Knull Skan Variant

Spotlight Caches Early Analysis and Breakdown: Are They Good for Players?

Marvel Snap recently announced the newest change to the card acquisition system: The Spotlight Cache. This new system is set to replace tokens as the primary way to obtain new Series 4 and 5 cards. While the developers claim the new system will increase the number of new cards players will obtain, players have voiced mixed feelings for the new system.

In order to fully understand what this new system entails, this article will break down what it does and how it effects the new player experience, the beta player experience, and the average player experience. We will follow up with a full, complete mathematical analysis of the new system with calculations and advice (from the information we have been given so far) before the update!

The New System

For the official explanation of the new system, make sure to check out the developers announcement. This explanation, however, will be a simplified explanation. The basics are as follows:

  1. In the collection track, every 120 CL will have the new Spotlight Cache (basically, every 10th collectors reserve will become a Spotlight Cache).
  2. Each week, you can preview 4 cards that will be featured in the Spotlight Cache. It will contain 1 newly released card, 2 Series 4/5 cards chosen by Second Dinner, and a random Series 4/5 card (can be one you don’t own or a duplicate that you do own).
  3. Each of the 4 cards have an equal 25% chance to obtain by opening the box. Once you gain a reward, it is removed from the box and the remaining rewards split evenly the chance to open the next reward.
  4. Each week, a new set of 4 cards will launch. If you obtain each card of that week’s set, a new set of variants will appear (so the Spotlight caches are never empty). The first 3 variants will be Spotlight Variants, and the mystery card will be a Premium Mystery Variant.
  5. If you own any of the cards displayed during a week, you will see a Spotlight Variant (some are time exclusive) picked by Second Dinner each week instead of the featured card.
  6. The mystery card will give you a Premium Mystery Variant instead of a new card if you already own the card it rolls for you (yes, you can roll duplicates). The Premium Mystery Variants (new to the game) are similar the typical mystery variants you are used to, but they contain ultra rare (1,200 gold) variants and exclude pixels.
  7. Currently, you will be able to hoard Spotlight Caches and open them when the spotlight week reset favors you more. You can also hoard your caches/reserves now until the update launches, and every 10th box will turn into a Spotlight Cache.

To go along with this new system, there will be changes to existing Collector’s Reserves:

  1. Gold is being removed
  2. Series 4/5 drops are being removed
  3. The amount of tokens you can get from reserve rewards are being reduced from an average of 5000 per month to 800
  4. If you are Series 3 complete, the replacement reward is now 50 tokens (down from 100)

With so many drastic changes so suddenly, it can be daunting to understand what these changes mean for you. To begin with, let’s break down how these changes can effect different player groups:

The New Player

With these new changes, a player who is just starting the game should be flooded with cards. A spotlight cache should often always yield a new card for a new player, meaning every week they can gain access to a newer card. Why is this better than the old system though?

The old system requires choice. You get tokens and a constantly evolving door of card choice from the shop. I’m sure you have seen at least one of those posts online where a player asks “should I get this card??” and players give their recommendations. This change eliminates the need for these players to worry about what cards to get, and simply gives them more cards to play with. It also eliminates buyers remorse as they didn’t choose to buy it.

The change does appear to effect new player’s ability to purchase Mystery Series 3 cards, as the amount of tokens they can get will be cut to be less than 1 card worth per month. This takes away the players agency of being able to pick between having a faster series 3 collection or having newer cards.

The Beta Player

When I refer to beta player, I include all players who have complete or near complete collections. I, for example, am a beta player with a CL of about 7,300 and am only missing 3 cards (Snowguard, Howard the Duck, and The Living Tribunal). For these beta players like me, these changes have a much different effect than for new players.

With the new system, you will only get a 25% chance to get either the new card of the week, or the mystery card (assuming you don’t pull a duplicate and just get a variant). This only changes if the two featured cards happen to be ones you are missing from your collection. If you don’t save up your spotlight caches, that means you have only one chance to get a new card each week, and if you roll poorly, you just get a variant. There currently is no mention of a pity system, so you could possibly pull a variant each week of the month and never get a new card.

One way of circumventing that poor luck system is that you could just save your caches each month, open a set of 4, and guarantee 1 cards you don’t own at a minimum, and 2 new cards if your mystery variant isn’t a duplicate. The biggest issue with this system is that players lose their ability to target a card that they want. If a new card, say Loki, is set to release on week 2 and you want it, the only reliable ways of getting it is to save 4 spotlight caches and open them all on his week. Alternatively you could use tokens, but with no gold to purchase token bundles and reduced token amounts, it will be much harder to acquire enough tokens to do this.

