Ben Brode, lead developer on Marvel Snap

Marvel Snap Developer Update for the Week of May 31, 2023: The Living Tribunal Edition (30 Questions)!

In this week's edition of Marvel Snap Developer Update, we get answers to questions about Marvel Snap from the team at Second Dinner 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 Darkhawk on the watchlist, what is the season’s “Marvel Snap Mix”, what is the dev’s favorite card design, 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 OTA update! If you haven’t seen the changes for this OTA updates, make sure to read about it first as many questions refer to the changes!

This week’s card release is The Living Tribunal, so make sure to read about the card:

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: Any plans on buffing High Evo’s stats? He’s a great card, but his stats make him unplayable often times.
A: Glenn “That was a concern we shared early, but we didn’t find a balance point that felt good. We decided it was more fun to keep the Evolved cards strong than to weaken 2 to 4 of them and give him better stats (since that’s the tradeoff).”

Q: Has the team considered making Miles’ cost reduction last the entire game like Stature’s does?
A: Glenn “Not really. Miles is much easier to access and we like encouraging Miles decks to move more, not less.”

Q: You guys said blackbolt’s time to shine in the sun is over because hes deck is “clearly the best deck”. So i ask, how are the stats on the iron lad patriot deck and the kitty bounce deck? Because a lot of players agree that both these decks since their inception have been performing better in the matchup against the hawk/stature/blackbolt deck.
A: Glenn “Neither of these decks have exceeded any of our thresholds. And you’re half-right; the Beast deck was actually the only truly bad matchup for Black Bolt/Stature.”

Q: How far in advance do you lock in OTA changes? Considering the rise of Kitty Pryde, the data gathered to hit both, Blackbolt and Stature, seem to be take from an outdated meta to me.
A: Glenn “We lock OTA changes 1 week before they go live, to localize the notes and QA the changes. The deck did take a ding between last Thursday and today, but it was still the best deck and stronger than we wanted it.”

Q: Why nerf Stature to a 5/6? It seems like 5 cost for 6 power is really low. The point of stature is for her effect to trigger. The card’s power should be considered when her ability doesn’t trigger. It seems like 5/6 is really weak on curve.
A: Glenn “We did discuss some other numbers for Stature, and we’re going to explore them. However, our priority in this case wasn’t to test for Stature’s perfect spot, but to create the desired metagame churn away from a too-dominant deck.”

Q: Is Darkhawk on your radar to adjust rather than adjusting the cards around it? (Rockslide, Stature, Blackbolt)
A: Glenn “Darkhawk has been a card we monitor very closely for months, and we’ve made adjustments like Rockslide’s to soften its strength in the name of improving competitive diversity. But it hasn’t meaningfully exceeded our metrics for required balance action, he’s just a good card.

Black Bolt and Stature were strongest in a Darkhawk deck, definitely. But in that deck, they also each had individual performance rates that significantly exceeded Darkhawk’s. Furthermore, they were #1 and #2 on overall individual winrates–and historically high–which threatened to make enemy-aimed discard more popular than we’d like.”

Q: Have you considered letting Galactus be changed by making him always keep priority?
A: Glenn “We did consider it, but dismissed it. It’s not an elegant change, makes the text a lot longer, and pushes players to play even more Shang-Chi and Enchantress.”

Q: Is it intended that I got a copy of an Evolved Hulk from Daily Bugle and my copy was also evolved?
A: Glenn “Yes; that Hulk was evolved at the start of the game, so copying it copies its modifiers.”

Q: Why doesn’t Kitty Pryde lose her power after being hit by Leech?
A: Glenn “Kitty’s Power is a modifier that’s permanently applied after a trigger event, the same way Nakia or Forge do for other cards. Removing abilities from her or those cards after the fact won’t change that the modifier has been applied. However, ‘Ongoing’ abilities like Luke Cage need to exist in order to affect the game; they’re not triggered, they’re static.”

Q: When choosing Cost and Power when creating new cards, do you consider Mr. Negative and does that ever change the outcome?
A: Glenn “We do, but mostly only when we could make the card work with Mister Negative. I’ve never nerfed a card for being too good in that deck, personally.”

Q: Do you think making the change to Wave buffs Sandman, Doctor Doom, and other ramp decks too much? Why not let ongoing effects like Sera or Quinjet continue to lower costs after wave?
A: Glenn “We think it’s just enough more intuitive to have everything work the same. Teaching players that Death and Sera interact differently with Wave isn’t easy; we see similar confusion often around Ongoing modifiers to Power that continue to apply after things like Shadow King, but that’s a spot where we need it to work that way. When possible, we like the simplest execution.”

