Welcome to the weekly Glenn Jones’ Diary entry. Below are the most interesting, surprising, or otherwise important answers from the Ask-The-Team channel on the Marvel Snap Discord from the last seven days. There were lots of hints this week about small changes coming in future patches from Glenn and Stephen. I suspect that with the new PC client launched, we can expect a lot more small quality of life and aesthetic changes in the next few patches. Also, keywords talk!
Q: Just a quick one, if you used zero to take away abilities of a card, then that card was destroyed and came back with Phoenix Force would it come back with or without abilities?
A: Without. It’s the same card.
Q: It is intuitive when playing Spider-Man that he cannot jump to a lane that is full on your own side of the board. Does he also avoid jumping to a lane that is full on the opposite side of the board (when possible)?
A: Yes, he prioritizes being able to drag an enemy if possible.
Q: What determines the order of operations when Living Tribunal is played with multiple Iron Man bonuses in different lanes?
A: Like Cerebro and Omega Red, Living Tribunal has an Ongoing effect that checks after other Ongoing effects not on their layer, such as Iron Man.
Q: I just saw a very counterintuitive interaction involving Phoenix Force and Patriot - not two cards you normally see together, thanks Agent Coulson. If you bring back a Broodling with the Force, and presumably any other vanilla card, it continues to be buffed by Patriot (and possibly Washington DC) despite now having the ability to move. Is this an intended interaction?
A: Yes. The card still has no ability text; the move ability is granted by the merged card. This is the same reason Hulkbuster’s On Reveal isn’t copied onto the card it merges with.
Q: Why do both goblins use the term "gains control of this card" while Titania uses "switches sides"?
A: We've already decided the Goblins should match Titania, we'll have that update in a future patch.
Q: I know you had experimented with more people getting the new released variants in their shops. Was this functionality taken away or modified?
A: We are planning to set it so when new variants release everyone sees them in the shop within a day or two of release. This change will start in an upcoming patch. We may revisit it in a future update as we continue to iterate on personalization
**This seems like something they’ve gone back and forth on, trying to find a sweet spot.
Q: Will marvel snap ever release a variant that effects the artwork of its token like mysterio but for others.
A: Yes we are working on this for a few new upcoming variants. Check out our SDCC panel from a few weeks ago for more info
**We know zombie squirrels are coming, but what else are we getting? More Halloween-themed tokens?
Q: Will we ever be able to see previews of borders on cards in the shop before we buy them?
A: Yes it’s in dev right now so will be in one of our upcoming updates!
Q: Hello, X-23 has been very fun to play around with, but I was wondering why you didn't simply recycle Wolverine's animation for X-23, at least temporarily.
A: We were scant on VFX in order to get as many hands on-deck for the PC launch. We’re already working now on prioritizing and backfilling VFX for cards that need some love.
Plus, X-23 doesn’t have 3 claws on each hand, so we’d have to change at least that much.
Q: I just had a game where my opponent played Debrii off of Yashida base without priority on turn 6, simultaneously adding a rock on both sides as the final cards added to the location. However, when Yashida base activated it only destroyed my rock. What is the cause of this?
A: While cards may visually appear simultaneously, the game generates elements in an order and indexes them relative to one another. That order will vary depending on who has priority and which locations received what, so it's not literally random but plays pretty close.
Q: It was my assumption that the unusual use of the phrase "get here" on Yashida base was intended as a catch all for any method of card arrival. Yet when I played to knock my opponent's silk over there on the final turn, it did not destroy it but rather my Zabu played the previous turn. Is this a bug? If not, please explain the type of action that falls under "get here".
A: Assuming the Silk stayed there until the end of the game, she should've been destroyed. I'll look into that.
Q: Do you plan on adding more cards that synergize with Sauron or have negative effects but good stat lines?
Would adding more cards that have good stat lines be limited by zero, enchantress and Sauron too much so that they never had to be put in a deck that tried to work around their ability instead of silencing it? Same goes for on reveals and cosmo/invisible woman sometimes, although Maximus and destroyer are the only ones I can think of.
To what extent, if any, do these silencing cards restrict the design of cards that have negative abilities? Do you plan on creating more cards with downside text?
