Risk has always been a part of human nature. Without the bravery (or the foolishness) to plunge headfirst into the unknown, we never would have made the discoveries necessary to pave the way for progress. Like people running into the sea, later realizing a compass would be nice. Or a primitive human eating mushrooms, hoping the next one wouldn’t be poisonous.
Or you, playing card games right now.
Marvel Snap is a digital collectible card game, where you square off against an opponent in a bid to win Cosmic Cubes to climb up the ranks. To that end, you’ll build boards on three different battlefields, summoning prominent Marvel heroes and villains to do your bidding and bring you home those cubes. But the game isn’t just fanservice – It’s also about bluffing, trickery, courage and/or recklessness, and foresight.
While the fast-paced, high-stakes nature of Marvel Snap is one of its main selling points, going in unarmed is asking for a beating. Forewarned is forearmed, and if you’d like your Marvel Snap experience to be just a bit easier, this guide is for you.
Understand The Game Thoroughly
All card games require a solid grasp of the basics to get started, but this is doubly important for Marvel Snap. As ranked games require the use of mind games and deception to help you get what you want, you must understand the tools that both you and your rivals have been given.
In Marvel Snap, games take place throughout six turns. During each of these turns, players can place cards on the field – so long as they have the energy to do so – in any battlefield that’s still open. At the end of those six rounds, the player who has more power on two of the three battlefields wins. In case of a tie, the player with more total power across all three battlefields wins.
Combat in Marvel Snap takes place over three arenas, each of which can have powerful effects that can influence how a match will go. Each player can place cards into an arena during a turn, so long as they haven’t reached the cap for that arena. Each arena can only have 4 cards in it. Cards that have been placed in an arena, with a few exceptions, can no longer be moved.
When a card is placed on a battlefield, it adds its power to that arena, with the total power represented as numbers at the top and bottom of the hexagon. The player who’s currently winning in that arena will also have their number highlighted.
Energy is required to play cards. Every turn, both players’ energy is set to the turn count, ie, 1 energy on turn 1, 5 energy on turn 5, and so on. This also means that energy does not carry over in between turns.
Decks and Cards
Each player enters battle with their deck, which is a set of 12 unique cards. At the start of a round, each player draws 3 cards, and at the beginning of each turn – including the first – they draw a card.
Cards represent the heroes and villains that you send to do your bidding. A card’s energy cost is depicted in its upper left, with its Power in the upper right.
Related: Marvel Snap Pool 1 Decks Guide
Finally, some cards have keywords that greatly affect the value they provide to you and your deck.
Don’t worry, Marvel Snap only uses very basic keywords. These are:
- On Reveal: On Reveal effects activate only once when the card is flipped face-up at the end of the turn.
- Ongoing: Ongoing effects are passive effects that persist so long as the card that has the effect remains on the field.
The most important thing you should learn in Marvel Snap is that you need to play fluidly, not stick to a specific game plan.
As you only draw one card per turn, and you can’t see how many cards your opponent has, you must have a fluid strategy to both maximize both the cards in your hand and thwart the other player.
A lot of times, I see players investing a whole bunch of cards in an arena that they’ve already pretty much won. This is a bad idea for several reasons.
First off, it drains cards from your hand that could be used to secure other arenas. If you’ve got a massive lead in an arena – like in the image above – there’s usually no need to play even more cards just to seal that victory.
Secondly, investing too much in an arena nudges your foe to attack the other areas. This is especially troublesome if you’ve already played your big hitters. Not only will you be hard-pressed to match the power of your opponent in the other 2 arenas, but you’ll also have to deal with their more even spread of power.
Thirdly, each card you place in an arena is a permanent investment. Each arena can only have a maximum of 4 cards in it, and with how powerful late-game cards are, you may find yourself at a major advantage with your four low-cost heroes with a total 8 power suddenly staring down a 9 power single card. Remember: card games can be viewed as a battle of economic efficiency, and if your opponent just shut down an arena you’ve poured 4 cards into with 1 of their own, you’ve just lost a whole bunch of resources for nothing!
Finally, it makes you predictable. Remember: you can only have one copy of each card in your deck, and if your opponent sees that you’ve played power cards like Punisher or Iron Man, that also means that you can no longer play those cards in other arenas.
Thus, my advice is this: just enough power is good enough, at least in the early game. As victory in Marvel Snap is decided by whoever has the highest power in 2 of 3 arenas, it’s wise to not overextend your resources and edge out your opponent by just a few points. By exerting just enough pressure in each arena, you can goad your opponent into committing resources to an arena, thus depriving them of key cards that they could use later in the game.
It may not be immediately obvious, but you can take back your plays as long as you haven’t hit the End Turn button. As the game only goes on for 6 rounds, it’s very important to make the right plays in the right arenas.
