Table of Contents
When The Phoenix Force was released, many of us heard comments regarding how uninviting this card seemed to be.
Many thought the card was just plain bad. For the majority, building a winning deck around it seemed more like a meme than something actually possible.
Marvel Snap has allowed me to meet wonderful people, and one of them took on the task of making The Phoenix Force work. KaptKerr made a list that took him to Infinite in a couple of hours. Yes, he went from 73 to 100 in a single stream with The Phoenix Force.
Do you know what the most interesting part is? He did it before last Thursday’s buff! This is what prompted me to make this guide. If KaptKerr’s list was good before the last OTA, after the buff I can only say that now it is simply spectacular! I would even go so far as to say that it is the best list with The Phoenix Force in the current metagame.
Concept and Strategy
As KaptKerr rightly mentions, this iteration of the deck is quite difficult to play perfectly. To win games, we must know the two main combos with The Phoenix Force:
- The Human Torch line: We play Iron Fist + Human Torch on Turn 2. Then we eat the Human Torch with Venom on Turn 3 and play The Phoenix Force on Turn 4.
- The Multiple Man line: Play Multiple Man on Turn 2, Venom on Turn 3 to eat the Multiple Man, and then The Phoenix Force on Turn 4.
The combos are easier after the recent OTA; however, it might seem like we don’t have time to play Hulkbuster now.
Let me assure you: that is not the case. Contrary to what you might think, we now have the agency to decide if we want to do the combos early or if we want to extend them with Iron Fist, Hulkbuster, and/or Shuri.
This makes the deck even better. As I have mentioned on various occasions, the greater flexibility and decision-making capacity, the better the deck’s performance (I’ll go into a bit more detail on how to extend the combos in the Turn by Turn Breakdown section).
The main plan of this deck. The reason behind using these cards as targets for The Phoenix Force is easy to understand.
In addition to being able to revive a previously destroyed card, the second part of The Phoenix Force‘s effect is that it can move to another location. This makes any card that benefits from moving an excellent target for The Phoenix Force.
With Multiple Man, we can generate a minimum of three copies of it with eight power each, which translates into 24 power divided between our lanes.
Iron Fist has two main functions:
- Moving Human Torch on Turn 2 will double its power before it is destroyed.
- When played in the same turn as The Phoenix Force, a revived Multiple Man will instantly generate a copy and a revived Human Torch will instantly double its power.
On Turn 3, we play Hulkbuster on either Human Torch or Multiple Man before it is destroyed by Carnage or Venom, increasing the power of our movement cards and making our combo much more powerful in the long run.
With a metagame where Magik is now a very popular card, having the option to improve our plan in long games is, without a doubt, something very valuable.
Venom is normally our best enabler, but having Carnage allows us to maintain consistency with The Phoenix Force Plan and facilitate our Plan A earlier and cheaper. They also create the ability to ping-pong Nimrod in the last turns of the game for our Plan B.
Plan B Core
As a big Nimrod fan, I can’t pass up the chance of playing this card whenever possible.
The way KaptKerr has used these two cards in a deck with The Phoenix Force is amazing. In some iterations of decks where I’ve had success with The Phoenix Force, I’ve often fallen for a rather curious line of thought: “The Phoenix Force is good in any deck where Vision was good before.”
This comes to mind because, in one of Shuri‘s first successful decks, Vision was a fundamental card. A 14-Power card with the ability to move during the last turn is not an easy thing to handle for our opponents.
Shuri not only provides us with a Plan B with Nimrod and the symbiotes, she also works as an additional way to boost the main combo of this deck to its maximum. In combination with The Phoenix Force, we can build our “improved Vision“. It will be able to move, just like Vision, and it will also generate benefits from doing so, making our Turn 6/7 Taskmaster play more powerful than in any old Shuri deck.
Last Turn Core
If Taskmaster is a card that boosts our Human Torch play line, Heimdall is its counterpart as it allows us to boost our Multiple Man play line. If we go this path and we have more than one copy of a merged Multiple Man, Heimdall can let us end with up to three to six copies of Multiple Man with at least eight power (and even up to 13!), which becomes a quite powerful play and that few opponents can properly account for.
America Chavez is a crucial part of any deck where getting the right cards on the right turns is paramount. While this post-buff version is certainly much more flexible, I think keeping America Chavez is important as we can now curve the first four turns much more effectively thanks to the cost reduction The Phoenix Force got.