Using the system of cache hoarding and opening 4 at a time, you can simply stop opening caches once you obtain the card(s) you are aiming for. This can help keep a caches supply available to you each week. The first week of each season will also be a “dead” week, as there will be no new card added. Developers confirmed this week will replace the “new card” category with a Spotlight Variant. If you aren’t interested in variants, you can skip this week and save a cache or two.

On a more positive spin on the same idea, you could save 4 spotlight caches and high roll the new card your first try. This would allow you to save those caches for the next card that releases. This means players could roll the high luck and pull a new card every week even being at a near complete collection. Of course, this amount of cards could be much more value than the current system.

The Average Player

These are players who aren’t exactly new, but don’t have a full series 3 collection either. They might have more targeted card preferences than a new player, so they may have some reasons to save some spotlight caches, but some of the weeks will more likely yield a better value than that of a beta player.

Similar to a beta player, trying to target a new card will require holding onto some spotlight caches. Different from a beta player, however, is there would likely be less chances of getting variants since they need more cards.

Getting “lucky” will be much easier than a beta player as well. Since you need more cards, you may have several weeks in a row of seeing a spotlight cache where every card offered is new to you. This also means these players are less likely to have “dull” weeks where there is a high chance of getting a variant rather than a new card.

Now that we have compared different player experiences, let’s separate our the pros and cons of this system as a whole.


  • The new Spotlight Cache system seems like it will greatly improve card acquisition and experience of a new player. This is a huge benefit for not only new player progression, but for helping the game continue to grow in the future without making players feel they are left behind.
  • The system eliminates buyers remorse and purchase indecision by removing the need to constantly buy cards.
  • In some situations, even a nearly complete collection player could gain a new card every week if they have a string of luck.
  • Spotlight Cache’s guarantee every 120 CL (every 10th reserve) will make sure players get something of value, be it a special variant or a new card. This is more frequent than the old system of 1 guaranteed series 4 card every 38 reserves opened.


  • Players lose agency over choosing what card they want, and rather have to use luck to get access to new cards.
  • Bad luck could lead to repeated Spotlight Caches that don’t offer new cards. With no pity timer on pulling a new card, players are incentivized to hoard spotlight caches until they have enough to guarantee a card.
  • No more gold in the CL track. This removes many free to play player’s access to most of the gold they could get, meaning they have less ability to access bundles and variants.
  • The new weekend missions are harder to complete with the newly released card since you have less agency to obtain it.
  • The Spotlight Cache mystery card can roll duplicates, which means opening 4 spotlight caches can yield only 1 card sometimes. The bigger your collection, the less likely you get new cards.

Considering Other Card Acquisition Changes

In order to fully understand what these changes are intended for, we need to consider the other card acquisition changes that have been implemented. Flexible Series Drops were one of the biggest changes. Having cards launch directly into series 4 makes them more affordable to purchase with tokens, even with a reduced amount incoming. It also changed how cards fall into series 3. This is worth noting as with Spotlight Caches, you may get more Series 4/5 cards, but less cards are entering Series 3 on a monthly basis.

Weekend Missions are also a big change that effects the card acquisition system. If you manage to get the new card each week, you can use the new card on the weekend to get extra tokens, which will help maintain getting new cards. It also gives season pass buyers access to some of that lost gold.

Conquest mode is another factor to consider as well with the new shop rewards. Extra gold and credits are available for purchase in this shop, which again replace some of that lost gold in the CL track. With these changes rolling out slowly before the Spotlight Cache change, we have seen an increase of gold, only to be dropped back down with the new system later. So it’s clear these changes weren’t meant to be extra gold for players, but a limited time bonus as the way we obtain gold has changed.

Another note for the Conquest mode is that the Medal Shop may have tokens added to it. Developers mentioned on the official Q/A that they would like to add tokens to the Conquest shop. They cite that their only delay in launching this is that they need to develop a fallback system that will convert tokens into another reward for new players who can’t collect tokens yet.

Bringing it All Together

Based on the facts we know about the new system, seeing how it can effect different players in different ways, and weighing the pros and cons, we can start to paint a picture. The new system clearly benefits new players more than older players, meaning new players can acquire cards faster than an older player. This basically means any player can eventually catch up to older players without spending money. The mixed reactions from players likely stems from those players being in different collection levels, and thus being effected by these changes differently.

The drawbacks of the new system (less tokens and gold) are likely due to bringing back down the gold and tokens amounts that have increased lately from previous card acquisition updates. While many free to play player’s lose out on access to as much gold, Second Dinner seems to be pushing their season pass as their primary source of income, with bundles and variant purchases being secondary. It may not be a fan favorite change, but the game has to make money to continue, and making the season pass a better value may help gravitate players toward that monthly purchase.

