Ben Brode, lead developer on Marvel Snap

Developer Update for the Week of October 25, 2023: Nico Minoru Edition (35+ 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 Captain Marvel see her 5 power returned? Does a copied Mysterio keep the power now? Will black particles on splits be adjusted, 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 new card Nico Minoru! If you aren’t sure if this card is worth a spotlight cache, make sure to check out our weekly Spotlight Cache guide! Also be sure to check out our Nico Minoru guide.

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: Will Werewolf By Night’s a ability trigger before or after another card’s on reveal?
A: Glenn “On Reveals trigger ahead of ‘After you play’ triggers.”

Q: Have you noticed any drop-off in Rockslide’s play rate? Can we expect a buff in the future?
A: Glenn “Rockslide is among our top 25 cards in the last week and Darkhawk is in the top 5, so I don’t foresee a buff flying their way. One shell for that deck is performing particularly well right now.”

Q: I saw Glenn say they won’t make Agatha stronger in the previous reply, but why did you create a card that seems to encourage players to go idle? Has the team ever considered reworking her to address the negative user experience associated with players roping conquest with her?
A: Glenn “We have some ideas about ways we could improve the Agatha experience for players. As far as her goals, she’s a card that demonstrates unique digital space and also provides a novel deckbuilding challenge. Big fan of cards like that generally.”

Q: I saw in another post that Alioth was made in mind for decks that put power on the board early and to make players be more aggressive. If that’s true, then why rework Leader and Aero when they were doing the exact same thing as Alioth, albeit to a bit lesser degree? Wouldn’t leaving them untouched be better if the team really wanted to make cards that rewarded being aggressive?
A: Glenn “The degree is everything. There are a variety of good cards and strategies to play into Alioth, and you have a lot more agency. Old Aero and Leader didn’t care as much about where the opponent played or which cards they played, plus Leader mostly didn’t want priority at all.”

Q: What are your thoughts on Captain Marvel? At 3/5 she felt perfect, but at 3/4 she sees zero play.
A: Glenn “She doesn’t see zero play; she’s a winning card with a moderate amount of play. When we tried her at 4/5 she was one of the 5 best performing cards in the whole game in a way that wasn’t very comfortable, so this is one of those situations where we really wish we had “half a Power” to get the balance just right. Instead, I imagine you’ll see Carol move around over time, depending on how she can best compete. 3/4 and 6/…10? are both costs I’m interested in exploring at some point, for example.”

Q: In reference to the previous Captain Marvel question, are there times when a high performing card can be healthy and acceptable in the game and not require a nerf?
A: Glenn “We don’t mind high-performing cards in reasonably-performing decks. When a high-performing card is in a deck that’s also performing too well, that’s when it’s a nerf candidate. In Captain Marvel’s case, she was in the two best decks at the time shortly after her buff to 4/5, and we needed to weaken both of those decks.”

Q: What are your thoughts on Evolved Shocker, seeing as he is the least played card of the set?
A: Glenn “Evolved Shocker hasn’t always been the least used card–Abomination and The Thing have also had some time at the bottom. His effect isn’t weak and something has to be #7, so we’d rather give the deck opportunities to change than try and pin him just perfect, especially given the rest of the shell is so consistently a strong performer.”

Q: If you played Mysterio onto Cloning Vats (or made a copy somehow else), the additional Mysterio used to stay a 2/0 illusion. After the last patch, the copy is now a 2/4 as well as the original. In may, Glenn stated the 2/0 was intended. Did something change?
A: Glenn “This misunderstanding was prolific enough that it became a bug for us. We’re open to changing outcomes from our intent when things prove to work out that way in the wild. It should’ve been captured in the October patch notes, that’s an error of omission.”

Q: Is it intended for a Nico to use a spell on herself when revived by Phoenix Force?
A: Glenn “This is intended—she’s actually casting the spell on Phoenix Force, which hasn’t finished resolving when her On Reveal triggers. But Phoenix Force merges with her as part of its effect, leaving Nico to trigger on herself in a similar way to how Iron Fist moves the revived card if he’s played before Phoenix Force.”

Q: Why can you draw Agatha from the hub when you don’t let her be drawn from Nick Fury?
A: Glenn “Fury has an exception, because he would create Agatha ~12% of the time. She’s much less likely to be created other places, so we allow it because we generally avoid exceptions.”

