Ben Brode, lead developer on Marvel Snap

Developer Update for the Week of May 24, 2023: High Evolutionary Edition (30+ Questions)!

In this week's edition of Developer Update, we get answers to questions from the team at Second Dinner about Marvel Snap over the past week.

Hello all! Welcome back to this week’s breakdown of what’s happening over on the Marvel Snap official Discord! This week, we get answers to is Galactus about to be adjusted, is the Newbie Bundle going to be available to all players, will Fogwell's Gym be back , 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 latest patch, as well as the release of the highly anticipated new card High Evolutionary! If you aren’t sure if you want to sink 6,000 tokens into the card, make sure to check out our strategy guides:

For those of you that read last week’s update and saw missing answers, I apologize! There was a glitch that caused missing content when the article went live, but the issue has been found and shouldn’t happen again. Thank you all for your patience and understanding while we corrected that article.

Answers and questions may be slightly rephrased for more clarity and ease of reading. This weeks topics will be divided into card specific questions and all other questions.

Remember, you can check out our new Marvel Snap Developer Tracker to see all questions and answers in real time! Topics can also be searched, filtered, and sorted.

Card Specific Questions

Q: Is Wave intended to fill the Sandman design space? And have you considered making a change to Wave that says “All cards cost a maximum of 4 until the end of next turn” so that she doesn’t overlap the design space?
A: Glenn “Wave is more about being a ramp card than Sandman, but it definitely exists in the space between those two ideas. I did think about the design you suggested, but it’s considerably more complex and we don’t have a compelling reason to move in that direction. Decks that play a flurry of cards at the end of the game are consistently performing well, but if Wave begins to suppress them too well it’s among the changes we’d consider.”

Q: Red Skull was given a nerf from 5/13 to 5/12 as a temporary measure during the Shuri meta back then. The change was definitely successful in opening up the meta more due to lowering the output of the Shuri Red Skull deck. However, now with Shuri properly nerfed, could we possibly see Red Skull’s nerfs undone?
A: Glenn “We’re considering it”

Q: Are there any plans or considerations to buffing Mr Negative since he isn’t nearly as strong as he used to be? Perhaps a change like Negative is a 5/-1 but effect all cards in your deck AND hand, with the downside of all cards cost minimum 1 energy.
A: Glenn “I wouldn’t want to adjust him to “add” 1 to either side, which is what minimum 1 would do; that’s not very Negative, and mismatches the story.

We do look at ways he can be improved, but mostly by adjusting the cards around him because changes to him can be very extreme. For example, 3-Cost gives you the highest ceiling of the current card without the cost of needing to draw a ramp card and risking drawing them later instead of an inverted card.”

Q: Why did you make High Evolutionary a 4/4? It makes the card kind of a dead draw during a game. Meanwhile Thanos launched as a 6/8 and was a dead draw, but you changed him to be stronger. So why drop High Evo?
A: Glenn “Thanos’s physical presence and strength is a major part of his fantasy. He can 1v1 the Hulk! That’s not as creatively important to High Evolutionary, though we did look for a size we felt added nontrivial presence when you’re in a pinch.”

Q: Have you considered making changes to Thanos to make him more playable as a standalone card? Right now most players just use him for the stones and don’t actually aim to use all the stones to play a large Thanos. Have you considered lowering his cost?
A: Glenn “I don’t see us shrinking Thanos off 6-Cost; just doesn’t “feel” right and the benefits are relatively small since his decks do fine and he’s still got game. When he was 6/8 this was a large enough miss for us to address, but at 6/10 he squares up pretty well against other 6-Costs even without all 6 Stones. Plus, as a cheaper card there would be a much smaller opportunity cost to using him, and that’s a useful element of tension.”

Q: With nerfs to Lockjaw, Leech, Quinjet, Space Stone, and now Wave, are ther3 any discussions on how Thanos is performing?
A: Glenn “Thanos has been pretty solid on our internal metrics. I’ve personally been impressed with some of the builds Lamby has shared.”

