Onslaught

Ongoing Ability Guide: Decks, Cards, Synergies, and Counters

Marvel Snap features a lot of different cards, all with different abilities, representing ways to affect a match. In these series of guides, we will go in-depth on each of these specific abilities, covering their strengths, weaknesses, and favored gameplay.

In this third article about the various abilities cards can possess, we will cover the Ongoing synergy, a lasting ability that impact the game as long as the card is on the table. While it is outshined by other, more used synergies in the current state of the game, Ongoing cards were the talk of July 2022 Season 1, up until the point Devil Dinosaur was nerfed from a 3 to 4 energy card.

Currently, the most popular cards using the key-word would be Iron Man, Ant-Man or Ka-Zar – 3 cards every player gets very early in their journey. They contribute early to a competitive build while keeping some relevancy even when Pool 2 becomes available.

Through exploring its strengths, weaknesses, and possible builds, this guide aims at offering a good entry point into the Ongoing synergy.

Alongside the On Reveal synergy, Ongoing cards tend to be one of the first mechanic a new player will learn to play with. Furthermore, while there aren’t as many popular decks focused on abusing this keyword in the current metagame, some specific cards are key to their archetype as they provide a long lasting effect, which can impact the game on several levels.


What is the Ongoing Ability?

Different to almost any other abilities in the game, the Ongoing cards aren’t looking to have an immediate effect on the card when being played. Instead, they create an anchor point to build your deck or plan the rest of your game around. Most importantly, compared to the On Reveal ability, you can drop an Ongoing card early on and work around it later.

As such, an Ongoing card is able to change the impact it has on the game depending if the player decides to capitalize on it or not. This flexibility in the Ongoing cards opens for some mind games with your opponent. They have to guess if you are going to invest into your potential strong effect or if it is just a bluff and you are just using it as a distraction.

A perfect example of this is Strong Guy.

Let’s imagine you are playing Strong Guy on turn 2 into an empty location. He represents 3 power for 2 energy, which would be on the weaker end of the spectrum. As soon as your hand is empty, the card suddenly jumps to 9 power, being amongst the top point scorer for its low cost. As such, when you play it, you expect to empty your hand and get the 9 points once turn 6 is done. Strong Guy will represent a great anchor point at the location, as the opponent will need to invest in order to match the points and compete on the location, or immediately plan to win the other 2.

But as Strong Guy‘s effect will only matter at the end of turn 6, you do not have to play with an empty hand anytime before that. Also, if you see that your opponent overcommitted to the location to match the score they expected you to reach when playing Strong Guy, you might even not want to empty your hand at all. Instead, focus on the other 2 locations, as you only spent 2 Energy on this one while the opponent likely spent much more resources to beat the expected 9 points they anticipated.

On the other hand, if you think this is a winnable location, then you can pull the trigger and play aggressively to empty your hand, getting Strong Guy to contribute a lot to your points total.

Similar effects to what Strong Guy provide are Devil Dinosaur or Morbius, which see their power change through the course of the game. This constant modification in how much they will contribute to the total makes it much more difficult for the opponent to guess what score they have to match.


When to Play an Ongoing Effect?

Playing an Ongoing card does two things:

  1. Sets it up for you to be able to make use of later on down the track.
  2. Gives your opponent information about the synergy to are likely to develop in the future.

While the first part is very beneficial, as it allows us to use our energy efficiently, compared to an On Reveal effect that could be tempted to wait to get more value out of a card. Telling our opponent what they have to react to can sometimes be more detrimental than the few energy we used proactively.

In order to know when to play your Ongoing effect, you need to consider the impact they will have on the game compared to the information you are allowing your opponent to get. If the card is very low impact but tells the opponent the whole story and how to counter us, it probably is better to wait and play as late as possible. On the other end, if the card isn’t something the opponent can do much about and unlocks a lot of potential synergies for us, or blocks some for the opponent, then you would want to play it as soon as possible.

A good example of reducing what the opponent can do is Cosmo. If possible, we would always want to play it on turn 3, as a way to completely stop an On Reveal deck to be able to synergize on this location.

The only time we would want to wait on Cosmo is if we are not sure where is the optimal location to block yet, and have some wiggle room to play the card during one of the later turns.

A great Ongoing card in the current metagame, although difficult to obtain because in Pool 3 is Sera. The card is currently pushing a combo deck where the idea is to have the most explosive turn 6 as possible, something our opponent cannot play around unless they reveal their cards second and anticipates perfectly what cards we have and where we are playing them.

When played on turn 5, Sera only tells our opponent “Hey my hand is cheap now”, but there is not a thing they can do about it. Even if they have Enchantress, by the time the card removes Sera‘s ability, it will be too late and the damage will be done. In this case, the only thing the opponent can do is try to score as much as possible to beat us.


Ongoing Cards: Strengths

As you probably guessed it by now, I am a big fan of how flexible some of the Ongoing cards can be. With their unpredictable impact to the final score, the Ongoing synergy is a perfect one for a player who likes to Snap early in a game and play some mind games.

