How to: Snap
Table of Contents
Right now in Marvel Snap, climbing the ranks is one of the only things you can do. Many players love the monthly climb, but many others struggle to move their rank up for a multitude of reasons. In an effort to help players with their climbing experience, we are introducing a “How To” series that will break down key mechanics of Marvel Snap and how you can improve them. In this edition, I will break down the ins and outs of Snapping and how to improve your Snapping game!
Snapping is a straight forward mechanic that adds massive depth to the game. As most players know by now, Snapping doubles the cubes gained or lost at the end of a match. Cubes can be doubled up to three times, from 1->2, 2->4, and 4->8. Each player can Snap once in a match, and the final turn of a game will double the final cube count.
While the mechanics are simple to understand, Snapping does a lot more than simply raise the pressure of a match. Snaps can give your opponent information about your game plan that can end up costing you more cubes. I see players Snap incorrectly on a daily basis, and it often costs them cubes that they could have gained! Let’s break the idea down.
When NOT to Snap
I feel it is easier to learn when not to Snap first, so we will start here. These tips are made with the mindset of gaining as many cubes per game as possible. There are sometimes exceptions to these rules, but we will cover that later. The biggest flaw with bad Snapping is letting your opponent gain information. A Snap doesn’t just mean “I think I’m going to win”, it raises the question “WHY do you think you’re going to win at this specific point in the game.” Let’s take a look at how this can happen.
1. Do NOT Snap On the Last Turn
Part of the mentality of Snapping is adding pressure to your opponent. On the final turn, the outcome of the game is often times much more predictable than it is in the early or mid game. You can identify what deck your opponent runs, what their possible end games are, and whether you have the tools counter them. If you are in a winning position and Snap on the final turn, your opponent will likely Retreat since you telegraphed to them that you drew the cards you needed to secure the win. While that Retreat would net you a cube gain, finishing the match would have doubled that cube gain, so you generally want to avoid Snapping to net a higher cube rate.
Similarly, when you Snap on the last turn, you are doubling the final cube count twice in one turn. Since the final turn doubles the cube count at the end, your Snap will send the final to four or eight! If you face someone who is trying to climb, taking the risk of staying in a match for a loss of two cubes (as opposed to Retreating for one) isn’t that severe of a bet. Taking the bet of losing four cubes instead is a much greater risk, and most players will not take that risk since the final turn is a lot more predictable.
Snapping at the end of the game tells your opponent that you drew what you needed to win. If you don’t Snap, your opponent may rationalize staying in a match. Watch streamers or competitive players when they do and don’t get Snapped on Turn 6. You will often see them say, “Well, I may be able to win if they don’t have [Card]. They haven’t Snapped, so maybe I can play it out and risk one more cube.”
2. Do NOT Snap When a Beneficial Location Appears
Snapping a location, similar to Snapping on the last turn, gives your opponent major information. They can use this information against you, which in turn can cost you the game.
For example: Imagine you are playing an Ongoing or Wong deck and Onslaught's Citadel appears. You Snap when it appears. You have just informed your opponent of the importance of that location, so they should remove it if possible or Retreat if they feel unprepared to handle a location that favors you.
Consider this common Snapping mistake: when you have a card in Sanctum Sanctorum and your opponent doesn’t. Lots of players will Snap in this scenario because it feels like you are guaranteed to win one of the three locations. The issue with Snapping here is your opponent will likely leave if they have no way of getting access to that location or surprise you with access to it (like with Doctor Doom). And this, in the long run, can end up costing you a larger amount of cubes.
3. Do NOT Snap When an Opponent’s Play Can Be Thwarted
This one might seem a little complicated, so let’s use a real example to explain. In this article by HowlingMines, he played Spider-Man onto The Vault on Turn 4 to lock out his opponent from making a Turn 5 or 6 play at that location. His opponent quickly Snapped this play, which immediately made HowlingMines think “OK, why is my opponent fine with being locked out? They have Dazzler, so they must be running Ultron to fill up spaces in areas they can’t reach.” This made HowlingMines change his game plan and use Green Goblin to thwart the Ultron plan, which cost his opponent the game!
Information is everything in Marvel Snap, so giving your opponent free information will only lower your chances of winning. Especially if that information reveals your big surprise play.
4. Do NOT Snap After Successfully Playing Your Key Card
You would think this is obvious, but I see players do this regularly! Take a look at Shuri and Red Skull, for example. If you place Shuri successfully and THEN Snap, you have just told your opponent “Hey! I have Red Skull and Taskmaster in my hand!” They will probably heed the warning and bail, or they might stay in the match if they have a counter like Shang-Chi ready to go. Either way, you are more likely to lose cubes (or, at the very least, gain fewer cubes) if you give your opponent an unneeded heads up.
So, with that out of the way, when SHOULD you Snap? Let’s break that down next.
When You SHOULD Snap
Now that you know what to avoid, you can capitalize on the other opportunities that arise. But first, a small caveat: As is the nature of Snapping, there will always be a risk of your Snap backfiring and losing some cubes.