Q: While ago you pointed out that galactus hasn’t reached the threshold you set for him, and that that threshold is much lower than for regular cards. Now my question is, has he crossed that line? He has been the most popular deck in the game since the beginning of previous season, and his play rate (at least according to 3rd party sources that are available to regular players like untapped) has been oscillating between 8% and 12%.
A: Glenn “Yes, his play rate hasn’t subsided as we’d hoped. We’ve reviewed ways we can adjust his card to better accomplish our goals.”

Q: Why is Iron Lad statted above curve for his card style? Jubilee has a similar effect and is a 4/1, Mystique and Absorbing Man have low stats for their costs.
A: Glenn “We played a lot with 4/5 Iron Lad but enthusiasm for the card was mixed. When a decision like this feels close, we’d rather aim slightly high because new content that’s too weak to enjoy isn’t really new content. In hindsight, I think 4/5 would’ve been fine, but keep in mind plenty of cards went through a similar process and came out low—we’re taking the best shots we can with a limited sample.

Jubilee is just a different card, with different incentives. She tells you (mostly) to fill your deck with chunk 5 and 6-Costs to leverage their Power. Iron Lad keeps his own Power, so there’s not a lot of overlap among the cards you play alongside each of them in most decks, as “Patriot Lad” and “JaneJaw” best demonstrate.

Absorbing Man pays in Power for the information/option on what you’re going to get, which is a big gain. That said, he could probably get +1 Power.”

Q: Why doesn’t Morbius behave like Kraven and Knull and boost his power for your discards as well? That would let Morbius be useful with Blackbolt, Moon Knight, and Stature!
A: Glenn “Morbius is the strongest of these three cards by quite a bit, so he definitely doesn’t need the help. The incentives and costs each carry are different, so they’re built differently.”

Q: Just saw a streamer play a 5 cost Hulk on turn 6 (no limbo) with 1 energy left over and it didn’t get an additional +2 after the turn ended. Is this intentional or a bug? Thank you.
A: Glenn “That’s a bug”

Q: Is it intentional for “random” discard effects for Blackbolt to always target the leftmost card if your cards cost the same (like with Wave)?
A: Glenn “That’s not intentional; he’s missing a line of code we use to randomize that outcome in the event of a tie. Thanks, I’ll get that bugged and fixed myself.”

Q: I had High Evolutionary in my deck and received Abomination from the hub, but he wasn’t Evolved. Bug or intended?
A: Glenn “That’s intended. High Evo only evolves the cards in your deck at the start of the game.”

Other Questions

Q: Do Big Bads have a minimum energy requirement when being created? The current Big Bads all cost 4 or more.
A: Glenn “There’s no Energy requirement. It’s just a function of design tendencies that effects splashy and impactful enough to be Big Bads will often merit higher-cost cards.”

Q: Are there any plans to add paid single-player content? Something like story missions vs AI with pre-made decks?
A: Glenn “No plans at the moment.”

Q: Why does moving a card shut off the ongoing abilities? If I move my Cosmo to New York to interrupt a predicted Heimdall play, I see the card move but the effect never carries over.
A: Glenn “This is an unintuitive element of how our cards are currently implemented. Cosmo did move to New York; however, their Ongoing hasn’t “turned on” again yet because of the way VFX need to cards to resolve at new locations. This is the same reason you see Ongoing cards that increase Power temporarily shrink after a move. It’s a complex technical issue to adjust, but it’s not an ideal outcome for us either and on our radar.”

Q:It’s really annoying having to set your avatar and title every single time you make a new deck since it defaults to the starter avatar and no title. Is it possible to add a way to favorite an avatar and title that it defaults to when making a new deck?
A: Daniela “Thank you for your feedback on the new feature! 😊 We hear you!”

Q: I noticed the new timer on the welcome bundle. Will it be going away for good when the timer finishes?
A: Tucker “Yep! We’ve been wanting to declutter the shop a little bit, so Welcome Bundle now has a 7 day timer for new & existing players (for existing players, the timer just starts ticking the first time you enter after updating to the newest patch).”

