Back in March, the developers at Second Dinner (the company behind MARVEL SNAP) announced a few changes to the Token Shop.

First, all the cards (cards from Series 3, 4, and 5, as well as Ultimate Variants) were no longer going to be mushed together into a single shopfront. Now players would see more cards more often (while removing the annoyance for some players of having the one Shop slot occupied by a Variant of a card they likely already owned).

The second, and more impactful, change was the decision to remove Series 3 cards from the Token Shop proper and move them into a new part of the shop called Choose Your Card. Once per Season, players can pick one card from Series 3 to add to their collection. No need to save up those Tokens any more, all players had to do now was wait for the right one to show up.

Unfortunately, this change only served to highlight some of the biggest issues in MARVEL SNAP, which hurt new and casual players the most. Let's break down the problems inherent to MARVEL SNAP, why the Choose Your Card shop makes them worse, and what really needs to be fixed.

Problem: MARVEL SNAP's Card Acquisition System is a Chore

The way most cards in MARVEL SNAP are obtained is by climbing the Collection Ladder, and players climb the Collection Ladder by spending Credits (and Boosters) to upgrade the art of cards they already own. This system works great for beginning players, who can get up the Ladder fairly fast and reward themselves with new cards from Series 1 and 2 - the order may be random, but these players know exactly how far away they are from unlocking a new card.

That all changes once players get to Collection Level 506, where the guaranteed Mystery Card Reward is replaced by the Collector's Cache, then at level 1006 by the Collector's Reserve. Collector's Caches and Reserves contain a variety of useful things, but what they don't have is a guaranteed card. If a player climbing the Collection Ladder is looking for new cards to play (as they are wont to do, in a card game) they're going to feel a lot more at sea with this system when a new card can be as many as three Caches or seven Reserves away from their current position on the Ladder. Pairing this with the knowledge that what card is in the box is random, and therefore unlikely to be the one or two cards a player is specifically looking for, only serves to make the whole thing feel like a slog with very little upside.

None of these complaints are new; they're as old as MARVEL SNAP and the very reason the Token Shop was created in the first place: to give players more choice in unlocking the cards they wanted to play without having to wait for random drops from Caches and Reserves, and it's been pretty successful at that. The Choose Your Card shop is merely an extension of the Token Shop that attempts to remove the pain of saving up Collector's Tokens for newer players who just want that one card from Series 3.

However, "that one card from Series 3" is a lot less likely to show up in any given refresh, which brings us to the real problem with the Choose Your Card shop.

Problem: There Are Too Many Cards in Series 3

There are currently 92 cards in Series 3, and that number looks like it will only get bigger thanks to monthly Series Drops moving cards from Series 4 into Series 3. If nothing else changes, by July there will be over 100 cards in Series 3, with all of them fighting to be featured in the Choose Your Card shop. Some of those cards are the ones players will be looking to add to their collection as soon as possible, but the most of the cards in Series 3 are only good with specific Series 3 cards or downright terrible. To quote the poet Marshall Mathers III, "You only get one shot" - but how long does a player have to wait until they get a shot to choose the card they want from the Choose Your Card shop?

With the shop refreshing every 8 hours, it would take a player new to Series 3 an entire month to see every card at least once, making it virtually impossible to predict when something they want (like Sera, for example) will appear. Remember that the chance to choose a card resets with each Season, and most Seasons in MARVEL SNAP are 4 weeks (or 28 days) long -  in that amount of time, the Choose Your Card shop will display a maximum of 84 different cards if a player checks it every eight hours. A new player could technically see most of the cards in Series 3 if they do that, but a lot of players don't have (nor should they need) that kind of dedication.

SNAP players have voiced similar frustrations, summed up pretty nicely here by content creator SafetyBlade, who recently hit Infinite on his alternate free-to-play account:

Quote From SafetyBlade

Last point, the new free card kind of sucks. Their are just too many cards and waiting for the one you want really sucks. The free card thing limits options too and didn't feel great on the resets to see another useless card roll over.

So long as there are this many cards in Series 3, the Choose Your Card shop will continue to feel like the worst parts of the card acquisition system of MARVEL SNAP: random, slow, and punishing to all but the most dedicated players.