1. Snap When You Have a Comfortable Hand or Board
Continuing with the Shuri and Red Skull example, if you are on Turn 3 or 4 and have your combo in hand: Snap! Your opponent is less likely to leave since it’s still early in the game. If they do, you are in and out of the match much earlier than if they had Retreated on Turn 5 or 6. Snapping before you play your key card does carry the risk that it won’t go off successfully, so make sure to Snap only if your chances of success are high or you have most/all of the cards you need for a combo.
2. Snap When You Have a Read On Your Opponent’s Game Plan
Have you realized early on that your opponent is playing Galactus and you have the tools to stop them? Snap! Don’t wait until the turn Galactus is played to Snap. Doing it beforehand may lead to your opponent thinking their Galactus is going to surprise you, and they are more likely to stay in the match.
Another example is when your opponent has played Morbius and Invisible Woman with a hidden card. If you have Cosmo in hand and a decent draw/board state, Snap before Turn 6! Play your Cosmo on the location with Invisible Woman on the last turn and block your opponent’s telegraphed play.
3. Snap Before You Make a Major (Or Surprising) Play
Do you have Psylocke into Mister Negative on Turn 3? Snap! Do you have Sandman ready to drop on a Hit Monkey deck? Snap! Are you about to lock a lane with Professor X? Snap! If your opponent doesn’t understand why you Snapped, they have less reason to leave. And if you have a great setup for your deck, capitalize on it with a Snap!
Remember those exceptions I mentioned earlier? One such exception is Snapping on Turn 6 when you have a losing board state and a big surprise that can catch your opponent off guard. A good example of this is when you have Sera and Zabu as your only cards on the board with an Onslaught's Citadel. On Turn 6 you can play your Wong, Mystique, and Gambit and wipe out your opponent’s board completely! Since you are losing, your opponent may just think a lot of cards will be played, and they may even Snap back because they think they can overpower your card dump.
There are, of course, some other ways you could Snap to gain cubes, but they are much riskier. These techniques aim to capitalize on bad Snapping techniques in order to trick your opponent into quitting a game they didn’t need to leave from. It goes without saying that these techniques can lose you a lot of cubes since you can’t Retreat on the turn where you Snapped, so use these strategies with caution!
1. Bluffing a Counter
You can sometimes use a well-timed Snap to trick your opponent into thinking you have the right counter. Did your opponent just drop that huge Red Skull without Armor or priority? A quick Snap could send your opponent the message that you have Shang-Chi (even if you don’t) and force them to retreat promptly. It does come with the risk of your opponent calling your bluff or simply not considering a counter is possible.
2. Snapping on Turn 1
According to Ben Brode himself, players should try Snapping on Turn 1 more often. Most players won’t leave if you do, and no information is given this way. Obviously, proceed with extreme caution since the two hidden locations, your future draws, and your opponent’s deck can all lead to an unwinnable match.
3. Bluffing Your Big Plan When You Failed To Draw It
This tip is similar to the first one, but it’s a bit broader. This is like Snapping on Turn 6 when you would play your big, game-winning card, but you didn’t draw it this game. Instead of Retreating, you can try Snapping to send the message that you drew the card you wanted. Think of skipping Turn 5 to play The Infinaut, but you never drew him. When you Snap here, your opponent might think, “Well, they skipped Turn 5 and Snapped and I can’t beat The Infinaut, so I guess I will Retreat.” You can still play other cards and possibly get a win, but try bluffing your big win condition the next time it isn’t there!
Another form of bluffing is using Ben Brode’s favorite scenario: Snapping with a handful of Rocks on Turn 6. Tricking your opponent into a Retreat can flip an almost guaranteed loss into a small win! Of course, the risk here comes in when you actually have to play those Rocks because your opponent didn’t take the bait…
If you are playing a meta deck, your Snaps are much more prone to giving out free information. If you play Sunspot, Armor, and Cosmo and then Snap, your opponent might suspect an incoming Shuri since the deck is widely popular. This means you might have to Snap earlier if you find that players often Retreat. You could also try subbing out cards in an effort to throw players off the trail of guessing the deck you are running.
For players who run unique or more uncommon lists, you can likely get away with later Snaps since your opponent is less likely to read into it based on the cards you’ve played so far.
When To Snap If You Aren’t Good at It (Yet)
If you are new to the game, have a hard time determining when to Snap appropriately, or have too much anxiety about when to Snap, here is a simple trick to begin learning how and when to Snap effectively: Snap at the start of Turn 4.
In every game, as long as you have a decent board state and a game plan for the latter half of the match, Turn 4 is a great time for a Snap. It is slightly too early for your opponent to want to Retreat (unless they have a bad hand), and it is late enough to give you a general idea of both how the game will play out and what your opponent is trying to do. Doing this often can give you practice with Snapping and let you be more comfortable with it. Over time, you can start including some of the other techniques we explained above!
Snapping is an integral part of the game’s mechanics. It’s mastery, while difficult, is key to climbing ranks effectively. The major take away here is remembering that a Snap isn’t just a way to get more cubes. It is an information tool, a bluffing tool, and a pressure tool.
What do you think? Do you have tips that weren’t covered? Do you want to see more guides to help you climb ranks? Let us know in the comments or on our community discord server!
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This is great stuff that I think can help newer players who are reluctant to snap.