Understanding card pools and building your starting Marvel Snap decks
There are two key components to winning most collectible card games: there’s deck building, where you decide which cards go into your deck, and then there’s piloting, the turn to turn decision of which cards to play, and for some games where on the game board to play them. Online resources tend to favor the latest decks, and because Marvel Snap is in such a long closed beta period, many of those decks require cards new players (i.e., just about everyone) won’t have access to for a while. Snap starts you with a premade “Deck 1” that isn’t terrible and will get you through the tutorial games, but what then?
Snap awards new cards, not through random packs, but through progressing up the Collection Track. You do this by upgrading cards with Boosters you get for playing matches — win or lose. Your first few rewards are set cards like Mister Fantastic, Kazar, Nightcrawler, etc. At Collection Level 18, you’ll start seeing Mystery Cards. These can be any random card, but to help keep player power levels close to each other, Snap groups cards into Pools.
Collection Level 18-214 is considered Pool One and it contains 46 possible cards. Pool Two is Collection Level 222 – 450 and contains 23 cards. Pool Three is Collection Level 462 and up and contains the remaining 73 cards.
Let’s look at three great decks you can build early on. While you’ll be missing a couple of cards when you first start, you get every one of these cards in Pool One. Then we’ll look at some powerful decks you want work towards in Pool Two and Pool Three.
Deck List: Ant-Man, Electra, Nightcrawler, Rocket Racoon, Angela, Medusa, Sentinel, Mister Fantastic, Punisher, Kazar, Iron Man, America Chavez
Rocket Raccoon, Medusa, Punisher, and Ant-Man are great if you can meet their conditions. Angela is a fantastic tempo card as long as you draw her early. Electra is one of the few cards that can remove another card from the board. Nightcrawler is a perfect turn one play because you can always move him to another location if a better one appears. Mister Fantastic really help you out when you get a location that limits the amount of cards that can be played there. Sentinel is a perfect cycle card. Kazar is buffer for your one drops. Iron Man and America Chavez are your finishers.
Deck List: Angel, Ant-Man, Blade, Electra, Nightcrawler, Nova, Scarlet Witch, Strong Guy, Deathlok, Mister Fantastic, Wolfsbane, Kazar
Ant-Man, Electra, Nightcrawler, Mister Fantastic, and Kazar are strong picks once more. Angel is a beautiful counter to Electra as long as he’s in your deck and not your hand. Wolfsbane is another conditional card. Blade is here to discard a final card so you can activate Strong Guy’s effect. Scarlet Witch lets you turn a bad location into a new one (or a worse one—this is Wanda we’re talking about.) Deathlok combos with Nova to buff your other cards. Nova’s buff was recently nerfed, but it’s still strong. Nova has several counters, most commonly, Hisako Ichikia aka Armor. Be sure you play Nova and Deathlok on the same turn so your opponent can’t counter you.
Deck List: Ant-Man, Mantis, Nightcrawler, Squirrel Girl, Sentinel, Captain America, Ironheart, Wolfsbane, Kazar, Gamora, Iron Man, Blue Marvel
Some strategies apply across card games. If you’ve ever played a Zoo style deck in Hearthstone, the strategy should feel familiar to you. Flood the board with cheap minions and buff them with Kazar, Ironheart, Iron Man, and Blue Marvel.
Major deck archetypes you’ll see in Marvel Snap as you move up the Collection Track, and Ranked Ladder
Marvel Snap has several ways to help ensure you are matched against players with similar power and skill. These are your Collection Level, your Rank, and possibly a hidden ELO rating. Like any matchmaking, it’s not perfect. Sometimes, you’ll face an opponent who just has more powerful cards than you, but it should be rare.
As you first start playing, you’ll see decks similar to the ones above, but as you progress, you’ll see new archetypes. Let’s look at some of these.
- Movement deck
- This is a deck that uses cards that benefit from changing locations. You’ll see Multiple Man, Iron Fist, Vulture, and Doctor Strange. The big finisher is Heimdall.
- Discard deck
- This deck works by discarding cards from your hand. Blade, Lady Sif, Moon Knight, and Swordmaster are the activators. Wolverine, Swarm, and Morbius are the cards buffed. Because it’s easy to empty your hand, this deck will often run Strong Guy. The big finisher here is usually Apocalypse, though some prefer America Chavez for the guaranteed turn six draw.
- Collector / Devil Dinosaur
- This deck has seen much less play since the Moon Girl, and Devil Dinosaur nerfs. The namesake Collector card is the win condition. These decks run Agent 13, Cable, Sentinel, and Moon Girl as ways to buff Collector. Rarely, you’ll see a version with Falcon.
- This deck aims to foil your opponent’s strategy. It uses Hobgoblin and Goblin with create negative power for your opponent. It will lock down locations with Storm, Spiderman, and Professor Charles Xavier. Enchantress stops Ongoing cards, and Cosmo keeps On Reveal (Battlecry) from working. It wins by denying the opponent their win condition.
- On Reveal, aka Odin
- These decks use On Reveal (Battlecry) cards. Rocket Racoon, Star Lord, Electra, and Yondu are the early game. Ironheart is a buff card. The big power play is White Tiger and then activating White Tiger and Ironheart again with Odin.
- Ongoing aka Onslaught
- Ongoing is like an Aura. Instead of a one-time effect like On Reveal, Ongoing is always working unless countered by a card like Enchantress or Rogue. In addition to Onslaught, this deck runs Iron Man, Ebony Maw, Mister Fantastic, Punisher, Captain America, Devil Dinosaur, Kazar, and Klaw.
- Jubilee / Lockjaw
- This is a greedy decks that runs a ton of expensive cards and cheats then out with Jubilee or Lockjaw. In addition to those two cards, you’ll see Hulk, Lady Death, America Chavez, and sometimes Doctor Doom.
- This deck is built around The Infinaut. His condition is you can’t have played a card last turn. Since he costs six, this means you can’t play any cards on turn five unless there is some cost reduction location in play. Sunspot, Okoye, and Warpath are common companion cards along with some “troll” cards to slow down your opponent.
As more and more players join Marvel Snap, I expect you’ll see the tier lists that dominate these types of games. Hopefully, the team will continue to take steps to rein in outliers like the recent balance batch to nerf Moon Girl, Devil Dinosaur, Nova and Carnage, and we’ll have a healthy meta. Best of luck as you build your collection and climb the ladder. I can’t wait to see you when Snap goes live in your region.
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