Through the Strong Guy example in the first section, but also using cards like Mojo, Cerebro or Invisible Woman. You can create impossible situations to read perfectly for the opponent early on, or surprise them on the last turn of the game.

Through playing with Ongoing cards, you are able to push on a location and almost make sure you will win it thanks to cards like Iron Man or Onslaught, which can easily get your power over 40 in a single location.

However, the Ongoing synergy can also help push several location at the same time, splitting your points in order to hide where the final push will happen. Through cards like Mister Fantastic or Klaw, you are able to disguise your strategy, and only push the locations you intend to win once you figured out where the opponent will invest.


Ongoing cards: Weaknesses and Counters

The main weakness I would attribute to the Ongoing synergy is its lack of big scorers since the Devil Dinosaur nerf. Currently, Strong Guy and Ka-Zar are the top 2 scorers for the mechanic, but they are doing it completely outside of decks based around the Ongoing synergy.

A such, the big payoff cards in the collection are almost abandoned. Onslaught or Spectrum are used at the start of your competitive journey but usually are quickly left behind as it isn’t worth creating a deck around the synergy specifically.

The second weakness, and one of the most frustrating one to me across the whole game is the conditional Ongoing effects. Cards like Namor, Warpath or other pricey options with a “If” attached to their effect can suffer a lot from the random aspect locations are bringing.
In my Tier List of Pool 2 cards, I ranked Warpath very low because of this specific reason.

Even Strong Guy, which is way less impacted as it only cost 2 mana, can sometimes become worthless to play when District X or The Hub are suddenly ruining your chances at emptying your hand.


Budget Ongoing Deck Build

Even though it has been nerfed from 3-cost to 4-cost, Devil Dinosaur is very much capable of winning games early on in your journey. This deck relies on completely locking down a location with Devil Dinosaur, which can be supported with Iron Man or Onslaught if necessary, and should be an easy 10 or 12 power considering we have a lot of cards which add more to our hand.

The second location, we are looking to win it depending on what our opponent does. We can either be proactive, building around Ant-Man and Captain America synergy to then drop an Onslaught or Iron Man in the later turns. Alternatively, we can try to counter a flood strategy with The Punisher and other cards.

Ideally, both locations we are looking to push would be the ones on the side, so we can use Mister Fantastic in the middle one.

Ongoing Budget
Created by den
, updated 3 months ago
2x Collection Level 1-14
6x Collection Level 18-214 (Pool 1)
1x Recruit Season
3x Starter Card
3
Cost
0-
1
2
3
4
5+
2.6
Power
0-
1
2
3
4
5+

Competitive Ongoing Deck Build

Later in your competitive journey, you should unlock card to play with the unpredictable power of the Ongoing ability. In both these decks, we are looking to buff our units and manage our board to spread our points in all 3 locations.

The first deck, build around the Patriot and Onslaught combo, aims at buffing all our other units without abilities, creating a huge amount of points in a surprising way. as we play on curve, we like to spread our units across all 3 locations, but wish to keep 2 spots to play both our key cards in the same one. When Patriot and Onslaught are together on the same location, the majority of our units get a +4 bonus to their total power.

No Abilities deck
Created by den
, updated 3 months ago
2x Collection Level 18-214 (Pool 1)
2x Collection Level 222-474 (Pool 2)
2x Collection Level 486+ (Pool 3)
1x Recruit Season
5x Starter Card
2.8
Cost
0-
1
2
3
4
5+
3.5
Power
0-
1
2
3
4
5+

The second deck relies on Sera discounting cards in our hand so we can have the most explosive turn 6 as possible. This time, we are looking to buff our hand rather than our on-board units, disguising our real potential until turn 6.

On turn 5, we simply play Sera and setup our locations in order to push as much as possible onto at lest 2 next turn. If we wouldn’t find Sera, then we can simply play aggressively over 2 turns considering our cards are very cheap. It ruins the surprise but still is quite effective if we got Nakia to hit 5 or 6 cards in our hand.

Sera Buff
Created by den
, updated 3 months ago
6x Collection Level 18-214 (Pool 1)
3x Collection Level 222-474 (Pool 2)
2x Collection Level 486+ (Pool 3)
1x Recruit Season
2.5
Cost
0-
1
2
3
4
5+
2.5
Power
0-
1
2
3
4
5+

Closing Words

The Ongoing synergy is in a weird place right now, as the recent nerfs put other abilities in the spotlight after Devil Dinosaur was changed.

Yet, there are still plenty of good cards in the Ongoing pool, and even if they are used in a support way to other metagame defining options, we can see some Ongoing cards help elevate archetypes. Sera for example, only started being a popular card at the very end of Season 1, same for the Patriot plus Onslaught combo deck.

It is no surprise that it will take time for the community to explore the power of the cards hidden in Pool 3, as most players are still discovering the ones in Pool 2 for now. Once a majority of the player base reaches those milestones, I expect other gems to emerge and push new archetypes with them.

If you had any questions regarding this guide or simply on Marvel Snap in general, feel free to drop a comment in the section below. You can also check our other guides as all the other synergy will be covered here.

For a direct contact, you can add me on Twitter or Discord (den#3613).

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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