Ben Brode, lead developer on Marvel Snap

Developer Update for the Week of March 9, 2024: Hope Summers 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 get answers to questions such as: will we ever get a side board, why can’t we buy variants from the Album page, will the PAX 2024 rewards ever be available to other players, 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 cards Hope Summers and Pixie! If you don’t know if Pixie is worth a Spotlight Cache, make sure to check out our weekly Spotlight guide, as well as our Bonus Challenge guide to see how the new cards are performing so far!

Answers and questions may be slightly rephrased for more clarity and ease of reading. This week’s topics will be divided into Card Specific Questions, Other Questions, and Questions From You!

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: How does the team feel about Tribunal decks?
A: Glenn “Tribunal can be powerful, but it’s one of the most ‘glass cannon’ strategies in the game, which helps balance it out. Overall, its performance isn’t very strong–but in specific matchups and of course individual games, it can really shine.”

Q: Why does Cannonball allow you to move and destroy an enemy card, but Spider-man 2099 requires another card to be effective?
A: Glenn “Your opponent has a lot of control over whether Cannonball removes their Power from the game–all they need is an empty space somewhere else and it can never happen (unless it’s in Blob). We’ve already seen with Stegron that just shifting Power arbitrarily around isn’t especially strong.”

Q: Will War Machines ability enable the playing of cards like Infinaut or Ebony Maw on the next turn, ignoring their restrictive effects? In a similar vein, will his ability bypass restrictive effects like Sandman and Electro?
A: Glenn “Yes and yes.”

Q: Will Cannonball always move a card to an empty lane, or if one lane is full will it be a 50/50 that the card is destroyed?
A: Glenn “He will always move the card to an empty slot at another location if one exists.”

Q: If Multiple Man moves and makes copies of himself, does his copies count as cards that didn’t start in your deck (making Mockingbird cost less)?
A: Glenn “They didn’t start in your deck, just the original. This is the same interaction as Moon Girl or Cloning Vats and Quinjet, essentially.”

Q: If I play Cannonball the turn after my opponent plays War Machine, can the card Cannonball moves go to a Prof X site?
A: Glenn “No; War Machine doesn’t affect movement.”

Q: What does Pixie’s “shuffling costs” do exactly?
A: Glenn “It’s essentially a list that’s randomized and reassigned.

Q: With Hela being played frequently, do you measure the “fun” aspect of facing a card you can’t counter? You changed Alioth and Galactus because they weren’t fun to play against.
A: Glenn “We do, but Hela is fairly unique from Galactus and Alioth. A metaphor one of our game directors has used that’s guided us for a long time is that ‘SNAP is mostly a game about comparing two awesome sand castles, not constantly kicking down your opponent’s sand castle.’

Both of those cards definitely do a lot of kicking, but Hela does essentially none. Her deck challenges you to outmaneuver her (hard), stop her (doable), or (my preference) do something better than she is.”

Q: When War Machine has been played, will Tokens generated by your cards (Doombots, Squirrels, Broodlings, etc.) be able to be added to a lane with Professor X locking it down?
A: Glenn “No, those cards weren’t played. War Machine explicitly affects the action of dragging a card from your hand to a location.”

Q: Were there other changes you tested for Darkhawk before settling on this one?
A: Glenn “Other than +/- a Power, the shapes we debated were 5/0, +3 or 4/4, +1. We didn’t like the idea of +1 (which would be necessary for 3-Cost) because it’s not a very satisfying reward for the quest of Rocking your opponent’s deck, which requires specific deckbuilding choices.”

Q: Why is Mockingbird a 5/9 when Stature (a similar card) is 5/6?
A: Glenn “You need to occupy 4 location slots with cards that probably aren’t very strong to get a 1-Cost Mockingbird, which can be a fairly meaningful drawback because it restricts your space to make other decisions. Stature is more narrow, but we also have the benefit of lots of live data ‘proving’ Stature’s impact at different Powers vs. just testing data for Mockingbird. We did consider 5/8 and 6/10, which played fairly similarly, but we prefer to release on the strong side when the water is murky because releasing weak is like not releasing a card at all. Plus, we want to avoid buffing cards after they leave Spotlight Caches because players (understandably) find that frustrating.”

Q: Did the team test different statlines for Adam Warlock? If so, were there some that were just too powerful?
A: Glenn “Giving Adam Power at 1-4 would fundamentally contradict our philosophy around how we want the game to play, so we didn’t test it–there wasn’t a potential outcome that would satisfy us. For this permutation, the only real question was how much Power to assign at 5, and we identified the safest range to be 4-6.”

Q: When comparing the value of Adam Warlock vs Sera, is potentially drawing one extra card just as impactful as playing 2-3 times the amount of cards on turn 6?
A: Glenn “They are differently valuable. Sera has some meaningful buildaround elements (for example, diminished value of 6-Costs, more incentive for strong 2-Costs) while the option to draw an extra card is generically useful.

There’s an implied assumption here that the two given 5-Cost cards should be similar in strength, but that’s not true. Sera is stronger, and she’s supposed to be–Dr. Doom is stronger than Leader, and he’s supposed to be too.”

