Marvel Snap developer Ben Brode recently explained why Second Dinner added Ego, a living planetary location that plays both players’ cards for a match, to the game. Locations play an important role in each Marvel Snap game, forcing players to improvise no matter how strong their deck is. Ego, however, plays a game for the player, which is somewhat counterintuitive. It is interesting to see why Second Dinner decided to add the ego to Marvel Snap.
In every match of Marvel Snap, there are three locations. Initially hidden, one location is revealed each round. Each of these locations dramatically changes the landscape of the game. They may make cards more powerful, limit the use of cards, or even destroy other locations. Ego is an unusual location in Marvel Snap but one of the most impactful. Both players lose control as soon as Ego is revealed, whether on turn 1 or turn 3. the AI of Ego decides which cards to play and who ultimately wins. Ego’s AI decides which card to play and who ultimately wins.
Brode explained to IGN that the design of Ego started in the opposite direction: Second Dinner was selecting locations for Marvel Snap and had Ego in mind as a candidate. would do, he asked, and in response, he thought, “It might play cards for you.” Instead of starting with the idea of locations controlling the game, they decided to start with Ego and design the game so that the Ego could control the game.
Second Dinner’s Marvel Snap
Second Dinner’s confidence in Ego’s game control comes from Marvel Snap’s unique Snap mechanism: while Ego is in control, players cannot play their cards, but they can control when to snap and when to retire. The Ego game is similar to poker, where the stakes are high, and folding can save players from bad gambles.
Although Brode did not mention it, Marvel Snap players will also appreciate the ability to take their hands off the wheel during the game. There is no tension in outplaying your opponent. Egos decide who wins and who loses, and therein lies the randomness and fun that other games lack.
Ego also has cards. Agatha Harkness’ cards start in the Marvel Snap player’s hand and play cards for the player so that the Marvel Snap player can choose to let the AI control the game rather than being surprised by the ego as a place. It would be interesting to hear which came first, Ego or Harkness, in Second Dinner’s Marvel Snap design. That is a discussion for another time, though.