This early analysis suggests the developers are looking to speed up early player progression, while slowing down full collection players. With time-limited variants as well, it also keeps the developer’s vision of letting players keep their collection unique from other players. While the full effects of these changes are still being studied, initial analysis suggests these changes are great for new players, neutral for the average player, and bad-neutral for beta players. While beta players can hoard caches to dodge variants easier, forcing players to hoard caches to avoid bad luck is never a good change.

What do you think about the new system? Will you be hoarding caches, or just opening them as you go? Do you like not having to worry about buying cards any more? Let us know in the comments!

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  1. I haven’t played since the last big patch and this would almost be enough to get me to come back but not quite. No duplicate protection on the random card sucks and not prioritizing cards over variants sucks. Variants are nice but they’re not a substitute for actual cards. Alternatively they could’ve had the reserves have 1 less item in them initially if someone already had 1 of the cards being featured or it could’ve had an extra random roll that’s duplicate protected. I’m halfway through series 4 and 5 combined despite not playing since the last patch and I’d maybe be getting 1 more card per month with this when they already release cards way faster than I can get them. This is better but only because the previous system was so awful and in true second dinner fashion an extremely roundabout way of slightly improving a problem when there were far simpler and exclusively positive ways of making cards more accessible like cutting the token costs of cards and/or increasing the amount of tokens players get. They could’ve made series 4 and 5 cards simply appear much more often in reserves too.

    I also don’t see a reason for there to be a series 5 anymore. You’ll never get enough tokens to buy a series 5 card so everything might as well be in series 4.

  2. A user named viyami provided this on another post:

    [T]he first eligible cache in the count is at 506. so 626 is the first then 746. After 746 the track switches from every 8 to every 12. and these should be the first 50 that become spotlights:

    626, 746, 862, 982, 1102, 1222, 1342, 1462, 1582, 1702, 1822, 1942, 2062, 2182, 2302, 2422, 2542, 2662, 2782, 2902, 3022, 3142, 3262, 3382, 3502, 3622, 3742, 3862, 3982, 4102, 4222, 4342, 4462, 4582, 4702, 4822, 4942, 5062, 5182, 5302, 5422, 5542, 5662, 5782, 5902, 6022, 6142, 6262, 6382…

    So I’ll be opening every cache I can until 11 July, for the gold and chance for a 4/5, EXCEPT for caches at the CL listed above.

    • They said its after CL 500 but they did not say its first cache after. They did say they will be 120 CL apart, but between caches 746 and 862 its not exactly 120 levels. On the other hand first one could be for example at CL 514 and then you can have them 120 levels apart all the way. Did someone confirm your idea or is it just your guess?

    • Second Dinner team member Molly on SNAP discord:
      “We’re still doing a little bit of last minute tuning so can’t confirm exactly where they’re going to land on the CL track.”

    • Yes, this is technically the optimal strategy (probably for any type of player), but it involves a significant risk in that we don’t know exactly how it will be determined which caches/reserves will be converted.

      I currently consider it not worth the risk, but it’s a decent reward if you’re right!

  3. I’m cl 4700, I have about 15 card to collect, all S4|5 and I already have 85 reserves to open. The change could be massive for me atleast in the first few weeks.

    I’ve only used tokens for big bads, Galactus, Thanos and Kang. So I don’t think I’m going to miss out on much there.

    Gold is my big negative but I don’t actually spend it often anyway because I can’t justify the real world price.

    • Hello! Sorry I don’t use Twitter, but I can respond to you here. I use beta player as a way to reference players who likely are nearing a full collection. As for global launch player, that’s where I use average player. I don’t think anybody but SD has official numbers on how many players are S3 complete or how many s4/5 cards they have. While yes, global launch players who play daily are all likely series 3 complete by now, not everyone is that committed to the game. Many players will come and go, making them not quite a new player, but not in the same place as a global launch player. Basically, I put together global players into average the same way I put whale with beta. Doesn’t mean the title describes the situation for everyone, but it gives the general idea of where you as a player may fall. Hopefully this answers your question!

      • First of all, thanks for responding. I still believe S3 complete is a big chunk of the players and deserve an specific analysis/comparison as you do with the other categories.
        I put a couple considerations more in that thread. Mainly: I don’t really see new players being much better with the new system, less alone a lot better like you say, and that using SD graphics is tempting, but risky because the S3 complete one is very misleading. If you want to take a look, that would be great.
        And I encourage you to use Twitter 🙂

    • I agree. I am also global launch with 14 unowned cards, all S4|S5, and consider the series drop my main source of new cards. The new system looks bad-neutral to me, we go from 3-4 new cards a month in the drop to 3-4 new cards a month with the spotlight caches assuming you don’t already have the cards in either system. That minus all the gold and tokens. I think the SD graphic is pretty misleading since it leaves out the drop. The old system was not 1 series 4 card per month as the graphic has but 3-4 series 4 cards that got dropped to series 3. Now those same cards stay in series 4 and get doled out through the spotlight caches instead.

