Ben Brode, lead developer on Marvel Snap

Developer Update for the Week of June 28, 2023: Spotlight Cache 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 tons of answers on your Spotlight Cache questions, why wasn’t High Evolutionary adjusted in the latest OTA, do Marvel Studio projects change which cards get balanced first, 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 announcement of the upcoming Spotlight Caches, as well as the release of the new card Spider-Man 2099! If you haven’t seen what Spotlight Caches are, make sure to read the offical announcement! Also make sure to check out our initial analysis of the Spotlight Cache system, and stay tuned for a much more extensive look into it soon!

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: Why does The Peak not cap card cost at 6 but Mr. Negative does?
A: Glenn “These cards predate me, but the inconsistency is likely because Mr. Negative decks have the agency to avoid making their cards “impossible” to play, while The Peak hits decks randomly. However, I think it would be reasonable to cap Negative at 6 as well.”

Q: With the new Doctor Doom change, did you consider making Doom 6/7 or 6/8 and making the Doom Bots 6/3? It would reduce Doom’s reach but give his main location more power.
A: Glenn “We considered 6/6 and 6/4s, but decided to try this since he’d been so strong lately. I don’t think we’d hit the Doombots harder than this, them being 3s would make them a lot weaker at their job.”

Q: Why was High Evolutionary not adjusted in the last OTA?
A: Glenn “High Evolutionary is very popular, but his winrates are not outside our metrics for Ranked. He is overperforming those winrates in Conquest, where his well-rounded nature is particularly well-suited to battles, and we’re discussing how to factor that kind of information into our process with such a new piece of the game.

Either way, the nature of High Evolutionary is such that if we were going to make changes, we’d prefer to use a patch. Just changing numbers in the card text doesn’t really work, and we’d prefer not to adjust the vanilla statlines. Once we’re back from our summer break, we’ll be taking a close look at him.”

Q: With Red Skull back at 14 power, why not put him back at 15 power so he is more viable as a standalone card?
A: Glenn “Everyone knows how strong Red Skull and Shuri can be. While we did adjust Shuri, she has remained a viable deck and we don’t want to overdo it. There’s no inherent value to his “original” 15 Power; after all, he was 14 Power before that.”

Q: What are your thoughts on Valkryie and are there plans to adjust her?
A: Glenn “Valkyrie is slightly weak at 5-Cost, but would be dramatically stronger at 4-Cost. That’s a tough spot. It’s quite common in game design that you want something worth “half a [resource]” to help smooth that out. The nature of Valkyrie is such that she doesn’t have a clean, simple way to be modified beyond Cost.”

Q: Is Jeff on the watchlist? He is tied with Zabu for best 2 drop.
A: Glenn “Interestingly enough, on individual winrates Jeff is actually 3rd among 2-Cost cards, while Zabu is 12th (!). However, I’ll readily cede that Jeff is a better turn 2 play than the cards above him on that list. However, he’s nothing outrageous on metrics.”

Q: How is Kang performing compared to the other 3 Big Bads, who all see meta play?
A: Glenn “He’s weaker than those three, but also far less restrictive. That said, we may adjust him in the future. His canon status and the impact+novelty of his effect both suit Big Bad levels—it’s not all about meta strength.”

Q: Is there any consideration to the impact of balance changes impact to Cerebro? Outside of the “sorry cerebro” text that gets put in with changes.
A: Glenn “We do, but given there’s theoretically a Cerebro deck for every reasonable value we use, we can’t weigh that very much or we’d be paralyzed. Our view is that through OTAs and new releases, Cerebro decks will just constantly change and evolve over time.”

Q: Is Cable’s text matching his code in terms of “draw” vs “take” a card? My opponent played Black Widow against me which blocked Cable, but not Maria Hill.
A: Glenn “Cable’s effect is a draw in the code. We have an update to his text coming in a future patch.”

Q: Will Domino or Quicksilver ever see a buff?
A: Glenn “No. These cards don’t really have useful balance knobs and serve a specific role in the new user experience.”

