Marvel Snap’s Card Acquisition and Economy Conundrum

A deeper insight into Marvel Snap's current card acquisition system, and how it could be improved.

How It Started

In May 2023, Marvel Snap released an update to the game that included changes to the card acquisition system of the game. The old system was highly criticized as it was difficult for players to get excited for new cards, and frequently had to wait for Series Drops in order to gain access to new cards. While players had different experiences with card acquisition across a range of Collection Levels, one thing was clear to everyone: not every card needs to be a 6,000 Collector’s Token Series 5 Card. The developers seemingly agreed with this idea, and thus introduced their “flexible series drop” as part of their card acquisition system changes.

Read more about the announcement regarding the card acquisition changes in this article.

These changes were initially argued about over if it was a positive change or not, as it removed the consistency and predictability of Series Drops each month. The highly anticipated series drop of Darkhawk as well as Knull were delayed and replaced by a larger batch of series 4 cards that dropped to series 3. Many players expressed their frustration that they had waited on Darkhawk to drop to series 3, and that holding him in Series 4 was only because he was a competitive card and developers were holding good cards hostage behind a paywall.

Below cards were confirmed to be staying in Series 4 (3,000 Collector’s Tokens) until further notice.

How It’s Going

At the start of the newest Spider-Versus season, the season’s Series Drop was announced early, revealing that only 1 card (Shanna) will drop to Series 3, and two cards (Stegron and Snowguard) will drop to Series 4. Note that Shanna was initially part of the “permanent” Series 4 group above.

The community quickly expressed their concerns that meta cards like Darkhawk and now Jeff the Baby Landshark were being kept as expensive cards, while bad cards like Snowguard were being moved down series.

While the developers have been practically silent on the issue, popular content creators have not been. Twitch streamers voiced their concerns online that this new direction feels predatory and Pay to Win. Not only are meta cards not being dropped in Series, a newly announced bundle (that was not in the game’s data previously) which includes Darkhawk itself for $29.99 USD are capitalizing on players desires for these cards.

Not Quite A Bird was announced as an upcoming bundle, which was not in the game’s data in May.

What Are the Developers Doing?

Content creators have shared that on the official Discord, Molly, Second Dinner’s community manager, commented on the content creator channel. The employee mentioned that they understood the current drops feel bad, but that it’s basically the groundwork for ongoing card acquisition changes. Without further details on what these changes entail, these comments feel like a small bucket of water trying to stop a growing fire.

The new acquisition system was exciting in theory, as cards like Spider-Man 2099 and Spider-Ham get to launch directly into Series 4 with the new system. This in itself is very exciting, as there will be potentially new, good cards launching at a more affordable price point for players. The issue is that these new benefits don’t feel as positive when the drawbacks are feeling so strong, like good cards being held hostage.

With no real comments from developers, though, it’s difficult to see the long-term gameplan here. Why are good cards seemingly freeing in Series, but bad cards move down Series still? Why prevent players from having access to content, or make them constantly choose between new content or content that may move series unpredictably?

Breaking Down the Problem

I feel the problems with the card aquisition system breaks down into a few fundamental factors:

1: It is hard to get excited for new cards when you can’t even access them

When a new card is released, currently there isn’t a way the average player can obtain every new card without spending money on every bundle and playing every day. This means they are left with a choice every single card release, which in itself creates issues of choice paralysis and buyers remorse. How are players supposed to be excited about cards when they can’t reliably get them for months on end? And if they decide to buy a card, will it be any good? If it’s horrible, they lost valuable tokens. If they don’t get it and get another card, they might have missed out on a meta defining card.

2: There are no refunds after nerfs

To go along with these card choice issues, nerfs severely impact buying choices. There are players who have not purchased Darkhawk, arguably one of the best cards in the game, because they think it will be nerfed and will be a waste of tokens. And the truth is, that could easily happen. As cards drop Series, more players have access to them, which then drives up usage. Once a card passes a threshold of usage and/or success rate, developers find a way to nerf it, as described by developer Glenn. If a card is expensive and really good, why would you risk buying a card that could get nerfed?

3: Card Strength isn’t related to token cost

On the opposite side of card nerf potential, there are newly released cards that desperately need buffs or reworks. While I’m sure Snowguard has won somebody a game with her ability and there are someone has climbed to Infinite with her and swears by the card, it is objectively a bad card in its current state.

The developers playtest these cards before launch, so they (should) know if a card is good or bad before launch. As developer Glenn has said on the Developer Discord Q & A, not every card is designed to be meta and some cards are just good cards. So why is a bad card like Snowguard set to be the same cost as Jeff the Baby Land Shark or High Evolutionary?

4: There no way to plan around when cards move down in Series

In the old system, while it wasn’t perfect, players could reasonably plan for when to buy a card. Is Darkhawk meta, but it’s scheduled to release next month? I’ll save my tokens and get him later. Howard the Duck won’t be in Series 3 for a while though, so I’d like to invest there. These preparations don’t exist now with the new system, as there appears to be no pattern. If you can’t have a buying strategy, you only increase those feelings of buyers remorse and choice paralysis.