Q: How has Blackbolt and Stature data looked after their nerfs?
A: Glenn “It’s hard to say exactly right now, as High Evolutionary is warping the data a bit. It roughly looks like they landed about right, maybe slightly too harsh. We’ll see how it shakes out.”

Other Questions

Q: The season and infinite card back ‘Mixtape’ is a cassette with the title ‘Marvel Snap Mix’. Can we have the track list please so we know what the Snap-universe Guardians are listening to?
A: TheChrisAlan “This is our Second Dinner Spotify playlist – the songs are selected from all the folks across our team!  Quite a wide variety, enjoy!

Q: Is it possible to allow us to pick different voice lines for cards in the future? I got Taco Hulk variant, but “Hulk Smash” doesn’t seem fitting.
A: TheChrisAlan “Thanks for the question!  This is something we’ve been exploring with our mythic variants, however it’s too soon to say for sure!”

Q: Was the removal of Plunder Castle, Milano, and Sandbar primarily based on player feedback or based on internal statistics?
A: Glenn “Players made it clear they didn’t like these locations, among others. We discussed internally how we felt about the design direction of locations over time and where we’d like them to go. We do need some restrictive locations, but how many and the ways in which they restrict are important. These were the ones we liked the least.”

Q: Two questions. One: Why remove Milano it was very fun and strategic (minus juggernaut) that felt like a breath of fresh air to new restrictive locations. Two: Do you guys plan on doing location changes like Strange Academy moves on turn 4 or Washington D.C only gives 2 power? Not that I want those changed, I would just love to see location changes.
A: Glenn “1) Milano’s reception was mixed, and we wanted to both reduce the quantity of restrictive locations and increase their quality. Milano was just near the bottom of our own rankings in that capacity.

2) We can make changes like that. However, we won’t make them idly or frequently. It’s easy for players to become familiar with a location and not realize the text has changed until it harms their game, and that’s a frustrating time.”

Q: Rather than straight up removal of locations, is there a system that prevents multiple “restrictives” in the same game, and if not, is that something that could be implemented? Personally, I want some restriction, you kind of have to have it sometimes to prevent all of your games feeling the same. I think the bigger issue that people have is games like the attached. (Deaths Domain, Rickety Bridge, and Morag as locations)”
A: Glenn “We agree games like the pictured one aren’t much fun, and something like the functionality you described is among our plans to implement when we can. Right now, we rely on mixture of weights to get frequencies where we’d like.”

Q: Usually with OTA updates, you change 2-4 cards. With the announcement that there will be one less OTA balance each month, will more cards be changed at a time?
A: Glenn “We’ve actually been averaging a higher number of changes than we expected and announced initially, which was 2-4 (and we’ve done 4 most of the time). We’re planning to keep things roughly the same, since we like the amount of change it creates, but we might pop one or two extra in from time to time if we have reason to.”

Q: With frequent nerfs to powerful cards, are you worried the eventual power level overall of cards will be low and make the game less fun?
A: Glenn “We’re accompanying nerfs with buffs, which is actually raising the strength “floor” of the game. I’m more concerned about us creeping card strength too high on average vs. too low. I think we’ve already seen this happen (purposefully) around 4-Costs, which are slightly stronger on average now than they were at launch.”

Q: You previously mentioned that 3rd party data trackers aren’t as accurate as the data you have. Since a lot of players use this information, why not add an API so 3rd party can get accurate statistics and information?
A: Glenn “It’s an unpopular opinion among players, but I don’t favor making matchup and deck composition data perfect for players. Knowing what’s “correct” lets players make optimal choices, so it’s useful in that sense. But it has negative impacts on the game experience by homogenizing those choices, stifling creativity, and widening the gap between the most competitive players and the least. Imperfect data is great–it adds context but makes it easier for players come to different conclusions and pursue different experiences.

A counterargument is that perfect information makes it easier to brew against the known metagame, but that’s not how I’ve seen it play out, in multiple games. The perfect best deck usually isn’t getting beaten, it’s getting overplayed and warping the metagame around itself.”

Q: How do you feel about being able to choose for abilities? Like “discard a card of your choice”, or for snow guard “choose hawk or bear when you play this”. This would give more options for new cards and balance changes, but could slightly interrupt and complicate games.
A: Glenn “It’s something we’ve avoided in the interests of snappier gameplay that flows easily. Plus, the game doesn’t ‘update’ mid-turn, only after you end and resolve everything in order, so reflecting choices like that would be a big change.”

Q: What is your favorite card from a design standpoint?
A: Glenn “I have a soft spot for Iron Lad, as he’s the first card I designed after getting hired.”