Other Questions

Q: Why are bundle prices different between countries? Is it a tax or exchange rate issue?
A: Tucker “Yep, it’s a tax thing plus an exchange rate thing. That part is handled by Nuverse rather than Second Dinner so I’m speaking secondhand on it, but my understanding is that we aim to charge roughly the same pre-tax amount in each country (and some countries are higher because the taxes are higher in those countries).

Since exchange rates can be a little volatile and constant price adjustments feel super weird, it’s possible the equivalent USD prices drift a little bit.”

Q: Seeing how popular Spider-Ham is after launching directly into Series 4, how do you select what Series a card launches into?
A: Glenn “We weigh a variety of factors to determine which Series to release each card in.”

Q: Glenn mentioned that there’s a “rather lengthy” list of cards that could use a buff. So I am curious if you ever considered to put out one big update including a bunch of buffs for weak/underperforming cards?
A: Glenn “The list is changes; they’re not all buffs. But as I stated in the initial OTA announcement, we like piecing these adjustments out so that they can move the metagame in specific directions and constantly freshen it lightly, rather than one upheaval and then letting everything be the same for more time.”

Q: If I play Yellowjacket on New York turn 6, then move a card to New York from another location, should that card get hit by Yellowjacket’s On Reveal? Do all moves occur before card reveals, even though visually it occurs after?
A: Glenn “A moved card is at its new location visually and actually. However, move triggers and the “re-resolving” of Ongoing effects will delay until the move action is resolved in the sequence it was taken. Yellowjacket will always debuff your cards moved to the location it’s being played at, regardless of their order.”

Q: Any plans for a World Rank leaderboard?
A: Glenn “Yes, we do.”

Q: With the location Miniaturized Lab, is it a balance thing or a fantasy thing as the reason why cards can leave but not enter? If it’s fantasy, I feel like cards shouldn’t be able to be removed from it.
A: Glenn “I think it matches the fantasy quite well. All the tech you need to size up is inside the lab, as seen in Ant-Man and the Wasp. It’s the people outside who can’t get in.”

Q: Do outside influences, such as Marvel project releases, effect which cards get balance changes first?
A: Glenn “Yes. That is specifically why we timed Nick Fury for this week, for example.”

Q: How did the team not see the Spider-Ham Pig interaction with being a 4-cost coming? Is there not a lot of play testing, or was the team surprised by this?
A: Glenn “We hold a few hours of group playtests each week, in addition to the design team’s independent work. However, playtesting a card is one step in a long process of card implementation, that involves multiple different game builds and teams.

These Pig interactions did come up, and we decided to make it a 0/0. That correction simply didn’t make it into the final build, and Design missed it during our reviews of the new content we were adding. An unfortunate kind of error, but also a somewhat inevitable one when dealing with the volume of changes we make on tight deadlines.”

Q: With buffs to combo pieces like Nimrod and Red Skull, and nerfs to independent strong cards like Doctor Doom, is the team pushing players more toward these styles of gameplay?
A: Glenn “We do prefer to strengthen synergy pieces and weaken independently strong cards. Generically powerful cards that go in many decks eat up deck slots, reducing the diversity of gameplay available and discouraging exploration and innovation. In our ideal world, there’s a robust metagame of many different SNAP decks sharing relatively few cards.”

Q: In a previous Q/A, you mentioned Fogwell's Gym has little gameplay impact like Ruins. Have you considered the impact or creates by incentivizing players to stay in the game more rounds for boosters, even if they are losing?
A: Glenn “Yes, we’re aware of that incentive. It doesn’t align very well with snapping or retreating, which is a major tactical component of our game.”

Q: Why do locations like Throne Room trigger before card effects, but the general rule is that card effects happen first, then location effects?
A: Glenn “That tip is in specific reference to triggered effects, like Cloning Vats or Death's Domain, vs. cards’ On Reveals. Static effects that are always on don’t turn off or wait to let a card do its thing.”

Q: Will tickets and medals expire at the start of the new season?
A: Tucker “Tickets and medals will reset at the end of every season, so be sure to spend em while you can!

