Second Dinner’s long-awaited, free-to-play digital collectible card game (CCG) is finally out now. First-timers and card game enthusiasts alike can now access the game’s early release from October 18th, 2022 on iOS, Android, and PC devices. While at first sight, Marvel Snap seems like an approachable game with an easily digestible UI for all players, it may not seem like that weeks or months into playing the game. Be sure to stick around for the full review of the good, the bad, and the ugly (if it’s there) of the newest card game in town: Marvel Snap.
It still feels unreal. With the huge potential of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and its plethora of superheroes and supervillains, how is a card game like Marvel Snap only now being released? Only when you get your hands on the game do you begin to realize how genius this card game is. And no, not solely because of the nostalgic thrill of collecting your first unique 12-pack Marvel deck, but because of how skillfully Marvel Snap masters the “easy to learn, hard to master” gaming mantra unlike any other CCG out there.
A Full-On Blast for First Timers and Card Enthusiasts Alike
Whether you’re a Marvel fan or clueless about most characters, Marvel Snap will easily draw you in with its gorgeous card designs. The game has no limits to the iconic Marvel superheroes and supervillains you can unlock. In addition to letting you unlock your favorite cards, Marvel Snap has a seemingly endless number of unique art variations that will bring in thousands more people.
With the latest Marvel Universe locations to play in, it’s no secret that developers at Second Dinner have once again outdone themselves in creating a show-stopping CCG for the books. Once you’re settled down, you start to sink deeper into Marvel Snap’s fast-paced, intensely strategic card battles.
Streams of opponents, AI or real ones, constantly come your way as you return to complete daily and weekly challenges for a chance to rank high among the greats. And without notice, that first-time high starts to die down.
Sure, you’re probably always fueled by competitiveness, and weeks or months into the game, you realize the level of engagement Marvel Snap inspires is great. However, as fantastic as Marvel Snap is as a card battler, most players will want to explore other modes that encourage engagement and replayability, like casual gaming, for example, or friendly party-style matches, or even arcade-style.
At this point, you start to wonder, is Marvel Snap’s greatest strength its downfall? But before we get ahead of ourselves…
Let’s Talk Gameplay
Marvel Snap’s gameplay is pretty easy to learn. Unlike most CCGs, which have dozens or even hundreds of cards to master, each with its own set of powers and effects, Marvel Snap defies convention by providing a beautiful, easily digestible UI, a brief tutorial to get you started, and a few more hours of practice against an AI before throwing you to the wolves against other real-life opponents.
Players start by picking up to 12 different cards from their collection of unlocked cards to use in each deck. They then play those cards in one of three MCU locations on the board. Each card has a cost and a power value. The player with the highest value in two out of the three locations on the board wins. Pretty simple, right?
The Gameplay Isn’t As Straightforward As You May Think
Of course, it gets more complicated. There has to be some form of strategy to raise the stakes higher and make it much more interesting. Well, Marvel Snap delivers that extra dose of fun in two ways: the value of a card and randomizing locations. Let me explain.
So each card you play has its own unique, powerful abilities, pretty similar to the superpowers characters in the MCU have. For instance, Mystique is pretty high-value because she can pretty much copy the superpowers of the last card you played – which also means unlocking the Mystique card won’t come easy.
A character like Doctor Doom unleashes Doom Bots, while Nightcrawler can hop on over from one location to the other. So it’s pretty straightforward from here, right? The strategy you use to select your 12 unique cards for your deck matter. But that’s not all. Locations matter plenty too. Unfortunately, there’s nothing much you can do about that.
As Marvel Snap continues to grow, more and more randomized MCU locations spring up, which helps to keep the game interesting. That’s because each location has its own unique conditions. For instance, Fisk Tower will destroy any card that hops onto it from another location. Oscorp Tower, though, will swap your cards out at the end of the game. Just no limits.
The locations, by themselves, are interesting on their own because they’re based on iconic places in the MCU. So, fuse all these aspects together, and you’ve got the strategic depth you were hoping to find, that Marvel Snap isn’t just about building a strong deck but understanding which card to play at what time, where you want to position that card, and when they can give you the most value.
With each turn, you’ll have to stay constantly on your A game because your opponent will too. A deck may serve you well in one game but leave you helpless in the next. Relying solely on strategy won’t work. You need a bit of luck too. And it’s exactly this level of unexpected competitiveness that will keep you coming back days, weeks, or even months later.