Q: What made you change Nakia a while back to her current form? Her old version felt more fun to play since you could manipulate your hand to achieve a higher Power ceiling.
A: Glenn “While I agree with your assessment that the previous design was a little more fun, and generally prefer to push floors and ceilings apart rather than closer together, this was a case where we went the other way. Nakia had proven pretty unpopular and weak for competitive. At S1/S2 play, where Nakia matters more, she was performing well enough, but still not popular. A good buff would like have more impact on that metagame than we wanted, and the simpler card is more accessible there.”

Q: If Nico is played in a lane with her change a location spell activated, if a card is placed into Deep Space, it would remove Deep Space, correct?
A: Glenn “Yep.”

Q: Are you happy with Shuri deck play lines? They just play Shuri – Big Card – Taskmaster.
A: Glenn “We adjust decks based on their performance. Shuri-based decks are good, but also have a lot of vulnerable elements that keep their matchup spread healthy. If that changes, we’ve adjusted the deck before and can again.”

Q: Is the team considering relocating the spell icon for Nico? All her variants cover her face with the spell icon.
A: Glenn “We have some VFX changes coming in a future patch that will address this issue.”

Other Questions

Q: On the new leaderboard, many players are reporting their standing is different between in game and on leaderboard. Why is that happening?
A: Glenn “I’m not familiar the refresh rates of the leaderboard relative to the game, but that’s likely the source of this discrepancy. If true, it would make sense to happen more often lower in the standings, because more players have similar SNAP Points, thus their standing is more likely to change as a result of others’ wins and Reveal?”

Q: With so many characters in Marvel, how do you source lore for characters when designing cards? Do you have a local Marvel comic expert, or do you research characters often?
A: Glenn “We have several in-house fans, and we also do research.”

Q: How do you determine how much power to give higher costed cards?
A: Glenn “Mostly, we play with them and compare them to existing cards or combos at similar costs, then track their performance to see if they need a nudge or not.”

Q: Since I’ve had Discord Nitro before, I cannot claim the free month for Nitro. Will i still get the variant and title on snap?
A: Daniela “You should! I had this issue too and I found the variant in my Discord Gift Inventory”

Q: Why can’t Snap have half a Power increments for balancing?
A: Glenn “There’s a fair amount of data on the strength of integers in games. Introducing decimal points, in addition to being a UX nightmare for sizing, is just inherently off-putting and inaccessible. No interest in doing it except as a one-off on someone like a Micronaut.

Not to say player-facing fractional values are always wrong for a game, but they’re usually wrong.”

Q: If Snap can’t use decimal points without messing up the UI, why not double all power values so you can adjust more accordingly?
A: Glenn “Every game has to contend with “drawing the line” on how much granularity is a good thing, because it’s always beneficial to balance. For example, one of the largest design errors in Monopoly (in my opinion) is the use of the $1 bill—it makes paper money dramatically more annoying to manage in a physical way, and offers a negligible improvement. I’ve also worked on a game where we had to maneuver the curve during development to get more numbers, raising players’ life totals.

While I wasn’t a member of the SNAP team when they “set their scale,” it looks how I would roughly expect, because having smaller numbers makes the game easier to count and more accessible. In general, it’s nice when the important numbers in your game are the numbers players use in everyday life, because they’re already used to doing math with them.”

Q: Will there be more featured art / artists in the future? If so, how often?
A: Stephen “Yes we plan to do more of these!  Roughly 1/season that everyone gets to experience together!  In addition, we are looking into making personal ones that happen more randomly for each player individually”

Q: Can the avatar in the Conquest shop be unlocked in regular caches via super avatars?
A: Stephen “No they are only available from the season they are in conquest”

Q: Are there any plans to adjust the black flare/ krackle? It’s virtually invisible on all platforms.
A: Stephen “We have talked about it a lot but haven’t come up with a great solution yet for all of the black flare mods.  Once we hit a solution we like we will make a change.”

Q: Would you ever make another card like Jane Foster that draws specific costed cards?
A: Glenn “Maybe. Drawing cards is a lot more impactful in our game than most–I think we’re more likely to target categories for in-game buffs than draw them.”

Q: What will happen to the other 2 community voted variants that didn’t win?
A: Stephen “We will be adding them to the daily offer shop at an upcoming date.  We are still locking in the exact date or I’d share that now.”

