December 1, 2023

Bobbys Brane

Bobbys Brane – Business & Tech Blog

Losing In Marvel Snap? Ditch These Cards ASAP!

7 min read

An image shows a collage of Marvel Snap cards including The Hulk and Mantis.

Image: Marvel / Second Dinner / Kotaku

If you, like me John Walker, are still fathoming your way through the lower echelons of Marvel Snap, there’s a good chance there are cards you’re clinging on to because they were working so well for you. However, you’re now starting to lose more often, wondering what went wrong. The answer is: Kill your darlings.

With the help of my colleague Zack Zwiezen—who has been playing the game for some time now—we’ve come up with a list of cards that you might want to cut from your decks.

Now, let’s be clear: Neither of us is saying these cards are totally useless, or that keeping them in your deck is always a bad idea. It’s just, they’re the ones that felt so good early on that you might not have been able to bring yourself to acknowledge their weaknesses, and are holding you back from experimenting with more interesting combinations. Be bold, be brave, and let these babies go.

And remember you can always add them back later if you experiment too much and end up with a stinker deck! Anyway, let’s start cutting some cards!


A image shows the Marvel Snap card Quicksilver.

Image: Marvel / Second Dinner / Kotaku

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As Kotaku has previously broken down, Quicksilver was developer Second Dinner’s brilliant solution to entirely removing the concept of mulligans from their deckbuilding card game. Guaranteeing a 1-cost card in your hand at the start of every game ensures you can always play in the first round, every time, and add 2 power to the board right away. Which, at first, felt vital. Except, the more you play, the more you realize that being able to play in the first round isn’t actually all that important.

Chances are, you’re not going to be placing down anything game-changing that first turn. And indeed by not playing in round one, you fend off other 1-cost cards like Elektra. You can even obnoxiously opt out of playing a 1-cost you might have in your hand in Round 1, just so you can play two of them more tactically in Round 2. Again, for example, Elektra!

And, as we’ll get to below, decks that opt for as many 1-cost cards as possible will get increasingly weak as you climb the ranks, meaning Quicksilver’s lack of any further abilities quickly makes him more of a burden than a boon.


A image shows the Marvel Snap card Utau.

Image: Marvel / Second Dinner / Kotaku

When you first stumble upon Uatu, he feels like a secret hack, a card offering you special insight unavailable to anyone yet to find him. His ability to show you the properties of unrevealed locations feels like something that lets you plan ahead and make psychic moves your opponent can’t predict. And, to some extent, on some level, he sort of does.

Except, that won’t happen nearly often enough to justify Uatu taking up a valuable slot in your 12-card deck. The issue lies in the number of conditions that need to be right for him to actually prove helpful. Rather obviously, you need the luck of drawing him early enough to work. Unless you get him in the first or second round, Uatu’s ability is pretty useless. Secondly, you need to be playing a game with locations where prior knowledge is actually of use.

So many locations have properties where foreknowledge is of very little value. Finding out that when it reveals you’ll get a random card added to your hand, a random card taken from it, or a 12-power card added to both sides…it’s very rare that this will be vital information to you. Yes, there are absolutely circumstances where it’s great, where knowing each card will get 5+ power when played there means you can load up and dominate where your opponent might not know to. But does that happen frequently enough for Uatu to remain a vital card? Really, no.


A image shows the Marvel Snap card Hulk.

Image: Marvel / Second Dinner / Kotaku

This one is hard. But listen: There are better and more interesting ways for a big finish. Hulk’s there from the start to give you that satisfaction of playing a ridiculous 12-power card on those Pool 1 bots. But he’s baby food, and you’re ready for solids.

Sure, you’ve nothing else in your deck that offers that much power. It’s simple logic. But Hulk’s simplicity is the issue. Using up all your energy in Round 6 on one card that does nothing other than add a bunch of power means you’re missing out on much more fun big finishes. Never mind that Shang-Chi, available from Collection Level 222, can obliterate him with his “Destroy all enemy cards at this location that have 9 or more Power.”

But there are so many cards that do more interesting things in the final round. Like Odin, who adds 8 power, but also refires all the On Reveal abilities of the other cards at the location. That means you can see White Tiger putting out another 7-power card onto another location, bringing her total contribution to 15, while at the same time retriggering Gamora’s additional +5 power if the opponent plays a card there. That puts Gamora up to a total of 17, even without taking into account a possible third card at the location, just playing Odin has increased our power by 20. Take that, Hulk.

