Invalidating Opposing Plays In Marvel Snap

KMBest dives into a theoretical Marvel Snap concept that underpins so much of what we do in the game: when you win a lane, you invalidate your opponent's attempts to do so.

I’ve never written a theory article before.

Let’s just start there. I’m relatively new to the idea of writing articles at all, so that makes this task even more daunting – nonetheless, there’s something bouncing around in my head that I want to put on paper, and I want to see if I can explain this concept in a way that makes sense to everyone involved, because I’m fairly certain it’s a very important one to understand if you wish to improve at Marvel Snap, and how you think about the game.

The confusing bit is that I’m not entirely sure it’s something that’s all that difficult to grasp – but it’s still something we need to talk about regardless.

So what is it? Well, in short, the idea that I’m trying to explicate on is that there are ways to “kill” your opponents cards without actually killing them, and the most important of these is by invalidating their purpose in a lane.

The Basic Concept

Everyone intuitively understands that when your opponent plays a Devil Dinosaur that you can remove it by playing a Shang-Chi – this is a generally good thing to do. Playing Shang-Chi, even though he’s a fairly weak card by the numbers, invalidates the Devil Dinosaur by destroying it entirely. In a similar vein, many players understand that using Enchantress on that Devil Dinosaur has a very similar effect – although the Devil Dinosaur is still there, you’ve “removed it entirely” from winning a location.

But there’s a third way to invalidate a card and “remove it entirely” – especially a big stat-stick like Devil Dinosaur or Red Skull: play a bigger stat stick.

This is the concept I want to dive into. You can invalidate the cards your opponent plays by winning the lane they’re played in with something bigger. By doing this, you’ve made their card worthless, you’ve gained virtual card advantage, and you’ve moved closer to winning the game.

If I play a Devil Dinosaur in the left lane, and you play a Shuri’d Red Skull in that lane, I am now forced to further invest into that lane so that the turns and energy I spent on my Devil Dinosaur are not completely wasted: You aren’t literally killing the card, but you are functionally removing it from impacting the game.

I think in this framework, it’s easy to see why Thanos and Shuri are as strong as they are right now. Shuri gets to invalidate so many plays by simply playing bigger units than you can match, and Thanos gets to cheat this framework entirely, developing the board at wildly cheap rates thanks to Lockjaw and Quinjet.

More Advanced Applications

Obviously, there are some major exceptions to this rule with powerhouses such as Doctor Doom and Magneto, who are strong precisely because they break this rule – but we’re working on very simplistic theory for now, so we’re going to let them slide for now so we can better understand that we can “kill” an opposing card by winning the lane it’s located in.

So, what does this tell us about how we should be positioning our cards during the early and late game?

  • We should be trying to beat our opponents on a lane by the smallest amount possible without risking a loss on that lane. Winning a lane by 3, or winning a lane by 30 are the same thing in terms of invalidating opposing cards, and the result of the game
  • The more we invest in winning a lane, the less resources we have to “kill” opposing cards in other lanes
  • We can play out the entire game understanding how likely each lane is to be invalidated

A fairly common example would be playing Zabu in any lane early. Zabu, with only two power, is not going to be a threat that matches up to most other 2-Cost cards in Marvel Snap. If you play a Cloak on the same turn as my Zabu, I’m going to have to spend extra resources to catch up at that location: After all, there’s only four spaces in a lane – if we do the exact same things there, but I played a Zabu, and you played a Cloak, I’m going to lose.

Thus, when playing Zabu early, I often understand that I will need to reinforce that lane with one of my bigger units, a choice that may well incentive me to play my Darkhawk there later in the game to win the location with a big body. The alternative is that I accept a loss on my investment, and use Zabu’s effect to win other lanes, making only a token effort to win the lane in which he is in.

Both are acceptable options. The core concept remains the same.

In Summary

So, can I put this concept in a sentence? I tried a couple options.

“You should play Marvel Snap with an eye towards invalidating opposing plays with bigger and better ones.”

Nah, too vague. Too wordy.

“You can gain virtual card advantage in Marvel Snap by winning contested lanes, thereby invalidating all of the effort your opponent put into that lane.”

I think that one is closer to a good summary.

Once you grasp this concept, it should inform a lot of how you play. A good example to leave you on is Angela. When your opponent plays Angela, you generally don’t contest that lane unless you have a reason to. Why? Because Angela is saying “I am going to be bigger than other 2-Costs, and my controller plans to invest in this lane”.

Here’s the thing, though. Since you know that they’re going to invest there, you also know that you have a shot to win the game if you win that lane, because of all the investment that will be invalidated if you do – a big force multiplier like Iron Man may be able to steal away a lot of investment from an opponent that doesn’t have their own!

I hope you enjoyed this dive into theory articles. I’ve had this concept rattling around in my head for some time, and I was afraid to write about it for fear of not being able to explain it well enough, so I hope I was able to do so.

For more from me, you can follow me on Twitter for polished lists and shitposts, YouTube for deck breakdowns and tier lists, and Twitch if you want to keep up with the Marvel Snap meta in real time. As always, you can catch my weekly columns right here at Marvel Snap Zone!

Thanks for reading!

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KMBest is a long-time card game player, at both competitive and casual levels. Focused on self-improvement and community outreach, he's one of the most active content creators in the Marvel Snap community. He can often be found debating deckbuilding on Discord, as well as on his Twitch stream at

Articles: 13


  1. Nice debut as an article writer, keep at it!

    How would we apply this concept? Possibly in evaluating the cards we put in the decks, right?

    Zero’s power is something I think about often. His main “attack” is his ability, as it enable strong combos with cards that may be on other lanes. But at the same time, He also attacks on another parameter– his 3 power invalidates the 2 power of most other 1 drops. In the end, it’s a small difference, but his presence on the board does still need to be answered by a card if the player wants to win his lane (in addition to the main threat, whether it be Typhoid Mary or Red Skull, that definitely need to have cards spent to challenge).

    Maybe using the vanilla cards help in applying this line of thought. Something like a Mr Fantastic is almost like a virtual 3 for 1, in the sense that you would need at least three Shockers to beat it.

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