Graphic: Second Dinner / Kotaku
Hey, punk. You wanna be like the The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl? Okay, maybe let’s not start an argument over who the most powerful Marvel character really is because nobody is coming out of that one alive. We are here to help you hulk out in the best new card battler around, and by the time we’re done, your Marvel Snap enemies will ask for mercy with the Deadpool emote.
Upgrade everything…at first
The easiest way to get new cards is to play and use your winnings to upgrade your deck, which will bring up your collection level (or reward you on the season pass). It’s certainly satisfying to get all your favorite supes to frame break and so on, but as someone who has now put an unfortunate number of hours into Snap, I’m finding that resources feel much scarcer than they did at the start. And the really nice cards, the ones where you can actually see bespoke animations and eye-catching art, those won’t unlock until you’re either far into the game or you drop some gold in the store.
I suggest spending freely on anything that’s actively in your deck to start, but once you’ve got a deck full of rares and you spot a variant you really like? Stop upgrading the basic version of that card and start saving up for it, bud. Currencies are character-specific, so if you blow everything on an uggo basic card only to unlock or purchase an incredible variant later, you’re going to be sad that the nice art only has the most basic of flourishes, if that. I hope you like the way green looks on your rainbow Carnage.
Get the daily rewards
Yes, they’re just trying to make you look at the damned store. But currency is currency. Make sure to check your news tab, too. That’s where you can join the Symbiote invasion, something that is happening as we speak in Marvel Snap but that you have to manually opt into. Once you do, you’ll unlock another series of challenges that can net you a wide variety of rewards and unlocks.
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Read the welcome screen
It’s possible that you already know whatever “tip of the day” Marvel Snap is about to throw at you, but it never hurts to learn more. The more crucial piece of information, though, is whether or not there is an active thing you need to worry about. You may find Snap has decided that today, one type of board is about 40 percent more likely to appear in all games. As of this writing, for example, the daily featured location is “Bar Sinister,” something that will fill itself with copies of whatever you play there. While there are no guarantees the board will show up, you can build a deck that accounts for one of the more likely outcomes of your games (or prepare for decks that can take advantage of it). Using the previous board as an example, you could for example drop a Hulk Buster into your set that will immediately merge onto itself, allowing you to keep loading up the spot.
Build your Marvel Snap deck around a theme
Screenshot: Second Dinner / Kotaku
It’s going to take a while to understand how things work on a broader scale, and you’re not going to be dealing with the Real Shit until level 10, when you unlock the snapping mechanic. But as you experiment, try to notice larger patterns and pick cards that work together. Don’t be discouraged from picking your favorite hero if it doesn’t seem like the meta supports it, just make sure that the rest of the cards work in tandem with your faves rather than picking an entire team of cool heroes. One of the best things about the game for me so far is becoming fond of Marvel characters I didn’t even know existed before, so try giving everyone a chance.
We’re going to have a more in-depth article on best decks, but here’s Marvel itself on some good starting decks:
First up is the Spectrum deck. Spectrum, when she reveals, gives +2 Power to all of your cards with an Ongoing effect. So go ahead and put a bunch of Ongoing cards in your deck, and finish with a big explosion of Power when Spectrum hits the board!
Next is the Odin deck. Odin will re-activate all of the On Reveal effects of your cards at that location, which can be particularly strong with cards like Wolfsbane, White Tiger, and Spider-Woman.
Finally there’s the Blue Marvel deck, which wants you to play as many cards as possible. This deck wants to have a lot of low-cost cards and pairs well with Ka-Zar to power up all these low-cost cards.
Read More: The Best New Marvel Game Makes Uncle Ben’s Death A Good Thing
Don’t worry about the daily missions
You should take a look at the various missions, whether it’s your weekly challenges or dailies, but I wouldn’t sweat trying to fulfill the specific conditions outlined. I’ve been playing this game nonstop and find that I fulfill everything without even trying, and the games are so random that you can never really control whether or not you’re able to do the very specific thing being asked of you if it’s something more complicated beyond “play cards.” There are new missions every eight hours. And while you can purchase a mission restock if you’d like, you can only hold six missions at a time.
