Marvel Snap Featured Locations and Hot Locations are meant to spice up gameplay but hurt the meta and favor certain decks (like Destroy).

Marvel Snap’s Featured Locations Are Often Anti-Fun

Picture this: You’ve just pulled Sera from a cache, one of Marvel Snap’s strongest Series 3 cards, and can finally put together a potent Silver Surfer deck to climb the last 10 ranks to Infinite. However, Marvel Snap developer Second Dinner has other plans, throwing out a Featured Location – a 40% chance for the location to appear – that heavily benefits Destroy decks. Suddenly, that new card you just got becomes suboptimal for gaining cubes. In fact, if you don’t play a Destroy deck utilizing Death – or don’t have Death – yourself, you might as well not play the 48 hours the location is featured.

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During this past month’s Savage Land season, this has happened all too often. The Marvel Snap Featured Locations hold to a jungle theme in line with Kazar and Zabu and have included the following at the time of writing:

  • Eternity Range – After turn 3, add a rock to the losing player’s side.
  • Altar of Death – When you play a card here, destroy it to gain +2 energy next turn.
  • Rickety Bridge – After each turn, if there is more than one card here, destroy them.
  • Collapsed Mine – Fill this location with rocks. Skip your turn to destroy the rocks.

Only Eternity Range doesn’t benefit Destroy decks above all others, and even then, that extra rock makes for a juicy snack for Carnage. The other three, however, do, with Altar of Death allowing Destroy decks to chuck Deadpool into it or Bucky Barnes, Rickety Bridge to do the same with a bit more nuance, and by far the worst offender – the ultimate Destroy location – Collapsed Mine allowing Death to cost up to 8 fewer energy after the first few turns.

Marvel Snap Featured Locations and Hot Locations are meant to spice up gameplay but hurt the meta and favor certain decks (like Destroy).

This allows massive swings, where Destroy players can copy their low-cost Death with Moon Girl or throw down Wave and play Death out with another high-powered card like Leader. Don’t get me started on what can happen if your opponent is lucky enough to have both Death and She-Hulk.

It didn’t help that two out of the four Featured Locations in the previous Marvel Snap season pass also benefited Destroy decks. At the very core of the game, the locations give you a chance to win any game, even against opponents with better cards, because of their unpredictability. However, players are incredibly quick to figure out the most broken way to abuse a location they know will appear more often, making Featured Locations antithetical to how the game normally plays. It feels like, every week or so, Marvel Snap is trying to force me to play a certain way with cards I don’t enjoy using or don’t even have.

I get that Featured Locations give incentive to try other decks than what you’re used to and thematically fit in within a monthly theme, but with how Marvel Snap’s card distribution works, they’re counterintuitive to having a good time. If you don’t have a card like Death already, the chances you’ll get it before the Featured Location ends are slim. This problem compounds with the inclusion of Hot Locations.

Marvel Snap Featured Locations and Hot Locations are meant to spice up gameplay but hurt the meta and favor certain decks (like Destroy).

While Hot Locations last only 24 hours, they appear with a 60% frequency, making them much more potent when a location favors a specific way to play. Take, for example, when Bar Sinister was the Hot Location back in early December. If you had the Green Goblin card — a 3-energy card with -3 power that reads “On Reveal: Your opponent gains control of this.” — you could slot it into pretty much any deck and ruin your opponent’s day if you had priority on the third turn, nullifying any fun shenanigans to be had with such a unique location and giving you an easy win. If you didn’t have Green Goblin (and I still don’t, even though I’ve nearly finished all of Series 3), too bad.

A change needs to be made to Featured and Hot Locations to better align with the randomness of Marvel Snap and its unique method of obtaining cards. I think Featured Locations do provide some nice incentive to log in and give some new cards a shot, but they’re unnecessarily frequent when live and the recent deluge of them that benefit Destroy decks has compounded this issue. I’d like to see a change that, for example, sees Featured Locations drop to 20% chance to appear, while Hot Locations drop down to 40% or even lower. That way, you still get to experience the new locations, but at the same time they don’t dominate the entire Marvel Snap experience. I’m not the only one that thinks this way – the Marvel Snap subreddit has been up in arms, as well.

Whether Second Dinner is listening remains to be seen, though I believe they have been great at communicating with fans and making adequate changes. Until we hear more, I’m just glad the final Featured Location for the Savage Land season doesn’t benefit Destroy decks. I am sick to death of Death.

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Lowell Bell
Lowell is a freelance contributor with The Escapist that began his career reporting on live events such as the Penny Arcade Expo and E3 back in 2012. Over the last couple of years, he carved a niche for himself covering competitive Pokémon as he transitioned into game criticism full time. About a decade ago, Lowell moved to Japan for a year or two but is still there, raising a Shiba Inu named Zelda with his wife while missing access to good burritos. He also has a love/hate relationship with Japanese role-playing games.