Giving Up Locations
Victory is important, but so is defeat. Part of playing any card game is knowing when you’re outmatched, and in Marvel Snap, it’s important to know when an arena is lost.
If your opponent is throwing a lot of their early-game powerhouses into an arena, it’s often a good idea to let them continue doing so. Each card they spend securing their already-sure victory is one less card that they have to play against you in other arenas and one more card that you could play on other battlefields. Remember: you only have to win 2 out of 3, so it’s very important to recognize a losing battle ahead of time so that you can conserve your resources for the fights you can win.
Watch Out For Late Game Swings
As games can be won or lost on a single point, it’s very important to do the mental math and be wary of big cards that can swing the late game.
There are a lot of positive and negative modifiers to card power in Marvel Snap, and further increasing the complexity of that system are cards that have ongoing power modulation effects. And of course, there are big cards like Abomination or Hulk that just add a whole bunch of power. I’ve won a whole bunch of games by pretending to give up an arena early in the game, then surprising my opponent by playing a 12-power Hulk in that “lost” battlefield during the last turn!
In the same vein as winning with just enough points, you should be wary of cards that can swing for an unexpected victory. As everyone will have more or less the same cards thanks to Marvel Snap’s card acquisition system, you should familiarize yourself with late-game threats (and boons) that can table the turns and turn the tables and leave you wondering what just happened.
In the early game, late-game threats are usually 4+ cost cards. These include Thing, Abomination, Iron Man, and Hulk. Each of these cards offers a large amount of power (with the possible exception of Iron Man) and as such, you should be wary of your opponent using these cards. At the same time, because everyone has these cards, you can already calculate how many points you need to win or lose an arena, and whether it’s “safe” to leave it be or if you should shore up your defenses – meaning you can decide when and where to play your power cards.
Leverage Arena Bonuses
While it may seem obvious, it’s very important to maximize the unique arena bonuses that each battlefield offers.
In the same vein that playing cards from your hand can be viewed as making careful economic investments, leveraging arena passives can be seen as selecting where to put your resources. And naturally, you’ll want the most bang for your buck when throwing cards at arenas. For example, arenas that give a +1 or +2 power to all cards played in them are better when they’re swarmed with cheap heroes. On the flip side, arenas that carry a penalty to power are best tackled by heroes who are already plenty strong on their own.
On the flip side, arena bonuses can make players predictable. Evaluate the board state at every turn, and don’t make any hasty decisions – those can and will cost you the game!
Gamble Wisely with Your Cubes
I hope you’ve taken the above section to heart, as once you hit Iron Rank (aka have won 10 games), the game’s ladder system will kick into play. And a ladder it is – winning will raise your rank while losing reduces it. This is where the game’s Snap system, as well as Cosmic Cubes, come into play.
You may have noticed the shiny cube floating at the top of the game during a match. In ranked matches, that cube is what’s at stake: each match won gives the winner a single Cosmic Cube. Cosmic Cubes can be viewed as the equivalent of ladder points: the more you have, the bigger of a fish you are. Coincidentally, they’re also the reason why you’re now Iron Rank; the 10 games you’ve won have given you the 10 cubes you needed to reach the lowest tier of the ladder.
Now that you’re here though, it’s the wild west. Any game you play from this point onwards will affect your rank. Beating your opponents gives you their cubes while losing means you fork over that many cubes to your opponent. Don’t worry if you’re new though: you can never dip below ranks 10 and 100. Everything else is fair game!
As you may have surmised, every 10 cubes raise your rank by 1. Each rank has its rewards, shelling out credits, boosters, and other cosmetic items the first time you reach it.
“Ten whole games to go up a rank?”, you may ask, and I don’t blame you. Ten games is a lot. If you’re feeling gutsy, then it’s time to take advantage of the Snap system.
At any time during a match, a player can tap on the Cosmic Cube at the top of the screen to double their bet. I did say “player”, and if both players choose to Snap, there’ll be 4 cubes at stake instead of just one. Furthermore, stakes are doubled on the final turn of a match, raising the potential number of cubes to be won (and lost) to eight. This means that fully snapped matches will propel the winner way, way higher up the ladder, while the loser has to reevaluate their life choices and maybe their gambling strategy.
You don’t need to rise to your opponent’s snaps. If a player chooses to snap, their opponent is given the chance to freely retreat until the end of the turn. This does exactly what it sounds like: if you retreat, you forfeit the match and cubes to your opponent. However, the stakes will be lowered to what they were before the snap – if your opponent snaps to raise the stakes to 2 cubes and you retreat, you’ll only lose a single cube.
If, however, you choose not to retreat and end your turn properly, you’re agreeing to their raised bet and can no longer back out with a reduced penalty. This means that if my opponent raises the stakes to 2, and I end my turn by playing a card, I can still retreat – but because I called their bet, I’ll now lose 2 cubes if I choose to cut and run.
