It’s easy to see why Marvel Snap was 2022’s best mobile game and even took home the award for it at the Game Awards in December. The variety in strategies, mechanics, and synergy between cards offers so many ways to play, wherein no two matches are the same. This, coupled with the smart integration of hero and villain abilities along with the gorgeous art make Marvel Snap an all-timer. The thing is, Marvel Snap has one fatal flaw that nearly ruins the entire experience.
It’s all tied to progression and the rate at which you unlock new cards. For a game that’s all about building fun decks, you’d think Marvel Snap would be slightly more generous with its card to encourage more playstyles, but that isn’t the case.
Luck of the draw
In Marvel Snap, new cards are unlocked at random — at least, to a degree. As you increase your Collection Level (which is done by spending various currencies), you have a chance of earning new cards. Every 12 Levels, you unlock a Collector’s Reserve, which has a 1/40 chance of giving you a new card.
There are over 200 cards in Marvel Snap, many of which are essential to certain deck builds. For instance, you won’t come close to being competitive using a Destroy deck without Death or Venom, and good luck countering high-Power cards without Shang Chi. These cards still remain elusive, even to those who have put dozens of hours into the game.
To put this into perspective, I’ve played Marvel Snap since it launched in October 2022, and have reached Collection Level 2,161. Even after playing nearly every day, there are still several cards from earlier collections (referred to as Pools) that I don’t have. The problem is that some of these cards like Patriot are borderline overpowered, putting me at a disadvantage when facing off against players using them.
Other cards like Spider-Man are just nice to own but have yet to appear during natural progression. Though, developer Second Dinner did feature a paid bundle that included Spider-Man recently, which likely generated a tremendous amount of revenue.
Certain meta builds require the use of specific cards, while others are practically required in order to compete against Powerful decks. The point is that it’s unfair to leave so many players at a disadvantage simply due to bad luck.
The game’s progression system needs to be tweaked ever so slightly. That 1/40 drop rate could stand to be adjusted to 1/30 or even 1/33 to give players just a little bit more of a fighting chance against those luckier opponents.
It’s to the point where I don’t get excited when unlocking a Collector’s Reserve anymore. They almost never contain cards and when they do, it’s a Variant of a card that I own already. The sinking feeling of earning a new card, but then realizing it’s a variant of something you already have, is crushing.
To mitigate all of this, Second Dinner has implemented a slew of upgrade bundles (or even specific cards) you can buy with real money. However, these bundles are laughably expensive. Currently, the “Pro Bundle” which comes with 12,500 Credits and 155 x8 Boosters is available for $99.99.
This is absurd. The value is simply not there.
This bundle, in particular, won’t upgrade your Collection Level much, anyway. So even if you bit the bullet and spent the $100 on it, you aren’t getting as much as you’d think, especially if you already have lots of cards with high rarity.
The story is the same with other bundles, too, as nearly all of them feel grossly overpriced.
A recent update added the Token Shop, which features a rotating card that can be purchased with Collector Tokens. Depending on the Pool the card is from, the cost can range from 1,000 to 6,000 Tokens. However, much like the rate at which you unlock new cards, getting your hands on Tokens is a slow process, as you only get 100 from random Collector’s Reserves — but those same Reserves have a much wider pool of potential rewards. This is yet another system that feels painfully sluggish, making it hard to actually get the cards you want.
If you play frequently and have decent luck, Marvel Snap is a blast. But if you go up against a player with certain cards you don’t have access to yet (or cards that can counter them), you’re bound to have a bad time.
The gameplay itself is good enough to just barely carry Marvel Snap along, but having a more balanced progression system would certainly make it more enticing to spend time with it. Marvel Snap has the makings of an exceptional card game and could be the very best once its progression is adjusted.