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Marvel Snap Archetypes: Classifying Decks Based on the Game Mechanics

What are the major deck archetypes in Marvel Snap? This guide establishes a way to classify the key decks based on how they work and their play patterns allows us to help players build decks intuitively rather than naming them merely by their card names.

For over 20 years, we have referenced decks in card games through the established categories such as aggressive (aggro), midrange, control, or combo. However, if we are looking at Marvel Snap archetypes, these terminologies don’t mean much, and for the most part aren’t used properly.

Currently, one could argue that Control and Combo decks do exist in Marvel Snap. The former defines decks aimed at being reactive, like the Enchantress and Shang-Chi core that is roaming the ladder. The latter would define decks based around some specific cards, like Wong, Patriot, or other cards that are able to be abused.

In my opinion, this way of calling archetypes is only the product of taking what we already knew and trying to transfer it to Marvel Snap. In reality, as the game is working with different resources, health not being a factor, it should lead to a different way to understand and classify our decks.

In this piece, I would like to open a discussion on this potential classification going forward. Please note, I am not trying to change the way we are already calling the decks, I believe labelling them by their key cards is fine for recognition, but doesn’t help in understanding the basics of said deck. Also, it kind of makes every deck unique and difficult to regroup decks based on their playstyle. Lastly, I considered just using the various synergies for this, but there is the problem that you can build various archetypes inside one synergy.

Like if I was telling you I love Discard, could you really picture the deck I am playing? Is it more of a combo deck with Hela, more of a Dracula based build, or something very energy efficient with Swarm representing the key card in the deck?

The same could be said with the Ongoing synergy. Am I talking about the combo deck Wong? About Patriot and Mystique? Or simply referencing solid Ongoing effects, with Onslaught at the top of the curve? Sure, if I told you the key card and the synergy, you can easily guess the deck if you have been playing the game. But for someone who would be looking for a deck that fits their playstyle, there is no easy way to express what they like in the game except talking about a previous deck they enjoyed.

When said person comes from another card game, it is really hard to find something suiting because we aren’t talking about the same thing. And the problem also arises when someone in Pool 3 talks with someone in Pool 1 or 2. You are referencing your deck based on a card the other person has never seen, how can you expect them to understand what you are saying?

So my goal here is to find a way, just like other games have various archetypes, to classify the decks, in a way that would help recognize their most basic play patterns. This would allow building those decks more easily for someone with limited experience, as they would have a way to know if a card fits the deck’s theme or not. Furthermore, this exercise allows us to curate and work on our upcoming meta stats section at the same time!

Everything in this piece is open to discussion, and I can’t wait to read what you all think about it.


Early Snappers: The new aggressive archetype

In the card game universe, an aggressive archetype is understood as a fast deck, looking to quickly create an imbalance and eat away the opponent’s health while they try to stabilize on board. In Marvel Snap, this isn’t something that can exist, but a deck can be built with a super strong start that uses all energy, with the intent to Snap once the board is unbalanced. As an example, we could imagine a deck like KaZoo, which regularly can Snap on turn 3 or 4, when the visible situation is heavily tilted in its favor.

Ongoing Kazoo
Created by den
, updated 3 months ago
3x Collection Level 1-14
5x Collection Level 18-214 (Pool 1)
2x Collection Level 222-474 (Pool 2)
2x Recruit Season
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In this situation, the opponent should feel pressured to retreat, not knowing what is coming next, also, an average or bad hand on their side can let them believe they won’t be able to come back.

Just like other card games, when playing an aggressive deck, the metric we are trying to maximize here is the time we spend in a game. Obviously, we should get a ton of 1 Cube wins, which isn’t that good. But if they happen on turn 3, it also means we should be able to play twice as many games, and potentially get 2 wins while another decks gets only 1, which makes both decks gain 2 cubes in the same amount of time.

For Marvel Snap, these decks seem kind of risky, and could get punished by an opponent with a nice hand and who would counter Snap. But having an aggressive mindset has to come with some sort of risk.


Hand Snappers: The new combo archetype

We could honestly keep the term “combo” for those decks, as the goal is the same compared to other games, assembling a certain synergy that should be game winning. But I think relating an archetype to the most important mechanic in the game (Snapping) makes a lot of sense. By Hand Snapper, I mean a deck that can tell just looking at their hand if they should snap or not.
I can easily imagine Mister Negative decks to be in that category, as Mister Negative and Psylocke in the opening honestly feels like an easy Snap.

The trick with those decks is to Snap early enough, so the opponent can’t anticipate what is coming and retreat because of it. Indeed, if we Snap when the combo is underway, we are likely to just get 1 Cube for our trouble, hence the name “Hand Snapper”, which immediately tells the person how to approach the deck.

