Ben Brode, lead developer on Marvel Snap

Developer Update for the Week of September 20, 2023: Ravonna 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 lots of answers to your Ravonna Renslayer questions, will Bounce be getting any nerfs, will trackers be added to the game, 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 Ravonna Renslayer! If you aren’t sure if this card is worth opening a Cache for, make sure to check out our weekly Spotlight Cache guide!

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 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 to re-adjust Aero? It seems like nobody plays her anymore…
A: Glenn “I was beaten by Aero last night, ruined my Beast 😦

Aero’s play rate isn’t high but her winrate and cuberate are positive, so I don’t foresee making a big adjustment there. However, we are considering some adjustments to a variety of move-related interactions, and that could theoretically impact her.”

Q:When you guys nerfed Aero you mentioned that her balance was healthy and that she plays a vital role in marvel snap specifically against Galactus. Even though we have seen a huge increase in Galactus type decks, Aero’s play rate continues to be low. What are your thoughts on this?
A: Glenn “Her play rate is low, but her cube and winrate are not (in the top 20% of the game last I checked). It’s a pretty good time to play the card, and we don’t generally buff cards because people are sleeping on them.”

Q: About a week ago, Glenn said that Shadow King was unlikely to be buffed for a while. Even then, the Collector-Loki combo was strong, so what changed his mind in just a week? I’m curious to know the details that aren’t in the dev notes.
A: Glenn “I didn’t say that at all; reread my response. I said I wasn’t convinced he needed a buff yet; watching him and new decks more closely convinced me it was worth experimenting with. Game design is all about being willing to learn and adapt.

Maybe he’ll stay here, maybe he’ll go back, maybe he’ll be 2/2, maybe he’ll be 3/4. We like to try different shapes and sizes depending on what’s happening live and which decks can benefit.”

Q: I have seen Agatha created by a Helicarrier discard, but never once by Nick Fury. Is Agatha in the Nick Fury pool?
A: Glenn “~~Agatha is in his pool.~~

EDIT: I poked into this, since I specifically recalled her having a different weight than other 6-Costs, but it turns out I was either mistaken or it was adjusted–she isn’t in Nick Fury’s pool after all. That’s what I get for answering questions without opening the backend!”

Q: Why is Agatha excluded from Nick Fury’s pool?
A: Glenn “Nick Fury handles Agatha differently because otherwise he would generate her ~12% of the time, which is an unacceptably high frequency to have fun playing with him. By comparison, Helicarrier is ~1% and Agent 13 is ~0.4%.”

Q: Since Collector got a nerf, Bounce recieved yet another nerf. Can we see some bounce buffs like returning Hit Monkey to a 2-Cost?
A: Glenn “Collector wasn’t in the top-performing Bounce decks, though they weren’t our target.

We already expect some upcoming releases to have positive and negative impacts to Bounce, so we do expect to buff that deck but want to see how a few things settle first.”

Q: When creating Loki, was he ever designed to copy cards from the opponents hand instead of their deck?
A: Glenn “We did try a variety of sources for him to ‘steal’ from, and a variety of ways to buff what he stole.”

Q: Have you considered buffing Spider-Man 2099 in some way so he sees more play?
A: Glenn “We’re thinking about it.”

Q: Was Ravonna’s ability to ramp into Mr. Negative considered when placing her at 3 cost instead of 2?
A: Glenn “There are already options for playing Mister Negative on turn 3 if you want to prioritize that. Ravonna is more like a “backup plan” in Mister Negative, as her ability also gets turned off once he resolves.

It’s pretty hard for a card to be “too strong” in Mister Negative, because the deck’s strength is capped by drawing a single card and still wants pretty favorable draw distribution. I though 3-Cost was more interesting for her role in other places.”

Q: Why did you chose to have Revonna cost 3 energy vs 2? Did you find in your play testing that her effect was too powerful at 2?
A: Glenn “It was a close decision, and cost reduction is an effect we tend to err more cautious on. If we missed the mark here, 2-Cost is among the first adjustments we’ll consider.”

Q: Will there ever be a time where you revert Shuri’s ability to her old “Double the power of the next card you play”?
A: Glenn “Doesn’t seem likely.”

Q: Is there any consideration in giving Miles Morales the Stature treatment, allowing Miles Morales to maintain the 1 cost for the rest of the game rather than just 1 round?
A: Glenn “Nope. Movement is a much more frequent game action than discarding an enemy card, so if we were to make that change to Miles it would need to accompany a dramatic nerf as well.”

Q: With Mobius about to release, how do you feel about cost reduction getting such a huge counter? Won’t this make Mobius too strong? And will this mean no more cost reduction cards will be created?
A: Glenn “Cost increase and reduction has been very strong in general, with no counterplay to either one really. We wanted to add some. If Mobius is too strong, he’s an easily balanced card via OTA to reduce his efficiency.

