Shuri Savage Land Variant Art by Alex Horley

Marvel Snap April 18, 2023 Balance Patch Preview, State of the Meta, and Tier List Update

Everybody expects the omnipresent Shuri Zero to receive another nerf in the next balance patch. But is that really what's best for the Marvel Snap metagame? Learn what den thinks in here, along with a minor Meta Tier List update!

Hi everyone! Welcome to this preview of the next balance patch on April 18, 2023. We usually release the Meta Tier List to the public on Tuesdays, but this week there was no point working on a full update as the next Marvel Snap update is due the same day. Although the Tier List felt extraneous, it doesn’t mean there is nothing to say about Marvel Snap currently. Actually, this Tier List could have been one of the most interesting in quite some time. Not because I had some incredibly innovative decks to feature; unfortunately, it takes quite a bit for a deck to become popular enough to be considered relevant. The emphasis this week would have been the shift that slowly took place since the OTA balance patch on Thursday, April 6th. Below is the updated chart:

Marvel Snap Meta Tier List

TierDeckGuide
Tier 1Sera Miracle ControlGuide
Tier 1Shuri ZeroGuide
Tier 1Patriot Ultron 🔼Guide
Tier 2 (High)Good Cards DoomWave 🔼Guide
Tier 2 (High)Thanos Death Lockjaw 🔼Guide
Tier 2 (High)Thanos OngoingGuide
Tier 2 (Low)Zabu Devil Darkhawk 🔽Guide
Tier 2 (Low)Electro RampGuide
Tier 3 (High)GalactusGuide
Tier 3 (High)Bounce 🔽Guide
Tier 3 (High)Sera Surfer
Tier 3 (Low)Dracula DiscardGuide
Tier 3 (Low)DeathWaveGuide
BudgetHandsize Destroy
BudgetOngoing
BudgetSandman KazooGuide
BudgetControl
For a full breakdown on how the Meta Tier List works and detailed description on the decks, please visit the Tier List section!

For one, Shuri Zero has kept going downhill since those changes. We are not talking about the deck being bad. It still looks like a solid Tier 1 contender. But the metagame has opened up to other points-based strategies as well. Patriot, notably, has been a high profile archetype lately, as well as Sera Control which became much more able to score solid points since Hit Monkey joined Marvel Snap. With these different synergies becoming prevalent and the play patterns going back to more unpredictability, we also have seen a surge of Sandman and Wave lately. Both cards serve to punish decks looking to be explosive on Turn 6 (the common way to win in Marvel Snap before Shuri Zero changed the norm).

As a result, the current dynamic in Marvel Snap is slowly progressing, and the metagame doesn’t feel in such a bad place. More than anything, it feels like it is moving again, something that we could only hope for during Thanos Lockjaw and Shuri Zero reign of terror in the last two seasons.

So what can we expect from this balance patch? More importantly, what does the metagame need from this balance patch? A nerf to Shuri and another rework to Leader has been teased by the developers, but to what extent, we do not know yet. Considering the updates are typically locked two weeks in advance and the past two weeks are exactly the period during which some slight changes have started happening, it is incredibly difficult to pinpoint exactly what needs to be done in order to push Marvel Snap to feel completely different once again.


Does Shuri Zero deserve yet another nerf?

If I had made the Tier List this week, Shuri Zero would be a Tier 1 deck alongside Sera Control and Patriot, with DoomWave also being a close pick. All four decks seem to have performed really well lately, with Patriot and Sera Control dominating in Pool 3 while Shuri Zero and DoomWave posted the best cube averages amongst players above collection level 3500.

If you don’t like Shuri Zero, you probably will advocate for another nerf. In the end, even with Red Skull at 12 power and Sunspot at zero, the deck keeps its place among the best decks Marvel Snap has to offer. Also, it’s stupidly high 24% play rate in the ranks right before Infinite shows that most players looking to get their climb done still trust Shuri to get there.

Lastly, Shuri dropping to Pool 3 with the patch finally makes the card “free” and, as such, much more likely to be nerfed. Indeed, if the reason for Red Skull to take multiple hits (alongside Aero and She-Hulk in the past) was the price you had to pay for Shuri, that will be solved on Tuesday.