Try the unrevealed zones
Some of you will surely be rolling around with Uatu, the card that lets you see unrevealed locations. Most of you won’t. While it’s possible that unrevealed zones turn out awful, whatever effect they have won’t come into play until they’re actually revealed. So you could have a situation where the final board says that no cards can be played there, but you already have stuff there.
Snap when you’re confident
Screenshot: Second Dinner / Kotaku
Once you’re at level 10, you get into ranked with a bronze rating and start gambling with cubes. The more cubes you have, the higher your rank. Each match is worth one cube to start. The first time you snap, it’ll become two cubes, if your opponent matches you, it’ll become four cubes. By the final turn, this can double into eight cubes. If you’re feeling certain there’s no way in hell the other person could turn the game around, snap. But don’t do it once it’s completely obvious on the board. Try to do it the second you notice the 3D chess pieces fall into place inside your head, so your opponent has to make a judgement call before they know what’s on the table. If you miss that window of opportunity, still snap. You may not get as many cubes, but the match will potentially end quicker.
Snap to fuck them up
Bluffing is the name of the game, baby. They don’t know what they don’t know. Is your hand looking like shit but, maybe, the board isn’t revealing the cards you play that turn and you’re able to load it up with a bunch of 1-cost energy cards? Fill it up and see if your opponent will bite. It has to be feasible, of course. If you’re snapping when the other person is way ahead of you, they’re probably not going to fall for it. Some maniacs like to snap on round one, but they exist on a dimension we cannot hope to understand.
It’s okay to retreat
By the same token, know your limits. Maybe the other player just threw down Wanda and suddenly that board you were counting on is actively destroying your life. They snap. You could take the chance, but you could also save yourself the cubes. This may not seem relevant at first, but once you get into Silver rank, you’re going to start to see huge cube losses if you’re not careful. That’s when the big boys start showing up.
Use rocks to your advantage
Whoever came up with this at Second Dinner, more specifically whoever put in the zones that bloat your deck with multiple rocks at once, I hate you. I’m guessing, dear reader, you likely hate rocks too. But they have their uses. You can use them to bluff when something won’t reveal immediately. You can use them as sacrificial lambs for cards like Carnage. You can merge them with other cards, like Hulk Buster. You can place them on boards where you exchange your playing field with your opponent by a certain turn. You can try and use cards that automatically level up other card’s powers. Just because the card says zero (or a negative number) on it doesn’t mean you can’t use them.
Bigger is not always better
Screenshot: Second Dinner / Kotaku
You are going to see a lot of really juicy numbers once you unlock a swath of cards. I’m going to ask you to exert some control. A card is not innately more valuable just because it has a higher power number than another one. It’s likely that the higher the number, the longer you have to wait to use it. My suggestion would be to make sure you have enough of every energy level: around three 1s, three to four 2s, three to four 3s, and only about two of either 5 and 6. You can fudge this a bit more if you put a Quicksilver in your hand, which ensures a 1 at the start of a match, versus praying that the odds are in your favor. But the point is, don’t put yourself into a position where you can’t play anything for multiple turns because everything costs too much.
Read More: Marvel Snap Ignored A Card Game Staple And It Worked
It’s okay not to play anything at all
If you don’t put anything down on the first turn, you aren’t doomed. Hell, I’ve gotten into matches where I didn’t have a 1 card on the first turn, and then none of the zones were good for me on turn two, so I passed until turn three. Most of the time, these early turns involve small potatoes, so it’s still possible to turn things around if you play your cards right. Similarly, if you run into a situation where say, the only card you can put down is one that would be good later, save it! It’s better to use a card at the right time, than to use it the second that it becomes available.
