Cerebro Detailed Deck Guide: Equality For All!
Table of Contents
Forcing you to play with cards that have the same power is quite a restriction when it comes to building an archetype; even so, Cerebro decks have accomplished the feat several times. Sometimes with decks are filled with two-power cards, other times with three-power cards. On some rare occasions, Cerebro decks are even filled with cards at six power!
Despite some of the most impressive deckbuilding feats, the Cerebro archetype has never managed to be considered a contender in the competitive department. Cerebro 2 has been the best deck of the family for some time now with many strong abilities brought together in the deck. Bast and Valkyrie have boosted the Cerebro 3 deck lately; the duo has made it an interesting deck since other high profile cards such as Killmonger exist at the same power. These two decks could probably get someone to the Infinite rank with a solid snap and retreat strategy.
So why is Cerebro not regarded as a high profile card à la Patriot and Lockjaw? The card pushes its own archetype, gives a spotlight to otherwise unused cards, and uses its resources in some unique ways. Well, it’s mostly a power thing. Cerebro is often regarded as a card that can’t develop enough points and is too simple to disrupt. But is that really true?
In today’s guide, let’s explore the many facets of the Cerebro archetype. We’ll look into why it’s not as respected as other archetype-enabling win conditions in Marvel Snap, and why it might be a mistake to overlook the super computer from the X-Men series.
Deck Concept and Strategy
No matter which number you pick for the power of your cards in a Cerebro deck, your overall game plan will not change too much. Most of the time, Cerebro and Mystique will take two spots in the deck while not contributing to the overall total; therefore, as long as you don’t fear an opposing Enchantress, they should be played on the same location. This way you have all four spots available to contest the other two locations, and all four are usually needed for the win. This positioning can be extremely important, especially in low-power Cerebro decks.
Once you know where you want to invest most of your power, the second critical part of Cerebro decks is abusing your cards’ abilities. Indeed, finding powerful abilities is the key to making a good Cerebro deck, especially when it comes to cards with only two or three power. Sure, your cards are able to get as high as seven power (if everything goes according to plan) and create two 28-power locations; however, if you only win games where this happens, your win rate will be quite low over a large sample size.
If we look at both Cerebro decks above, the reason they are the best Cerebro builds compared to others is because they pack some of the best abilities in the game. In Cerebro 2, we have Goose, Iceman, Storm, and Scorpion for some nice disruption to the opponent’s plan, alongside the Luke Cage and Hazmat duo. You’d be hard pressed to find all of those cards in the same deck without including Cerebro, which is another strength of the archetype.
In the Cerebro 3 deck, Cosmo, Killmonger, Valkyrie, and Shang-Chi, four of the strongest tech cards in today’s Marvel Snap, can ruin the game plan of a lot of decks, and they might even win some games where we don’t draw our signature card. Again, no other archetype allows you to easily include all of these control tools. Even the best “control” deck in the current metagame, Sera Control, often omits Cosmo and Valkyrie.
Thanks to these inclusions, both of the popular Cerebro decks are much more than an assembly of cards with the same power. They have the ability to counter other archetypes and take the fight to a level other than the basic “who can develop the most points at the end of Turn 6”. When playing a Cerebro deck, then, it’s important to remember that your points ceiling is not the best (hence why Cerebro isn’t highly regarded in the community). You haven’t included these precise cards for their power, though, so finding value in their abilities is the difference between a bad Cerebro pilot and a Cerebro pilot racking up cubes on their way to Infinite.
Cerebro and Mystique are the only two cards common to all Cerebro decks. You typically want to have another Ongoing ability for Mystique to copy in case you don’t draw Cerebro. Blue Marvel and Iron Man tend to be the go-to options in that regard.
Outside of these two, the rest of the deck obviously depends on the power you picked. As stated in the previous section, the main component when it comes to picking the perfect number is finding enough abilities to create a cohesive deck. Over time, almost every power has been tested, each with varying degrees of success. There was even a Cerebro challenge at one point where you had to win a game with a Cerebro deck of each power as fast as possible!
