Announced earlier today, Marvel Snap is a fast-paced collectible card game for PC by developer Second Dinner studios. If that name doesn’t sound familiar to you, the man behind it might if you have been in the digital card game community for a while. This studio is led by Ben Brode, former director of Hearthstone, and this is his studio’s first big project. The team clearly has a lot of passion for the project, which we can see in the first Marvel Snap trailer and gameplay walkthrough that dropped today.
Marvel Snap gameplay is focused on speed. Instead of the traditional alternating-turn structure of most card games, Marvel Snap features simultaneous turns like Teppen. This makes sure that both players are always in on the action. An even more unique feature is deckbuilding. Each deck only has 12 cards in it, and only one copy of each. It sounds crazy at first, but each game only lasts a maximum of three minutes. Matches end automatically after the sixth turn.
In ranked mode, players wager Cosmic Cubes. You start each game by drawing three cards and begin the first turn with one energy. Each turn gives you one extra energy to work with, ensuring that the mana curve stays balanced. A lot of recent games have been adopting this method. As long as ramp or cards that ignore the curve don’t become too prevalent, it makes sure the game has a consistent level of escalation. Each character has an energy cost represented by a number on the top right.
Snap into action
The game is won by taking over two out of three locations, which are chosen randomly at the start of the game and not part of either player’s deck. These locations represent various places in the Marvel universe like Xavier’s Mansion, Knowhere, and The Daily Bugle. The first location is revealed at the start of the game, with the other two showing up on the following turns. To take over locations, you must play character cards in front of them — up to a maximum of four. Each character has a power number on the top right of the card. At the end of the game, the player with the most power at a location takes it over. You can also play characters at unrevealed locations to set up your following turns.
On the final turn of the game, the number of cubes up for grabs will double. This works together with the titular “snap” mechanic. Once per game, each player can snap to double the number of cubes on the line. This acts as a mind game for both players, like going “all in” during a game of Poker. If you are confident that you are going to win, you can snap to double the amount, which may cause your opponent to retreat. If a player retreats, they get to keep one cube, but lose out on more cubes if they had stuck around. Likewise, you can bluff your opponent by snapping and making them think you have a better shot at winning than you do.
It is a very interesting mechanic that operates almost completely outside of the game itself. I am looking forward to seeing how the mind game meta of the snap develops over time. Keep in mind though, that your opponent can snap as well, bringing the maximum number of cubes possible to win (or lose) in a single game up to eight.
Easy to learn, tough to master
The gameplay is very simple at a macro level, but the real strategy comes from the individual cards themselves as well as the locations. We can see cards, like Hobgoblin, with a negative power level that go on your opponent’s side of the board. The move lowers your opponent’s power at a location, sabotaging them.
We also see locations like Knowhere, which can instantly destroy a character. Cards like Nightcrawler can get around this by “moving” to a different location. Likewise with The Brood, which creates duplicates of itself when played. So, even though the original Brood is destroyed, the tokens stay as they were “added” to the field, not “played.” Much like Teppen, I can see fast-paced mind games occurring at a high level in Marvel Snap.
Second Dinner states in the Marvel Snap trailer that the game will launch with over 150 cards. Players can also expect weekly, if not daily, updates. Also, all cards in the game can be earned for free over time. This does ask the question: how does this free-to-play game make money?
Well, we also see in the trailer that each card has variant covers, much like a comic. Variant covers can be artwork by a specific style, or a completely different look. My favorites are the pixel variants, which remind me of the first two Marvel vs. Capcom games. That seems like a great way for the game to make money, without affecting the balance of the actual game itself. Card gamers, myself included, love to bling out their decks, and this seems like a fun way to do so.
The art style is also well done, looking very similar to Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3. Plus, the 3D effects on the cards are stunning, and the animation flourishes on certain cards make them feel like the characters they represent. Second Dinner has been hard at work on this game for four years, and it really shows.
Personally, I am excited for Marvel Snap based on the trailer and gameplay walkthrough. You can head over to the official website to sign up for a chance to play in the Closed Beta coming soon for Android devices. But don’t worry, an early access PC client is scheduled to launch when the game releases on mobile. Even better, all progress will carry over when the game officially launches. We don’t know when that will be, but based on how far along the game looks, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it before the winter months make their appearance.