America Chavez

A image shows the Marvel Snap card America Chavez.

Image: Marvel / Second Dinner / Kotaku

When you first get this card you might be excited. America is a 6-cost/9-power card that always shows up on turn six, which is usually the last turn of most Marvel Snap games. And yeah, it’s nice knowing a powerful 9-power card is definitely going to show up at the end of your match. But this also means she’s not hanging around in your hand, meaning she can’t get buffed or randomly tossed into the field early on.

And while adding 9-power at the end of a match can be useful, you’ll quickly encounter games as you rank up where 9-power just isn’t enough to win back a zone or lock something down. Worse, America has no special abilities beyond showing up on turn 6. So, like Quicksilver, she shows up and doesn’t really do anything. And unlike the Hulk who is very strong, America is only sort of strong. In a specific deck built around buffing, she can work, but there are better 6 and even 5-cost cards to swap in instead.


A image shows the Marvel Snap card Domino.

Image: Marvel / Second Dinner / Kotaku

Let’s just toss this on here too, while we are talking about America Chavez and Quicksilver. Like those cards, Domino has a unique ability that means she is guaranteed to end up in your hand on turn two. And as a 2-cost/3-power, she seems useful as a follow-up to Quicksilver on turn one. And early on, you can definitely win with Domino. But eventually, you’ll need to get over these cards.

It’s hard, I know, but while giving them up means you give up the consistency of always knowing what’s coming on turns one, two, and six, you are also giving up three slots in your small 12-card deck to characters with no other purpose. They don’t buff, boost, move, kill, destroy, or do anything useful like that. Again, in certain decks, these cards can be useful. But there are just so many better cards that you could use instead of Domino, Quicksilver, and America. Say goodbye to consistency and hello to chaos. It’s the Marvel Snap way.


A image shows the Marvel Snap card Mantis.

Image: Marvel / Second Dinner / Kotaku

Mantis, like the other Guardians of the Galaxy-related characters, has a reveal ability that pops when your opponent plays a card in that location on the same turn it’s played. But unlike Gamora, Star-Lord, or Rocket, Mantis doesn’t get a power boost, instead drawing a card from the opposing player’s deck. This is fun and chaotic, which we support! Snap is more fun when things are hard to predict and wild. But this becomes far less useful in most situations pretty quickly.

The number of times people play Mantis, get a card, and then never use that card because it doesn’t sync up with their deck’s synergy is high. And that’s if your opponent plays a card that turn and you guess the location right. If you don’t do that, then Mantis is a crappy 1-cost/2-power paperweight just begging to be killed by Elektra or worse, left there with no way for you to remove it, taking up valuable real estate. So, yeah, ditch Mantis. And if you are screaming “Well, she is a part of my Zoo Deck!” right now, here’s more bad news…

Zoo Decks

A image shows a collage of low cost and low power Marvel Snap cards.

Image: Marvel / Second Dinner / Kotaku

The “Zoo Deck” was certainly one of the most popular meta decks of Snap’s early days, but in the face of the more common addition of Killmonger to players’ decks, it’s now proving a liability.

A Zoo Deck is a community-given name for decks that put together a lot of low-cost cards, especially 1-cost cards, which often have animal art on them. (Not often enough to justify the name, but that’s the name they’ve gotten anyway.) Advocates celebrate that they allow you to play multiple cards in later rounds, surprising players who rely on hefty 5 and 6-cost cards, like some sort of cheeky rascal scampering between the angry giant’s legs. Except, because of Killmonger, they’re pretty much useless.

Killmonger does appear to be an incredible OP card, although he can only be picked up by players who’ve reached Collection Level 462. At just 3-cost, with 3 power, it’s a card that can be played from round 3 onward, and devastatingly takes out every single 1-cost card from the board. Yours and theirs. And people in Pool 2 are reporting seeing it showing up a lot. The effects are brutal. Oh, and Zoo Decks can also get beat badly by a Scorpion, which lowers the attack power of all the cards in your hand by one, which can easily cost you a close match when most 1-cost cards are low in power. So yeah, Zoo Decks are fun…but not worth it later on.


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