Q: With the new card acquisition changes, will Season Pass cards ever enter directly into Series 4?
A: Glenn “Our expectation is they’ll still usually go to Series 5, but it’s possible we’ll go direct to 4 sometimes.”

Q: Are you worried about setting a precedence of nerfing cards due to a vocal minority complaining?
A: Glenn “I appreciate how vocal our community is, and that feedback does matter. For example, we’re now avoiding reworks that negatively damage cards on the scale of our Leader nerf earlier this year, and taking decisive action sooner rather than starting with soft nerfs the way we did with Shuri. So I’m happy to continue reading and hearing feedback about our cards, because there’s always more to learn and improve.

However, complaints aren’t a meaningful factor in determining whether or not we need to make an adjustment. Our balance philosophy is based around identifying performance thresholds for our cards and decks, then evaluating live data against those targets. When cards/decks exceed two or more of those thresholds for a span of time that indicates the metagame won’t reduce their performance on its own, we make an adjustment.”

Q: With all the outcry about nerfing Galactus I wanted to know the logic about potentially nerfing a deck that only has a 6-11% meta share with at best a 56% win rate in lower ranks but dropping to 53% in mid to upper ranks according to marvel snap zone statics for the season. Meanwhile Sera control has a dominating presence of anywhere from a 52% to 61% win rate and a 16-20% meta share. I understand Galactus can be frustrating to play against however it is very easy to read and counter either by cards or locations that just ruin the combo. Sera control on the other hand just falls into the boring archetype of play good, all purpose tech cards. I understand the philosophy when changing a card is to not ruin it however in practice that doesn’t really seem to happen to cards that get significant text changes and not just power or cost changes leader is still not really played, shuri is a ghost of her former self,  leech is now non existent, aero is barely a factor anymore. I would just hate for an archetype to die because part of the community doesn’t like loosing to it when in reality nobody likes losing in general.
A: Glenn “The numbers you’re quoting are (I assume) from a public database aggregating players self-reporting their own games. That data often mismatches our own, as the sample is biased by its nature.

I don’t agree with the premise that our reworks are missing their mark. It can understandably feel that way, given our goal in each case was to decrease the play rate of a very highly-played card from its peak, so the difference is always noticeable. Shuri is still a Top 10 deck, Leader and Aero are in Top 10 decks, and Leech is…well, where we wanted him.”

Q: With the new card aquisition system, will Series 3 cards ever drop into Series 1-2?
A: Glenn “Our early Series content is pretty tightly curated to provide a specific onboarding experience, so we’re careful with adjustments to it. I’m sure it’s something we’ll consider more in the future.”

Q: Roughly how long does it take to create a card from start to finish?
A: Glenn “We start the first work on cards about 5 months before they release, determining the season theme and the set of characters to explore. Usually we start with one or two extra and cut down to size.”

Q: Will you please add back Fogwell's Gym?? Maybe with %100 chance of appearing? I felt like it never showed up when it was featured.
A: Glenn “I’m sure it will return. I doubt we would do 100% chance; the variation among locations is such a core element of our game that we prefer not to disrupt it that dramatically.”

Q: Any plans on breaking the 6-Cost barrier and making a card that costs 7 that isn’t like Death?
A: Glenn “That’s a ‘when’ (not an ‘if’) in my book.”

Q: What is the design philosophy for buffing vs nerfing more cards? Isn’t buffing more cards better than nerfing more, as it opens up more cards to be relevant?
A: Glenn “We view them as having a symbiotic relationship, with nerfs and buffs combining to stir things up so that more cards have their time at the top. We can’t exclusively buff too often, as that will creep the power level of the game over time.”

Q: Are there plans to create game design articles from the team?
A: Glenn “I’m interested in doing more content in this space, and think there’s tons to talk about in different mediums. For me personally, I just don’t have the time to work on that kind of content at the quality bar I’d want it to be right now. But hopefully in the future that will change!”

Q: Are rotating locations in your plans?
A: Glenn “There’s space there to do some interesting things at least with frequency, and I’m sure we’ll look more closely at it as we continue to explore game modes and Conquest.”