Behind the scenes on why we built it this way: We want to try different Conquest tunings from season to season, and accounting for medals/tickets from past seasons would make it virtually impossible to tune and doesn’t feel great as a player.

When you have both changing Conquest tunings & Medals/Tickets transferring over it introduces all sorts of weird-feeling uncertainty over future seasons: should you hoard your tickets & medals in anticipation of a maybe-juicier Conquest tuning next season? Should you spend them all now because you think next season might not be as juicy? When the medals/tickets expire the answer is much more clear: claim your hard-earned rewards now.”

Spotlight Cache Questions

Q: The announcement says this: “If you already own one of the featured cards, the Spotlight Cache will instead feature a time-exclusive variant for the featured card.”

Does this mean that obtaining this variant is possible only during that week? Does it disappear from caches forever after that or it might become available one more time when the card is featured again?
A: Molly “Our intention is that Spotlight Variants are going to be brand new variants of the Featured Cards that are time-exclusive. That means if you like these variants, they can only be obtained during the week they are featured in the Spotlight Cache or you can wait for them to eventually be added to the general pool – but, this is going to be a long time!”

Q: Is the location of the spotlight cache in the collection track known ahead of time or will it be a random location like the guaranteed series 4 collection reserve today?
A: Molly “Spotlight Caches will appear every 120 CL. The UI will clearly show when you have a Spotlight Cache coming up.”

Q: What is the difference between Spotlight Variants and Premium Variants?
A: Molly “Spotlight Variants are planned to be brand new variants for the 3 featured cards in the Spotlight Cache that week. They’ll be exclusive to the Spotlight Cache for a while, but not forever.

Premium Mystery Variants are a new mystery variant type we’ll be introducing in the same patch as Spotlight Cache. Premium Mystery Variants can be a Super Rare or Rare variant, but NOT a Pixel Variant.”

Q:  Let’s say a player opens enough Spotlight Caches to obtain all of the featured cards, and all 4 of the special variants for that week. Will they still be able to open more Spotlight Caches that week (and obtain some replacement reward) or will they be blocked from doing so?
A: Glenn “Yes. The replacement reward will be a S4/S5 Premium mystery variant. Personally, I’d save the cache for next week 😉 The UI should help guide each player to understand what they can open.”

Q: If Spotlight caches are every 120CL, can I predict where they will fall on the CL before it goes live?
A: Molly “We’re still doing a little bit of last minute tuning so can’t confirm exactly where they’re going to land on the CL track.”

Q: Since Gold is apparently being removed from the CL track, how will players get gold without paying now?
A: Tucker “All other sources of gold will still be around (such as the free tiers on the Season Pass, the Weekly Challenge, the Ranked Rewards, and the Conquest Medal Shop)!”

Q: In an Example Spotlight, Stegron, Jeff, Galactus, and Thanos. If Jeff is the only card  I do not own, Will my first Spotlight cache be Jeff, and then the “bag” is refilled with the variants?
A: Tucker “One of the four cache options is always “Random S4/S5”, so to use the example above let’s say the Cache is Stegron/Jeff/Galactus. The system always starts by generating four possible rewards for you, so your first reward pool for Spotlight Cache would be:

Stegron Spotlight Variant
Jeff Base Card
Galactus Spotlight Variant
Random S4/S5

Some fine print: Random S4/S5 works like booster packs in other CCGs; dupes are possible. If you roll a dupe, it turns into a Premium Mystery Variant instead (a new concept we’re introducing next patch).”

Q: With only 800 tokens per month, how are players supposed to buy Ultimate variants at a 5k cost? Also, why did you remove the 200 gold reward from caches?
A: Tucker “Our Spotlight Variants are some of our coolest variants for S4/S5 cards (comparable to Ultimate Variants; many of them were originally slated to be Ultimate Variants before we greenlit this feature), so F2P players who prefer to spend their tokens on Ultimate Variants are going to be quite happy with the number of amazing new top-tier variants they’re getting through this system.