Negative Surfer
Created by den
, updated 2 months ago
2x Collection Level 1-14
1x Collection Level 18-214 (Pool 1)
6x Collection Level 486+ (Pool 3)
1x Series 4 Rare – Collection Level 486+ (Pool 4)
1x Series 5 Ultra Rare – Collection Level 486+ (Pool 5)
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2.8
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Control: Because it exists already

When someone refers to a control build in Marvel Snap, most deck lists I see are usually made of the same core: KillmongerEnchantressShang-Chi, meaning we actually took an archetype name and made it into a deck. This excludes every other deck from the “control” archetype, and once again, we have to find a funny name for what we are referring to. A simple example currently is all the players coming from other card games and looking for a “control” deck, their immediately get told to play something like this:

Seracle Control
Created by den
, updated 2 months ago
4x Collection Level 18-214 (Pool 1)
2x Collection Level 222-474 (Pool 2)
5x Collection Level 486+ (Pool 3)
1x Starter Card
2.9
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3.4
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But this isn’t only is one way of playing control. Granted, it is the popular one, but it leaves out so many cards like Sandman, Iceman, Scorpion, Doctor Octopus and other disruptive cards that could fit the “control” requirement from a person’s point of view.

It only makes sense to keep the terminology now, considering most people have started using it, but this means we should find names for the other ways that exist of playing disruptive decks. As a result, control would define decks that aim at answering what the opponent has done, removing points from them. We do need to have a terminology for other decks that would limit the opponent through other means.


Lockation Decks: A Marvel Snap special

Control decks got their name because they aim at controlling the opponent’s resources, typically adopting a reactive gameplay and denying opposing development. But the thing is, in most card games, even if you are especially good at one resource, you tend to build your deck with the capacity to answer the board and heal back if necessary because these two mechanics are basic to denying most gameplans, and should work against a large variety of opponents.

Once again, because there is no health in Marvel Snap, the resource we focus on to disrupt our opponent are the available spots on the board. Through cards like Storm, Debrii, Green Goblin or Spider-Man, we limit where the opponent can play and force them to develop points with fewer possibilities as to where they can play cards.

With the “Lockation” label, one would immediately know we are talking about a deck that aims at limiting the opponent’s use of the various locations. Without naming a card, we can easily picture a gameplan and cards that would fit into it, and if we compare an example of a list to the control deck previously, it is obvious both decks are quite different:

Lane Control
Created by den
, updated 3 months ago
2x Collection Level 1-14
2x Collection Level 222-474 (Pool 2)
6x Collection Level 486+ (Pool 3)
2x Recruit Season
2.8
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Priority Decks: Another Marvel Snap special

Most card games have players taking turns to play their cards. It can be the traditional system of each player playing a full turn before the other one can, like Hearthstone does, or include the possibility of playing certain cards during your opponent’s turn like Magic: The Gathering. Legends of Runeterra has an innovative action by action based system inside each turn.

Marvel Snap decided to do things a bit differently, and have both players play their cards at the same time, and uses a priority system to know who will reveal their cards first. As one of the most frequently asked questions, the player ahead in the game at the start of the turn will reveal their cards first. This game mechanic can be so important at times that it created decks labelled “Priority Decks”, which have their basic gameplan rely on seizing priority early on in the game with high power cards.

Once they are in control, they will use effects that are much stronger if revealing first in the second part of the game. In a way, those could be considered the “Tempo” archetypes of other card games.

Priority
Created by den
, updated 1 month ago
4x Collection Level 18-214 (Pool 1)
3x Collection Level 222-474 (Pool 2)
4x Collection Level 486+ (Pool 3)
1x Starter Card
3.6
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5
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Ramp Decks

Marvel Snap does share a common resource with most other games: Mana, or Energy in this one. So just like other games, we have decks looking to abuse the resource and play their top end cards before their opponent has the chance to. Currently, Ramp decks are labelled “Electro” decks, which probably is the most fitting one card name we have in Marvel Snap, as Electro makes it really obvious as to what our plan is.

However, as a way to pay respect to Psylocke, Wave and future cards allowing some form of energy acceleration, Ramp just seems like the way to go for the archetype.

Electro Ramp
Created by den
, updated 1 month ago
1x Collection Level 1-14
1x Collection Level 18-214 (Pool 1)
3x Collection Level 222-474 (Pool 2)
7x Collection Level 486+ (Pool 3)
3.9
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5.4
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Closing Words

Marvel Snap is growing rapidly, and even though we aren’t at a point where it can be considered a major game on the market, it could come soon enough. As a result, I think these kinds of discussions are a way of helping Marvel Snap find its own identity amongst the current giants that are Magic, Hearthstone or Yu-Gi-Oh! rather than being compared to them all the time. It also is a way of acknowledging the unique gameplay that Second Dinner managed to create and put some names onto it, as a token of recognition that something is going on with Marvel Snap.