A: The silencing cards aren't a huge restriction--any cards we make with negative effects we'd likely aim to interact with one or more of the cards like Cosmo, Zero, or Sauron. Those combos are fun to discover.
The trick is that those cards are often unappealing on their face, so we have to find really great designs. We want to ensure people are interested and excited about finding ways to mitigate their downsides. We want to make these cards--they're just tough to execute.
Q: Will there ever be a change to locations like X-Mansion? It says the ability activates after t3 but when scarlet witch changes a location to it the ability doesn’t activate despite it still being “after turn 3” Would this be an update to say at the end of turn 3 or a gameplay change to where the effect will happen on any turn after 3
A: No, we won't make an update like that. "After turn 3" is shorthand for "At the end of turn 3," which is a longer phrase that would affect the legibility of location font sizes and constrain their effects. Think of it like a keyword.
Q: Why is it that if you play Scarlet Witch (or Reality Stone) and it creates Death's Domin then Scarlet won't die, but if you play Quake onto the middle location and it rotates an existing Death Domain to the middle then Quake will die?
Is it an intended behavior, and if so I would love to hear the reasoning behind it.
A: This answer is actually simpler, though maybe less satisfying. The function for tracking whether a card had been staged and resolved has an exception to "hide" from locations that were replaced between those two moments.
This predates me by about a year, so I can't speak with certainty to why. My guess is the restricted location pool of early Series 1 made stuff like Scarlet Witch into a surprise Death's Domain/Danger Room too common, so the exception was created to protect a good experience. That sounds worthwhile, so I imagine any adjustment we'd make would line Quake up with Wanda. However, the lift to do that seems pretty heavy relative to the gains, so I wouldn't expect such a change anytime soon.
**This answer actually makes me pretty sad because a change to this would actually make Quake a non-trivial amount better, but I can see how devoting time just to make one of my favorite bad cards slightly less bad is not an efficient use of resources.
Q: When players with lower collection levels reach Infinite Rank, they'll be matched with people who have higher series cards. Is SD aware of this, and if so, is this by design?
A: Yes. Post-infinite play offers an unrestricted competitive experience. When we introduce a global leaderboard, that will be crucial to its integrity.
**This makes a global leaderboard sound imminent! The return of relevant ladder games? Yes, please!
Q: Will you guys ever add a new key word into the game. Example: reveal, ongoing, move. If so will it be some time this year? Thank you for making an amazing game 🙏
A: Yes, but not this year.
**Glenn’s pretty emphatic “Yes” here is pretty surprising and leads me to believe they’re already brainstorming potential future keywords. The team as a whole, and Glenn specifically, have always placed an emphasis on brevity and simple language that is intuitive to all types of players. With that in mind, what kind of new keywords could fit Second Dinner’s strict criteria for keywords? I’m guessing it will not be anything complicated like ‘proliferate’ in Magic: the Gathering, or even something like ‘Haste’ that’s familiar to players of many games but opaque to a gaming newbie. It’s more likely to be something that can be understood without having to be further explained. Potential candidates include indestructible, transform, escape, evade, save and assist. What are your ideas?
Q: Team’s thoughts on alternative win conditions. Mostly just curious to hear the team's philosophy on this. Some card games have cards which define whole new win conditions outside of the basic win condition of the game. Snap doesn't really have this in the strong sense that other card games do.
A: The space is very tricky, as Galactus has shown us. Many of the decks that do that in other games still let both players experience the core fun of the game, but SNAP is already so short and so confined to its game space that shortcutting it further risks making it feel like it’s not SNAP at all.
I’d generally rather look at combos that make 100 Power at a location or something than win the game outright, but if the right idea and execution came along we’d explore it.
**This is referring to things like Helix Pinnacle in MTG or Exodia in Yu-Gi-Oh! that do not win the game via the normal route of damage but by achieving something totally different. I can see something like “Assemble 12 Avengers,” “Move 20 times," or “Place Two Stepford Cuckoos or The White Queen in each lane as alternative win conditions in Snap, but I agree with Glenn that because of the nature of Snap, these are probably left to other games. Even in other games, these kinds of mechanics get pretty toxic if they’re at all good or easy to achieve.
Q: Seeing how disruptive cards (spider ham,enchantress,shang chi, etc.) are a must have card right now and fit in almost every deck, is the team happy with it?
