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Hi everyone! The Marvel Snap community feels like it is in a bit of a disarray right now, reacting to the new Nexus Event and the card acquisition model from what I could see on social media. In this article, we will instead focus on the card balance updates that was also somewhat unexpected in the latest Marvel Snap patch.
I want to discuss the impact the patch may have on the metagame of Marvel Snap, which is expected to be a very volatile one as not everyone has unlocked enough cards to be flexible in their deck’s choices. As such, when a patch comes in, just because some cards are changed it doesn’t just establish a new balance in the game, shuffling decks around in our tier list. It also might completely prevent someone with little choice when it comes to what they can play to be competitive until they unlock more new cards.
In yesterday’s patch, almost every deck from Tier 1 or Tier 2 in Monday’s Meta Tier List update was affected, which could lead to a complete overhaul of what is good and what isn’t next week. There is a solid chance that from Strong Guy, Ka-Zar, Jubilee, America Chavez, Okoye or Ghost Rider, at least one, if not more, of these cards were in play at the end of every single of your Marvel Snap games so far.
Let’s dive deep into the winners and losers of the patch, and try to guess which archetypes might be in for a dominant run soon!
Ka-Zoo is the biggest loser of the patch
Okoye – [1/1] -> [2/2]
Developer Comment: Okoye as a 1-Cost proved to be too powerful as an opener, so we are nerfing her to a 2-Cost and giving her a little extra Power.
Strong Guy – [2/3] -> [4/4]
Developer Comment: Strong Guy was a very clear outlier in his power as a 2-Cost card. We also want him to be more of a build-around card to provide an “empty hand” avenue in the discard archetype, so we are increasing his Cost and giving him a small Power boost to compensate.
Okoye was indeed the best 1 turn play in the game, and it isn’t surprising to see her on the list of the nerf-worthy cards. As a 2 turn play once again, she will now compete with Angela to be played on curve, which makes it much more difficult to envision in the KaZoo deck. She might still see play, but I would expect to see slower decks use her much more now.
Strong Guy got butchered, plain and simple. The poor bodybuilder went from being amongst the best 2 cost in the game to competing with Namor and Warpath in the 4 drop slot. Even in a heavy discard deck, I don’t expect to see the card being played anytime soon.
America Chavez – [6/10] -> [6/9]
Developer Comment: America Chavez sees a very high amount of play in various deck archetypes right now. We are nerfing her Power down to make other options more enticing.
Ka-Zar – [4/5] -> [4/4]
Developer Comment: Ka-Zar tends to give a bit too much Power right now, so we are taking his base Power down a notch.
These 2 nerfs already are very impactful for everyone’s favorite “budget” deck. The deck also needs to overcome the loss of a power on Ka-Zar and America Chavez on top of it. While those nerfs could have been fine to overcome, the strength of Ka-Zar being his Ongoing effect and America Chavez still helps thin your deck to find other cards more reliably. I believe the deck suffering 4 nerfs in total will be way too much to come back from. Also, did I mention Killmonger is now collectible earlier in the collection track?
In the future, we should expect to see a new archetype rise for budget players. I would expect Angela, Bishop and Ka-Zar to be still worth building around, especially as Nakia surprisingly hasn’t been changed in this patch. However, the foundations to the Zoo deck will need to find new allies in order to rise back as a top competitive deck. I would personally put my money on the Discard synergy and Swarm to be an early contender in its place.
Are control archetypes really losing anything?
Looking from afar, one would easily think that both aggro and control decks were severely hit by the patch. KaZoo is likely dead until it finds a new deck, and control is suffering nerfs on Ghost Rider, Jubilee, and America Chavez. We could even throw Okoye in for good measures, as she is lso spotted in some control decks.
Ghost Rider – [3/3] -> [4/3]
Developer Comment: Ghost Rider will often be an outlier in Power due to the amount of Power he can ‘cheat’ out. We are nerfing his Cost to make his resurrection come at a higher price.
Jubilee (OLD: On Reveal: Play the top card of your deck to this location.) NEW – On Reveal: Play a card from your deck to this location.
Developer Comment: Jubilee’s previous functionality had some unintended interactions with America Chavez, causing her to frequently pull Chavez, creating a near-guarantee “4 energy for 11 Power” play, which was not desired nor intended.
In reality, the control archetype, being much more flexible than an aggressive one, should suffer only so much of a setback from these changes:
- Ghost Rider going to 4 mana still enables the combo with Lady Sif, which is the biggest criticism towards the card.
- Jubilee will now just pull a random card from our deck, which is obviously worse as the synergy with America Chavez is now gone. This doesn’t mean the card isn’t unplayable, and still has great synergy with Lockjaw, Mister Negative or simply in a deck 3+ big power cards.
- America Chavez still can be used for reliability purposes, as her power will be much more impactful to an aggressive deck compared to a control one.
