This week’s Marvel Snap patch is one of the last sets of balance changes we’re getting in the game for 2023, and it’s a very big one. It comes with plenty of new features like the brand new deck builder feature, more emotes, as well as an album feature that rewards you for collecting variants from various artists.
More importantly, though, it also comes with tons of huge nerfs for some big cards. We’re talking Alioth, America Chavez, and Elsa Bloodstone. Here are the changes:
- America Chavez
- [Old] 6/9 – Starts on the bottom of your deck. Draw this on turn 6.
- [New] 2/3 – On Reveal: The top card of your deck gets +2 Power.
Developer Note: We know that America Chavez has been a beloved card to many, dating back to beta, and this rework is a major change. However, the previous functionality for America Chavez was troubling and we’re changing it in the interests of better aligning with our philosophy for the game and the kinds of things we want to be strong, interesting, and healthy for deckbuilding.
Philosophically, America Chavez doesn’t behave the way we want cards to. She most often isn’t played or even used for fun synergies, just for percentage increase on drawing other cards, making “an 11-card deck.” That’s not to say no use met our standard–the Dracula decks were cool. We respect that many players enjoy the concept of deck-thinning or “fixing” draws, but it’s dangerous to metagame health that America Chavez does this too freely for too many decks. In fact, she’s often the most popular card in the game on a given week. But most of the time, that means she’s pushing the 12th-most interesting card for a deck out of it.
We’re sure some players worry that their deck won’t work without America Chavez. Put simply, this is very unlikely–deck-thinning, while strong, is often overestimated. Plus, she made a lot of your opponents’ decks more consistent too. However, if a deck is meaningfully weakened, this change also frees us up to buff them or aim more designs at specific archetypes.
So why this design? Well, we wanted something simple and clean, because America Chavez is still a Series 1 card. Something we value in those cards is creating moments of discovery by offering players a wide variety of small “combos,” and this fits the bill. The new card is a competitively rated card as a “technical 2/5” and we’re curious to see which of the many cards that love a +2 buff she ultimately sees play alongside.
- [Old] 6/3 – On Reveal: Destroy ALL enemy cards played here this turn. (including unrevealed cards)
- [New] 6/2 – On Reveal: Destroy all unrevealed enemy cards here.
Developer Note: Alioth has enjoyed an interesting position in SNAP as a card with acceptable winrate and cube rate, but a bad reputation. We’ve monitored the latter alongside performance, as we expected time and experience would help. However, he’s become more commonplace and remained frustrating, so we’re taking action. This changes Alioth from a catch-all endgame threat that’s especially good when revealing first to absolutely requiring it.
- Luke Cage
- [Old] 2/2 – Ongoing: Your cards can’t have their Power reduced.
- [New] 2/3 – Ongoing: Your cards here can’t have their Power reduced.
Developer Note: When Luke Cage debuted, cards that reduced Power weren’t popular–Scorpion was played more than any of the other options! We’ve since added more and made balance adjustments, thus Luke’s effect is much stronger. We’ve also seen him in good decks combining multiple low-Cost “tech” cards to turn off a variety of enemy routes to victory. We’ve reevaluated the kind of impact low-Cost cards should have, and ultimately don’t feel it’s healthy for them to shut off multiple higher-Cost investments regardless of their location. In the future, we’ll more often “localize” abilities like this one.
We’re also aware that Luke’s prominence affected other balancing, and that some Power-reducing cards may become too strong without Luke to rein them in. We’ll be monitoring them closely.
- Shadow King
- [Old] 2/3 – On Reveal: Set all cards here to their original base Power.
- [Change] 2/3 -> 2/2
Developer Note: One of the cards benefiting most from Luke’s change will be Shadow King. When we last buffed him from 3/3 to 2/3, we thought that might be too aggressive but wanted to be sure he became a meaningful card against powerful decks like Shuri. We’re glad we took that chance–it seemed strong, but the metagame also had a lot of Power buffs flying around. However, just facing a lot less Luke and avoiding Luke’s location is probably worth a Power, so we’re deducting it.
- Elsa Bloodstone
- [Old] 2/2 – If you play another card to fill a location, give it +2 Power.
- [New] 2/3 – After you play a card that fills this location, give it +2 Power.
Developer Note: There are two major changes here: one to how Elsa is triggered, and another to where. We previously placed Elsa’s effect in the same timing window as Shuri because we thought it would pair better with some lesser-played cards. However, we saw early after her release that players mostly found this confusing when a location was filled via On Reveal or an “After” trigger. So, we’re changing her timing to use the “After” window like Angela and line up with expectations.
Similar to the philosophical decision for Luke Cage, we’ve also decided Elsa’s multi-location buff was an element of her strength as a 2-Cost we didn’t want. The new timing is a buff and her strength was mostly focused on a single location, but we didn’t want to accidentally over-nerf her, so we’re adding a Power for compensation.
- Kitty Pryde
- [Old] 1/0 – When this returns to your hand, +1 Power. Returns at the start of each turn.
- [Change] 1/0 -> 1/1
Developer Note: We’re also returning Kitty Pryde to 1 Power. Kitty and Elsa often feel inseparable, given how synergistic their abilities are. Plus, we prefer cards to have base Power when they can. The combination of Elsa’s changes, Kitty’s buff, and Luke Cage’s adjustment muddies the water a little bit on exactly how strong Elsa will be after this patch. However, we’re confident that we can use OTA to adjust this package further if necessary.
- Ebony Blade (Black Knight)
- [Old] 4/0
- [New] 4/0 – Ongoing: Can’t be destroyed and its Power can’t be reduced.
Developer Note: Black Knight released a little weaker than we aimed, though the card seemed pretty fun. We played around with a lot of “proactive” abilities for the Ebony Blade in playtesting because we liked the idea of making the sword itself feel mighty, but nothing clicked. However, we also didn’t have 2/3 Shadow King while testing it, because that was an OTA balance change made after we finalized the season. Shadow King being a lot more popular was bad for the Ebony Blade, so we’re hitting both goals with one change by bolstering the Ebony Blade against its primary predators.
- Ravonna Renslayer
- [Old] 2/1 – Your cards with 1 or less Power cost 1 less. (minimum 1)
- [Change] 2/1 -> 2/3
Developer Note: Our internal playtesting evaluations for Ravonna clearly missed low, as she’s failed to find a secure home in the metagame. We likely underestimated the amount of splash damage she’d take from Ms. Marvel creating more incentive to counter Ongoing effects. We’d like to push her strength to the limits and see what she can really do. In addition to just being a lot more efficient, moving her to 3 Power also opens up the possibility for her to supercharge one of the better Cerebro decks, and that’s an archetype we generally enjoy helping out.
- Mind Stone
- [Old] 1/1 – On Reveal: Draw 2 Stones from your deck.
- [New] 1/1 – On Reveal: Draw 2 1-Cost cards.
Developer Note: Bet no one claims “called it” on this one! Some design ideas we’ve played around in for future effects involved granting a player a random Infinity Stone, which was really fun–unless you got Mind Stone. While we like a bit of high variance every now and then, this frustration was worth solving. We’re making this change ahead of the effect in order to see if/how it affects Thanos decks.
Outside of that, the movement archetype cards have also received a slight update in Marvel Snap. Going forward, they mostly won’t be able to move unrevealed cards, save for a couple of exceptions like Juggernaut and Aero.
Marvel Snap is now available on PC and mobile devices, with the new Hellfire Gala season just going live today as well.
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