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 officially released as of October 18, 2022, 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.
Table of Contents
What is Marvel Snap?
Whether you’re a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), a Marvel Comics enjoyer, or a dedicated CCG player, playing Marvel Snap likely offers you something new and refreshing. Marvel Snap is a card-battler that looks to seamlessly blend the world renown aesthetic of Marvel Heroes and Villains with collectable cards, quick and punchy gameplay, and a variety of rule-altering locations so that no two games ever play the same. Collectors have super-rare card variants to chase, and players get to advance their collections and earn new rewards just for playing games, many of which last for less than 5 minutes.
Marvel Snap is looking to appeal to many of the issues other CCG’s and video games often can’t remedy, by creating a game that only lasts for six turns, which are completed by both players simultaneously. This means games are quick and action-packed, and every last play feels important and exciting. Once you throw in dedicated voice-lines, cool animated effects, and game pieces that change each game you play, it’s easy to see why so many players and Marvel lovers alike have found something to enjoy about Marvel Snap.
Marvel Snap is currently available for mobile on iOS and Android. You can download the Early Access version on Steam for PC:
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 main objective of a game of Marvel Snap is very simple: Win two of the three locations in the centre of the game board after the final turn of the game. How do you defeat your opponent at a Location? By amassing more Power than them.
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.
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.
Each card and their variants, 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.
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.
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! Some location abilities are usually great for both players, and some are actively detrimental to certain strategies or cards.
As stated before, we can win locations by deploying our cards onto them to increase the amount of stats we have at the location – unless the location text says otherwise, whoever has the highest amount of stats at a location at the end of the final turn of the game will win that location. This is often a challenge in space and card management, as you cannot have more than 4 cards at any one location.
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.
But if some locations are bad for you, why would you try to win them? Why would you play cards that could be punished by locations?
Well, that’s because you don’t actually know every location you’re trying to win until turn three of six, with a new location revealing itself to both players on each of the first three turns. This not only allows for some incredibly sweet unforeseen happenings, but also really helps to keep each game different and fresh, as the order that locations reveal in can often dramatically effect how a game plays out!
If you’d like to check out ALL the Locations Marvel Snap has to offer, we’ve got a comprehensive breakdown and full list of known ones in our Location database.
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 snapping, retreating, and Cubes.
“But HowlingMines!” I hear you say: “Surely that means I can also have my plans ruined by horrible variance I couldn’t play around! That doesn’t sound fun at all!”
Well, yes, to some extent. But thankfully the very clever team at Second Dinner thought about that too when designing the ladder system and stakes of the game for Marvel Snap – 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. Marvel Snap has taken inspiration from games such as Texas Hold ‘Em in the way cubes work, with the core mechanic of “snapping“. 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. Check out our guide on snapping strategy as well:
However, much like Texas Hold ‘Em, you have the ability to retreat if you don’t want to play for higher stakes. At any time, either player can press the Retreat button in the bottom left hand corner of the screen to run away from the game, and if they do, they’ll only lose an amount of cubes equal to the stakes at the START of the turn they chose to retreat.
Variance went poorly? Retreat.
New deck didn’t work? Retreat.
Desperately need the bathroom? Sure, Retreat.
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!
Once you combine the short length of Marvel Snap games with the ability to retreat for minimal loss if things just don’t break your way, bad variance begins to feel more laughable and funny than unenjoyable, avoiding that bad taste that getting unlucky can often cause, and allowing you to better enjoy your opponents misfortune when the luck swings in your direction. I personally believe that this is one of Marvel Snap’s strongest assets, and results in players coming back for revenge in spots that may cause them to stop playing other games for a while.
Snapping and retreating well, and managing your Cube output is the key to climbing the ranked ladder and eventually Cube management may be a crucial part of higher level tournament play (like chips in Poker). So it’s best to practice early!
So, now we’ve got an idea of what the gameboard looks like, how do we build a deck and use it to play?
Building Your Deck
Marvel Snap prides itself on having a card for hundreds of heroes and villains, with nearly two hundred unique cards and over one thousand unique card art variants available in the game at global launch – so if you’ve got a fan favourite hero or baddie, there’s a great chance you’ll have the ability to unlock them on a card!
There’s also a good chance that you’ve never played a CCG with a deck quite as small as this one. Marvel Snap decks contain twelve cards total, with no more than one copy of each card you want to play. This makes the deck the most consistent part of the game, and allows cards to have “build-around” effects that you feel comfortable working toward. You start each game with three cards, drawing an additional one every turn, meaning that by the end of a normal game, you’ll have seen nine of the twelve cards you put in your deck, making it very likely you’ll see the most important ones.
Building a deck is also *super* easy, with all your cards available and easy to find inside the dedicated Deck Building menu. Simply click to create a new deck, scroll down to find the cards you want to put in it, give it a click, and it’ll be in the deck, ready to go.
