Marvel Snap Battle Mode Is Better Than Expected, But Still Needs Polish

My biggest criticism of Marvel Snap – other than the fact that I still don’t have Mystique – is that it launched without a way to battle your friends. It seems like such a fundamental feature for digital card games, but then again, there’s so many things that Marvel Snap does differently from the rest. From launch, developer Second Dinner promised Battle Mode was coming, and after three months of waiting it’s finally here. I played a dozen games in Battle Mode this week, and while I’m impressed by some of the features, it still has a long way to go.

To start a friendly battle, you’ll have to create a lobby and share your match code with a friend. The process is simple enough, when it works. I’ve created a number of lobbies that my friends were unable to join, and I’ve also received codes that didn’t work. Also, if you don’t join a lobby fast enough it will time out, and the next lobby you open will have a different code. These could be launch issues that will get smoothed out over time, but they definitely make a strong case for an actual in-game friends list. It would be really nice to see a list of my online friends that I can send challenges to, rather than DM them on Discord or Slack to see if they’re available to play, then carefully transcribe an access code to them from my phone. A social menu and friends list is a huge undertaking, but I hope that’s where Snap is heading and the current system is just a stopgap.

There’s only one game mode available for battling your friends, but luckily it’s a good one. Both players start with ten health and try to whittle each other down over multiple rounds. The number of cubes is equal to the number of hits the loser will take each round, so snapping really ups the stakes. If the match manages to go to a fifth round, the cube will automatically start snapped, and either player can snap to further increase it to a maximum of eight points. Managing your hit points when you only have ten makes these games feel even more high stakes than regular matches on the ladder, and the strategic value of snapping feels even more pronounced. It’s a nice preview of what competitive Marvel Snap could one day look like.

Friendly battles will need more options and customization eventually. Currently, you can’t change decks between rounds, so if your opponent has you completely dominated with their deck, you’re going to have to suffer through multiple rounds or forfeit the entire thing. It would be nice to have more control over hit points, deck choices, and snap values so you can tailor the experience. Customization will also help tournament organizers in Snap’s hypothetical competitive scene.

An in-game friends list and mode options are essential, but there are also a lot of nice-to-have features I’d like to see eventually. Once the social features have been improved, it would be great to have a spectator mode so you can watch your friends climb the ladder or play against each other. It would also be great to see new missions that require you to play games against your friends, just to add some variety to daily and weekly challenges. I’m excited to see what kind of game modes get added over time. I’d love some kind of lock-out mode where you play a specified number of rounds and you’re not allowed to reuse a deck once you’ve won with it – winner being whoever wins the most rounds total. There’s a lot of potential directions battle mode could go, but the current implementation feels like beta, rather than a fully-featured game mode.

I’m glad there’s a solution for now, even if it isn’t perfect. For months I’ve shared deck lists and traded strategies with my friends, and it’s great to finally have a way to put our knowledge and skills to the test. It’s also the only way you can play Snap right now without risking losing ranked progress, so it’s a great way to experiment with new cards and decks in a casual environment. It’s a shame that so many of my friends who were into Snap at launch have fallen off now, because we would have had a lot of fun if battle mode had been available sooner. Still, it’s better late than never.

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