Q: Could Kitty Pryde ever return to her original ability if it no longer was bugger?
A: Glenn “I don’t think we would go back to the exact same way, but we might move closer to it with a different execution.”

Q: Does Pixie’s “started in your deck” clause exist because of Thanos?
A: Glenn “Mostly yes, but not how you might think. It’s less that Pixie was broken with Thanos, but more that she worked so well with Thanos that it seemed unlikely other Pixie decks would get their chance to shine.”

Q: Does Mockingbird work with generated cards (from Maria Hill, Moon Girl, ect) or with tokens (Squirrels, Brood, ect)?
A: Glenn “It works with both.”

Other Questions

Q: When an OTA or a patch occurs, when does the auto deck builder start focusing on new data and not the old data?
A: Glenn “It takes some time for the most recent sampling to overwhelm the previous data. That’s something we’re aiming to further improve.”

Q: Has the team considered a banned/ forbidden card system?
A: Glenn “No, the closest to this we’d currently consider is some form of rotation, which we also aren’t planning to do. Cards represent a meaningful investment for our players thanks to splits, and we can just change imbalanced or tiresome cards rather than remove them from the environment entirely.”

Q: Has there been any discussion about adding new boards?
A: Glenn “There’s been discussion.”

Q: With Doctor Strange’s Midnight Suns variant being in an upcoming album, will his variant be given out to players who don’t own it considering it was a login reward?
A: Stephen “We will add Midnight Suns Doctor Strange to the daily offer shop”

Q: When can we expect the next patch?
A: Glenn “The patch was delayed to target next week”

Q: Is the team aware of how difficult it is to get variants in shop that you actually want to buy with the current system pushing album variants so heavily?
A: Stephen “What we have observed is that there are two camps of players coming out of the current shop experience.  One that wants more access to the album variants they want and haven’t shown up yet and another that wishes they could stop seeing album variants.  As a result, we are investing deeper into personalization tech to be able to tell which type of player someone is so we can give them their preferred experience.  I dont have an ETA for when it will be rolled out yet but we are actively working on improving it for both camps of players.”

Q: With the patch delayed a week, will the OTA schedule be shifted?
A: Glenn “We haven’t locked that in yet, but some things will shift. We won’t release an OTA the same week as a patch.”

Q: Is the new Cyclops emote exclusive to the season pass?
A: Stephen “Yes the Cyclops emote is exclusive to the Season Pass.  We added it to see if it was viewed as a high value add to improve the value of purchasing the season pass.  Looking forward to hearing feedback about this new season pass reward from players!”

Q: Will you ever allow players to purchase album variants within the album itself?
A: Stephen “If we setup the albums for direct purchase, being able to target a purchase outside of the daily offer shop would come as a premium action at a higher price point than if that variant was in the daily offer shop.  We would not remove those variants from showing up in the daily offer shop.

Our plan for players who wish they saw less album variants is to improve our personalization engine for the daily offer shop to recognize that some players want to see other variants.”

Q: Will surveys happen again? Where is the best place to give feedback when there aren’t surveys?
A: Stephen “We hope to do surveys again in the future.  In the meantime please share your feedback on this discord.  We are active and read many of the feedback channels here.”

Q: The new bundle has a spotlight key and this is dangerously close to P2W territory. Are you going to keep selling keys in bundles?
A: Stephen “We see it as very similar to selling credits, but its good to understand not everyone views it that way.  We will talk about it some more and use the data and feedback from this test to inform what to do next.”

Q: Why don’t new cards get new variant releases in the daily offer shop like they used to?
A: Stephen “It is primarily because we need to save variants for new cards for their spotlight releases.  We plan to have on release daily offer shop variants again for new releases in the future once we build back up our variant pipeline some more”

Q: How can I get a personalized bundle like these “for you” bundles I see online?
A: Addison “Personalized bundles should start rolling out to more and more folks over the next week or so and hopefully to everyone shortly after that so hopefully you’ll start seeing them soon™️ (I just tested these changes yesterday!).”

Q: Can the requirements for a album ever change? The inclusion of an Ultimate variant in the Artgerm album feels greedy when you have Invisible Woman Artgerm avaliable.
A: Addison “I don’t want to comment on the decision making for what is and isn’t included in an album because that is not my wheelhouse, but I do want to touch on the last question.

From a technical perspective, it’d be a real challenge to change albums post-release with how they’re currently set up.

Would we need to rollback rewards if something previously included and owned by a player was removed? If not, do we maintain versioned records of albums for players? If we do that and then they buy a theoretical replacement variant added to an album how do we handle someone owning that? And then simply from a player perspective, if we remove a variant from an album how do we reconcile that with people who bought the variant explicitly because it was included?

Changing albums post-release can get really messy really quickly and while we could likely address a lot of the more obvious issues, the edge cases would likely keep me up at night.”

Q: Can you change the end turn button to be a “hold to end turn” to prevent misclicks?
A: Glenn “We won’t be making that change–it would add friction to the game flow for every game to address a relatively infrequent issue. However, we are adding the ability to ‘undo’ ending the turn soon.”

