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In my opinion, Dracula is one of the strongest cards in Marvel Snap’s Series (Pool) 3. Its ability to absorb the power of other cards puts Dracula in the same category as Lockjaw or Jubilee, cards that are able to cheat energy. However, the reason I like Dracula so much compared to the other two I mentioned is the ability to control its outcome. Indeed, in the Discard archetype, Dracula has both the best target in the game in Apocalypse, and the best environment for it.
This doesn’t mean you won’t see the card in other archetypes. Dracula is commonly used in the Lockjaw Thor deck, or Hela Discard for example. However, only in the pure Discard archetype you will be able to see a 24 power Dracula, able to challenge a lane on its own. As a cherry on the cake, Dracula is not affiliated with any of the big synergies (On Reveal, Ongoing…) and gains the card’s power on game’s end, once every other card has revealed already. This means cards like Cosmo, Enchantress or Shang-Chi cannot interact with Dracula, and therefore are unable to stop it from growing out of proportion.
There are counters to it, like Maximus or Master Mold, who put new cards in your hand, derailing Dracula‘s targeting in the process. Nevertheless, even if the Discard archetype had its up and downs through the first year of Marvel Snap’s existence, there was one card it could always rely on, so much the deck was named after it: Dracula.
Deck Concept and Strategy
There are three ways to win over a lane with this deck:
- Nebula or Morbius into Storm on Turn 3. We lock the lane early on and can manipulate our points to make sure it’s ours.
- Dracula remains our biggest points contributor and should be able to challenge a lane almost on its own with Apocalypse in hand.
- Cards like Colleen Wing, Sword Master, and MODOK can quickly add up to a nice total when played on the same location.
During a game, we will be looking to contest at least two lanes through these possible play patterns. Usually, they follow each other quite nicely. First, we are looking to be aggressive on the location we intend to Storm, then look to play Dracula on turn four. If we already have Morbius or Nebula on Storm‘s lane, we often don’t need to play Dracula there. Otherwise, we can invest the card there to secure this lane. Last, we have two turns to discard as much as possible, and develop points the old-fashioned way. This simple progression is one of the archetype strongest assets, as it allows crafting a game plan early in the match.
Discard’s biggest strength is also its most common weakness: It is pretty simple to understand. The hand manipulation part, and maximizing our odds of hitting the right discard are not such easy feats when you pick up the deck. However, the deck’s strongest points contributors are well known at this point. As such, it can often be difficult to get more than a cube out of a Morbius plus Dracula start if we did not snap early. Similarly, one opponent knows to be careful if we start discarding Apocalypse, while they can feel better if Lady Sif would discard MODOK.
Because the Discard deck gives the opponent a lot of information through showing the discarded cards, it is important to have an aggressive mindset, or we will regularly be forced to play by our opponent’s rules.
Obviously, we will be looking to include some discard effects in the archetype. However, the deck doesn’t start with Colleen Wing, Lady Sif or Hellcow. The real stars in the deck, and the cards you are looking to build around, are the cards who benefit from the discard first and foremost. If those cards didn’t exist, we would have no reason to discard in the first place.
Now that we have established why we are discarding cards, we need to pick which discard abilities are the best to run.
There are more than enough cards to make a deck with only discard abilities, so it is critical to pick the right ones. These three are the go-to card in the synergy, with Lady Sif and Colleen Wing allowing to target cards in our hands. Typically, Colleen will look to target Swarm while Lady Sif will discard Apocalypse. MODOK providing a mass discard ability to make sure we only have Apocalypse left for Dracula.
In addition to these seven cards, we will typically find a couple more discard oriented tools, a strong, standalone 1-cost and America Chavez. Overall, Discard Dracula doesn’t have much room to be flexible, and usually only has enough space for one tech card at best. We could play around with the non discard slots in the deck, but this balance has been going on for months, so it is difficult to deviate from it.
1-cost cards in the running for the spot:
- Nebula: Great card on turn 1, can be discarded later on at worse.
- Iceman: Good disruptive card, can be played at any time.
- Sunspot: Rewards a greedier play style, or a sub-par hand.
- Hellcow: Two discard increases our changes at hitting the right one while buffing Morbius more.
- Sword Master: A solid 3-cost with six power attached to it. It tends to be the default addition when looking for more points.
- Moon Knight: A disruptive ability you are not finding in other discard abilities. It’s at its best against very synergistic opponents.
- Gambit: With only 1 power and a random element to its destroy ability, Gambit hasn’t been used in the discard deck for a while.
