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. It was a relatively calm week in the discord. There was some interesting insight into what makes a card more or less likely to be buffed. Also, some good news about classic art coming to the game soon!
Q: 1) Would you say that Spiderman 2099 ( who is probably due a buff imo) hasn't received a buff yet because of the big Move season that was quite recent?
2) Would Spiderman 2099 (potentially) and future cards be able to destroy unrevealed cards like Alioth does? Or is that a special quality you only want for big 6 cost cards?
A: 1) Not really. The card isn't one of our strongest, but 2099 has positive win and cube percentages. Our data suggests he may be only very slightly too weak, and we're not interested in a cavalier adjustment that could put him over the top. One more strong synergy card might do the trick.
2) No, I don't expect we'll do that. We want that effect to be very, very special.
Q: I'm wondering if your data can be sliced to cut out games “player vs bot” or if you don’t differentiate between bot/non bot games.
A: We don't look at bot games. We even look at player games sliced down to a variety of collection levels.
Q: Do cards have their stats a certain way because of a certain character? My main example is Rogue and Gambit; their original stats were both 3/1. Was this intentional to try to keep their stats similar?
A: We try to cost cards so they can be enjoyably paired, such as Shuri+Black Panther and Thor+Jane Foster, but Power is just whatever it needs to be.
Q: Are there any plans to add stat tracking this sort of tracking in game? Maybe not the "tracking your opponent's deck as they play cards" way but as in the win rate and average cubes of a deck you've built and played with?
A: We have some ideas in development around more ways to give players feedback about their individual performance. I don't personally favor getting as specific as actual stats, but identifying your winningest deck and/or the deck that earned you the most cubes are the kind of thing I'd like to be able to show people one day.
**Stat tracking? We've got a great method that has just been improved!
Q: I know I've asked this multiple times before, but I haven't really been answered, so I'll ask again: Does SD conduct rigorous playtests prior to a card release, a patch, or an OTA? If SD does conduct rigorous playtests, do they knowingly release unbalanced cards?
A: We playtest all of our card releases heavily, as new content is being measured from scratch. We also playtest balance changes, but not on the same scale. We make a lot of them, and many are minor adjustments to Cost or Power based on a ton of live data.
However, our balance philosophy isn’t that every card should be equal, or that cards aren’t supposed to change. Just like the queen is better than the rook, we want some cards to warp games around their strength—but we also want to change which cards do that to churn the metagame in different directions over time. SNAP should feel like every character has a chance at time in the sun, even if it’s fleeting.
Q: When you guys nerfed Aero you mentioned that her balance was healthy and that she plays a vital role in marvel snap specifically against Galactus. Even though we have seen a huge increase in Galactus type decks Aero's play rate continues to be low. Are there any plans to adjust her?
A: Her play rate is low, but her cube and winrate are not (in the top 20% of the game last I checked). It’s a pretty good time to play the card, and we don’t generally buff cards because people are sleeping on them.
**Interesting insight: the team is unlikely to change cards simply because their play rate is very low. If neither Aero nor Spider-Man 2099 (question 15) are in line for a change, that implies that the criteria for change is quite strict.
Q: What stats are you monitoring for cards not meant to be played like Angel, Apocalypse, Black Cat, Chavez, M'Baku, etc.
A: The primary balance stats we monitor for individual cards are winrate and cube rate when drawn, but we have a few other ways to slice things for special cases, like “not drawn” for M’Baku.
Q: Will there ever be an option to turn notification dots off in game?
A: For upgradable cards, you can tap on the cards that are available for upgrading and that should decrease the counter on the nav bar. As for spotlight caches, stay tuned!
**This is a small quality of life change that was put into a recent patch that many may have missed. Getting rid of Spotlight Cache notifications would be welcome as well.
Q: Is there any consideration on giving Miles Morales the Stature treatment, which would allow Miles Morales to maintain the 1 cost for the remainder of the game, rather than just 1 round?
A: Nope. Movement is a much more frequent game action than discarding an enemy card, so if we were to make that change to Miles it would need to accompany a dramatic nerf as well.
Q: Mobius's text seems unreasonably strong. Did the team feel cost reduction decks were too strong? Or was Mobius mainly a card to counter Wave and cost reduction got hit in crossfire?
Also, does this mean we won't be seeing new cost reduction cards in the future?
A: Cost increase and reduction has been very strong in general, with no counterplay to either one really. We wanted to add some. If Mobius is too strong, he's an easily balanced card via OTA to reduce his efficiency.
As for your last question, Mobius actually means the opposite--because counterplay is available, we can feel more free to print more good cost reduction, not less.
**Glenn makes an interesting point here about how including a card like Mobius actually makes it easier to release cool cost-reduction cards in the future. The meta can always shift towards and away from Mobius as these effects wax and wane in power and play rate.