You’ll see that every card has an Energy Cost (Top Left), an amount of Stats (Top Right) and a unique ability (Which you can click on a card to see at any time) – Energy is the resource needed to play cards in Marvel Snap, with you starting at one energy and gaining an additional energy each and every turn. Unsurprisingly, this tends to mean that cards that cost more energy have bigger and flashier effects, but it’s important to make sure your deck contains a good balance of cards at all energy costs, after all, if your deck is full of six-energy cards you can’t play till the final turn, it’ll be awfully difficult to fill all four spaces at any location, let alone multiple. You can play as many cards as you wish each turn assuming you have the energy and space for them.
If you’d like some beginner friendly decks you can import to get you started, check out our Pool One Decks page to find some of the more established decks you can build with the cards you’ll receive shortly after starting the game.
How Do I Get The Cards I Want?
This, unfortunately, is where things get a little more complicated. Marvel Snap has received many questions and complaints about card acquisition during Beta, so there is a reasonable chance that this model changes, but for now, we’ll break down how this works. For a more detailed breakdown, check out our progression guide:
Marvel Snap lets you acquire all the cards just by playing the game, no spending required. However, getting the specific cards you want is very difficult and time consuming, even if you’re happy to spend.
|Pool #||Collection Level #||Card #||Decks||Tier List|
|Pool One||Collection Level 18 – 214||46 cards||Decks||Tier List|
|Pool Two||Collection Level 222 – 474||25 cards||Decks||Tier List|
|Pool Three||Collection Level 486+||75 cards||Decks||Tier List|
Most cards are assigned to one of three “pools”, varying quite significantly in their size. Pool One is designed to offer many core cards to players quickly, so you can get a foothold in many different decks. Pool Two looks to expand on this, offering some higher complexity cards to help improve the decks you’ll already have built, and Pool Three offers the more unique cards, dedicated build-arounds, and often some of the most powerful cards in the game too. Later, there will also be Pool 4 and Pool 5 cards for those who have it all.
Cards are acquired via your Collection Level. Playing games of Marvel Snap will earn you Boosters as well as Cubes. When you have enough Boosters for a certain card, you can begin to upgrade them. Upgrading cards doesn’t change what they do, just what they look like – adding 3D, animated effects, pop-out artwork and different borders among other things – making the cards you play with very often the prettiest in your collection. Upgrading cards is what increases your Collection Level, and at various level checkpoints, you’ll earn rewards. This includes cards from the pool you’re currently in.
Sounds great, right? What’s the issue?
You earn cards from each pool at random.
This can be very painful to those folks looking for their favourite hero, or players desperately missing one or two cards to play a cool deck they saw on our Tier List that they’d like to play themselves – with no control over when exactly you’re able to get certain cards, and sometimes even how quickly you can progress to even be in the Pool those cards are in, many players in the Beta found themselves frustrated, and the decks they did have becoming stale quickly.
Thankfully, Second Dinner have addressed player concerns regarding this topic heading into global release, with the intention to add a new, free currency called “Collector Tokens” to the game as a way to target the specific cards you want to have. If you’d like to hear more about how they intend for that to work, check out their news post about it.
Frequently Asked Questions
We’ve moved the FAQ into its own section – check it out!
Tips And Tricks For New Players
- The Welcome Bundle and Seasonal Battle Passes are the best value-for-money items available in the game right now. If you’re looking to spend small amounts, these items are the way to do it.
- Want Collection Levels as quickly as possible? Consider using any gold you get to “buy” new missions instead of cosmetics. Missions earn credits, and credits upgrade cards – so the more missions you complete, the quicker you’ll level up.
- Want to rank up fast? Snapping early or after a powerful turn will likely make your opponent run away if they’re not at the same power level or have a bad draw. Try to Snap before you make power plays, or build decks designed to do powerful things in the late game to hide just how ahead you are for as long as possible!
- I may be a little biased, but I hear the folks at Marvel Snap Zone write some fantastic deck and strategy guides to help you get ahead of the game. 😉
- Cards like Iron Man, America Chavez, Angela and Ka-Zar are commonly believed to be some of the strongest cards you get early from Pool One. If you’re struggling to keep up, maybe try building around them!
- Look to find powerful synergies that may catch your opponent off-guard! While it’s fun to play with your favourite cards, play patterns like a Turn Five White Tiger into a Turn 6 Odin can produce a lot of power out of nowhere, and can earn you a lot of cubes if you play the whole game expecting to do it!
- Similarly, as you play more, you’ll start to recognise your opponents plans, and the card they’re likely to play. Try to avoid snapping on final turns if you don’t think you can beat popular power plays – after all, will you still feel confident if your opponent snaps back immediately?
Marvel Snap makes me excited – It’s very clear the team at Second Dinner are incredibly passionate about this project they’ve been working on for several years, and it’s finally time for the world to come and enjoy it too! Regardless of if you’re a chiselled CCG veteran, or a Marvel fan looking to expand your horizons, I’d highly recommend giving the game a download and trying it out for yourself – after all, if you’re not a fan, a few games will only have taken you a handful of minutes, but if you are a fan, you might just find your new favourite way to spend your lunch break.
I hope that I’ll see some of you on the ladder, and I plan to take as many cubes from you as I can. Feel free to emote me in game, or even tag me @HowlingMines to roast me after I lose horribly to you!
Until then, I’ve been HowlingMines, and you’ve been amazing.
See you somewhere in the Multiverse!