Other cards worth considering:
- The Collector: With its buff to [2/2], the card can be considered a mini Morbius in the deck, benefiting from Swarm and Apocalypse going back in hand.
- Wong: Allows to trigger our Discard abilities twice. There is a deck with Zabu and Wong in it, but it never did so well.
- Lockjaw: The card was a staple before its nerf. Now, it’s much more difficult to abuse, as we really only have Swarm to play behind it, and need to play only one per turn.
Other ways to build the archetype
Snap and Retreat
Discard is very self-centered when it comes to snapping and retreating. Most of the time, because the archetype has been around for most of Marvel Snap’s lifespan, snapping early is necessary to not be met with an immediate retreat. Indeed, once you start showing Morbius, Dracula and have discarded Apocalypse a couple of times, it doesn’t take a genius to know it’s not a good situation to stay in. As such, if you delay your snaps too much, you will either only gain one cube from your good hands, when you should get at least two. Even worse, you might open yourself to a counter play from your opponent, to whom who gave too much information, and lose many more cubes in the end.
The logic behind retreating is similar. You know your go-to play patterns, and your deck isn’t so flexible. As such, whenever the stakes are raised, it should be quite simple to figure out if you have a shot at this game or not. The hardest part in this equation is knowing what your opponent is playing and their next actions. However, considering your deck is pretty straightforward, most of the decisions can be based on your hand.
- Atlantis, The Space Throne, Jotunheim, Throne Room: Dracula is perfect for those.
- Kamar-Taj: More discards.
- Kyln: We have several cards to contest, and adapt our power once closed.
- Monster Metropolis, Negative Zone, Necrosha: Dracula can contest these on its own.
- Quantum Realm: Morbius, Dracula.
- The Nexus: We tend to be able to develop lots of points if needed.
- Machineworld: We don’t like our opponent being able to impact our hand.
- Isle of Silence, Knowhere: Limited impact, but still annoying locations for some of our cards.
- Mindscape: Bye Apocalypse…
- Sakaar: Can put apocalypse down or a discard before we could manage our hand.
- The Triskelion: Leave our hand alone, please.
- Weirdworld: And our deck!
I would say locations are a much bigger deal than specific matchups for the Discard archetype. Nonetheless, we still have to be careful about a few cards which could limit our ability to play, or counter some of our cards:
- Sandman, Wave will punish us for keeping Swarm in hand for too long.
- Enchantress counters Morbius.
- Maximus can be a pain for Dracula.
- Stature is always a 1-cost against this deck.
- Galactus can be annoying as the card is played after Dracula, our biggest lane anchor.
Turn by Turn Breakdown
You have your 1-cost or you don’t. I would usually recommend playing on revealed location, as the deck can struggle with reaching unplayable ones.
You should more cards to pick from here. Typically, the go-to is Morbius to make sure we don’t discard it later on. If The Collector is in your deck, he should be played as the card needs to be in play to grow, while Morbius is an Ongoing ability. Without Morbius, look if Colleen Wing has a good target to discard.
Based on your hand, you can snap as early as turn 2.
If we have Dracula in hand, we should play it safe here, likely going for Storm, Lady Sif, or another one of our 2-cost cards. Cards like Sword Master or Moon Knight should be played this early if our hand is not looking good, and we feel the need to high roll a bit to compensate.
Dracula turn if you have it. Even without Apocalypse, you kind of need to believe you are going to draw into it. There are some exceptions to this rule, but it comes with very specific hands where you believe you have a shot at winning without Dracula.
MODOK will usually be the default option here, especially if you have both Swarm and Apocalypse in hand. It would open America Chavez plus Swarm next turn in order to leave only Apocalypse in hand then.
At this point, you know you will draw America Chavez next turn so you are playing with all the information you need to plan this, and the next turn. If you think you are in a good spot, it’s not too late to snap.
For a very long time, Dracula Discard was a nice archetype, able to develop lots of points, but lacking the flexibility of the top tier decks, especially regarding the impact locations can have on the game.
With Nebula joining the game, Discard Dracula finally had enough incentives to run Storm in the deck, a card considered in the past, but never considered a staple. These additions seem to have bolstered the deck performances, as Discard Dracula has been a perennial Tier 2 archetype, listed amongst the deck top ten decks for the whole Guardians’ Greatest Hits season. In addition to being a solid archetype, the deck also relies on a rather simple concepts, which can be learned quickly as one plays the deck.
As a big fan of the discard synergy in all the card games I have played in my life, I think it’s great to finally see such an iconic synergy be considered amongst the game’s finest archetypes.
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Good Game Everyone.