Q: Are there any status updates to the removed locations?
A: Glenn “We’ve already got one of them set to go, and we’ll work the rest back in too. It hasn’t been a top content priority, since we have a stream of new things always coming in.”

A: KentErik “We have a rework planned for Sandbar, no ETA though.”

Q: Are there any plans to remove unfun locations such as Ego, Weirdworld, District X, or Mount Vesuvius?
A: Glenn “No, we’re fairly happy with these locations for their roles. As we’ve said in the past, disruptive locations like these are important—we’re managing their frequency, not whether they should exist.”

Q: What is the status on updating visuals and vfx on ultimate variants?
A: KentErik “we’re still working on it! we’ll share more details when we’ve got something to show 🙂”

Q: I noticed all of this season’s nightforged variants favor discard archetypes. Do you intend on having future sets with themes as well?
A: Glenn “We have a goal we are striving towards for some sets of variants that they are centered around a deck type so a player could in theory build an entire deck utilizing those variants.  We aren’t quite there yet but its something we hope to build towards.”

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 ton of great questions! If you have questions for the developers, make sure to leave a comment below!

Q: On the last Marvel Snap Zone podcast, Glenn kept repeating, “threats are better than answers.” While it made sense that answer cards are ones like Killmonger or Mobius, but what are “Threat cards”?
A: Glenn “It varies on the deck, but I would define threats as the cards that contribute a lot to the deck’s winning plan. Some examples, from a variety of decks:

Time Stone (debatable)

This isn’t to say other cards aren’t also threats in those decks, but these are all cards that have major impacts on the choices you’re going to make and how you’ll try to win the game. They’re also all generally strong in any given game, which is how they differ from ‘answer’ cards that carry most of their strength in what the opponent is doing.”

Q: Why don’t they add Living Tribunal and Iron Lad to spotlight chests?
A: Developers are having issues creating enough variants to put cards like these in spotlights. Howard the Duck hasn’t ever been featured and he is 6k tokens. Steven explains more below:
Stephen “One of the main reasons for duplicates right now is availability of variants for cards that can go into the spotlight cache.  If we do not have a spotlight variant for that card ready then we have to hold it until one is available.  We are building out our variant pipeline further to get in front of the needs to keep the spotlight cache fresh and without undo gaps between highlighting specific characters.”

Q: Will old bundles come back in the future?
A: Stephen “In general our philosophy is not to bring them back just like a clothes collection in a retail store shifts over time.   We have not re-run a variant bundle yet and have no plans to at this time.”

Q: When will we start getting series drops again?
A: Stephen “This is a hotly debated topic internally at SD and has been for a while.  Once we align on the right path forward we will share it with everyone.  I know you guys want an answer to this right now but we aren’t ready to share next steps yet.”

Q:Is the balance based only on ranked matches, or does conquest mode influence the metric adopted by SD?
A: While the devs haven’t stated how much they monitor the data, Glenn has mentioned this on the subject:
Glenn “[We may]. How heavily may vary, we’ll have to see what the data says.”

Q: Will there be a way in the future to obtain past spotlight variants?
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: Have you considered letting cards have a “random variant” selection so I see more variants without needing to cycle through them?
A: Daniela “Considered yes 🤩 maybe one day”

Q: Why does Nexus reactivate after Hawk even though it says until the end of game?
A: All locations reactivate at the end of the game. The only one that doesn’t still work is Limbo, because it can’t trigger turn 7 until the game is over. Glenn explains more here:

Glenn “Hawk deactivates the location until the end of the next turn or until the end of the game, whichever happens first. Once you get to the end of the game, the location comes back, cards like Dracula and Captain Marvel do their thing, then the game scores the winner using all active locations.

We added the ‘(or the game)’ text in an attempt to clarify the outcome for people who thought playing Snowguard on turn 6 would last “through” scoring. It’s been a mixed bag on that account, and I’m not sure we’ll keep the text or what we’ll change it to, if anything.”

Q: Is there any possibility of revisiting older variants and improving the animation effects?
A: The devs have stated the animation team is also the team who designs the PC client. So now that it launched, they are catching up on effect backlogs. Nicki elaborates more on the subject as well below:

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.”

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 developers at Second Dinner!

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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