When I first saw the announcement trailer for Marvel Snap, I was thrilled. I love card games, and the thought of a fun, fast-paced card game that allowed me to collect and play my favorite superheroes? Sign me up. Now that I have played several hours and dozens of this game’s bite-size five-minute battles, I can say that it is everything I had hoped for from Marvel Entertainment, developer Second Dinner, and publisher Nuverse.
Let’s start with the basics. When the game begins, each player brings their own deck of 12 cards and starts with a hand of four cards with an additional card drawn each turn. There are three locations laid out in the center of the screen. Players will play their cards to these locations as they try to control them. Whichever player controls two of the three locations at the end of turn six wins the game. Easy enough.
Each card in Marvel Snap has an energy cost and a power number displayed on the top right and top left of their card respectively. Whoever has the highest total power at a location controls it. Most cards also possess a special ability that will be displayed under the card art. At the start of each turn, both players gain an amount of energy equal to the turn number. So, turn one you get one energy, two you get two, and so on. Unused energy doesn’t carry over, so building a deck with a solid variety of costs is important. Fully utilizing your resources is critical to winning a game.
A key element to how Marvel Snap keeps its gameplay flowing and its match times down is the fact that both players play their cards simultaneously. Once both players have decided which cards will be played, the game reveals what decisions were made and how the board has been affected.
Along with the numerous abilities on the cards interacting, each location in play will bring its own abilities to further mix up the way the game plays out. However, only one location’s ability is known at the start of the game. At the start of subsequent turns, another location’s ability will be revealed until all are active. These abilities vary wildly and can have huge impacts on how a game plays out. From play restrictions or boosting certain types of characters, to lengthening the game, these abilities provide a fantastic variable to keep each player guessing. And there are a lot of these locations already present in the game. While it is tempting to try to plan for some of the more radical effects they bring to the game, there is little point, as who knows when you’ll see that effect again. It serves as a great, unbiased equalizer between players.
The roster of characters is just as staggering, with a huge variety of characters from all corners of the Marvel Universe to play. I’ve been reading Marvel comics and playing games based on their characters for over 20 years and there are personalities here I’ve never heard of.
While Second Dinner has developed a game with loads of fun, easy-to-learn, highly addictive gameplay, they also put out a polished, gorgeous visual presentation. Every card comes with visual flairs for when they are played or when their power is activated. Each card gets its second to shine. Cap’s shield will bounce around, Rocket Raccoon will momentarily brandish his full arsenal of crazy weapons, and The Hulk lands with such force as to cause all the other cards to bounce into the air.
So, at this point, you might be thinking, “This is all well and good, but what about the monetization?” From what I’ve seen so far, the monetization feels extremely fair. Just by playing the game, the player accumulates a steady stream of new cards and cosmetic upgrades for their collection. There is a paid event track that players can opt into for 10 or 15 dollars, with the higher price getting a bit more out of the deal and a head start on the track. But if you have no interest in spending cash, I cannot imagine feeling pressured in any way to do so.
When taken all together, Marvel Snap is a fun, mentally challenging game that rewards creativity and adaptability and that can be played in a snap. Whether an old hand at card games or a novice, this game should have plenty to offer as you battle with some of your favorite superheroic characters.
Marvel Snap is available now on Android or iOS and is in early access on PC.
Marvel Snap is a fun, mentally challenging game that rewards creativity and adaptability and that can be played in a snap. Whether an old hand at card games or a novice, this game should have plenty to offer as you battle with some of your favorite superheroic characters.