Q: Why choose to have cards shuffle your entire deck? Isn’t the concept outdated as there is no need to literally shuffle the deck in order to randomly add a card?
A: Glenn “The biggest reason is that shuffling is something everyone understands to be part of card games, based on how common it is in the physical world. It’s similar to how many digital board games will show fake dice rolling on the screen: they ground the player in the expected experience.

In my experience, most people don’t default to considering a digital deck of cards the way you described. I actually worked that method into a previous mobile card game, and a ton of our playtesters found it immediately confusing whenever they encountered something that highlighted the difference, so we just returned to doing it ‘the old-fashioned way’ and playtesters were more comfortable.”

Q:I was wondering how the team factors the percentage of how locations occur to balance the “meta” cards? Subterranea, vibarnium mines and lechuguilla make it impossible to contest that lane of the opponent is running Darkhawk. I’m not down on the “restrictive” locations as much as I’m down on the ones that make it difficult to compete against.
A: Glenn “It’s a small consideration, since there’s a huge spread of diversity among the locations. It’s more about ensuring many archetypes have favorable locations to roll than that any one location disproportionately favors a single card or deck.”

Q: I’ve been wondering if the Team has any position on one-sided deck in Snap?
Let me clarify: im a big fan of miracle/otk/chain playing stuff. Like freeze mage/miracle rogue in old Hearthstone or mono green elves in MTG, anything that relies strongly on your hand and deck, not opponent’s, has strong game plan and doesnt care about responses much.

I mean, i totally understand that such thing will most likely never be in Snap since it’s not “fun” for an opponent (at least that is what i think after watching “Designing Marvel Snap” from GDC).
But i can clearly see some cards in game that kinda do the tricks i love e.g. Stature, Miles Morales, Galactus (anything that is less dependent on your opponent’s responses)

So, the question is: what is the Team’s opinion on these one-sided playstyles and is there even a slightest possibility for cards designed in that direction to be released?
A: Glenn “We have a fair number of pseudo-solitaire decks from my perspective; stuff like Mr. Negative, Patriot, Bounce, Sera, and more can all emulate some elements of those play styles.

However, the nature of SNAP is that it’s a territory control game on a timer. There’s not a lot of interesting design space for “going over the top” which is what those decks often did, ignoring one primary axis of the game to attack on another. We pretty much only have the one axis, and invalidating it can make the game feel less like SNAP. That’s a primary complaint we hear about our “Frost Mage,” Galactus.”

Questions From You!

Recently, I asked 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: Why do you keep asking questions about nerfing Galactus when only around 30% of players want him nerfed?
A: The Q/A’s each week are pulled from the Developer’s official discord page. We here at Marvel Snap Zone simply filter the questions to find relevant/interesting questions, format them to be an easier read, and compile them into a weekly digest that is easier to read than Discord. So Galactus is mentioned because the community keeps asking questions, and the Devs have had answers that have changed over time.

Q: Will existing players ever have access to Newbie Day Variants?
A: Tucker “There’s a couple of reasons we made the choice to only show these to newbies:

  • Before selling bundles to everyone that feature non-exclusive variants, we want functionality that we haven’t implemented yet (like auto-discounting behavior if you already own some of the variants inside). We’re able to make these newbie-focused ones without that functionality yet, since newbies haven’t reached s3 yet and are extremely unlikely to own the stuff that’s in these already.
  • We’ve gotten a lot of feedback from some new players that they want a means of catching up to existing players as quickly as possible, and built these to help address that feedback.”

Q: Can you give less boosters in the premium season pass?
A: Stephen has mentioned in the past he eventually intends on reworking Caches in the season pass as players hate getting boosters. Around Global Launch it was also mentioned Boosters are very much needed in the early to mid time frame new players face, as they are showered with credits but need boosters to actually use credits. So those boosters are intended for those players. As soon as we get a more up to date answer from the team, I will be sure to feature this again!

Didn’t see your question featured?
I have posted questions on your behalf, but I have not received a response on your question (yet). Unfortunately, not every question is guaranteed to be answered, nor in a timely manner. As soon as I get an answer or one appears on a different question, I will make sure to feature you next 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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