Overall, if we look at the fact the deck still is a top tier performer after nerfs to four different cards and Shuri is finally losing her token-made protection, there aren’t many reasons to think Shuri will survive this balance patch. Unless…

Something that always bothers me with Shuri is the fact that the card never managed to push another archetype. It might be that considering how strong her pairing with Red Skull is we never needed another archetype to begin with. Or it could be the fact that Shuri isn’t really a problem, but it still takes the heat for being the centerpiece of a well-oiled machine. The card going to Pool 3 is frightening as it could open the door to Shuri Zero being even more popular than it currently is, and that alone might be a solid reason to nerf the deck.

There is, however, another card dropping to Pool 3 with the April 18, 2023 Series Drop: Valkyrie, also known as Shuri Zero‘s worst nightmare.

Currently, if you only had 3,000 Collector’s Tokens to invest, most people would take Shuri over Valkyrie without even thinking about it. But if we all had both cards available to play, how many people would stop playing Shuri to instead run a Valkyrie based deck and look to counter (rather than abuse) Shuri Zero?

This is a question I have been asking myself a lot when preparing this piece. How much of Shuri Zero‘s popularity is actually due to the fact that the core card to the deck is one you have to commit tokens towards? For the average player, this commitment is huge. It is only logical, then, after you saved several weeks in order to get Shuri, to play the hell out of the deck and profit from its current strength.

With the Series Drop, Shuri Zero will become a Pool 3 archetype, just like Patriot, Electro Ramp and Sera Control. And if we look at the deck’s performances for players in between collection level 486 and 3,500, Shuri Zero‘s cube average is ranked below Patriot, Sera Control and DeathWave, and it’s not that far ahead of Dracula Discard and Devil Darkhawk. In other words, in Pool 3, Shuri Zero isn’t so much of a problem.

If my personal opinion matters, I wouldn’t nerf Shuri. I think I would look for a different approach, such as making Armor a 3-cost card to create a conflict with Cosmo and derail the deck’s basic play patterns. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Shuri be nerfed, either. I just hope the card doesn’t lose all its value, especially its ability to help some unused cards like Nimrod.

If Shuri gets nerfed too harshly, the kind of decks below will also leave the metagame, as without Shuri, there would be no reason to play the Nimrod varian instead of the basic Galactus or the Yellowjacket combo deck.

Galactus
Created by den
, updated 8 months ago
2x Collection Level 18-214 (Pool 1)
7x Collection Level 486+ (Pool 3)
2x Series 4 Rare – Collection Level 486+ (Pool 4)
1x Series 5 Ultra Rare – Collection Level 486+ (Pool 5)
4.5
Cost
0-
1
2
3
4
5+
5
Power
0-
1
2
3
4
5+
Odin YellowJakcet(Pre Shuri Nerf)
Created by io_snapper
, updated 7 months ago
1x Collection Level 1-14
1x Collection Level 18-214 (Pool 1)
9x Collection Level 486+ (Pool 3)
1x Series 4 Rare – Collection Level 486+ (Pool 4)
2.5
Cost
0-
1
2
3
4
5+
2.2
Power
0-
1
2
3
4
5+

With the nerf to Shuri, this deck is no longer viable.


What about the other win conditions in Marvel Snap?

Let’s imagine we remove Shuri Zero from the equation. Looking at how the metagame has started to evolve already, I don’t see much happening from simply nuking Shuri Zero.

Patriot, Sera Control, DoomWave, Electro Ramp, Devil Darkhawk, Thanos Lockjaw, Thanos Ongoing… all these decks have already started to rise, and they would likely eat up the play rate Shuri Zero lost. Unless the downfall of Shuri comes along with several buffs, the metagame wouldn’t feel much different from its current form.

The whole problem with Shuri Zero has always been the lack of reliable counters due to Armor and Cosmo taking care of reactive cards. In the end, the first crack in the deck’s armor came up when a deck managed to find a way to compete against it on points. It happened with Thanos Lockjaw before the last balance patch, and it is happening now with Patriot (among others). As a result, if Shuri Zero left the metagame, we probably would feel great about not facing it as much as we currently are. But that doesn’t mean we would see new strategies either.

Sure, Patriot can be kept in check with Enchantress, which points to Sera Control. This one is countered by Sandman and Wave, meaning Electro Ramp and DoomWave. Finish the circle with Patriot being a good deck against these two, as long as you play Ultron in your list. In that mix, you can throw Thanos Lockjaw and Thanos Ongoing, two overall strong decks that are able to adapt to a wide variety of match ups, and we are back to square one.

