Review – Marvel Snap (PC)
From the mind of Ben Brode, best known for his work with Blizzard and making Hearthstone the success that it is, comes Second Dinner and their new (to PC) game Marvel Snap. This is a new card game utilising the licenses of, you guessed it, Marvel characters. With a base set of Marvel characters that were available at launch, plus four new cards every month (once every week), that’s a huge variety of favourite characters to build decks around. The thing is, there are so many free-to-play card games available already, what makes Marvel Snap stand out?
The first thing is its card variety. With an ever-growing roster of cards to collect and build decks around, everyone will have a playstyle they enjoy. When completing each game you’ll get boosters for a card in your deck, one booster for each turn started, which are used to upgrade the rarity of cards.
There are six upgrades available to every card, after which you can “split” the card to have it gain different effects like a holographic background, which is always the first split, different colour bubbles or swirls around it, and an ink finish or gold background which is the ones most people look for. Every time you upgrade the rarity of a card, you gain collection level as well. Through gaining collection level you’ll get random boosters, credits that are used for your rarity upgrades, new cards, variants for your cards, or currency to use in the shop.
Decks in Marvel Snap are made up of twelve cards, each with an energy cost and power. Plus, most have effects to take advantage of, so build your deck wisely. Currently, my two main decks are using Nimrod, who when destroyed respawns himself at each location, or Loki, who copies cards from your opponent’s deck. I’ll go more into the whole locations thing in a minute, but first I just want to mention the deck meta.
For anyone that has played and form of TCG in the past, you know that people like to copy the decks other people are using. I keep losing to this, so why don’t I give it a try, right? One thing I’ll say is that the deck meta is actually quite healthy. Yes, there are some decks that pop up a lot, like Thanos, even though I think I’ve only ever seen Thanos’ ability go off once, but there’s a good variety in decks you’ll come across in the different game modes.
Marvel Snap is incredibly fast paced. You have six turns to make sure you hold the most power in at least two of three locations, or hold the most power all together if both players only win at one location and draw the third one. You start off with one energy, and gain one energy each turn, so you’ll finish the game with six. Simple enough. Cards have an assortment of abilities like On Reveal, which just means when they’re revealed the ability happens. Then there’s Ongoing, which means the ability will continuously happen.
There’s also a third which doesn’t fall under either of these, it isn’t called anything in particular, so let’s just say it’s just an ability. For instance, the game’s newest card Elsa Bloodstone is neither On Reveal or Ongoing, it just is. Locations are the other things that have abilities to keep in mind. There are some that don’t let you play any card at them, you can’t play cards of certain powers, or even you can’t retreat after turn five. Very few cards have significant animations, outside of perhaps Galactus. Most are simply played and call it a day.
I mentioned retreating because it’s really important. There are two main game modes to Marvel Snap: Ladder, which is simply trying to be the best, and Conquest, which comes with earning medals to spend on rewards. In Ladder, every ten ranks you move up to a different medal division. To earn ranks you need to collect cubes, seven cubes gets you one rank. To earn cubes, you need to play games. Each game starts off with the cube counter at one, if someone just retreats here, then great, you only lose or gain one cube. If you play the match all the way to the end of turn six, it doubles to you get two cubes.
Now comes to where the name of the game comes from. if you or your opponent snap, at the end of the turn the number of cubes doubles, and at the end of the match it doubles again. If you snap on turn one and your opponent doesn’t retreat immediately, you’re playing for two cubes, and you’re playing for four if you go the whole way. If both players snap, then guess what? You’re playing for four cubes, and if the match plays out in full, you’re playing for eight.
Conquest works much in the same way, the difference being that both you and your opponent have 10 health, and the cubes are essentially damage taken. You can start a match and almost immediately take all your health in damage if you’re not careful. You also can’t snap to deal more damage than you have for health, meaning if you have 3 health left and your opponent is still on 10 and you snap, and win, your opponent will only take three damage instead of four. Essentially you and the other person play each other over and over until one either just concedes entirely, or one loses all their health.