Control the environment
You want the bigger number, but you don’t achieve that only by placing down the big guns. Not only can humble cards pull off some dirty stuff, you want to be ready for at least some of the bullshit Marvel Snap might throw at you. Cards like Enchantress and Cosmo will respectively allow you to stop any Ongoing powers and Reveals, while cards like Armor ensure that no card on that board can be destroyed. I’m a huge fan of Wanda, who lets you morph any board into something else. It’s random, but sometimes that means that a completely whack board turns into something good, or at least something that messes up whatever your enemy was planning on before you threw everything in the trash.
Learn from your enemies
Did you just get your ass handed back to you? Good. Now you can learn something. Rather than fast forwarding to the next match, tap back into the previous screen and look at what your opponent played. Try to understand where things went wrong, and more specifically, what they did to pull off what they did. Some of my best tricks are completely stolen. And studying up also allows me to start recognizing patterns across the playing field early on, too.
Play mind games
Screenshot: Second Dinner / Kotaku
This one is hard to pull off consistently, because if you think about it too much, you can spiral into uncertainty. But you should always consider whether or not what you’re about to do is the very obvious move. Let’s say you’re at the final stage of a match, and you’re slightly behind in one board, winning in another board, and losing in the last board. The go-to move, you would think, is to secure the thing that is closest to a win. But what if you could secure that win on the most unlikely place; would your opponent expect that? Do you think they’re about to load up their side of the board with high level cards to punish you on the go-to board, completely ignoring the board that seems like a lost cause?
Another example: the board says, first to fill it up gets 100 points. If you’re ahead on that part of the board, you could always leave it at 3 and have them expect that you’re going to fill it, only to never do it. It’s not like having 100 more points is actually going to be different than winning by a few.
One of my favorite things is to aggressively start playing the boards that seem shitty, like when they depower your cards. If your opponent is going to play it safe, don’t follow suit. Always keep them guessing, as they say.
Get pairs of cards that work well together
Again, we’ll have a more in-depth article on this soon, but some combinations are easy to grok and you’re likely to already have the key ingredients. Carnage and Wolverine are BFFs. Bishop and Angela can become monsters. Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur are match clinchers. Doctor Strange and Multiple Man are a match made in hell. This is how you start building a deck: Notice some cards that work together, and then start figuring out what else might build synergy with those starting blocks. Every pair I just mentioned has an entire strategy devoted to it that goes beyond the named duo.
Bluffing is the name of the game, baby
Build multiple decks
You can give them funny names and have specific card backs to match. Building different decks also allows you to stick to specific strategies across decks without having to constantly edit the same deck. You’ll want to rotate between a few to keep things interesting, or to experiment with other decks if you start losing too often. My most powerful deck right now came together when I started fresh and thought to myself, “What haven’t I really seen anyone use so far?”
Share those decks
The feature is built-in, but there are also community resources out there like Marvelsnap.io where players can look at popular deck ideas, articles, and the entire card database. Even if you’ve been playing a ton since the release, chances are high that you haven’t unlocked a good deal of the available cards, so it’s some good reading. That, and how else are you going to learn about the Morbin’ Time deck?
Learn about Marvel Snap ‘pools’
What are Marvel Snap pools and how do pools work, you ask? I also had no idea what the hell this was until Zack, Kotaku’s resident Snapper who has been playing since the beta, informed me that there’s an entirely behind-the-scenes progression system that isn’t telegraphed to you at all. Snap apparently puts you into “pools” which dictate what cards are available to you, something the game does to try and avoid matching you with people who have endgame cards while you’re still trying to get out of Silver rank. Everyone seems to agree that you’re in pool one until you reach collection level 214, pool two until collection level 474, and pool three until collection level 486 and above. The cards you earn during these pools are all the same, though the order in which you get them is random.
Appreciate your own cards
Screenshot: Second Dinner / Kotaku
All these unlocks and power-ups gotta be for something. Admittedly, a lot of early cards have negligible effects compared to what you can get when you’re farther into the game, but it’s still nice to wobble your phone around and look at the 3D animation close up.