Also, Mobius is definitely strong, but is he too strong? Cost reduction has long been the strongest effect in Snap, and it went completely unchecked for nearly a year. I think Mobius could freshen things up.
Q: America Chavez has consistently been a card that players often rely on for early-game deck thinning. However, recent data from various websites indicates a remarkable surge in her usage rate. In certain sample intervals, America Chavez has even emerged as the highest play rate card.
I am keen to understand the official perspective on this phenomenon. Is there concern that this may compromise the original purpose of the 12-card deck design?
A: Yep, it’s a concern.
**While I can kind of see the point that having a card like Chavez departs from their original vision of the game, I can't imagine many players would be happy about a change to Chavez. Maybe if she were to be the most included card for several months, it would feel stale. What are your thoughts on this response?
Q: If you play Storm on turn 3 and Snowguard Hawk on turn 4, players can play cards on the Flooding location on both turn 5 and turn 6. Mechanically, this is a logical occurrence - Flooding progresses at the end of each turn, and Snowguard Hawk lasts for two end-of-turn triggers. However, this is a very unintuitive interaction (players probably only expect a one-turn extension), so I want to ask:
- What was the designers' intention for the Flooding + Hawk interaction?
- If there's a mismatch between how an interaction would work in the game engine and how the designers want an interaction to work, which takes precedence?
A: This one's tricky, since both outcomes will be confusing to a fairly meaningful number of people--we can't even really measure which group is larger, since it essentially hinges on how a player thinks Flooding works, regardless of how it actually works.
We build the game engine, so if the execution we want doesn't match what's currently there, we either change how the engine works or decide if a simpler functionality will get us where we want to go. But the card "wins" either way.
**Snowguard has some tricky interactions. Check out the recent Snap.fan guide to get the most out of her.
Q: I'm curious why y'all chose to have Revonna cost 3 energy vs 2. Did you find in your play testing that her effect was too powerful at 2?
A: It was a close decision, and cost reduction is an effect we tend to err more cautious on. If we missed the mark here, 2-Cost is among the first adjustments we’ll consider.
**I think the general consensus that the community has come to is that Ravonna is likely not worth spending resources on. I think Glenn's comments here may make that a more difficult consideration. Ravonna has a strong effect that will only get stronger as more cards are released. While the current meta may be hostile to her (the next possibly as well, with Mobius releasing soon), it's easy to imagine a future meta where she is better. Personally, I think getting Ravonna is currently worth the risk, especially if you can grab her with tokens rather than spending Spotlight caches.
Q: Is the number of purchases (on release) a factor when balancing underperforming cards?
A: The primary metrics prioritized are winrate, cuberate, and how often the card is in either player’s deck. Since you have to own a card in order to put it in a deck, that metric is necessarily impacted by how many players acquire the card.
Q: Is there a particular reason that card variant skews so heavily modern?
Last I checked, the oldest preexisting variant card art available in-game only went as far back as 1992 (the Jim Lee X-Men variants, which use his art from their old trading cards) and 1991 (Spider-Man's Symbiote variant, which uses Todd McFarlane's cover for Spider-Man #13).
Does this come down to an aesthetic preference, a lack of familiarity with Marvel's overwhelmingly deep back catalogue, or perhaps technical reasons that make adding art that was done pre-digital more difficult to integrate into the game? Or is it another reason entirely?
A: We definitely have plans to add more classic or back catalogue variants to the game. There are some limitations for us, around what we're allowed to use or not, etc. We review a lot of the older art with Marvel and add them to the game when we can. The classic pieces are technically more challenging for us to get into the game as well, and take a bit more time. When we commission an original piece, we can have the artist break the piece up into layers as they go, making it easier to create the parallax FX. For the older pieces, we need to cut up the layers, paint behind them (where no art exists), etc - this makes the process quite a bit longer. Hope this helps shed some light!
Don’t you worry, we’re working on getting a LOT more bronze and silver age comic art in.
**This is incredible news. There are already Man-Thing and Werewolf by Night classic comic cover variants that have been datamined. It sounds like a lot more are to come.
It had always puzzled me why classic art was so sparse in the game, but Nicki's explanation above makes a lot of sense. A modern artist is more likely to create digitally and layer as they go. This undoubtedly makes frame breaks and animation much easier.
The other avenue opened up by this is classic interior panel art. Personally, I'd love to have some of the most famous scenes from Marvel Comics history as Snap cards.
Took a nap on the couch with Bear. When I woke up, he had added his brother’s bed as a pillow. pic.twitter.com/z0V0BAxN4g— Glenn Jones (@Glenn_Jones_) September 17, 2023
That's all for this week. Head to the Marvel Snap discord and ask a question to potentially be featured here. What classic comic book art would you like to see added to the game? What card do you want to get a buff?