Thanos Lockjaw by Iron Man
Created by Marvel Snap Zone
, updated 8 months ago
1x Collection Level 18-214 (Pool 1)
3x Collection Level 222-474 (Pool 2)
6x Collection Level 486+ (Pool 3)
2x Series 5 Ultra Rare – Collection Level 486+ (Pool 5)
4.7
Cost
0-
1
2
3
4
5+
4.8
Power
0-
1
2
3
4
5+

Speaking of Thanos Lockjaw, the deck has dominated tournaments this week, edging out Shuri Zero for the final win, just like before the last big balance patch.

In that loop, we still can’t play discard because Leech is played in both Electro and Lockjaw decks. Galactus wouldn’t be so strong with Cosmo easily fitting into Patriot, DoomWave, and Thanos Ongoing, which shuts down Wong decks as well. The Destroy synergy could be a curiosity in this hypothesis, but I can see half those decks slotting in Armor and not really caring about it. Not to mention Death, Wave, and Killmonger are already played in Thanos Lockjaw, a stronger deck than fully committed Destroy builds.

In the end, the rampant problem with the Marvel Snap metagame is that new archetypes have no room to express themselves, and it’s been the case for quite some time now. Cerebro, Discard, Mister Negative, Move, and even Bounce: None of those archetypes actually get a better shot at being competitive if the only thing Tuesday’s patch brings is removing Shuri Zero from the Marvel Snap metagame. Other decks, the ones we already know about but are overshadowed by Shuri Zero, will rise, and that’s about it.

Considering there already has been some form of movement in the metagame with the recent OTA changes, maybe nerfing Shuri alone would not make the metagame more enjoyable. It could just lead to it being easier to solve as there is one less deck to think about. If Second Dinner really wants to challenge the players to think outside the box, perhaps a little poke to Wave, Patriot (or Mystique?), or Sera would create a challenging new puzzle to solve.

Darkhawk DoomWave by den
Created by Marvel Snap Zone
, updated 8 months ago
1x Collection Level 1-14
2x Collection Level 18-214 (Pool 1)
2x Collection Level 222-474 (Pool 2)
5x Collection Level 486+ (Pool 3)
2x Series 4 Rare – Collection Level 486+ (Pool 4)
3.2
Cost
0-
1
2
3
4
5+
3.7
Power
0-
1
2
3
4
5+

Darkhawk DoomWave, amongst others, had a meteoric rise in play rate this week. The deck showcases how Wave, Darkhawk and other strong cards to always find a way to be abused, one way or another.


Closing Words

As I always do when I write about an upcoming patch, I could have discussed how crucial buffs are to help the archetypes that can’t seem to be competitive. The likes of Deadpool and Hela Discard aren’t so far from feeling competitive. The big issue with those decks is how predictable they are, costing them cubes when they see their opponent leave whenever they have their full synergy lining up.

It is no secret; being unpredictable is one of the strongest traits a deck can possess in Marvel Snap, and it’s confirmed any time we take a look at the best performing decks. The flexible ones are atop the rankings each and every week. Unless you reach the level of a Shuri Zero, or Silver Surfer back in December, where you basically do not care who you are up against if you have a certain hand, decks that are easy to figure out and highly synergistic have stopped existing ever since Leech, and then Sandman and Wave joined the fray as popular disruption cards.

As a result, if you combine the cubes you lose because your strategy is too easy to figure out and the cubes you lose because a disruptive card ruined your game, highly synergistic builds can’t do much better than exist as niche decks that appear on occasion and disappear as fast as they came.

If I had to focus on anything during this patch, it would this specific aspect of Marvel Snap. As I said in the intro, the metagame has been moving this past week, and we aren’t so far from having a diverse environment once again. The only thing needed is to make it a bit challenging to find the best win conditions in the game so the players keep testing different strategies.

Right now, Lockjaw, Wave, Sera, and other flexible cards are topping that list, largely because they can easily be paired with various high power cards such as Darkhawk, Devil Dinosaur, She-Hulk, and the like. If we could just challenge this assumption with Tuesday’s patch, Marvel Snap would be a wonderful game to explore.

Want to share your take on what to expect for the upcoming big patch? Join us on Discord! You can also find me on Twitter where I share decks and opinions daily about Marvel Snap.

Good Game Everyone.

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den
den

Den has been in love with strategy games for as long as he can remember, starting with the Heroes of Might and Magic series as a kid. Card games came around the middle school - Yu-Gi-Oh! and then Magic: The Gathering.

Hearthstone and Legends of Runeterra has been his real breakthrough and he has been a coach, writer, and caster on the French scene for many years now. He now coaches aspiring pro players and writes various articles on these games.

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