I’ve always asked myself the question, “what’s wrong with mobile games?”
The answers I typically arrive at include: soul wrenching grinds to obtaining characters, or intrusive time saving monetization that creates feelings of shame and regret. We often envision the likes of Raid: Shadow Legends or Candy Crush within this genre, mostly because of monumental videos and word-of-mouth advertising campaigns. Even then, we mostly mock these games due to the perceived unfairness of their monetization structure.
Marvel Snap isn’t like that. It’s a collectible card game that is, to me, incredibly fun. You organize your deck with some of your favorite characters from Marvel Comics and play them in a 6 turn order onto a board with three random “locations.” If you gain more points than your opponent at a location, you win it. Winning 2 out of 3 locations by the end of the 6 turns is how you win the game.
The ranking system and the battle system both use Marvel’s iconic Cosmic Cubes as a points system. These function as an “ELO” system, allowing you to rank up from rank 0 to rank 100. “Cubes” are earned through “snapping,” which effectively increases the wager between you and your opponent. If you’ve ever played poker, think of it as a raise, increasing the risk for both players should they continue playing the game. Either player can activate this mechanic at any time; are you bluffing, or are you just that confident in your abilities? Who knows what reason caused you to snap? Perhaps you just want to watch the world burn.
The three random locations can have a major effect on the flow of the game… or they could just as easily have no effect at all. Your skill is reflected by how well you know your own cards, and how you play them with the match’s random locations. Some locations can give you a small pet rock, while others might destroy your entire deck if you’re unlucky enough.
It’s in this regard that the concept of “pay to win” is effectively mitigated through a high skill ceiling. Even with the best cards, intelligent interaction with the game is key. Players at beginning levels cannot be paired with those at higher levels. Additionally, cards are given to you at such a generous rate that you will often find both you and your opponent have unique advantages based on which cards you have gained at this point of your journey.
The cards with the highest rarity are often prize cards. These cards feature incredibly strong characters soaked in Marvel lore, with powerful abilities that are absolutely worth chasing after. Well, while the cards you do get are plentiful, they’re dispensed completely at random. It’s when you happen to get one of these cards while progressing that you get the sweet, sweet dopamine hit that everyone who plays this game chases.
Especially good cards to look out for are “Sunspot” which is amazing for almost any type of deck;
“Iron man” which you get very early and always maintains very good board pressure.
“Odin” who provides support for on-reveal cards.
“Death” which is a 12 power unit that can be brought down to cost 0 energy in a destroy deck.
“Iceman” and “Scorpion” are low cost staple card that debuff your opponent.
And finally the current most rare card “Thanos” which provides you with 6 infinity stones and an insane change of playstyle only that card can bring. If you see him or “Galactus” on your rotation be sure to try to pick them up, they are the rarest cards in the game.
So, are there any other rewards for playing?
Once you break out of the beginner brackets into collection level 1000, you’ll start to obtain variant cards, featuring different artwork that you can level up in a prestige style. The more you use your cards, the fancier and more intimidating they become, and you choose which cards you wish to upgrade. Likewise, there’s a ranked system which has its own rewards. The game just introduced a “friendly battles” mode, which promises the beginnings of a competitive format.
Finally, I would like to share my experience of buying one of the more expensive bundles. It was $99, and I gained about 250 collection levels from the purchase. Having already gained all of the season 3 cards, I benefited greatly from the “1 card per 40 chests” pity mechanic. I gained 1 new card and enough tokens to unlock another. That’s 2 cards, which can only open up additional strategies The rest of my rewards were cosmetic upgrades. Therefore I can tell you that you cannot buy your way to a full collection easily. It is, frankly, a luck-based system that everyone participates in on an equal level. As long as it stays that way, this game will be worth hours of your time and investment!
Marvel Snap is free to download and play both on Steam and on mobile devices.