If you don’t have access to the latest Marvel Snap cards, it can feel like you're better off not playing. That isn’t to say it’s impossible, and players are largely gated into pools that mean new folks aren’t getting constantly bodied, but at some point you’re either paying money or you’re paying the price.
Marvel Snap is essentially a three-lane digital card game featuring Marvel characters. Players generally try to rule the board with more power in at least two lanes at the end of six rounds, but individual cards or locations can add further complexity. This means that whether you own certain cards can make a big difference.
Deck the Halls
Which is to say: the more cards you have available to you in Marvel Snap, the more variety of decks you can run. The better the variety, the more likely you can specifically build a deck that is good in the current meta. And having a good deck is, well, good, because who likes losing all of the time? Not many, I'd wager.
But actually getting those cards is… kind of complicated. Everyone starts out with a base set which is then slowly grown through increasing half a dozen different digital currencies or markers. While that might sound like hyperbole, it is not. Here’s a rough explanation of how card acquisition works for free-to-play players:
- You earn card boosters at the end of a match for a single card from your deck. Earning enough will allow you the opportunity to cosmetically upgrade a given card.
- In order to actually cosmetically upgrade the card, if you have enough boosters, you need credits.
- To get credits, you need to complete missions.
- Once you've got all of the above and upgrade a card, depending on how big of an upgrade you make on a given card you go up between 1 to 10 levels in the collection track.
- The collection track includes various caches that may or may not include a truly new card.
OK, so with that in mind, add the fact that cards are roughly split between various "Series" with Series 4 and Series 5 cards generally being top dogs. The most powerful, most meaningful, and newest cards are Series 4 and Series 5. You can buy the Season Pass to get a single Series 5 card that's been added, or you can get wildly lucky with the collection track progression. Rarely, Series 5 and Series 4 cards drop down to a lower series. That's not even touching on gold, real-money card bundles, or something called "Collector's Tokens."
And this is all preamble, unfortunately, as developer Second Dinner is set to make things even more convoluted. At some point in the near future, Marvel Snap will add "Spotlight Caches" to the mix that… well, maybe just read the official image explaining it because trying to do so in text is a fool's errand:
"Previously, we saw a very small portion of players able to get the new card each week," writes Second Dinner in the official announcement. "But, with Spotlight Cache, ~25% of players who finish their Daily Missions can get the new card each week – for free!"
Which means that you need to complete all of your Daily Missions over an entire week – not simple, but not impossible – but even then only roughly 25% of those that put in the time and effort will get the new card? That seems like the kind of system designed to torture people.
It'd be frustrating enough if this were the end of it. But in order for Spotlight Caches to work, in order for the supply of Series 4 and Series 5 cards to be enough to make them sustainable, the number of cards dropping to lower series and the frequency at which that happens has been lowered, meaning that the higher-tier cards are harder and more expensive to get for longer.
This… sucks. I've given it a lot of thought since it was first announced, and there's no other response that comes close to summarizing how I feel about another layer of fiddly abstraction on top of what was already a fiddly abstraction in Marvel Snap. The official announcement claims that this will ultimately end up with more cards for more players, and while maybe the math supports that in actuality, it still feels bad. It feels bad! And it does not feel too outlandish to ask that it actually feel good and nice to play Marvel Snap instead.
If you're looking for something different on the go, maybe check out our roundup of the best iPhone games.