I downloaded Marvel Snap on a bit of a whim, and in the last week I've barely been able to stop playing it. It's a snacktacular kind of game, able to keep you coming back for you one more bite, but without feeling disrespectful to your time. If I put it down and don't play, I'm not missing anything bar challenges for small amounts of currency I don't need to spend to win the game anyway. Part of it is the recognisable characters, but I'm vibing with the likes of Lady Sif, Jubilee, Elektra, and Enchantress right now, none of which are in my list of all time favourite characters – they're just good cards I'm having fun with. The one downside of the game though is there's only one way to get new cards, and we have no control over it. Just one extra way to get cards would be a game-changer.
The reason I'm playing Marvel Snap, like everyone else at TheGamer, is our very own Eric Switzer. Though the game only launched a few weeks ago, Eric was part of the beta and so has been playing for five months. Like, every day for five months. So when I downloaded the game, my first question was 'when do I get Mystique?'. Like a lot of trans people, Mystique is my favourite character ever. I believe my exact words were 'I don't care if she's trash, I'm going to have Mystique in every deck because I love her'. Well, bad news. Mystique isn't trash. She's one of the best cards in the game and, five months in, Eric still doesn't have her.
Part of this is luck. Marvel Snap is split into three pools, creatively named Pool One, Pool Two, and Pool Three. The higher you climb on your Collection Level, the more cards you unlock. Once you unlock all of Pool One, you move into Pool Two, and so on. You climb the Collection Level ranks by boosting cards, and every so often you get a free card as a reward. In a week, I'm about a third of the way into Pool Two, so I've unlocked all of the Pool One cards and some of Pool Two as well. It'll take longer to reach Pool Three though, because levelling up is naturally slower. As you play, you're rewarded with boosters for cards in your hand. These change the aesthetics, making cards 3D, animated, shiny, et cetera, but offer no gameplay boosts, keeping the whole pay to win aspect down.
Right now, there's only one card in the game you can buy with real money – Miles Morales, in the season pass. It's an okay card. I think I've seen two opponents ever use it, and I beat one of them. It's not pay to win. I'm also sitting on a decent amount of gold right now, and while I might blow it on a cool variant at some point, would it not make sense to have cards for purchase with gold too? Even just one a day on a rotating storefront would give you a second chance at getting the card you want, rather than endlessly climbing through the ranks and relying on a singular luck-based mechanic.
After five months of play every day, it seems a little unfair that Eric hasn't had the chance to get Mystique, doesn't it? The only solution is to keep upgrading your cards and climbing the ranks, but the small reward of the card you want, especially when the game gives enough premium currency for free players to buy a couple anyway, feels like a better way to keep players invested without gouging them.
If you want to climb the ranks quicker, you need to use a variety of decks, to keep boosting cards quickly. Of course, the appeal of the game is in using your favourites, so that isn't always possible. I rotate between three decks, primarily. Firstly is my original favourites, a strong deck of cards I got early in Pool One and had a lot of success with. It could stand to be a little customised, but I like it how it is. Then there's the Girlies deck, which I wrote about previously – these are my wives and best friends from Pool One. When I reach Pool Three, a second Girlies deck will arrive, hopefully with Mystique. My third deck is cards I unlocked later in Pool One and into Pool Two – by using these in a cycle, I top up more cards faster, meaning I manage to climb the ranks faster.
I don't really care about my level, but a big part of the game's charm has been unlocking new cards and trying them out. I'm making decent progress through Pool Two, and Pool Three's promise of not just Mystique, but a whole second Girlies deck of Aero, Black Widow, and Black Cat is keeping me hooked. Once I get there though, I'm unsure how much I'll stomach endless climbing when it will mean either an agonising grind or playing with cards I hate just to keep boosting.
There are six variants for sale a day in the shop. If just one of these became a card from your current pool, it would add a lot more variety to the decks on offer. Right now, it seems like the perfect deck will always be just outside my reach.
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