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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Marvel Snap is making ranked Overwatch 2 much more fun

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When it comes to competitive games, I play two main genres: shooters and card games. I like destroying my enemies with either quick reactions or a furrowed brow while counting lethal. Which is why I’m pleased that with the arrival of Marvel Snap and Overwatch 2, I’m duel wielding my love of both genres in the same gaming session. 

See, I didn’t play Overwatch 1 competitively. I played hours and hours of the game but I always played the Arcade modes because it was more about chatting to friends online than it ever was about winning. Since the arrival of Overwatch 2, I’ve been far more focused on climbing up the ranks, and as a DPS main that comes with one major annoyance—queue times. 

Of Overwatch 2’s three roles, DPS is easily the most popular. It’s not only the role with the most heroes, but also my favourites. Unfortunately, the most popular role also means the longest line to matchmake into a game. And as a damage main, I’ve been frustrated waiting upwards of five minutes to play a single match. 

It’s getting to the point where I’ve played far more competitive support games than I have damage or tank just because if I want to play Overwatch, I really don’t want to wait. I want my quick fix of chaos now, and by George, I’ll have it. So, while twiddling my thumbs while in the queue, it occurred to me that there is something fun I could be doing instead, which is  where Marvel Snap has come in. 

I love card games. I think it’s a Caribbean thing that has been instilled in me from watching my mum and grandmother play late at night as a kid. I held off on trying the new CCG on the block, Marvel Snap, because I knew from peer reviews that I could potentially get carried away, so I waited until last weekend to try it out. I spent all of Saturday with a terrible cold, crushing my enemies and collecting cards. I drank copious amounts of orange juice with my left hand while the right hand built decks thinking on the powers of Quicksilver, Iron Heart, and The Hulk. And I won a lot. 

I found myself screenshotting particularly funny wins where card effects and locations had ridiculous consequences. I’ve been looking at other people’s boards with fascination or jealousy as I spot cool cards I’ve not yet gotten to. And I’ve started playing Marvel Snap in little quiet moments. Its matches are short and sweet so it threads that exact needle of time when I’m waiting for something tedious. A quick game while the kettle boils. Another while I’m waiting for a bus to turn up. And now a game while I’m waiting to load into another game altogether. 

Marvel Snap’s snappy format really is a ranked player’s dream interim activity. Of course, Overwatch 2 allows you to play some deathmatch or practice while you wait to be put in a real game but there’s little satisfaction in that. You’re dumped into a deathmatch and pulled back out so hard you might get whiplash. Why would I play no consequence Overwatch 2, when I could be playing Marvel Snap and outplaying my opponents? You can come away in awe at another player’s deck, or feel proud that you kept Odin in yours for a special occasion. And if by some miracle you’re pulled into a game early, and you’re still in a Marvel Snap match, you’ve got two options. 

The first is playing on. Overwatch matches have a few minutes of prep time while players pick heroes and prepare to defend. It’s not a lot of time but with Snap’s short games it’s enough to get another round or two finished in the match. And even when the shooting starts, playing a card quickly in between shots as a hail Mary to clutch the game is quite possible. I’ve done it before and won both my Snap game and my Overwatch game. 

The other option is another built-in feature of Snap: retreating. The Snap in Marvel Snap refers to a betting mechanic that lets either player “snap” at any time to wager double the XP that they’ll win If one player Snaps and the other isn’t confident in a win, they can retreat, preserving their tokens and sacrificing some pride instead. If you’re in the rare situation where you can’t finish your Marvel Snap game, just retreat. Preserve some of your tokens and it’s no biggie. And you know what, as someone who has been retreated on a few times, it’s a little annoying, so it’s still a moral win. 

Queuing for Overwatch 2 and, frankly, any game with long queue times, can be made that little bit more fun with the addition of Marvel Snap. There are very few games that are that quick and punchy to play that fill that tiny gap while you’re waiting to do something else. Now, excuse me while I decide if Blue Marvel is still worth his place in my deck. 

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