The lesson for Second Dinner should be clear: the way to fix this is to change either the Choose Your Card shop or Series 3 itself, or both. Because when the thing you created to solve a problem only serves to exacerbate that problem in the minds of your players (and Second Dinner are no strangers to that feeling), it's time to go back to the drawing board.

Our Suggested Solutions

How would we solve the problem of the Choose Your Card shop? We'll start with the most direct solution:

Solution: Get Rid of the Choose Your Card Shop

In our opinion, the only players the Choose Your Card shop benefits are players who have already completed Series 3 and can use their once-a-month magic bullet after the monthly Series Drop to claim one of the previously-Series 4 cards they were missing. For everyone else, it's a huge downgrade in quality of life, forcing them to become an every-eight-hour slave to the game or risk that they'll miss out on finding the card they want in the shop before the Season ends.

With the Choose Your Card shop gone, we'd go back to the way things were:

Solution: Make Series 3 Cards Cost Tokens Again

The simple truth is that it isn't as difficult to acquire Collector's Tokens as it used to be. With the addition of weekly Token Tuesdays in the shop and the bulking up of the Collector's Tokens reward from Collector's Caches and Reserves, most players can accrue a not-insignificant amount of Collector's Tokens in a short amount of time. A player who wanted to spin their Gold into Tokens could acquire over 2000 Collector's Tokens per month just by buying each Token Tuesday deal. At a cost of 1000 Collector's Tokens per card, that's two Series 3 cards per Season - which is double what they can get from the Choose Your Card shop. (OutOfGames: We can do basic math.)

A player new to Series 3 should be able to quickly jumpstart their collection by picking up their favorite cards with Tokens either purchased or earned on the Collection Ladder. Instead, all they can currently do is hoard this currency to buy cards from Series 4 and 5 - which are much more expensive than the previous going rate for Series 3 cards.

But there are still a lot of cards in Series 3, so many that a new player might still have to wait weeks before one of the cards they want appears in the Token Shop. Addressing that problem brings us to our final fix:

Solution: Move Some Cards Down to Series 2

In contrast to the rapidly ballooning Series 3, Series 2 contains a paltry 25 cards. By July, Series 3 will contain more than FOUR TIMES as many cards as Series 2. That, in our opinion, is way too many cards for one pool. The solution? Move some of those cards into Series 2.

This has precedent: back in SNAP's beta, Series 3 cards Killmonger and Sandman were moved into Series 2 to help shake up a meta which at that time was dominated by Ka-Zar Zoo strategies at lower Collection Levels. It mostly worked, but more importantly, it gave players earlier access to key cards they needed for other decks - for example, Killmonger fit nicely into Destroy decks with Nova.

We're suggesting something similar. While we're sure everyone would enjoy moving the most powerful cards like Wave and She-Hulk, among others, down to Series 2, we're suggesting that Second Dinner strategize a targeted drop that gives players access to more variety in deckbuilding at earlier Collection Levels without corrupting their meta.

Our goals are 1) Give players more good deck options in Series 2, and 2) Reduce the number of cards in Series 3. Not every card that moves down needs to be a powerhouse. This might actually be an opportunity to move some of the stinkers of Series 3 into a more accessible Series, where they might be appreciated. Whatever cards are chosen to make the move, there does need to be a method to the decision-making.

Our plan would be to move somewhere between 6 and 12 cards from Series 3 into Series 2, and those cards would be a mix of: decent build-arounds that can support early Series cards, niche synergistic tools for supported Series 2 decks, and excess fat to be trimmed from Series 3. The cards in this proposed migration could look like:

  • Patriot and Cerebro - solid build-arounds who can easily work with early Series cards without warping the meta entirely
  • Ghost Rider and Dagger - OK cards that have synergy with strategies prevalent among Series 2 decks
  • Baron Mordo and Drax - weaker Series 3 cards whose flaws won't be as apparent in the less-refined meta of the early Collection Levels

While these are just our suggested solutions, we think that one thing is apparent: something has to be done about Series 3 and the Choose Your Card shop. The current system is not fair to new players and will lead to people abandoning the game if left unchanged. MARVEL SNAP, at its core, is a fun game that has already won awards for its gameplay - and if the player base dries up because that gameplay is cocooned within an unfun acquisition system, Second Dinner will have no one to blame but themselves.

Have your own ideas to improve the Choose Your Card shop and MARVEL SNAP? Share your thoughts in the comments!