You know the moment. You start a game of Marvel Snap, you get ready to play your first card in the first round, and then “OOOOH SNAP!” the game blurts out: your lunatic opponent just snapped first round before the game even started. Awful behavior, right? Well, when Kotaku spoke to the game’s creator, Hearthstone’s Ben Brode, we learned it might actually be one of the smartest ways to play.
One of Marvel Snap’s genius little details is the ritual “snap” mechanic. In every game, players are playing to win or lose cubes, essentially “gambling” for non-monetary XP points that gain or lose you levels. If neither player snaps, and both play through to the end, then just two cubes are won or lost between them. However, should either player snap—click the button on screen to imply you’re confident of winning—that number goes up to four, and should both players snap, it’s eight. This allows all sorts of excellent tactics, from intimidatory snaps when you’re dominating a couple of locations, to bluffing when you’re far behind, but want to suggest you’re about to whomp home. But snapping first round? What’s the possible value of that?
But when Kotaku spoke to former Blizzard developer, and head of newer developer Second Dinner, Ben Brode, he told us there were some damned good reasons to hit that button right away.
“If you’re not good at determining whether to snap, you should probably be snapping round one,” Brode told us, “because it’s better than never snapping!”
It turns out, a lot of players are prone to just never hitting the button, always playing it far too safe. And the problem with that is, it tends to put people in a reverse trajectory. Your wins count for less, and your opponents, who are likely more confident and snap-oriented, will tend to beat you for more. So snap first round, and you’re putting yourself in a position where your wins are going to count much higher, and you can always retreat for just a loss of two cubes if things aren’t going your way. Doing it right away, says Brode, removes the need to be worrying too much to ever do it as you play.
The nuances of a well-timed snap, when mastered, can really aid a person’s game, but that’s a lot harder to get right than many think. “Somebody with a negative win-rate,” explains Brode, “but who wins eight cubes when they win, and loses one cube when they lose, is going to skyrocket up the ladder.” However, he adds, “somebody who wins 70 percent of their games, but loses eight cubes when they lose and one cube when they win, is moving in the wrong direction.”
It’s counter-intuitive, but it makes sense. So if you feel like you too often find yourself winning games over and over with just two cubes as your prize, maybe you’re exactly the sort of person who should be snapping first round!