Marvel Snap’s Battle Mode update is now live, and my biggest problem right now is that no one wants to play. Is it because my handful of Marvel Snap friends and colleagues are afraid of the awesome power of my decks? Perhaps. Is it because it’s 2:30PM ET on a workday? Also very possible. But I’ve been waiting for this update since the developers told me about it months ago, and after the tiny taste of it I’ve gotten so far, I hunger for more.
For starters, do not do what I do and try to conscript your Marvel Snap agnostic boss or partner into playing against you. Snap won’t allow you to play in Battle Mode unless you’ve completed the game’s tutorial and reached rank 10. But once you meet that minimum criterion, hopping into a match is blessedly easy. In Snap’s Game Mode menu — the little joystick icon next to the “Main” button — you can either generate a code to give to friends to connect to your match or input a code shared with you, and you’re in.
The first thing you’ll notice in the battle arena is that cubes are an angry red and that there’s a life bar under your player avatar. I’ve already covered the details of Battle Mode, but to put it simply: wagered cubes become damage dealt by the winner to their opponent. Deal 10 damage, and win the match. This results in games that go beyond the typical one-and-done flow of regular Marvel Snap matches and can trip up folks who are out of the loop. In a match against my colleague and The Verge features editor Kevin Nguyen, he thought the match was over and put down his phone since I won the first round. Depending on how aggressive you get with your snapping, matches can last anywhere from two to four rounds. If you both are conservative snappers, at round five, the game starts with you wagering two cubes to increase the stakes.
One of the last matches I played before forcing myself to put my phone down and write this was against Kenneth Seward Jr, a friend and colleague. This was a knock-down, drag-out fight — the kind of match that would make for excellent watching when Marvel Snap tournaments are up and running. We traded rounds early with modest wins, but as the game went on, I got cocky and snapped when I shouldn’t have, resulting in a massive loss of health. One more lost round would have done me in. I managed to claw my way back until we were both at three health. We then both snapped to ensure whatever happened, the seventh round would be the last of the game. I won by single digits, but it was so exciting to have that kind of back-and-forth battle of decks that just can’t happen in a normal Snap match.
I love this mode so much. I have to think a bit more about the deck I’m playing and who I’m playing against, and that kind of cerebral engagement is something that I unabashedly love about collectible card games. Since Snap decks are so small, after one or two rounds, I know what the other person is working with, and I have to figure out how to bob and weave between their combos and traps. And sometimes I just won’t be able to. My first match was against my friend and former Kotaku colleague Zack Zwiezen, and he embarrassed me because his Dracula always sacrificed the right card to utterly ruin the leads I had over him. And it’s always a neat added layer of interactivity when you can message your opponent after the fact to congratulate them on a sick combo or a well-executed play.
Overall, I love this new addition to Snap. 10 out of 10. Minor notes. (A friends list would be a nice addition now that Battle Mode is live.) I feel like a kid on the playground with a new toy that she wants to share with everybody else. Please come play.