As for your last question, Mobius actually means the opposite–because counterplay is available, we can feel more free to print more good cost reduction, not less.”

Q: Was it ever considered to have Wave override Mobius?
A: Glenn “No. Not only is this functionally questionable—Mobius is an on/off switch, not a Cost modifier—but part of the reason he exists is to have counterplay for Wave.”

Q: Why doesn’t Scorpion reducing a card to 1 or less Power trigger Ravonna’s ability?
A: Glenn “The Scorpion interaction should’ve reduced their Cost. If that pops up, report it as a bug.”

Q: With Ravonna’s existence, do you consider lowering a card’s Power to 1 or lower to be less of a nerf now? Like if you were to nerf Silver Surfer to be a 3/1?
A: Glenn “Sure, we consider lots of stuff 🙂 Generally we prefer balance changes to move cards ‘diagonally’ more often than down, which is why we’ll make adjustments that change Cost and Power, like Rockslide’s recent one. This tends to nerf a card in some places but buff it elsewhere.”

Q: Are you concerned that with so many players using America Chavez for deck thinning, that this compromises the purpose of the 12 card deck design?
A: Glenn “Yep, it’s a concern.”

Q: Is it correct that Polaris can move Jeff out of Professor X’s lane?
A: Glenn “That’s correct.”

Q: Is the number of players who own a card a metric for balancing? With limited resources, players may often gravitate to cards that look stronger (Alioth and Mobius) opposed to weaker cards (Ravonna).
A: Glenn “The primary metrics prioritized are winrate, cuberate, and how often the card is in either player’s deck. Since you have to own a card in order to put it in a deck, that metric is necessarily impacted by how many players acquire the card.”

Q: Why does Ravonna not discount a card if it’s Power is increased, but Zabu will discount if a card’s Cost changes?
A: Glenn “Our default Power value to care about is modified Power. That’s because base Power is conceptually complex and modified Power is the value you actually see in-game. Shuri should make Black Panther 16 Power, not 12.

Cost is a little less complex, but more necessary to care about base. Elysium shouldn’t turn off Silver Surfer.

Only Shadow King and Quantum Realm care about base Power, and in each case that’s not a point to add synergy, like Ravonna, it’s just necessary for SK and less frustrating gameplay for QR, though honestly I don’t think it’s necessary for the latter given the confusion it creates.

As for Ravonna, it’s a knob I’m considering turning, but pretty reluctant to do so.”

Q: Why restrain Ravonna to 1 or less Cost? Was she too powerful with 2 or less Cost?
A: Glenn “It gives her a more distinct identity and constrains the playerto be more creative. The larger the pool, the less novel and more like Zabu/Sera her decks become.”

Other Questions

Q: Questions for Glenn: What was the 1st card you created for Marvel Snap? Are there still any unused cards/designs you didn’t make in the “vault”? Or are all of the cards made by the last guy released?
A: Glenn “It’s a question with a variety of answers, since my chronology of the work doesn’t match players’.

The first balance adjustments I led the decision-making on were Zabu and Silver Surfer.

The first cards I impacted prior to release were in the Days of Future Past season, where final balance was finishing as I arrived.

The first season with cards I conceived and developed from scratch were in the Guardians of the Galaxy season, and Iron Lad was the first of those.

The ‘last guys’ are all still here, and still actively working on design (among other responsibilities). There are still a few fully-designed cards left to release that predate me, as we’re looking for the right time and season theme to showcase them properly.”

Q: It’s always cool to see card splits from generated cards like Agent 13 or Nick Fury. Will we ever see a feature that let generated cards match variant styles like they do splits? For example: Pixel Nick Fury creates 3 Pixel 6-Costs.
A: Glenn “I don’t foresee us doing this generally, because our coverage will never be complete enough to cover the fail cases. It’s also a feature for endgame players that the base art is an at-a-glance clue as to whether the card was generated or started in the deck.”

Q: Are there any plans to add deck tracking info in the game? Maybe not the “tracking your opponent’s deck as they play cards” way but as in the win rate and average cubes of a deck you’ve built and played with?
A: Glenn “We have some ideas in development around more ways to give players feedback about their individual performance. I don’t personally favor getting as specific as actual stats, but identifying your winningest deck and/or the deck that earned you the most cubes are the kind of thing I’d like to be able to show people one day.”

Q: With the addition of variant tokens for squirrel girl, any chance old variants will get unique tokens or is it gonna be exclusive to future variants?
A: Nicki Broderick “We currently don’t have plans to retroactively add custom tokens for older variants, but it could be something we explore in the future.”