Every card in Marvel Snap has a base version and multiple variants that can be obtained. This is where the store comes in. Sure, you can get a lucky pull upgrading your collection level, but maybe you want a Bucky Barnes variant for your deck and you’re JUST NOT GETTING IT. The store has you covered (sort of).
Each day has a rotation of eight different variants for cards that are already in your collection that can be bought for gold. Gold is earned from completing daily missions and from lucky pulls upgrading your collection level. There are rare and super rare variants, costing seven hundred gold and twelve hundred gold, respectively. It’s not overly hard to get enough gold to buy a variant you want, it just gets unfortunate when a variant you want is in the shop and you don’t have enough.
It’s possible that it will be in the shop again tomorrow, but it’s also possible it won’t be back for ages. You can buy gold for money, but man it’s expensive. Thankfully, they’re purely cosmetic. Let’s say you just want a variant and you’re not bothered about what you get, there is a random premium variant option, which essentially gets rid of some of the really basic looking ones no one likes (I’m looking at you Pixel Variants). There are also bundles that sometimes cost gold, sometimes cost real money, that sometimes come with variants, credits, or collector tokens.
Collector tokens are the other currency for use in the shop. They are harder to get and therefore, more important. Every week when a new card is released it can be bought with collector tokens, it’s the only guaranteed way to get the new card each week. How much is costs comes down to how good Second Dinner thinks it will be. Series 3 cards are essentially the cheapest cards available, but also have the least impact on the game, versus Series 5 cards that can be absolutely game changing. Cards do tend to change their series as time passes and other cards are classed as better, outside of a few.
The “big bads” (as they’re referred to) are permanently the most expensive cards. These are cards like Thanos, Galactus, and High Evolutionary who have a big impact on the deck they are in and are card to base decks around. Outside of the newest card, you also have a rotation of Series 3 and 4 cards that change every eight hours to buy. If you find one you like, you can pin it to buy when you have enough tokens. There are also ultimate variants, technically the most expensive variants available which cost five thousand tokens. Again, these can be pinned to keep one you want around.
That’s it. That’s Marvel Snap. To be totally honest, this has been my go-to mobile game for quite a while now, and playing it on PC was neat, especially getting to see better (bigger screen) versions of all the animations. I enjoy that Marvel Snap is arguably not pay-to-win. You can’t just simply buy the best cards or anything like that, you need to actually play the game to earn them, or get enough collectors tokens to buy them since it’s a currency you can’t just buy. The new cards aren’t overwhelming like it is when one hundred fifty new ones drop in Magic: The Gathering or Hearthstone. Having a few a month makes it easy to keep up, and even if you don’t get them all you know “okay, this new card does this.” It’s great to have a quick game to play when sitting on a bus or a train, and Marvel Snap is my go-to for those such occasions.
Marvel Snap has a ton of cards and variants that look quite good, with a handful of animations throughout the game for major effects, like Thanos, or Galactus. One thing that would be nice is more backgrounds than just the base “floating island” background look.
The variety of meta decks and other decks you can build and competitively play with is great. The ladder isn’t filled with just one or two of the same decks being played by everyone and won by whoever is simply luckiest. Working out what your opponent is playing towards and working to counter it is what makes it possible to win in Marvel Snap.
There’s not a ton of different sounds in Marvel Snap, but each of the characters are individually voices with their own line when played. Plus, the main theme of Marvel Snap will absolutely get stuck in your head.
I find I am much more likely now to play Marvel Snap, over Hearthstone or MTG: Arena. The meta is much more open than other games, and the ability to make fun competitive decks with cards you actually want to use is the key marker that’s making Marvel Snap much more enjoyable.
Final Verdict: 8.5
Marvel Snap is available now on PC and mobile.
Reviewed on PC.