Trading card games are doing really well these days. Titles like Hearthstone, YuGiOh, and Magic the Gathering have all carved their own solid positions in the video game market, bringing the decades-old hobby to computers, consoles, and especially mobile. Enter Marvel snapa new challenger for the big hitters with the word accessibility written on its back in shiny gold letters, and the team at Second Dinner Studios trying to recapture the spirit of an older, youthful card gaming experience.
To guide me through the game and the team’s goals, Ben Brode is: Flannel shirt fan, formerly a member of Blizzard Entertainment’s Hearthstone team, and currently Chief Development Officer at Second Dinner Studios. While the studio obviously has a long list of content courses it plans to dish out through seasonal releases and ongoing updates, can it make a dent?
But before we get to the point, what is Marvel Snap? Well, it’s a rapid-fire card game, with each deck filling up three squares on the board, each with four card slots and their own active modifiers ranging from buffs to what cards are played in them to restrictions on what you can put in there. In six rounds, both competitors must try to fill these spaces with cards in their deck, each card having its own power figure and abilities. In my eyes it’s the perfect kind of game for mobile, super fast and easy to understand.
“We wanted to make sure the mobile experience was accessible – that was a priority for us,” says Brode. “We challenged ourselves to create a game that’s super easy to learn and super fast, but still has a lot of depth.” The result of this balance is a game that starts off incredibly easy – maybe a little too easy for my money – but is slowly introducing its variety of mechanics and subtleties.
What is interesting is that this is done through a non-linear, collection-oriented approach. As you collect and upgrade cards, the player works through a collection level that serves as your sole source of new cards. You cannot buy tickets. Not with money or game currency. The reason for that? To force players to play around with their new cards when they receive them instead of throwing them aside.
“So when you get a new card, it’s an opportunity to add it to your deck, level it up a bit, and unlock extra stuff. This gives you a chance to spend time with each map, even maps you might not think are good at first, but after a few games it turns out to be pretty good! You can explore the collection and get acquainted with deck building.
However, this also plays into an underground goal for Ben and the team: trying to bring back a bygone card playing experience that could be found in playgrounds and living rooms around the world many years ago.
“When I was a kid, we collected Marvel trading cards. We would go to the card store or the local comic book store and buy a pack of trading cards or even some other deck of cards. None of my friends had all the cards, people didn’t do things like that back then! It was more about slowly collecting cads, building decks with what you had. It was such an incredible time and when we were making the game we were trying to recapture that old school style of playing cards.”
One of the aspects of Marvel Snap that the inner child and comic nerd will love will obviously be the presence of numerous Marvel characters. There are some pretty deep cuts there, all of which have a card effect associated with them that is their background.
“Often we’ve designed cards from the top down, which means we’ve sat down and considered what Rogue would do in Marvel Snap before picking which ability makes sense. This is how fun designs usually come about. However, sometimes we knew we needed an ability, like increasing the effectiveness of running cards, so we would find a character that would fit that ability.
Brode mentioned Zero as a great example, a card that drains abilities from other cards. He describes “combing the Marvel Encyclopedia” for characters that fit the effect.
To end my questions about Marvel Snap, I wanted to ask Brode what his goals were for the game (besides the obvious “make a billion dollars” or “be the most popular card game out there”). The answer reflects what he wants for the game and what he wants for himself. “My goal with Marvel Snap is to make a big impact. I want Marvel Snap to grow the audience. When I was a kid, card games were a niche, not many people played them. Card games are so much fun.
“One of my favorite things in life is introducing people to things I love, and I love playing cards. So I can’t wait to introduce people to Marvel Snap, it’s the best introduction to the genre.”
https://www.vg247.com/marvel-snap-ex-hearthstone-dev-ben-brode-on-why-this-new-project-is-the-best-entryway-into-card-games Marvel Snap: Ex-Hearthstone developer Ben Brode on why this new project is “the best entry point” into card games