Here are a few considerations for the Cerebro 2 and Cerebro 3 builds. We will not go over all the different builds and instead focus on the currently competitive decks. Feel free to explore any power you feel could have potential or simply be fun to play with.
Note that because you have both Bast and Valkyrie in the deck, you can play cards with a different power in the Cerebro 3 deck. This opens an endless amount of opportunities, but it makes the deck a bit more unreliable than it already is. For example, I like to run Mister Sinister or Brood in my Cerebro 3 deck in order to have some swarming ability.
Snap and Retreat
It could be as simple as snapping whenever you have Cerebro and Mystique in hand and retreating when you don’t. Unfortunately, we already explained that this isn’t how Cerebro works most of the time. The deck’s points ceiling is lower than the average opponent’s, so you won’t have many opportunities to snap based on pure power – unless, of course, you have the perfect early hand that leads to an effortless Cerebro plus Mystique on Turn 6. Also, your opponent will usually retreat once they understand what is going on.
Cerebro isn’t a common deck in Marvel Snap, so it certainly has the ability to catch an opponent off guard when they aren’t carefully paying attention to all our cards having the same power. The Cerebro 3 deck could be a nice deck for some surprise snaps because we show cards of varying powers before dropping our Valkyrie and setting a location to three power. Still, for the other powers, experienced players won’t fall for a Turn 5 snap if all your cards are showing the same power.
A good snap with this deck lies in anticipating how your abilities will surprise the opponent at some point and negating their higher point ceiling in the process. Snap early if you anticipate being able to land a Storm early and there is no sign your opponent can wrestle that location from you, or if you have Shang-Chi or Killmonger for a big turnaround on the final turn. Then you should be able to keep your opponent in the game (and maybe even snap back) and gain extra cubes for your win. In those scenarios, we are exploiting the fact that Cerebro isn’t a very respected deck, when in reality Cerebro wasn’t the only ace we had up our sleeves.
When it comes to retreats, we fear cards that are able to change the power of our cards like Spider-Woman, Red Skull, and Hazmat. Those cards completely dismantle our synergy, as do locations that alter our cards’ power (more on that below). If your opponent snaps at you, it’s either because their hand is nice or because they have a way to counter your synergy. It doesn’t take much to completely cancel a lane for Cerebro, so be careful of that.
Most of the positive locations for the deck will vary depending on the abilities you decided to include. Here is a list of those that directly impact Cerebro, no matter the rest of your deck:
- Bar Sinister
- Onslaught's Citadel
- Dark Dimension
- Sinister London
- The Peak
- Quantum Realm (if you’re playing Cerebro 2)
Cerebro has a lot of bad locations to deal with, hence the reason you will usually see Scarlet Witch or Storm played in the deck. Locations that affect your power are the ones we want to avoid as they help the opponent in addition to annoy us:
- Gamma Lab
- Monster Island could make you retreat as it’s not one you can change or avoid
- Muir Island
- Negative Zone, Necrosha, and Sewer System
- Shuri's Lab
- Stark Tower
- Wakandan Embassy limits how many cards Cerebro will buff
Cerebro‘s match ups vary a lot depending on the abilities you include in your deck. In particular, Cerebro 3 has access to Cosmo, Shang-Chi, Killmonger, Valkyrie, and Armor, making the list quite flexible in regard to what you want to use to beat the metagame.
Although we are able to gain an edge in our good match ups, there are some decks we don’t particularly like to see: those packing cards that change the power of our cards, thereby turning off the Cerebro synergy. Here are some of those cards cards and the decks they usually see play in:
- Red Skull: Shuri Zero
- Scorpion: Cerebro 2, Good Cards
- Soul Stone: Thanos Lockjaw, Thanos Zoo
- Enchantress: Sera Control
- Spider-Woman: Junk
Turn by Turn Breakdown
The crucial parts of Cerebro’s game plan are determining when you will play your signature card and what the most powerful abilities for the match up are. Once you figure this out, you’ll know which of your turns are flexible and which aren’t. You’ll also be able to visualize the best time for you to snap in the match, or if you should snap at all.