  4. This is interesting, and I will wait to see how it plays out when it goes live. I have played since launch and do spend a little money here and there to support the game I like, but I am by no means a whale spender. I have spent a lot of time grinding and have earned all the cards. This does feel a little punitive to those of us who put the work in to get to this point. Still, I love the game and look forward to future changes.

  5. I am only missing about eight or nine cards right now to have a complete collection, and I have to say these changes feel real bad. I already felt like opening a cache to a mere 100 Collector Tokens was a bit of a slap in the face, and now seeing those reduced to 50 is just awful. In addition to this, removing Gold from the CL track is really disheartening. As someone who doesn’t use Titles and barely cares about Avatars, it seems like the only reason to climb is now exclusively for the fancy new caches. That sucks. I mostly just want cool new variants, and it seems like they’re just making it harder for me to get them and I don’t know why.

    I also wonder how these changes will impact Ultimate Variants, because if it is going to take me half an entire YEAR to save up for a Series 5 card it means I will NEVER be able to buy the cool Electro or Nimrod. I was really looking forward to getting a couple of those.

      • The current system divides the caches into sets of 40, with 9 series 3 cards and 1 series 4 in each set. It’s possible to go more than 40 between series 4 cards, since you might pull it early in one set of 40 and late in the next.

        So the cycle of 40 you’re currently in started with cache 5806, and it ends with cache 6274. You should get your series 4 in one of the next 11 caches if you keep going before they start the new system.

  6. Seriously, all that’s needed to make this feel better is allowing players an element of CHOICE.

    Sure, go ahead and limit the options opened in these caches, but let the player CHOOSE from those available options!

  7. Can someone check my math? If you upgrade a card from base to infinity it costs 1525 credits (25+100+200+300+400+500) and you gain 31 CL (1+2+4+6+8+10) so it costs 49.19 credits per CL. Pretend it’s the beginning of a week and your CL just passed a spotlight cache, so now in one week you have to gain 120 CL to get to the next spotlight cache. That means you have to spend 5903 credits on card upgrades in a single week to get one cache and one 25% shot at a card in the cache. That seems like a lot of credits to earn in a single week, how are you supposed to earn a second and third shot at that week’s cards if you can’t earn that many credits that quickly? That idea seems like a unrealistic promise by Second Dinner. Even if you start hoarding caches and credits between now and the July 11 patch you’ll eventually run out and be in the position I described above. Being at the mercy of a 25% chance each week and simultaneously de-emphasizing collector tokens seems like a step backwards to me. Please tell me I got some math wrong lol.

  8. To support my idea that 5903 credits is a lot in a single week let’s examine July 11-17 and a scenario for maximizing credits:
    10 Season Pass levels, 11-20: 200+100 = 300 (based on this season)
    120 CL levels includes 10 x 50 credits = 500
    120 CL levels includes 9 other reserves that might contain credits, average per week = 200 (it was stated in the article the new average will be 800 per month)
    7 nightly free credits: 7 x 50 = 350
    Conquest medal shop = 150 (based on this season)
    7 daily missions completed: 7 x 450 = 3150
    Weekly challenge complete = 1350
    Ladder rank 60 = 400
    Weekend mission = 200 (based on this season)
    (whale) Cosmic Wildfire bundle = 2000
    (whale) Booster Pack = 250
    (whale) Mystery Pack = 200
    F2P total = 6600 in this week, whale total = 9050

    So again, I can see how you can earn one spotlight reserve in a week, but not multiple, even if you’re whaling.

    • On ladder rank 60 you have 850 Credits (200 Credits on 10, 250 Credits on 30 and 400 Credits on rank 50)

      I totally agree with you.

      Maybe we can collect more then 10k Credits in the future for this new system?

  9. It’s a step in the right direction while taling 5 steps back at the same time. It’s ok for the newer players, but very bad for others. The main reason is RNG. It’s RNG if you get the card you want. And heck, even if I like one of the Spotlight Variants it’s RNG. Maybe you get it. Maybe you don’t. But you’ll definitely won’t get another shot, because it’s impossible to get enough CL in a week to open yet another of those caches.
    They stopped the variant rushes, because they felt bad. This is just the same, bad principle all over again, but I feel like it’s even worse.

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