As for the gold, Spotlight Caches represent a massive increase in the card acquisition rate & top-tier variant acquisition rate (which, when you boil it down, are the two biggest things you’re trying to acquire with that gold in the first place). We’re skipping the middle man of gold->tokens->cards/variants and just giving you the awesome stuff directly in the CL track now.”

Q: I know I am a minority here, but with pixels being excluded from Premium Mystery Variants, how will I keep growing my collection?
A: Tucker “Whoo, a fellow pixel lover!! Keep in mind that regular Collector’s Reserves will continue to reward rare variants at about the same rate as before, so the CL track will still be giving you a nice healthy supply of pixel variants.

Maybe I’ll throw in a Spotlight Pixel Variant one of these days too, lol. 🤔”

Q: Is the team still against cache hoarding? And if so, why did you make this Spotlight system promote it?
A: Tucker “We still believe that the experience feels best when you don’t have to hoard your currencies & caches for weeks on end. In this new system, the goal is that each Spotlight Cache is soooo juicy that you’re not going to want to hoard, since every week’s gonna have some really amazing stuff in it.”

Q: Will we ever see Spotlight Caches in other rewards, like conquest shop, season pass, or Ranked rewards?
A: Glenn “We aren’t currently planning to do that, but it’s not impossible that we’ll consider it in the future. Seeing the feature live can always change our minds.”

Q: Why did you reduce the number of credits you can get in reserves? And what happens if you are Series 3 complete and open what would have been a S3 card?
A: Tucker “Your total credits earned per week are about the same in the new system vs. the old system, since we’ve also effectively doubled the probability of your getting those credits from the reserve.

When you’re S3-complete, you get a token fallback reward similar to what exists right now.”

Q: Will Premium Mystery Variants pull only 100% new card variants?
A: Tucker “Premium Mystery Variants pull from the general existing variant pool (while the Spotlight Variants are purely exclusive to the Spotlight Caches).

You can expect Premium Mystery Variants to show up in some other places in the game at some point as well.”

Q: With the new system, why have Series 4 and 5 cards be in the same Series? Otherwise, why wouldn’t you only open caches when Series 5 cards are showcased, and buy Series 4 with tokens? Has there been discussion on this?
A: Glenn “They have equal chances of being acquired on the week of their release via Spotlight Cache, but not during other weeks. If you’re trying to open the minimum number of caches and get the maximum number of cards, using tokens for S4 cards would make sense.

We’re always discussing 🙂”

Q: If I open a Spotlight cache, but already own one of the featured cards, will I open cards first, then the variant?
A: Glenn “The Spotlight variant will go in, you could open it before a card you don’t own.”

Q: Will Spotlight Variants repeat week over week? If a new variant will show up each week a repeat card is featured, that seems like a ton of new variants to add.”
A: Glenn “Our creative team is stepping up to provide lots of new art to account for this change.”

Q: Will Spotlight Variants be related to the current season they release in?
A: Glenn “Sometimes, but not always; we’ll be listening to what players prefer!”

Q: After a variant releases into the Spotlight Variant, how long will it be before it is avaliable again when the initial week is over?
A: Tucker “After its week-long run, the Spotlight Variant will enter the vault and be unacquirable. We might rarely re-run them in a Spotlight Cache at some point and we might (after at least 6 months, most likely more) release them into another system such as Ultimate Variants.

If you want a particular Spotlight Variant that’s available right now, your best bet is to plan around getting it while it’s in that Spotlight Cache.”

Q: Why did you remove duplicate protection from the random Series 4/5 section of the Spotlight cache?
A: Tucker “I’mma get downvoted but I’m going for it anyways

We wanted the ability for a Spotlight Cache to contain *anything*, so we originally tossed in Mystery S4/S5 (with no dupes). But the math didn’t work; it led to a scenario where players who already own almost all of the S4/S5s had a 50% chance of getting the newest card after 1 pull (since Mystery S4/S5 would also give them the newest card). Felt too P2W to us.

So we were at a crossroads, we could either replace Mystery S4/S5 with a 4th featured card or preserve the ‘any card is obtainable’ vibe by downgrading Mystery S4/S5 to Random S4/S5. Really wanted to preserve ‘any card is obtainable’, so went down that path.”