Turns 1 and 2
These are flexible turns. If you can, try to play cards that don’t give away what you are playing. Iceman in Cerebro 2 and Sentinel in Cerebro 3 are good cards for keeping your strategy a secret since they’re played in many decks.
This is your first potentially rigid turn. If you decide to go for Cerebro (so you have other options later on), you might want to consider snapping because it may be too late to do so after your opponent sees what you’re up to. The choice to play Cerebro now or later will largely be impacted by whether you have other impactful cards to play on Turn 6, such as Shang-Chi, a card that prevents you from playing Cerebro alongside it.
You have all the locations revealed by now, so you can assess which ones you will try to win and which one should serve as utility – or needs to be removed. If you have figured out what your opponent is playing, you could also try guessing where they will play their cards based on the locations. A correct guess would increase the impact of your abilities by a ton.
Your last truly flexible turn if you haven’t played Cerebro yet and are keeping it for Turn 6. If you did play Cerebro last turn, you will likely play Mystique now if available. Otherwise, keep playing non-committal cards, or start using your stronger abilities if you already have Turns 5 and 6 locked with other cards in your hand.
This is usually the Iron Man or Blue Marvel turn. This turn can also be the one where you play your strong abilities, especially if Turn 6 will be dedicated to Cerebro and Mystique. Holding cards in hand doesn’t net any benefit in a Cerebro deck except for space management, so don’t be greedy if you have a good use for a card.
At this point in the game, you should know for sure what your opponent is playing and reasonably guess both your points potential and theirs. This is your last chance to snap if you believe you are favored to win.
Cerebro plus Mystique, if you haven’t done so by now, are your best plays. If there are already in play, then this turn becomes flexible to abuse your stronger abilities. It is possible to mix Cerebro with a strong ability, as long as it costs three or less energy (think Killmonger or Cosmo).
If none of these options are available, retreating is probably the way to go.
Marvel Snap is a game where weaker decks still have a huge upside: unpredictability. This sole criterion helps these deck make up for their lower win rate through stealing cubes from snaps that would otherwise cause the opponent to retreat if they knew what was going on.
In addition to this lack of respect for Cerebro decks, the archetype is able to play very different abilities and create some flexibility while maintaining the “same power” deckbuilding restriction. The success of the Cerebro archetypes, though they aren’t able to compete with the best decks over large sample sizes, is the biggest proof that Cerebro isn’t a card about power, but about abilities. With Valkyrie, Shang-Chi, and Killmonger all being metagame defining cards right now, Cerebro 3 has a good shot at punishing an opponent who thought they could get an easy win against an exotic build. Regarding the Cerebro 2 archetype, cards like Storm, Iceman, and Goose are very annoying for decks looking to develop most of their strategy in the second part of the game.
I can’t tell you Cerebro is the sleeper archetype nobody is talking about, but I have to admit that I was quite surprised with its potential when testing various builds for this guide. I do believe someone with a sound snap and retreat strategy could definitely make waves with this deck once they find their comfort build.
Want to share your opinion on Cerebro or the way you build around the card? Join us on discord and meet the Marvel Snap Zone community! As for myself, you can find me on Twitter sharing decks and opinions around Marvel Snap.
Good Game Everyone.
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Cerebro 3 can combat monster island with Viper preferably with a Shang-Chi to follow, might be worth swapping out Wasp for.
I like Yondu, Cable and Beast in my Cerebro 2. If you can play all three in the same lane, the opponent normally (glare at Thanos) will not get a turn 6 draw because you destroyed or stole 4 cards. I put Beast in there to combat monster island and he really helps by repeating the one energy on reveals for free.
I appreciate that you put in the Luke Cage-Hazmat Cerebro 2 because that has a better chance of winning when Cerebro is a no show.
You have impactful cards to play on turns 5,6 & 7, so Cerebro into Mystique early with this one is fine.