquest designed to be highly competitive, but it keeps locations that can widely benefit one player over the other?
A: Glenn “The varying impact of locations is a core part of SNAP’s fun and gameplay. It’s more often than not what lets a deck win a bad matchup or a player outsmart another, with their combinatorial depth making the game endlessly repayable. Managing location variance is a major skill, and Conquest tests it.”

Q: Has the team considered adding Sideboards to Conquest?
A: Glenn “Conquest as a game mode is already the lengthiest experience in MARVEL SNAP. We’re not looking to add more time and complexity to each game with a feature like that one.”

Q: Is there a limit to medals, like there is to credits?
A: KentErik “No limit, but you should spend them before they ‘melt’ / convert to boosters at the end of the season. The shop offers a better medals-to-boosters ratio than the auto-conversion.”

Q: Conquest is extremely susceptible to BM, yesterday I was stuck against someone for 45min in proving grounds, they got salty (or they wanted to hostage someone all along) and roped every turn, emote spammed, played Kang and Magik to lenghten the game and today this happened aswell, is there a way hostage situations can be adressed?
A: KentErik “We’ll keep an eye on it, and have some tools we can address it.”

Q: Some matchups are hard counters, if you queue Galactus against a Lockdown deck it’s basically impossible. What does the team feel about deck switching?
A: KentErik “Not super interested in deck switching, as it undermines a core fun of Battle Mode, which is learning your opponent’s deck. We expect the meta for Conquest to be different from standard play due to this.”

Q: Does Conquest matchmaking consider how many wins in a row a player has?
A: Glenn “Yes, Conquest seeks to pair players with a similar number of wins in the same tier. If matchmaking is taking too long, it will loosen the win-count restriction, but never the tier.”

Q: With the end of season “melt”, will the boosters received be all for 1 card, or will they be split among cards if you have a lot of boosters melted?
A: Glenn “The same card.”

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 had 2 questions, and one of them (do medals carry over between seasons) was included in the Conquest mode portion. Here is the other question:

Q: What happened with ranks at the start of the season?
A: Molly “Thanks for all the reports and feedback about the ranked season rollover. As we mentioned, the changes are expected for players who were ended last season under Rank 100.

However, there was a bug for Infinite+ players. If a player’s rank was 105 or above at end of May season, their rank was not dropped correctly at season rollover. We’ve found the issue and this is solved for all future seasons. Going forward, any player that finishes a season with their rank in Infinite+ will be dropped to Rank 73 at the start of the next season.

In an effort to maintain your rewards/collection, we’re leaving all players at their current rank for this season. (So, if you were Rank 124 last season and dropped to 93 with rollover, you will keep all your ranks and rewards this season.)

We’re sorry for the inconvenience. Thanks for your patience!”

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. Especially on high collection level it feels like you always need certain set of cards to be competitve and if you have not the tokens for those cards you are just out luck if you did not acquire them, as of this Snap! especially in higher tiers feels less fun than it did in lower collection levels. This is especially reinforced with the recent card High Evolutionary running rampant.

    What is the team’s approach that even with a High Collection level, people will be able to have fun, no matter the deck they bring to the table?

    With the rise of “afflict negative power” on the back of High Evolutionary’s release, have you played around with the concept of abilities that “flipping” negatively afflicted power around, or benefit from it in other ways?
    For example, the character Penance turns his physical pain into power could play into this thematically, by gaining power rather than losing it.
    Naturally cards of this nature could be deployed in Typhoid Mary and Hazmat decks also, so they have more viability beyond purely countering the High Evolutionary decks.

    • I think Loki as the rightful lord of Jotunhiem as well as a trickster god would be great as Knull but for negative power. From a lore perspective it would explain why he teams up with big bads (HE, Thanos and the Soul Stone…).

  3. Q: Some matchups are hard counters, if you queue Galactus against a Lockdown deck it’s basically impossible. What does the team feel about deck switching?
    A: KentErik “Not super interested in deck switching, as it undermines a core fun of Battle Mode, which is learning your opponent’s deck. We expect the meta for Conquest to be different from standard play due to this.”

    So their answer is basically: “yeah, we have no idea how to deal with that so just don’t play galactus please”

  4. Has Second Dinner recently talked about what percentage of regular players reach infinite in a given month? I’ve read that it was around 2% months ago, but I’m curious if that’s risen with their recent rank changes and card releases. And do they have an ideal number or percentage of infinite players they’d like to see each season?

  5. Another question I’ve been wondering: as Series 3 continues to increase in volume, do they ever envision splitting those cards into smaller groups, or maybe even instituting some kind of Standard vs Wild classification like in Hearthstone? I’m not sure what the right answer is, but 100+ cards and counting in Series 3 seems unsustainable.

  6. The art in this game is beautiful and some of my favorite. Any plans for merchandise featuring the art? Or are there licensing issues that would prevent that?

  7. Question for developers: Have you guys considered including a way of seeing all the cards in different variant “collections” like the Dan Hipp collection, Pixel collection etc.?
    It would be satisfying to see the collections fill in as you get new cards and you could even tie rewards to these collections (a Dan Hipp avatar when you have 20 Dan Hipp variants or something like that)

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