Q: Does SD conduct rigorous playtests prior to a card release, a patch, or an OTA? If SD does conduct rigorous playtests, do they knowingly release unbalanced cards?
A: Glenn “We playtest all of our card releases heavily, as new content is being measured from scratch. We also playtest balance changes, but not on the same scale. We make a lot of them, and many are minor adjustments to Cost or Power based on a ton of live data.

However, our balance philosophy isn’t that every card should be equal, or that cards aren’t supposed to change. Just like the queen is better than the rook, we want some cards to warp games around their strength—but we also want to change which cards do that to churn the metagame in different directions over time. SNAP should feel like every character has a chance at time in the sun, even if it’s fleeting.”

Q: How do you feel about so many disruptive locations and cards in the game? At the moment it feels to me that if you want to have fun and success in snap you got to play decks that just block the other player from playing/ nullify their cards or play “good cards” decks, basically great stats on independent cards that do not rely on an archetype or synergy. You can’t focus on a nice sand castle and see if yours is better than the opponents. Instead you either go and brake their hands before they can finish, or try to build the castle and have the locations or the other player doing their best to cripple you.
A: Glenn “The game needs both styles of play to succeed–most PvP games do. Without the balancing element of disruption and variance, the ‘sand castle game’ isn’t fun; eventually everyone just figures out what make the best castle most often and that becomes the best thing to do by a lot. That’s essentially what happened during the Shuri metagame earlier this year. Trying to balance many competing factors is the way we keep deckbuilding and gameplay fresh, and new cards exciting.”

Q: Why are variants so modern? Why not use classic comic covers?
A: Nicki Broderick “We definitely have plans to add more classic or back catalogue variants to the game. There are some limitations for us, around what we’re allowed to use or not, etc. We review a lot of the older art with Marvel and add them to the game when we can. The classic pieces are technically more challenging for us to get into the game as well, and take a bit more time. When we commission an original piece, we can have the artist break the piece up into layers as they go, making it easier to create the parallax FX. For the older pieces, we need to cut up the layers, paint behind them (where no art exists), etc – this makes the process quite a bit longer. Hope this helps shed some light!”

A: Jonny “Don’t you worry, we’re working on getting a LOT more bronze and silent age comic art in. Some of my favorites 🙂”

Q: Will future card designs use more “team-ups” like how the Spider-Verse use mostly move or Guardians all have similar abilities?
A: Glenn “We like to engineer those synergies when we can, but it’s not a constraint. If we have a cool card for the character, that’s more important than how it connects to other characters in the game.”

Q: How do you monitor stats for cards they typically aren’t played? Such as Black Cat, Angel, M'Baku, Chavez (when used for draw consistency).
A: Glenn “The primary balance stats we monitor for individual cards are winrate and cube rate  when drawn, but we have a few other ways to slice things for special cases, like “not drawn” for M’Baku.”

Q: Will there ever be the option to disable the red dot notifications?
A: Daniela “For upgradable cards, you can tap on the cards that are available for upgrading and that should decrease the counter on the nav bar. As for spotlight caches, stay tuned!”

Q: What are the team’s opinions on power creep, and does it affect any decisions made when creating or balancing a card?
A: Glenn “As we live balance, we try to move things up and down. If things are too strong, we’re happy to suppress them, even if only temporarily, and roll around the target that way.

We have raised the floor slightly, as several cards were just too weak to compete. Our options were either weaken lots of stuff and lose some flexibility, or push the starting level a little higher. We chose the latter, and have been slowly moving on that via OTA.”

Q: What cards see the most inclusions in decks, but don’t see any play during the actual match?
A: Glenn “I’d have to build a query to check that (it’s not a very meaningful metric in most cases) but it’s likely High Evo barely edging out Chavez and I don’t think anything else is coming close.”

Q: Can you see in your Data if I play the most Stegron, and therefore am the Stegron King?
A: Glenn “

(This also isn’t really something we do; our data tools are built to slice large numbers of players based on constraints. But I like the gif 🙂 )”

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! We didn’t get as many answers as normal this week (yet), but I will include them in next week’s edition if we get answers! Keep up the great questions!

Q: Will Agatha Harkness be modified soon?
A: The devs have stated they have no intentions on changing Agatha to boosters or mechanics. They don’t want her to become easily automated.

Q: What is the conversion rate of Medals to boosters at the end of a season?
A: KentErik “If you have leftover Medals at the end of the season, each Medal will be worth 0.15 Boosters for a random card. So, 100 Medals -> 15 Boosters”

Q: Any update on the First Edition Badges, or are they scrapped?
A: Stephen “Its not scrapped.  Members of our team that create these kind of art assets have been dedicated to developing our new PC release for the last while.  We are doing some work to explore special edition badges now as we are exploring a lot of new foils, flares, and other splits”

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!

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