What Can Be Done to Fix the Problem?

I believe there is an easy first step that can solve several issues I mentioned while also showing the developers are keeping good faith with players. Simply announce the Series Drop schedule for a card at the time of their release! Here is an example:

Silk is set to release this month as a Series 5 card on June 13th. With the card release, developers should announce an action plan. “Silk will launch in Series 5, drop to Series 4 in 2 months, and then to Series 3 in 3 more months”.

Another example:

Spider-Man 2099 is set to release this month as a Series 4 card. With the release, developers announce “Spider-Man 2099 will launch in Series 4, and remain as a permanent Series 4 card.”

This idea covers multiple issues. Players will know exactly when a card will shift Series, thus planning their token spending more effectively. Effective spending means less buyers remorse, less choice paralysis, and an overall happier player experience. It’s like being able to budget your income properly. You may not have enough money to buy everything you want, but you can effectively save for things you want and plan when it makes the most sense to buy them. Obviously having more money will also solve your problem, but budgeting can make things much more manageable without feeling overwhelming or restrictive.

This idea also helps keep faith with developers that nerfs won’t coincide with Series Drops. If a card is set to drop on a specific date, players who fear a nerf can rest easy knowing when they can get it for free, or know how much of a risk they are taking without worry the card will randomly drop Series and lose value. It also prevents cards that are simply good cards from being forever questioned if they will drop in series. Want to know when Jeff the Baby Land Shark will drop? You have a schedule! No more eternal wondering if the card will ever see your collection.

While this idea is not an all-in-one fix, it makes the system more palatable. Even though you still can’t have a full collection despite playing everyday, you can properly plan for how you will collect your cards. This even matches with Ben Brode’s initial mindset for the game, that all players will have unique collections and their own card collecting journey. A schedule system let’s you create your path, your order of cards you want, and be unique from other players who made their path for the cards they wanted.


Second Dinner has a massive problem that is turning players away from the game. While they have made claims the system is being improved, we have yet to see how these changes benefit the player experience. With simple solutions available to help improve the system’s foundations, I hope developers take action soon and address the growing issue.

What do you think about the new card acquisition system in Marvel Snap? Would this idea help? What ideas do you have to improve the system? Make sure to let us know in the comments!

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  1. I feel sad because in every announcement it feels they are trying to drain players from their goodwill for the game. I am currently series 3 & 4 complete and the way things are i have no reason to spend either money or time in the game as “infinite” rewards are worthless

  2. I wish I’d never left Legends of Runeterra. I don’t know what it’s like now, but at the time, the card acquisition system was great. I never felt like I’d have to wait more than a month or so to have EVERY CARD in the game. (I imagine it’s harder for new players to jump in? I had played since beta.)

    My point is, that game was making its money off of cosmetics, while LETTING THE PLAYERS HAVE ACCESS TO THE CONTENT, and I was happy to contribute every once in a while.

    Second Dinner, look at how allowing all players to have Kitty Pryde shook up the meta, and think about it.

  3. Great articlre that highlights a lot of the stuff wrong with the progression system. I am collection 4500 or so and its been nearly 500 collection level since I got a new card and I’m not even series 4 complete. I think changing the token aquistion to be minimum 300 could genuinely solve the problems plauging the game in this regard.

    • I’m at a similar CL, and fully agree.

      I actually lucked into opening Darkhawk a few days ago. Almost feels dirty when so many people are clamoring for him, and I only have 4 Series 4 cards.

      • Same boat as you both, and the worst feeling is opening a cache and getting an avatar, title, or a pixelized variant I couldn’t care less about instead of tokens or a new S4/5 card I don’t have. Feel like it’s been so long since I unboxed anything I cared about

  4. Personally, I have no issues if they want to keep cards in series 4. What anyway make me disappointed with the actual system is the incertitude related to the pity timer. We know that players should find series 4 every 40 boxes. Well, it is not in this way. I found for example Stature at CL 6.5012 and my previous series 4 was Sentry at CL 5.734. So if there is the pity timer it should always be on and not like now sometimes yes and sometimes no.

    • the pity timer is 2 S4 cards in 80 caches. the first one can be in cache 1, the second in cache 79. its stupid i know.

      its a cat and mouse game second dinner plays with the playerbase in regards to card acquisition. typical predatory “1 step forward, 2 steps back” type of stuff to try and milk the playerbase. shortsighted imo, but thats how they like to operate.

  5. The “we needed to make this change to make this other change we are going to do, but we didn’t tell you that ahead of time and we still aren’t telling what any of the other changes are going to be” excuse feels really flimsy and sounds more like they really didn’t think players would be upset about keeping cards in series 4 and now they are scrambling to fix it but don’t know how. Another thing that seems to be forgotten is how it now takes new players longer to get series 3 complete, which is a complete joke because now since you can’t even spend tokens on series 3 cards there is no good reason to not just give new players all series 3 cards at once or greatly, greatly speed up their acquisition

  6. It definitely feels like a slap in the face for the loyal players.
    Also if we’re series 3 complete, rewarding us with 3000 tokens (the value of a series 3 card) would mean we don’t miss out on a reward, and we can use the tokens towards cards to complete our collection.