Q: Will Big Bads be featured in the Spotlight Caches?
A: Glenn “They will be going into some Spotlight Caches.”

Q: The new system feels bad for collection complete players. If I don’t hoard caches, I could roll a variant each week. How do you feel about this?
A: Tucker “Those S5-complete players are also getting a ton of Spotlight Variants too though. Since a bunch of S5-complete players use many of their tokens on ultimate variants (and use their gold in the Variant Shop more often than anyone else in the game), I think these players are going to love getting a constant supply of these top-tier Spotlight Variants.

That said, from a pure card acquisition perspective a player who owns literally everything can still guarantee 1 new card of their choice for free each month by hoarding 4 Spotlight Caches for the week they want, and they get a bunch of free Spotlight Variants so they’re also in a good position compared to the old system.

If you’re a collection-complete player reading this and aren’t excited by these changes, DM me! I’d be super interested to hear what’s important to you in a system like this. Thanks!”

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 a lot of great questions asked! Unfortunately, the devs have all taken a week long vacation and have temporarily locked the Q/A sub until they return. With the sub locked, I couldn’t ask your questions for you in time for this Q/A edition. Once they are back up and running, I will try then! Thanks for your patience and keep up the great questions!

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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Articles: 68


  1. 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?

    • As per the text on the card: “Players must play their first card here each turn. (if possible)”, so I suppose the answer is no (Goose prevents playing 4 or more cards in that location).

  2. 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?

  3. Based on some quick napkin math for the weekly credits available to F2P players and how many credits needed to earn a spotlight cache, it seems like players will at most be able to earn 1 spotlight cache/week. With no duplicate protection, this means that S3 complete players who want to keep building their S4/5 collection run a pretty big risk of getting a variant instead of a card unless they hoard multiple caches, which in turn makes targeting specific cards like new releases more difficult. Is earning roughly 1 cache/week and the increased difficulty to targeting specific cards intended?

  4. 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?

  5. Was the $2 Google Play coupon for 100 play points intentionally removed from the Play Store? I used it multiple times throughout the Snap seasons, so it is weird having it vanish.

    • Well crap. I’d just been getting the coupon each month right before I bought the season pass. I should have gotten one last one while I had the chance. I hope it comes back!

      • I was wondering if they have X amount per month available and it’ll reset on the 1st July. Fingers crossed.

  6. Are there any plans to adjust Shang-Chi after the release of Spider-Man 2099? Both cards are 4-cost destroy cards, but Spider-Man 2099 must be moved to destroy a single random card, whereas Shang-Chi can destroy multiple, targeted cards without any setup.

    • I feel there is a difference between the two. For example, Shang-Chi can be countered by Cosmo while there are ways to get Spider-Man 2099 into that location. There’s also a power difference, and also, 2099 can destroy key cards that Shang-Chi normally couldn’t (like Cerebro, Mystique, Onslaught, etc etc).

  7. Within the random S4/S5 bucket, what are the odds for getting a specific S4/S5 card? Is the chance to get Snowguard equal to the chance to get Galactus, or is there a difference in S4 and S5 rates there? Can you give some detail on the calculation there?

    IMO, duplicate-protected drops there would be fine if the duplicate protection didn’t apply to the other cards in the spotlight (i.e., the random drop cannot give you any current spotlight card). I love the new system overall but I’m afraid there will be players who keep rolling variants for cards they don’t care about when they’re still missing cards they want.

  8. One more question I forgot to ask:

    How are artists compensated for their work in Marvel Snap? Do they get paid a flat rate, or is there a commission system for ultimate variants, gold sales, random drops, etc?

    Do the artists work on the 3D, animation, frame breaks, etc, or is that something handled by Second Dinner’s team?

  9. Is there any plans to have ongoing a like Hulk or Knull stop calculating power boosts in your hand like Morbius? Or reverting Morbius back to work like everyone else?

    Spider Ham makes a pig with Hulk or Knull ongoing boosts but not Morbius.

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