Another OTA balance change for MARVEL SNAP dropped today, bringing with it nerfs to Bounce decks, and four buffs to cards developers wanted to improve.

We'll show the changes, then share our thoughts on what they mean for the game.

July 20th - Balance Updates


Hello again! It's been a while since we had an OTA update, which is why we're going to be a little heavy-handed with this week's adjustments and provide a variety of changes in different areas of the metagame. We really value keeping things fresh and interesting, and view MARVEL SNAP itself as a puzzle to be solved every couple weeks. We've also modified the format of these notes slightly, to more directly emphasize the changes we're making. Let's dive right in!

Bounce Nerfs

Let's begin by addressing the Beast/Falcon in the room. It's no secret that Bounce has been one of the top decks in the metagame for the last few weeks. We actually feel Bounce is the undisputed best deck, because its matchup spread has a startlingly high number of ~60% matchups and many of its cards top win percentage charts when not drawn, indicating the deck is winning with a variety of card combinations. The skill edge the deck offers, possibly the largest in the game, also means that edge can increase for the most practiced Bounce players. So, we're going to hit the deck firmly. Furthermore, the strongest shell in the deck is relatively transferable–you don't need to be playing the Beast/Falcon game to have a very strong deck. That means we're going to target cards that get shared across other versions of the archetype.

Kitty Pryde
  • [Old] 1/0 - When this returns to your hand, +2 Power. Returns at the start of each turn.
  • [Change] 1/0, +2 on return -> 1/2, +1 on return

Kitty is the best-performing card in all Bounce decks, so she's an ideal candidate to target. Her strength has even warped how other decks approach the matchup, pushing combinations like Invisible Woman and Killmonger into the metagame. This adjustment will lower her ceiling substantially–we see Kitty pretty commonly making it to 8 Power, and in that scenario she'd now have only 6. That's definitely a nerf, but the change does raise her floor, adding Power or saving you Energy when drawn on turn 5 or 6.

  • [Old] 2/0 - On Reveal: Gain +2 Power for each other card you played this turn.
  • [Change] 2/0 -> 3/2

The next strongest card in Bounce has been Hit-Monkey, so we're tagging a nerf onto him as well. We're adding an Energy to Hit-Monkey for a few reasons. The first is just to weaken him–very often, you'd spend that Energy to play a 1-Cost on the last turn, which would itself have 2 or more Power in addition to the buff it gave Hit-Monkey, so this is just taking that away. It also makes him much less efficient to play early in the game, mostly eliminating the early Hit-Monkey you Beast back for more value later on. We chose this execution rather than something weirder like -2 Power or buffing +1 Power but adding some base Power because it's more elegant.

  • [Old] 1/1 - On Reveal: Transform the highest-cost card in your opponent's hand into a Pig, keeping its Power and Cost.
  • [Change] 1/1 -> 2/2

Spider-Ham's been a generically strong card in a few decks, so it might surprise you to see it lumped in with Bounce here. However, that's the deck where it's seen the most play, and it's also been the third strongest card in that deck. It has a number of reasonable replacements, so this is our smallest change to Bounce, but we have other motivations for changing the card. We're unhappy with the extent of the damage Spider-Ham has done to a few archetypes revolving around cool high-Cost cards, like She-Hulk, Death, and especially Apocalypse. We'll have a future adjustment down the road to Spider-Ham's behavior that directly addresses that, but for now we're just going to make him a little less efficient and see how much that reduces his play rate.

All right, now that Bounce is out of the way, let's move into more exciting territory–buffs!

Phoenix Force
  • [Old] 5/6 - On Reveal: Revive one of your destroyed cards and merge with it. That card can move each turn.
  • [Change] 5/6 -> 4/5.

It's relatively unusual for us to make a change to a Season Pass card so soon, but Phoenix decks have been a lot weaker than we wanted overall. That may be due to the complexity of its deckbuilding in part, but another reason is that we made a relatively late buff to Phoenix, moving it from 5/5 to 5/6. Unfortunately, that ultimately introduced more weakness than strength to the Multiple Man plan by making him vulnerable to Shang-Chi, which has been seeing plenty of play as a primary answer to Lockjaw locations and Evolved Hulk specifically. This change should heat Phoenix up for players in a big way and return Multiple Man to that sweet spot at 8 Power. If it's a little too much gas, we'll look at cooling her down but keeping the Cost at 4.