  7. I think you’ve got the right ideas here.

    Personally I always thought that they should have made it so players can get full collections within a month or two of regular playing (maybe 3 by this point with how many cards there are now) without paying, only paying to get there earlier, and make money off cosmetics, season pass cards (which might remain exclusive for 3 months or something) and ultimately from in game tournament entries or similar.

    I know Brode had this vision of unique collections and less net decking but it just doesn’t work that way. All their worst decisions, like Nexus Events and putting every single new card behind a 6000 token wall that ensures most players don’t care about most new cards at all, have come out of trying to monetise people getting those last few good cards for their decks.

  8. Solution here is:
    1. Before completing series 3 you can have a free series 3 card every month, every series 3 card cost 1K, every series 4 cost 3K, every series 5 cost 6K. Series 4 and 5 maintain the actual rarity when opening new boxes.
    2. Once you get all series 3 cards, you can have a free series 4 every month, every series 4 cost 1K, every series 5 cost 3K. Same reward system is implemented when opening box as in series 3. Moreover instead of 40 box for a new series 4, you can find it one every 12 box (maintaining also the 3X ratio that is in the cost of the cards).
    3. If you have completed all series 3&4 you just pay 1K for series 5 with no free card. Same reward system as in series 3 is implemented when opening boxes.

  9. Honestly, just more tokens on the collection track would do it.

    I’m sick of opening titles and, especially, avatars. I have enough; I don’t need any more that I don’t get as part of bundles, events or season passes.

  10. I used to love Snap, but I quit a few months ago due to the extremely poorly designed economy. It feels like Snap is a collectible card game that hates giving out cards, it is a bizarre design decision. The game has been successful but, in my opinion, it’s partly because the economy is so heavily front-loaded. Many players don’t realise how bad things are at high CL, because they never get there…

    Why did I quit? After completing Pool 3, my collection progression hit a brick wall, and the game just got really stale. Having meta cards locked behind a paywall stinks, I hate the battle pass system. The “no refunds” policy for nerfs is gross, and almost unique amongst digital CGs. For example, releasing Silver Surfer / Zabu as “OP, must buy” cards, only to almost immediately nerf them, was extremely dubious. The gatcha tricks, which force daily logins and grinding, also feel really oppressive to me. And that’s sad because, at it’s core, the game is really fun!

    Reading this article suggests that, as the card pool grows, so do the problems with acquisition. I will check back in a few months to see if things have improved.

  11. The biggest problem with all the acquisition in Snap is that it completely craps on player agency. Getting though pool 3 takes about 6 months right now, from when you begin playing, depending on how much gold and/or cash you dump into CL progression. This is only going to get worse going forward and as such, they need to begin nipping this in the bud so there’s some feeling of player agency and road to progression so people can have more than one buildable meta deck every 2-3 months. And heaven help you if the meta turns against your chosen archetype.

    The best things they could implement to achieve more player agency and ease of basic deck building:
    – When opening a cache with a new card or variant, give a choice of two knowns and a third choice of a randomized other.
    – Expand the Collector Token shop to 8 cards on offer with pool 3 cards available, in a 4/2/1 + featured configuration among pools 3/4/5 respectively. When a pool is completed, begin offering variants from that pool in the appropriate slot. (In addition to the current variant acquisition model.)

    If they don’t ease off trying to monetize base cards and their acquisition, they will absolutely kill this game.

  12. It’s really frustrating and baffling that they treat fixing the card acquisition process as some impossible to solve problem that needs months and months of cogitating and planning to figure out. The new cards cost way too much for the amount of tokens players get. The solution is simple then: decrease the token cost of new cards and/or increase the amount of tokens the players get. This isn’t complicated math here. Most players get enough tokens over the course of a month to get 1 series 5 card while over the same period of time they release the equivalent of 3-4 series 5 cards. That means if you want players to keep up with the release of new cards either increase the amount of tokens players get by 3-4 times or cut the token costs to 1/4 to 1/3 of what they are now or change both so that the amount of tokens earned lines up with the amount it takes to get the new cards.

  13. This is certainly my most played app game ever. Likely played this more than every other app game combined. It scratches the MtG itch for free. I prefered when the drops were predictable and I trust they will become so again. So far all the acquisition changes have been positive over time for me, so I expect this one will be, too.

  14. I uninstalled the game after a content creator I like described the Thor bundle as reasonably-priced at $15. I could buy some of the best indie games ever released for that. I’ve spent more than the cost of a triple-A game on Snap and it feels really bad. Spending money on a game where the creators have so little respect for the players feels Bad. It’s especially frustrating because I understand that the game has to be profitable, but the monetization could be dialed down by over 90% and it would still be profitable – and much better for the long-term health of the game. Instead they’re trying to milk us for everything they can get and then they’ll act confused when the game folds in a couple years.

  15. Man. I have completed Series 3 and was hoping to pick up Shanna later on this month… But it says I have used my “free Series 3 pick for the season” even though I haven’t. The chance to get only +100 tokens once you finish Series 3 is a poor reward.

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