Scarlet Witch – [1/2] -> [2/3]
Developer Comment: Scarlet Witch is a bit too good at working around location selections right now. We are making her Power a bit more costly to preserve the stability of our locations from her reality warping.
Scorpion – [3/3] -> [2/2]
Developer Comment: Scorpion is a rather weak card right now. With this change, players should have much more freedom in how they utilize him.
Now, let’s take look at what the control archetype gained from the patch, which kind of balances things out in my opinion:
- Scarlet Witch goes from a 1 energy to a 2 energy card, making it much worse to answer the Limbo that Magik puts into play.
- Scorpion might have become a good enough card to be played in a disruption deck, like the control archetype.
If we asked “Did the control archetype get better or worse?”, the answer would probably be that in terms of raw power level, the deck did get a bit worse. If you’re asking if the deck is likely to disappear from the metagame the same way KaZoo might, I would have to answer with a resounding “no”.
Discard, the next unstoppable force?
While the nerf to Strong Guy might seem like a shot at the Discard synergy, I believe it is one of the big winners of the patch.
If we look at the discard combo deck, which is the best performing one for the synergy, we can see that nothing is touched outside Okoye. However, considering the card was in almost every single deck, this isn’t a blow to discard specifically.
The deck isn’t playing Strong Guy, as The Collector and Morbius have proved to be able to reach bigger power ceilings for a 2 cost energy card. Swarm will keep on duplicating itself and providing that flexibility in the late game, and all the other naturally high scoring cards from the discard synergy are safe too (Hellcow, Lady Sif, Blade, etc).
Currently, in all the Tier 1 or 2 decks, Discard is the only archetype which was not playing Jubilee and America Chavez while not being an aggressive deck either.
Obviously the deck isn’t one that we will see a lot, even if it becomes the best in the game, because one may need to dig deep into Pool 3 in order to find Hellcow, Moon Knight and Dracula. Even so, I believe the discard synergy in Pool 2 might be good enough to be the next budget option, as Swarm and Nakia represent a deadly combo on their own, worth building an entire deck around.
Something worth considering is the change to Sandman who will be available earlier on the collection level road and represent a good counter to Swarm. This could help keeping discard in check, or at least the Swarm part of Discard.
Pool 3 is how you play Marvel Snap now
Something I noted in this patch is that Pool 1 and Pool 2 cards were quite aggressively modified, when only 1 card in pool 3 suffered a nerf: Ghost Rider.
In the latest Tier List article, I was mentioning how difficult it is to assess the power of a deck built around Pool 3 cards because of how few players there are actually to play those decks. In addition to climbing up the Collection Level Road, you also need some luck to pull all the cards you need to build your deck.
Yet, it is clear once we reach Infinite rank and play in a metagame where most players reached Pool 3 already: Nobody is playing with only cards from Pool 1 and Pool 2. DeathWave, Ramp, Control or even newer archetypes such as Mister Negative, all the most competitive and talked about decks right now are built around one or several of these Pool 3 cards.
In nerfing mostly Pool 1 and Pool 2 cards, the gap in terms of power with Pool 3 cards should keep growing. Archetypes like Bounce, Move, Mister Negative or even Patriot and vanilla cards all probably gained something from this patch, but what is the point if only 1% of the player base can use these decks?
I would have loved to see much more buffs to Pool 1 and Pool 2 cards to create new opportunities to build budget decks, just like they did in the previous patch notes, buffing Colossus, Kraven or Doctor Strange for example.
At the end of the day, Marvel Snap is only 2 months old, and even if someone who played their daily quest routinely should easily have passed level 500 on the Collection Level Road by now, and new players are arriving on a daily basis (New Zealand is the latest region to be launched). I don’t think it is good for the game for a player who found a way to be competitive on a budget to be given the choice of going against players with better cards or against bots. This is a lose-lose situation, but there needs to be a good balance between the two groups.
I understand the last part of this article might sound quite pessimistic, and to be fair, I hope I am wrong on this one. Looking at the short history of the game, the winner of Season 1 was farming bots as they voluntarily didn’t upgrade cards to keep their collection level low, or my own experience of facing mostly bots ever since reaching the Infinite rank. It honestly looks like Marvel Snap needs to work on expanding the player base rather than tailoring to the guys at the top of the mountain.
Expanding this base will be done through making the game more accessible and more enjoyable once in it. I know nothing about accessibility and how to improve this, I am no developer, but I’m pretty sure that the enjoyable part is achieved through a good experience right from the get go, with Pool 1 and then Pool 2 cards. I can’t imagine anyone willing to grind 450 levels of Collection Level Road before they can have a competitive deck.
I sincerely hope I’m wrong with this take, and that in a few days, a couple of budget decks will be competitive enough to grind the ladder. The team will specifically look for those for the next Monday’s Tier List, and our updates to the Pool 1 and Pool 2 (coming soon) decks, you have my word!
Until then, hope you all are having fun on Marvel Snap.
Good Game Everyone.