I can see that disruptive cards are needed to keep the game balance, but aren't those cards too relevant?
A: Plenty of both kinds of decks exist. For example, Shuri and Discard decks mostly ignore disrupting the opponent, while Silver Surfer usually uses different disruption than Darkhawk.
It’s important to have good options on both sides in order to increase the total diversity of play. I’m pretty happy with where things sit.
**I lean towards Glenn’s position here. I think the game has enough Control/Disruptive elements without having too many. But I’m curious if you agree. Let me know in the comments.
Q: With the recent buffs the play pattern of Forge into Brood into Absorbing Man into more buffs is taking the meta by storm. Is this play pattern considered healthy and within your internal thresholds or is it fine because it relies heavily on getting the “combo” lined up in time?
A: We're still evaluating the performance of archetypes using this combination of cards, among others. It's certainly strong, but our reaction to something new and strong is never "let's stamp that out." We always want to let players have their chance to adapt and change the metagame. The emergence of a new deck should be an exciting time to play.
**It will be extremely interesting to see what gets changed in the next batch of OTA balance changes. The Forge, Brood, and Absorbing Man combo is certainly one of the strongest in the game, and I was predicting that perhaps this combo might get touched. Given Glenn’s answer here, perhaps it will just be a point off of Abs Man or something like that. I am wondering if the Silk/Kraven move package will get changed. I personally don’t think it’s overpowered and has already fallen back to the meta pack a bit, so I’m curious if their delay in when they have to lock in OTA changes will lead to this being the biggest change. Hey, maybe they’ll just give us all buffs again! That would be my vote.
Q: Hot locations often greatly influence a particular archetype during their 24 hours. Does this reflect in the win rates/play rates of these favored decks?
Follow-up question: Due to this influence, are you keeping the game data during this day separate from the overall game data and is it used for any kind of balancing/meta-understanding purposes?
A: Yes, we see pretty different metagames during Hot/Featured locations. We filter games played while a location is H/F out of our metagame data for balance.
We sometimes look at it for various reasons or even just curiosity, but it’s not a regular part of our process to reference it beyond figuring out if the location was fun.
**I remember long ago Glenn stating that one of the things that appealed to him about the job at Second Dinner was the promise of an ever changing metagame that can be dramatically altered with hot or featured locations. One of the casualties of the change from 48-hour to 24-hour hot locations is that a totally new and bizarre metagame rarely fully blooms. I’m pretty sure I’m the only person in the world who misses 48-hour locations and their ability to pull the player base kicking and screaming into trying new cards, but doesn’t it just feel like hot or featured locations are just irrelevant these days? I know content creators prefer to be able to put out whatever daily video they want without hot location interference, but maybe something can be done to bring the spice of locations back now that Conquest is a hot location refuge.
Q: Leading up to release, Legion was widely viewed as a completely awful card. Was the huge success of Legion on release a surprise for the balance/design team, or did he settle roughly where he was expected based on testing/intuition? If he was known to be good beforehand, the cycle leading up to release must have been very funny to see.
Bonus question: what is the card that has most gone against internal expectations of its power level? Either you expected it to be very strong and it wasn't or vice-versa. I always think sleeper cards are very interesting case studies to consider.
A: He surprised us, but not to the same degree. We thought he was good, but recognized players might underestimate him. That’s actually what led to him getting a bump from 5/7 to 5/8 late in balance, just wanting to make sure we had him in a spot that was appealing enough to play. We expected a winning card, but not a “Top 5 card.”
I can’t think of too many instances where I was really surprised. Sometimes things just take time—I knew Silk was a very strong card, for example. I guess I’ll say Phoenix Force, which wound up at its release balance point in part because I played that deck a ton and was winning a lot. In hindsight, the rest of our internal metagame was probably just underdeveloped at the time.
*It sounds like Glenn just crushing his teammates with the Phoenix Force led to us getting an under-statted card on release. Also, how much of a hit does Legion take as a 5/7? Early Silk believer pride!
That’s all for this week. What are your thoughts on all of Glenn’s keyword talk? Are you looking forward to the new emotes and reactions? Do you feel like Yashida Base’s interactions are intuitive? Head to the Marvel Snap discord and ask a question to potentially be featured here next week.