Q: What’s the point of having several decks that play multiple cards on turn 6 (Sera, Bounce, Negative, kazoo) if it can be shut down by a single card (Wave, Sandman)?
A: Glenn “It’s checks and balances. Decks are supposed to have bad matchups; when they don’t, that’s something we need to change. The stronger a deck is, the stronger we may need its counterplay to be. For example, Sera and Bounce have been top tier decks for months, so it’s clear that they’re strong enough to overcome existing counterplay.”

Q: Have you considered making visual changes to buff or nerf cards? For example: Discard cards could get a buff if they didn’t show what you discard. Baron Mordo could get a well deserved buff if it had a visual effect similar to Yondu and you could see the card the opponent draws. Maximus too. Yondu on the other hand could have a nerf by not seeing what card it destroys.
A: Glenn “Most of these choices are based on design philosophy, not balance. For example, not seeing what Yondu destroys makes him far less satisfying to play. I think Baron Mordo and Iceman are interesting middle cases that could go either way.”

Q: If Lamentis appears after Weirdworld, one of the players doesn’t get to draw cards. Is this intended?
A: Glenn “This interaction has already been corrected in a future patch.”

Q: Has the team considered a “No Limit” battle mode where you can keep snapping to up the cubes on the line? I know in early development the devs had implemented the ability to keep snapping and doubling the cubes but it was scrapped for the current system. I think a no limit version of battle mode where each player could start with a bankroll of 100 cubes would be very entertaining. Besides Conquest, are there any other game modes the team has been kicking around?
A: Glenn “That mode sounds exciting to me, but I think it would satisfy a lot of the same players that Conquest already will, as both modes cater to the highly competitive. We’re exploring a few other things.”

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: Is location nerfing/adjustments a consideration?
A: To add to the recent OTA changes to locations and the explanations given in the earliee section, when asked about if the Team is ok with changing location effects versus location frequency, Glenn said “we limited the scope of changes to reduce the risk of unforeseen complications.”

Q: I’ve played a lot of games and never seen Kang played. Is he going to get a buff?
A: Glenn “We’re happy with Kang; our goals for Big Bads don’t require them to create or contribute to top decks in the metagame. Big Bads strive to fulfill the “fantasy” of their character, and our priorities are making that exciting to see and novel to play with. It’s just a natural consequence of those goals that a Big Bad often creates or complements a competitive deck, and we consider that a nice bonus for players who enjoy the card.”

Q: Any consideration to changing Magik’s ability to “This ability won’t resolve on Turn 6,” rather than “can’t be played?”
A: The question was referred to their suggestions channel to be considered.

Q: How dl you choose which cards to make?
A: Glenn “We try to find a theme that’s appealing and includes characters we’re excited to design around and release. Sometimes we’ll weigh whether there are specific opportunities for cool variants with a given theme.”

Glenn (Second Answer) “That’s a difficult question to answer precisely. Cost and Power are actually the last elements of a card to be finalized, as we need to lock in art early enough to commission it and its variants, plus the ability to give VFX time to work and QA time to debug. We don’t make cards one at a time, either: we make them in Seasons, just like they release, and different teams work concurrently on different elements.

If game design is 100% done with a new card, it’s probably about ~3 months from going live. That time allows localization to translate the card, VFX to finish, QA to debug, the approvals process for patches and app stores to review, and probably even more downstream stuff that doesn’t cross my personal radar. It’ll spend a lot of that time with zero changes, though, so when was it finished? No idea.

Design’s schedule is built to let us go from absolute zero to a complete, released season of content in about 6 months, with enough wiggle room to tolerate unexpected delays.”

Devs have also mentioned they design cards from the “Top Down” or “Bottom Up” meaning they either design the card first and pick a character that matches the card text well, or pick a character and design card text around the character.

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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  1. Actually I feel the biggest problem with Galactus isn’t Galactus but Doc Oc. Doc Oc nullifies any possible counter most of the time. Rework Doc Oc, not Galactus.

  2. Great article, as always !
    It’d be great if you could ask them the following:
    Move decks have felt lackluster for a very long time and aren’t competitive. I believe one of the main reasons why, is that card movement is only possible to and from the middle location. Has it ever been considered to make the locations continuous ? This would allow a card moving right from the right location to go to the left location, and a card moving left from the left location to go to the right location.

  3. I think Milano could’ve stayed after a few changes, i liked how it wanted to strenghten the Guardians of the Galaxy. Maybe something like “On turn 5 players MUST play a card here if possible” would be restrictive enough without blocking the player entirely and still aid Gamora how i suppose it was intended

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