Putting It All Together in a Tightly Knit Package
As it's highly marketed, Marvel Snap is only a few minute game, with just six simultaneous turns per player. So don’t worry if putting together the perfect deck takes a while. It’s pretty much trial-and-error in the first few rounds, and you'll learn which cards work well together along the way.
Marvel Snap’s fast-paced gameplay is genius for quite a lot of reasons. You’ll always feel it’s fresh and fun to play. Finally, claiming victory will feel good as you plan a good strategy to fine-tune your deck, finally, claiming victory will feel good. And, if you lose a round, you’ll rarely feel that sting because, in just a few minutes, you can push yourself toward the next card reveal and reclaim your status.
Of course, there’s no greater thrill than if you choose to snap your opponent, and it pulls through. Snapping is when you press the Cosmic Cube (stake) at the top of the screen to up the ante, essentially saying that you’re confident you’re going to win, so double up the Cosmic Cubes, please.
If you win, you raise your ranking. If you lose, though, your opponent takes the ranking win. And if at any point you feel unsure, you’re free to escape with the snap option, so you only lose the number of cosmic cubes at play.
Enchanting Visual and Sound Design
We’ve got to talk about Marvel Snap’s enchanting designs. I mean, the cards themselves are absolutely gorgeous. Each card is unique, so unlocking new ones is a whole new experience. On top of that, you’re free to earn your way into collecting additional unique art variants of each card, customizing your collection even further.
Every card feels alive with its sophisticated, 3D holographic animations. If you specialize in one deck theme, like Thanos, the game takes notice and upgrades the card’s visual effects. The more you gain experience with a card, the more it customizes itself for you.
Bringing it all together, the game itself is beautifully designed, paying special attention to detail. From the colorful filters to the sensory vibrating feedback, and with all the action from each card, the board itself feels like it's in motion.
Sound design rocks too. From each card having its unique audio lines in different locations to the background music, Second Dinner has outdone itself aesthetic-wise. But as much as Marvel Snap seems like all roses and rainbows, it’s not.
All Work and No Play…
You’re probably wondering how to climb up the ranks. Well, to do that, you need new cards to form stronger decks to win more matches. So how do you get new cards?
Marvel Snap ranks your gaming skill by Credits and Boosters. The more you earn, the more you upgrade your cards. The more you upgrade a card, the higher your Collection Level. And the higher your Collection Level, the more new cards you unlock. I know. It’s pretty complex.
You can spend real money on Gold to earn more Credits. But if you’re into the honest grind, the alternative is to do the work, completing daily and weekly challenges to earn more Boosters/Credits. At this point, you may start to feel the sting if you skip a day, which compounds to taking away the fun of it all.
Of course, this type of daily/weekly challenge has long been a norm in free-to-play games. But we’d have hoped Marvel Snap would try to combat its problems. Having just one single game mode doesn’t cut it. We need options to keep coming back with a smile, whether it’s casual gaming, friendly matches, or arcade-style, just anything that doesn’t always feel like too much grinding.
Or, at the very least, take away the randomized rewards and have players put the work toward unlocking specific cards. It’s so tedious competing for weeks or months, not knowing which cards you’re going to unlock next. Sometimes, you may end up unlocking a useless profile avatar.
The fact remains that Marvel Snap will retain the most powerful cards towards the end, which will take longer and longer to unlock with each stage. So then the question becomes, how much time and effort are you willing to commit?
To be fair, Marvel Snap is an early release. It’s not uncommon for early releases to have drawbacks and for free-to-play games to have annoying progression systems. For all we know, Marvel Snap could be having in-store banger updates in the coming months.
Provided we get a more versatile gaming mode, Marvel Snap should continue to place in the high ranks among all other CCGs out there, especially given its already impeccable design, its easy-to-learn gameplay, and its overall solid concept that’s frankly more exciting than boring.
Marvel Snap Review (Android, iOS, PC)
Marvel Returns With a CCG Banger
Marvel Snap is an enchanting, beautifully designed card game that will undoubtedly become one of the most exciting CCG titles for years to come. Regardless of your preferred genre, Marvel Snap promises a flawless induction, leading you into your next favorite on-the-go game.