Q: Is it possible we could see a draft mode added in the future?
A: Glenn “We have discussed it quite a bit!   We know based off data that draft mode has not performed well in our competitor games, that draft mode goes around the core progression loop which is challenging for long term reasons to play a game, and the process of drafting is time consuming so we would have to make sure there is a pay off given Snap matches last 3-4 minutes.  We have some ideas around how to overcome those hurdles, so a draft mode is possible in the future but it is not coming soon.”

Q: With the upcoming undo end turn function, will you be able to undo your turn for any reason?
A: Addison “As it currently exists while testing, Undo End Turn is unrestricted. So long as your opponent has not ended their turn you’re free to undo for any reason.”

Q: Are you actively working on any new game modes?
A: Stephen “We are working on one and plan to start on another after we finish this one.  Will share more when its closer”

Q: Do generically good and reliable cards (stature and black bolt) have a bigger target on them then high ceiling cards (hela) that get countered hard by tech cards?
A: Glenn “I’m not sure what you’re referring to by ‘ceiling’ in this context. If it’s just raw Power totals, then we don’t value that super highly–it’s much more important how that Power is achieved, though there are meaningful threshold we think about.

But to answer the specific question, no. Cards with consistent outputs don’t have a bigger ‘target’ on them. However, when they do overperform, that consistency can mean they do so much more often than more polarized cards, like Hela or Phoenix Force. This is both because of their high floors as well as their resistance to counterplay. The original Stature-Black Bolt deck we adjusted was radically more dominant at the time than most decks ever are, with zero bad matchups and a win percentage against the field approaching the all-time record. Those are the metrics we care about most.”

Q: With multiple new cards and locations that add extra energy, will we ever see a card that restricts or limits energy manipulation?
A: Glenn “Probably”

Q: Are the Pax east 2024 rewards (Captain America variant and cardback) exclusive to that event?
A: Glenn “These cosmetics are exclusive to event attendees; I’ll be missing out on them myself.”

Q: Should we be worried the Copyright sign still says 2023 in app?
A: Addison “the little copyright tag is actually updated in the next client update 🙂”

Q: Will there be a webshop milestone reward track this season?
A: Stephen “We do not have one planned this season.  We are still doing analysis on having it vs. using those rewards in other places like the Vibranium Powered Rewards or Login Bonuses or events.”

Q: Is there a minimum time when variants can reappear in your shop again?
A: Stephen “We intentionally have a ‘do not show’ line that protects everyone from seeing a variant you already have seen recently.  We have been increasing that time period with the feedback around album variants.”

Q: Does a player having enough gold and passing on a variant have any affect on the variants “do not show” time?
A: Stephen “It does not account for the player’s gold balance when it shows up.  Including that as a factor gets quite nuanced because we cannot guess at intent, so we assume it wasn’t a variant the player valued at that time.  We would have to add a favoriting / wishlist system to understand intent.  We may do at some point but thats not on the horizon any time soon.”

Q: Will we ever see the ability to pin a variant in the shop?
A: Stephen “We have no plans to add pinning for variants in the daily offer shop.  Monetizing our cosmetics is a core part of us being able to fund development of the game.  If we enabled pinning variants in the shop, it would decrease the likelihood that a player would be willing to buy it vs. wait.”

Q: Could you ever add a sideboard to the game?
A: Glenn “I’m fairly negative on sideboards, though I am one person and can be defeated! For me, there are a few issues with them:

1) Sideboards as a concept are high complexity and inaccessible. They slice the audience thinner and more CCG-vet/competitive for any feature, and we like game modes to have broad appeal.

2) The UI/UX would be high-friction by its very nature, slowing game sessions.

3) But my biggest issue is sideboarding likely doesn’t solve the problem everyone thinks they have (inability to counter enemy deck or insulate your own deck). It probably just makes it much worse, by further homogenizing deck selection away from diverse decks and risky strategies and towards ones that can more easily incorporate counter cards (which already have an advantage in Conquest especially). You won’t get ‘less Loki/Sera’ with sideboards, you’ll get way more.

I do think there are interesting solutions to be found for these game modes. I just personally don’t think sideboards are a good one, at least for SNAP.”

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!

Q: Would SD consider adding a favorite artists function of some sort that had the shop display variants only of the artists that I choose?
A: Personalized shops are a work in process, though no mentioned plans of letting you pick an artist directly.

Q:Will Emotes be tied to albums? Or will there be another way to collect emotes?
A: A new emote is in the current season pass, and Stephen’s last comment on the matter is emotes could be seen in bundles one day as well.

Q: Why am I facing bots at high levels? Can’t you remove them?
A: Stephen “Bots are necessary or the amount of people who could reach high ranks would be extremely small because bots represent almost all of the cube inflation necessary each season.  However, the rate we serve bots is relatively low.”

Q: Quinjet, Loki, and Mobius question:
A: Yes, your interaction is known bug.

Q: Will old spotlight cache variants be available again in the future?
A: Stephen “Maybe.  We are still discussing how to do it in a way that is fair to folks who earned them in their featured week.”

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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