This aspect of Marvel Snap has a lot in common with poker in that it’s a game about psyching out your opponent as much as it is about building a solid board. You can have the crappiest hand in existence, or even the most ramshackle deck ever, but play your cards right and fool your opponent into thinking they’ve got no chance, and you may end up winning a lot more games than you should have had any right to. At the same time, you’ll also need to learn when to fold so that you can mitigate your losses.
Neither of these is a skill that can be taught, as they’re dependent both on your individual experience and willingness to take on risks – you’ll just have to devise your snapping strategy. This is also why I’ve emphasized that you need, at the very least, a solid understanding of the game’s mechanics. Knowledge is power, and that power may help you avoid taking a rough tumble down the ladder!
Keep Upgrading Cards
Unlike other card games, Marvel Snap doesn’t have any booster packs. Instead, card progression is tied to your collection level. This means that to get more cards, you need to make the ones you already have shinier!
The more you upgrade your cards, the higher your collection level becomes, and the more cards you unlock. And the higher up the tree you go, the better the cards you’ll find. This progression system also means that outside of events and seasonal rewards, pretty much everyone will have the same cards.
Upgrading cards isn’t free though: you’ll need credits and boosters (not booster packs) to make them shinier. Your cards will also need to earn experience points in battle before they can be upgraded.
Even if the cards that receive experience aren’t mainstays in your deck, it’s in your best interest to level them up anyway, as all of them contribute to your collection level.
Use The Shop to Rush Upgrades
While upgrading your cards via post-match experience is all well and good, it’s very important to start cheating out upgrades via the shop as soon as you can.
To do this, just visit the shop and scroll down to the fast upgrade panel. This will present a random selection of 3 cards that you already own, as well as a price tag that varies based on how much progress you’ve already accumulated for that card’s next rarity, as well as on how far up the rarity tree it is.
Pricey? Yes. But is it worth it? Absolutely. By using this method, you can directly convert the credits you’ve been hoarding into boosters, which saves you valuable time and can advance your collection level by leaps and bounds.
Note that the selection resets every 8 hours.
One thing that the game doesn’t tell you is that while variants of cards can’t be placed in a deck, they count as separate cards for collection level.
This means that it’s in your best interest to snap up variants whenever and wherever they appear. By collecting and upgrading variants alongside your base art cards, you’ll unlock new paths through which you can raise your collection level. However, do note that as variants are technically the same hero, they’ll also use that hero’s boosters to upgrade themselves.
Grab Free Stuff
You may find yourself surprised at how quickly you can burn through resources in Marvel Snap. Luckily, there are also a ton of ways to get free stuff. Upgrading cards, rushing upgrades, and buying variants aren’t free, and the higher up the rarity tree you go, the more expensive upgrading becomes. Thus, it’s in your best interest to know when and where you can get free stuff.
You have been claiming your ranked rewards, right? If you’ve missed any of them, you can access the rank menu by tapping on your rank number to the right of the Play button on the main menu.
Free Shop Credits
Every 24 hours, you can also claim 50 credits for free at the shop – just scroll down and you’ll find it.
No, it’s not much. But will you need it? Yes, you will.
Do Your Quests!
While early game costs are so cheap that you won’t realize you’re out of resources, higher rarities can leave you bereft of any resources. That’s where doing your quests comes in.
By completing your quests (that’s Missions, in the upper right of the main menu), you can gain a slow yet reliable stream of both credits and experience for the season – more on that later. And while each quest is individually a drip in the bucket, they do add up.
More importantly, do not forget to leave your quests undone. You can only have a maximum of 6 quests at once, and they refill on a timer. Incomplete quests not only deprive you of a quick burst of resources but also clog up your to-do list, potentially preventing you from receiving more challenging and rewarding tasks.
Completing quests also gives you progress toward your weekly quest bar, with each quest done filling up one segment. Always aim to complete your weekly quests, as completing all of them gives you a respectable 1,350 credits.
Marvel Snap also features a battle pass. Clearing this battle pass – paid or not – is very important as not only do you get a whole bunch of resources to improve your collection, but you also have access to new cards.
The battle pass is fulfilled by completing missions; these you can find in your quest panel, alongside your dailies. Every time the battle pass levels up, be sure to visit the battle pass screen to redeem your new goodies as you can be sure other players will be doing this as well!
Seasons roll over every so often, so if the current season offers a card you wanted or a cosmetic you like, be sure to nab it before it’s gone.
Go Forth and Snap!
While Marvel Snap is a mechanically simple game, it’s the human factor that gives it its longevity and appeal. Collecting cards is just part of the fun – it’s learning how to navigate and outwit foes in your race for Infinite Rank that draws you in.
That ends my Marvel Snap beginner’s guide, and I hope you were able to pick up a thing or two. If you have any comments or tips of your own, make yourself heard in the comments section below!