A stealth nerf went out today in MARVEL SNAP, affecting two of the most powerful cards in the game: Zabu and Silver Surfer.

The Nerfs

Second Dinner recently stated that they no longer need a full Patch to go live with balance changes, which means that they can be much more flexible when making balance changes. First up, here are the changes to Zabu and Silver Surfer:

  • Zabu: [2/2], "Ongoing: Your 4-Cost cards cost 1 less (minimum 1)." (Was [3/2], "Ongoing, Your 4-Cost cards cost 2 less (minimum 1).")
  • Silver Surfer: [3/2], "On Reveal: Give your other 3-Cost cards +2 Power." (Was: [3/0], "On Reveal: Give your other 3-Cost cards +3 Power.")

And just a reminder that there will be no refunds of any kind given out to players who own the affected cards.

Developer Insights

In addition to the nerfs, Second Dinner's Game Designer Glenn Jones provided some insight into the team's balance philosophy, and the process that led to these changes.

MARVEL SNAP’s content release model gives our metagame a unique texture. By releasing a
new card each week, we hope to constantly provide something new and exciting to look forward
to for players. That requires a diverse metagame featuring opportunity for innovation and
exploration. This game is at its most fun with a large variety of viable decks featuring many
different cards. It’s awesome to see individual cards succeed, but we need that success to exist
within a spectrum that also allows many other cards to flourish.

Weakening these two Season Pass cards wasn’t a light decision. It’s paramount that we protect
our gameplay, but our team also takes seriously that players trust us to be responsible stewards
of that content. These changes aren’t meant to “delete” Zabu or SIlver Surfer–just give other
cards more room.


Zabu’s individual card performance was strong, but not amazing. It didn’t crack our Top 5 cards
for most of January, which is usually where you find troublemakers. Zabu’s dominance only
became apparent in evaluating its clusters, which is data that takes longer to surface. In
mid-January we saw three distinct Zabu decks gaining steam near the top of our rankings on
winrate, cube gain, and population. That was when we knew a change would be necessary, but
the next patch was already locked, which brings us to today.

3/2 - Ongoing: Your 4-Cost cards cost 2 less. (minimum 1) ➡️ 2/2 - Ongoing: Your 4-Cost cards cost 1 less. (minimum 1)

Moving Zabu’s cost reduction from 2 to 1 reduces the potential Energy reduction of the cat,
making it harder to hide game-winning amounts of Power until turn 6 or empty your hand for
Dracula. It also breaks up the Spider-Man/Absorbing Man combo, which was stronger than we’d
like. Sliding him down to 2-Cost hopefully refunds enough tempo to retain the fun of building
around various 4-Cost cards. We expect Zabu decks to look a bit different, but still have
competitive builds.

Silver Surfer

Silver Surfer’s change is oddly linked to Zabu’s. It’s been a Top 5 card in a Top 5 deck since
release, but steadied and gained cubes slower once players adapted . . . until Zabu. During
Savage Lands, “Sera Surfer” was an unlikely hero and the best overall deck. However, it also
had positive matchups against over 75% of the field, which meant it threatened to become too
dominant once we adjusted Zabu.

3/0 - On Reveal: Give your other 3-Cost cards +3 Power. ➡️ 3/2 - On Reveal: Give your other 3-Cost cards +2 Power.

This change aims to keep mostly the same Surfer decks viable, just weaker. We’re specifically
happy to carry Power on Surfer himself, because it makes figuring out where he’ll be played
more interesting for both players and lets us fine-tune his strength. Those gains unfortunately
come at the expense of some cool Mister Negative decks we enjoyed seeing.

Future Balance Changes

For now, we still expect patches to be the primary way to deliver balance changes. Our internal
processes aren’t designed to do these impromptu changes regularly yet, and we’ll often want to
make more substantial changes than this tool allows. However, we may experiment with slightly
more frequent balance on a small scale, to see if there’s an even better experience for players
at our fingertips. Thanks for reading, and good luck on your next snap

How do you feel about these two changes? Share your thoughts in the comments!