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Hi everyone, and welcome to a new weekly column for our community: the Deck Doctor series. While you might know this concept from other card games, Marvel Snap’s unique challenges mean we’ll be doing things a bit differently.
In Marvel Snap, not everyone has the same collection, and therefore, the same decks available. We wanted to stay away from the standard deck doctor format wherein someone submits a deck list and I tinker with it to make it more viable in the metagame.
Instead, we asked you on our various social media platforms: What limitations does your Marvel Snap collection have that you would care to see addressed in a Deck Doctor series? Most of the answers we got fell into one of two categories:
- A way to play some current dominant decks with a limited collection (Playing Mister Negative or Death without other Pool Three cards, mostly).
- Ways to defeat the current better decks like DeathWave or Sera Miracle, while being limited to Pool Two, or with very limited access to Pool Three cards.
As such, the challenge for this week is: How can I compete with a limited collection?
Now, in all honesty, anyone can compete in Marvel Snap due to the amount of bots that are still roaming the ladder. With enough playing time, even if you lose a majority of your matches against human players, you would still make a profit learning how to abuse bots. If you can manage to get them to snap while you keep the stakes low against other players, anyone can climb to Infinite during the month.
Due to this, we will start with the assumption that you already are a good enough player to beat the bots regularly. As such, our whole analysis will be focused around beating what the other players are doing, or at least the ones you identified as a problem in our poll.
What is the competition?
Here are the decks I’m trying to counter and refer to as “the competition”:
When you are trying to beat something specific, the first thing to do is to try to break down your opponent’s plan. In this case, we are looking to find what weaknesses we can exploit in the current strongest decks, which for the most part are combo oriented decks.
I personally like to take two different angles in order to analyze a deck or a strategy.
- A very broad approach, looking at concepts and general things.
- A more detailed look, trying to name specific cards and pinpoint the important turns or sequences.
A Broad Approach:
- These combo decks function over multiple turns, usually playing the enabler on the first turn, and reaping the benefits on the second one.
- This 1-2 punch always happens towards the end of the game, where the opponent can barely do anything about it.
- The setup turn usually is one card, while the payoff turn is several of them
- The decks rarely play high scoring cards early on in the game, but play a lot of them during the payoff turn.
- The decks keep their locations rather empty during the majority of the game, as a way to be flexible for their final turn.
A More Detailed Look:
- They rely on the ability of a specific card to reach their full potential: Mister Negative, Sera or Wave.
- All these abused abilities are connected to reducing the cost of future cards, which will be played on the next turn, or over two turns thanks to Magik.
- Mister Negative is a turn four play, Sera is a turn five play. Wave is more flexible but tends to be played on five.
While this list doesn’t really help in knowing what I should play, this is an important first step to take, as it creates a framework within which to consider my options.
What are my options?
Against combo oriented decks, there usually are three routes that can be considered:
- Try to cancel their combo, denying the core cards for their synergy-based strategy
- Try to limit what they can do globally, punishing them for being passive early on
- Focus on our own development, knowing they won’t play counter cards as they are a combo deck. Hopefully they aren’t drawing perfectly.
Now, let’s review all these options in the context of what is actually available in Marvel Snap:
Option #1 – Try to cancel their combo
Sandman: Considering all those decks are looking to play several cards at once in the last turn, Sandman sounds absolutely fantastic against these decks.
Yondu: Sometimes lucky?
Option #2 – Mitigating Their Core Synergies
Storm: This gives them one less location to combo onto, and one we can probably win by playing another card as a follow-up, or if we invested something into the location in the first 2 turns.
Professor X: A much later, maybe too late Storm, but again, it limits the locations we have to be worried about.
Korg: One more card in the deck means they are more likely to miss out on their key card if they don’t have it in hand already.
Option #3 – Developing Points Of Our Own
I think that these 3 cards are the best at scoring points in Pool One or Two, so we probably want to include them in our deck once we’ve exhausted option one and two.
As the decks we are trying to counter are the highest scorers in the game, simply relying on scoring points is likely to be a bad idea. Yet, we can’t play only counter cards in our deck, so it still a good thing to know which are the go-to cards that can be included in most lists.
Building the perfect deck
So now that I have done all the theory part, it is time to actually start building the deck. Then test it, be annoyed it’s not that good, modify it, find a little improvement, and repeat until I’m happy with it.
After considering our options, I believe that Sandman is the best starting point for a deck, as the card is looking to be the overall best option for countering the final turn of Sera or Death based decks.
I should also be able to easily fit the 1-Cost cards I identified as potentially annoying for my opponent in almost any deck. As there are several of them, perhaps an aggressive deck is more suited to play them. Luckily, Angela and Bishop are very happy to see 1-Cost cards slotted into the deck.
This is the first draft I made:
In this deck, I tried to stay true to everything I identified in this article:
- Looking to disrupt my opponent’s ability to play with Storm, Sandman, Yondu, Iceman, Korg and Professor X
- Looking to develop points of my own with Ebony Maw, Angela, Iron Man, and Okoye
- Lastly, I added cards that made sense in the deck: America Chavez for stability and Nightcrawler for the ability to switch lanes, with is great with Sandman, Angela or Storm.
After a few games, I was quite happy with the overall result, although Professor X clearly wasn’t such a good card. He was either coming down too late to prevent my opponent’s combo, or useless, as Sandman was already locking them out of their explosive potential.
Other fitting options within Pool One and Two:
- Ka-Zar could also be a consideration as we have five 1-Cost cards in the deck. He is another card that can impact multiple lanes after Sandman
- Mister Fantastic is another card that usually is associated with Sandman, but Storm is replacing him in the deck. If you consider Mister Fantastic, maybe an Ongoing package can fit in the deck, with Onslaught replacing America Chavez.
- Jubilee can be added if you really want to go hard on finding Sandman regularly. But considering the amount of 1-Cost cards, it sounds like a losing bet.
Here is the final deck I came up with:
Now obviously, if I had access to Pool Three, I would be able to strengthen the deck even more and take inspiration from other archetypes:
- Doctor Doom or Captain Marvel can be added as another method of scoring points.
- Playing Wave ourselves could be a disruptive option, annoying Mister Negative and Sera.
- Leader can be very fun to play against Sera or Death on turn six.
- Juggernaut is known for its synergy with Storm.
- Goose is another disruptive card that can limit locations.
- Lockjaw could be played alongside the 1-Cost cards in the deck, as a way to find Sandman more reliably.
There are a lot of critiques that could be made about this deck, and it is totally normal to question it. First, one could lose more games against the other archetypes, or against bots as they try to counter the best decks. As such, maybe a more balanced build that is less focused around beating certain decks would have better overall results.
Also, collection-based matchmaking means that a player still in Pool Two should very rarely be matched against players with enough Pool Three cards to build the current Mister Negative, Sera Miracle or DeathWave decks. This is not to say it’s impossible, just unlikely.
In my opinion, I believe those who want to be competitive (i.e. climb the ladder as high as possible) while being very limited in their collection should commit to a plan. While the bots in the higher ranks can be tough to beat consistently due to their mind-reading skills, I don’t think the bots should be a consideration when trying to climb. A good player should be able to net profit from facing bots, even with a deck that is below average against what the bots are playing.
That’s it for our first deck doctor installment, I hope the whole thought process behind it can help some of you be more flexible with your collections. If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to join our Discord, or find me directly on my Twitter page.
Good game everyone!