  • [Old] 2/3 - On Reveal: The last card you played moves here.
  • [Change] 2/3 -> 1/2

We were a little gun-shy on the strength of some of our recent Move cards, as the deck can be really potent in addition to occasionally melting brains over the sheer number of possible moves you can make. Ghost-Spider was one of those cards, and having seen the dust settle we've decided to push her efficiency a bit. Other than Human Torch, Move isn't a deck historically vulnerable to Killmonger, so this change should ultimately net Power for Move players. It also makes her a more interesting potential companion for Phoenix, letting players curve Shuri into Phoenix + Ghost-Spider efficiently.

Living Tribunal
  • [Old] 6/6 - Ongoing: Split your total Power evenly among all locations.
  • [Change] 6/6 -> 6/9

Living Tribunal has successfully spun up a fringe deck that pushes loads of Power, but that deck could use a little lift. That 3 Power would be a huge buff to most cards, but for Living Tribunal it plays a lot more like 1 Power. This change does open Living Tribunal up to Shang-Chi, but his effect being active from any location helps him stay nimble against that threat. If this buff doesn't get him where he wants to go, we'll be back.

  • [Old] 5/3 - You can't play this on turn 6. On Reveal: Change this location to 'Limbo'.
  • [Change] 5/3 -> 3/2

Ever since the nerf that knocked Magik from her perch defining the metagame into its deepest recesses, we've been looking for a safe time to reintroduce her at a more aggressive rate, since her fantasy and impact on the game are both interesting. This Season seemed ideal to do that, with a hot new variant hitting the streets via the Season Pass. We're actually going to make a small behavior change to Magik in our next patch, restoring her to being playable on turn 6, but disabling just her On Reveal in that case. We're debuting this stat change a little early to celebrate her time as a member of the Phoenix Five in the appropriate season.

The Great Web

After each turn, move one card to the Web for a random player.

  • [Change] We're making this location appear less frequently.

Much like Miles Morales himself, players have been getting roped into a larger conflict than they may have bargained for with The Great Web. We think the location is pretty interesting and especially enjoy how it factors different cards and archetypes in unique ways, but we're sensitive to the frustration being a little higher than we expected. We have a variety of location rarities, and Great Web was one of our most common. We're changing it up to be one of our more rare locations, using the tier second only to the likes of Ego and Worldship.

That's all for this week! We'll be back on 8/3 with your next regularly scheduled OTA update.

I Have No Platform And I Must Scream

The nerfs to Bounce decks was expected, however we didn't think the deck would be hit quite this hard. We'll break down the changes in the reverse order of how necessary we think they were.

Spider-Ham should never have been a 1-Cost card; his disruption is too good and Bounce's ability to play him multiple times in the game was a contributing factor to the deck's dominance. At 2-Cost he can still see play in Control decks, but hopefully only once per game.

Kitty Pryde was the ultimate snowball - getting her in your opening hand as a Bounce deck was close to an unloseable position, so long as your opponent couldn't snipe her with a Killmonger. Raising her floor while lowering her ceiling should keep her playable while reducing her ability to win games on her own.

Hit Monkey is a lot more potent in the hands of someone who knows what they're doing, but was often a huge influx of Power on the final turn for even Bounce novices like yours truly. They've likely taken him out of Bounce decks, but maybe he'll show up in Surfer shells?

Now for the buffs. [Snap Card (Living Tribunal) Not Found], Ghost-Spider and Phoenix Force were all newer cards seeing almost no play so the developers felt the need to step in and make them a bit more palatable. Phoenix Force, specifically, feels like a much more interesting card at 4-Cost.

The buff to Magik is a bold move. Magik was a big name in the beta era thanks mostly to players using her on turn 6 to add an extra turn to the game when their opponent was expecting it to end; the devs got rid of that by making it so she can't be played on 6 and Magik has mostly been in meme decks in the aftermath. At 3-Cost, she should be a lot more flexible, but she'll only show up in decks that specifically want to see Limbo - for location changing purposes, Storm and Scarlet Witch are still better.

How do you feel about these balance changes? Share your thoughts in the comments!