Marvel Snap

Marvel Snap Beginner’s Guide: How to Play

Marvel Snap is the debut game from Second Dinner, a game development studio founded by former Hearthstone developers Ben Brode, Yong Woo and Hamilton Chu. Like Hearthstone, it is a collectible card game but this one is set in the Marvel universe.

With iconic characters such as Wolverine, Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Hulk, this game is sure to attract a huge audience many of whom are likely new to card games. In this guide, we will give you the lowdown on how to play the game.

The Basics

When you get into a game of Marvel Snap, you will see three hexagonal shapes in the middle of the playing field. These are the Locations. The objective of the game is simple: Defeat your opponent at two out of three of these Locations and you win. How do you defeat your opponent at a Location? By amassing more Power than them.

Image of gameboard in Marvel Snap showing the three locations

Each card in Marvel Snap has a Power value assigned to it. You can see a card’s Power at the top right of the card, inside a glowing orange circle. When you play cards to a Location the Power on your side of that Location will increase. End the game with more power at that Location than your opponent and you win that Location.

The games in Marvel Snap are short, they only last six turns! After six turns, whoever has more power at two out of three of the Locations wins. If there is a tie at any or all of the Locations, the player with the most total Power across all three Locations is the winner. If there is a tie in total Power as well, then the game ends in a draw.

The Cost

Each card, in addition to a Power value, has an Energy cost assigned to it. The Energy cost can be seen at the top left of a card, inside a glowing blue circle. This denotes how much Energy it costs to be able to play the card. You start a game with one Energy on turn one and then gain an additional Energy at the start of each turn. So by the final turn, you will have six Energy. There is no limit to the amount of cards you can play in a given turn, just the amount of Energy you can spend. This means on turn six, you could play one 6-cost card. Or maybe two 3-cost cards. Or possibly three 2-cost cards.

You play a card by dragging it from your hand onto a location. You can only have a maximum of four cards at any location, so choose wisely where you want to play your card!

Once you play a card, it remains face down at its location until both you and your opponent have hit the End Turn button. Turns happen simultaneously in Marvel Snap, so you won’t know what your opponent is playing until after you have made your play and ended your turn. Once both players have hit that End Turn button, the cards are revealed, with the player who is currently winning having their card(s) revealed first. If the game is currently tied (such as at the beginning of a match), the game chooses a player at random to reveal first. The game indicates who has initiative (i.e. who will reveal their cards first) by displaying a glow around that player’s name/avatar.

The Cards

As we mentioned, each card in Marvel Snap has two basic attributes: Energy and Power. Energy is the amount of Energy it costs to play a card and a card’s Power is how much Power it adds to its location. But many cards in Snap come with a unique ability as well. These abilities can be seen by clicking on a card and reading the text underneath the card art. These abilities can provide additional benefits or other effects which make cards more powerful than they may first appear.

There are two main keywords that appear in cards’ abilities, which are On Reveal and Ongoing. On Reveal effects happen when a card is revealed. A simple example is the card Medusa. Her text reads “On Reveal: If this is at the middle location, +2 Power.” So when she is revealed, if she’s in the middle, she goes from 2 Power to 4 Power. It’s a one time effect that happens whenever a card is revealed. Important to note that a card will trigger its On Reveal effect whenever it is revealed, even if the card was not deliberately played by the player and got pulled onto a Location via another effect (which happens surprisingly often!).

The other main keyword, Ongoing, is fairly self-explanatory. Ongoing denotes an effect that is, well, ongoing. In other words, it remains active throughout the game. Example is Captain America, whose text reads “Ongoing: Your other cards at this Location have +1 Power.” So wherever Captain America is located he gives your other cards at that Location +1 Power, for the remainder of the game.

There are other abilities that don’t include On Reveal and Ongoing. You can browse through all of the known cards in our card database to see the many different and varying effects. Building and playing a deck full of cards with synergistic abilities is one of the most fun things about Marvel Snap! Check out our deck builder as well, to experiment with different deck builds.

The Locations

It’s not only cards which have effects in Marvel Snap. Each Location also has a unique effect that alters the state of the game. An example would be Stark Tower, which reads “At the end of turn 5, give all cards here +2 Power.” If you saw that Location pop up in a game you would want to get all four possible cards there before the end of turn 5, to take full advantage of its effect. Each Location in the game provides a new avenue for optimal play, making every game of Marvel Snap a little bit different!

When the game first starts, only one Location (the left one) will be revealed. The other two will be hidden initially, with the middle Location revealing before turn two and the right Location revealing before turn three. Once a Location reveals itself, its effect becomes immediately active. It is important to note that you can play cards on unrevealed Locations and in doing so you can sometimes “get around” certain Locations’ effects. (For example, playing a 1-cost card on Hellfire Club before it is revealed).

Each game you will get three random Locations. Some Locations are more rare than others. There also are times when a certain Location will be designated a “Featured” or “Hot” Location and these will show up more often in games.

You can see the full list of known Locations in our Location database.

The Stakes

So you’ve got the gist of the game down. You have three Locations you are vying for, six turns to play your cards, Energy scales up each turn, and you need to win two of three Locations to win the game. Lastly, we need to talk about the Cubes.

Every game you and your opponent are battling it out for more Cosmic Cubes. The more Cubes you gain, the higher your rank in game. You start each game battling it out for 1 Cube. But you or your opponent can, at any time in the game, “Snap” and double the amount of Cubes at stake. In addition, the Cubes will automatically double at the end of the game. In this way, you can end up winning (or losing) a max of 8 Cubes in a single game.

Gameplay image from Marvel Snap showing the amount of Cubes at stake

You also always have the choice to retreat from a match before the stakes get too high. If your opponent snaps, you can choose to retreat before the Cubes double. You can also choose to retreat before the final turn. If you feel you are likely to lose, it’s preferable to retreat than stick it out to the end. Better to lose only one or two Cubes, instead of four or eight!

Now that you know the basics, be sure to check out more of our guides, including how you collect cards and a selection of some of the best decks to build while you are still early in the game. Good luck and see you in the Multiverse!


An avid player of card games since he got hooked on the Star Wars CCG back in his teens, Phil "gutshot" Bicking is excited to share his years of expertise to players of Marvel Snap.

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