Nevertheless, I don’t consider this guide a finished product, rather the start of a discussion to make Marvel Snap easier to communicate around in the community. As such, I’d welcome any feedback or idea to create the easiest nomenclature around archetypes, ideally in the idea of building it so even a Marvel Snap beginner could understand it.
In the future, I could imagine “Hand Disruption”, “Deck Disruption” or even “Energy Disruption” decks to exist, as there already are cards that can serve as a foundation to those. Like Korg, Rockslide, Moon Knight or Black Bolt to name a few.

To discuss or just share your opinion on whether this is something worth working on, you can tag me on Marvel Snap Zone’s Discord, message me directly on Twitter, leave a comment below, or talk through emotes whenever we play against each other on ladder. Bonus points for this last one!

Good Game Everyone.

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den
den

Den has been in love with strategy games for as long as he can remember, starting with the Heroes of Might and Magic series as a kid. Card games came around the middle school - Yu-Gi-Oh! and then Magic: The Gathering.

Hearthstone and Legends of Runeterra has been his real breakthrough and he has been a coach, writer, and caster on the French scene for many years now. He now coaches aspiring pro players and writes various articles on these games.

Articles: 94

3 Comments

  1. Maybe I’m just not snapping correctly, but I question the difference between “early snappers” and “hand snappers”. If I get a great opening hand with KaZoo that curves out well, shouldn’t I snap before playing them to the board? And couldn’t I implement the same strategy of “pressure the opponent to retreat early” by snapping after playing Mr. Negative?

    On an unrelated note, I think should also try to find consistent terminology for decks that focus on 2 lanes vs. decks that try to build a presence in all 3, and for decks that fill up a location vs. play 1 or 2 big cards to a location. My gut is to use terms like “go-big/tall” and “go-wide”, but it’s not clear if those refer to how many lanes you’re playing or how many cards you’re playing to the lanes you care about. I’ve seen the word “swarm” used a lot to refer to decks that fill up the locations, which is unfortunate given that said decks rarely play Swarm.

  2. I love the thoughts here and agree that archetype labeling is mostly out of control, with a ton of cards being labeled their own archetype rather than as a sub-type under a broader archetype. As an example, Cerebro, Patriot, and Ka-Zar decks are all looking to do the same thing: use an Ongoing card effect to buff your cards played on locations. These all have unique deckbuilding constraints and use vastly different decklists, but the overall concepts seem very similar. Every deck will have a mix of keywords, but there is still a card that is really the defining strategy. In this example, Mystique is an On Reveal card that is frequently used, but it is really amplifying the overall Ongoing strategy of Cerebro or Patriot, so the overall deck strategy still seems to be Ongoing.

    I have noticed that overall deck strategies using keywords tend to do similar things even though decklists can use entirely different lineups. For example, On Reveal decks tend to focus on using synergies to create very high-power cards (e.g. Wong –> Black Panther –> Odin or Silver Surfer). Ongoing decks tend to focus on either buffing cards (e.g. Patriot or Cerebro) or cheating on energy (e.g. Sera or Electro). I argue that classifying archetypes based on keyword is more intuitive than snapping strategy while allowing for sub-types to exist based on key cards still (e.g. Death Destroy or Black Panther On Reveal). There will always be blurring around the edges and hybrid decks that equally rely on two strategies like Sera and Silver Surfer decks.

    Below are the deck strategies I’ve been noticing to date. Handsize would be the first one I would cut and is on the weakest footing. I’ve also split Disruption into two categories: one version seems to aim at controlling locations (e.g. “Lockation” with Daredevil and Professor X) and others aim at interacting with opponent cards (e.g. Sera Control with Shang-Chi and Enchantress).

    On Reveal Use On Reveal synergies to create multiple high power cards
    Ongoing Use Ongoing synergies to buff cards or cheat out reduced energy cards
    Movement Use Movement synergies to increase power of cards and reach locked locations
    Destroy Use Destroy synergies to create combos that discount and create high power cards
    Discard Use Discard synergies to create high power cards that are played or cheated out
    Handsize Use Handsize synergies in hand or deck to create random or high power cards
    Disruption (1) Control locations by locking them down or altering them
    (2) Control enemy cards by debuffing or destroying them

    I love this topic and think it will be extremely helpful to the community as more and more amazing cards are introduced that create new sub-types like Zabu Ongoing which is acting like Sera to reduce costs of cards but created an amazing new deckbuilding constraint. I would love to hear thoughts and arguments but just my two cents that I have been thinking about.

  3. This seems to have been solved but wanted to revise an earlier comment. The current labeling system most frequently used is by key cards (Sera Surfer, Bast Negative, Death Wave, etc.). The concern would be that this becomes unwieldy as more cards are added, but the set of deck-defining cards is small compared to the overall pool of cards and has made talking about decks relatively straightforward.

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