It's been a while since I did one of my Have You Played articles and to kick them off once again I want to take a look at one of 2022's surprise hits - Marvel Snap. Simply put, Marvel Snap is a Collectible Card game that takes some of the best elements of its predecessors and somewhat successfully melts them into what might be the most addicting trading card game there is to date. To get ahead of myself - that's not necessarily a good thing. But one thing after the other.
As you might have guessed from the title, Marvel Snap takes place in the Marvel Comic Universe. You build a deck composed of 20 unique Marvel characters and fight a randomly assigned opponent for control over 3 different location, each coming with its own unique effect. Whoever controls two of the three locations after 6 turns wins the game. So far so simple. And indeed, the simplicity is one of Marvel Snaps greatest strengths. Depending on how fast you (and your opponent) act, a match won't take longer than 5 minutes. If two fast players are matched with each other, it won't take longer than 2 minutes.
Each card has an energy cost, a power rating and may or may not have an additional effect. Each round you have 1 energy more to spend, allowing you to play more and more powerful cards. Each location can house up to four cards per player and who ever has the most power after turn 6 wins that location. As already indicated, each location also has a unique effect. At the start of the game, only the first locations effect is known with the other two being revealed in turn two and three.
If you know your way around card games, you'll learn the game within minutes of launching it first. That's not to say it's an easy game, though. There are countless viable strategies and deck types. Mixed together with all the different available locations, making the right play at the right time is a lot harder than you'd expect initially. Thanks to its fast paced nature, Marvel Snap is a great game to play whenever you have a few minutes to kill. It's running both on Mobile and Steam, thus allowing you to play wherever, whenever, and however you want to.
One of the biggest issues with many CCGs is Pay2Win. Many games allow or even force you to spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars if you really want to be competitive. In Marvel Snap, that's not really an issue, as progress works a lot different here. Every time you finish a match, you earn some Boosters for a given card. Acquire enough boosters and you get to upgrade the card. These upgrades are purely cosmetically, though, like having an animated frame, the card becoming 3d, and so on. Every time you upgrade a card you increase your collection level. Do that often enough and you unlock another card. While there are options to spend money, there's only so much you can do to hasten that process. No matter how much money you spend, your collection is only going to grow by playing the game. Also you can buy fancy variants, which are alternate art versions of existing cards, but they always come with the exact same stats than their normal version counterparts.
All things considered, I really think this progression model is way superior to the classical booster pack buying most other CCGs offer. So we have a fast paced, easy to learn but hard to master, non pay2win card game that's a lot of fun to play. The perfect game, right? Well, it's not that easy. As you should have learned from the article so far, yes, it's a very fun, well thought out game. But is it perfect? Not to me, at least. I'm sure other people will look differently at it, but at least for me, it certainly has its flaws.
Playing the game, it becomes clear that the people making this game certainly knew what they were doing. You are showered in micro rewards constantly. Like you can't finish a single game without some kind of reward. You advance your quest, earn some boosters here, get some credits there. Every few matches you upgrade another card, unlock even more rewards, and the cycle goes on. While that's fun for a while and entertaining for many, for me, it gets old fast. The whole game is focused around fueling that quick dopamine rush. Log in for 5 minutes, play a game, reap the reward. Rinse and repeat for ever. This often lead to me playing a match, shutting down the game, looking around the web for a minute or two, and starting the game again for another match. Marvel Snap knows it's addictive and it gives its best to keep you going.
Now don't get me wrong, I don't think it's an issue in itself to keep your players as invested as possible. But, at least to me, it leads to a situation where I care more about making progress, gaining another dopamine shot, than I care about the actual game. And that's the issue, really. Once you've played for a few hours, you learn what combos work well, what decks are the best for what. Eventually, you can tell after round 2 what your opponent is trying to do and together with the cards in your hand and the locations revealed, by turn 3 you often can tell exactly how the game will go.
So all things considered, yes, Marvel Snap is a pretty awesome card battler. It's extremely well crafted, easy to pick up, and quite entertaining. Nevertheless, it has its limitations and, at least in my opinion, it's important to occasionally ask yourself whether you are still playing because you enjoy the actual game or if you are only hunting that next dopamine shot. Personally, I will keep playing Marvel Snap on and off as I do enjoy the game in general. But I've also decided not to play it on Steam any more as that usually just distracts me from something I'd enjoy more in the end.
And that's all from me for today, thank you all for reading and see you next time!