Gwen can function as a second Iron Fist. Thanks to the change in the last OTA where her cost was reduced to one, her ability can allow us to move Human Torch, Multiple Man, or The Phoenix Force for the same cost as Iron Fist.
If we want to increase redundancy, Ghost-Spider is undoubtedly a great option.
This gives us one more card to destroy Nimrod during the final turn as well.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, playing Armor complicates the situation for our opponents much more than it could for us.
It’s not a card we want to play early in the game. If we add it to the deck, its function will be to protect our high-powered cards in the last few turns, making the opponent suffer a lot from trying to solve the problem our powerful cards present, even if they have Shang-Chi.
As we’ve already mentioned, cards that get better when they move are our best targets for The Phoenix Force.
Dagger and Vulture are two options that gain power when moving. Playing these cards gives us more “move” targets, and they could give us more power with The Phoenix Force depending on the circumstances.
Other Ways to Build the Archetype
SafetyBlade, a member of our team at Marvel Snap Zone, created this rather effective iteration of the deck.
You can explore this version more in our respective Deck of The Day article.
You know me, dear readers. As long as I can play the Silver Surfer core in a deck, I’m going to do my best to create a new, functional iteration of the archetype.
We already play Carnage, The Phoenix Force, Shuri, and Taskmaster, and we have the option to play cards such as Red Skull. With all of this in the equation, using the rest of Sauron‘s core certainly works great.
This is the closest to what “Build Your Own Vision” would look like. Zabu now reduces the cost of The Phoenix Force, there’s a lot of extra power to be had with Ebony Maw and Lizard, and this deck does not rely on a single game plan, making it as flexible as (if not more than) the original archetype.
Snap and Retreat
This archetype has lines where we are highly favored. Knowing how to identify them gives us the key to Snapping properly.
- We can Snap on Turn 2 if we have the perfect hand: Iron Fist + Human Torch / Multiple Man + Venom / Carnage + The Phoenix Force. This assumes that no inauspicious locations have been revealed.
- On Turn 3, we can Snap if the draw has enabled us to have the previously mentioned cards in hand. If Hulkbuster is added to the equation, we can do it with greater security.
- If we have Shuri and this enables our Plan B with Nimrod (this includes having the symbiotes in hand), we can confidently Snap on Turn 4. It’s also possible if Shuri enables extending The Phoenix Force‘s combo.
- Snapping on Turn 5 will depend on having Taskmaster or Heimdall in hand, allowing us to maximize our game plan on Turn 6. We can also Snap on Turn 5 if we are going to ping-pong Nimrod on Turn 6.
Due to the way this deck carries out its plans, it’s easy to tell when we don’t have the necessary cards to move forward. Try to have the discipline to Retreat when this happens, when an unfavorable location appears, or when the opponent Snaps and none of the aforementioned conditions for Snapping are met. You can counter Snap if you are in any of the Snap positions.
- Altar of Death, Death's Domain, Sanctum Sanctorum: These kinds of restrictive locations are something we can access with ease thanks to our move core (and Nimrod).
- Atlantis, Monster Metropolis, Shuri's Lab, The Space Throne: Any location that rewards us for having just one card is very good for The Phoenix Force and Taskmaster.
- Aunt May's, K'un-Lun: These locations let us buff Human Torch and Multiple Man before destroying them. Extra copies of Multiple Man are always appreciated.
- Bar Sinister: Taskmaster can usually win this location very easily.
- Cloning Vats: Playing The Phoenix Force here on Turn 4 and reviving any of our move core cards will let us play a second The Phoenix Force on Turn 5 with all the abilities of the first one.
- Great Web: This location is very frustrating for many players. Thanks to our move core, we can play around it and gain benefits without many problems.
- Kamar-Taj: Shuri and Heimdall enable very powerful plays in these locations.
- Sinister London: Thanks to how well our cards synergize, with the proper combination we can abuse this location harder than many other decks.
- The Bifrost: Free move triggers? Yes, please!
- The Nexus: We can put a lot of power in one single location with The Phoenix Force and Taskmaster.
- Fisk Tower: Bad for our move core. We can play around with it with Nimrod.
- Miniaturized Lab: It makes uncomfortable situations. This location says “can’t be added”, meaning we can’t move cards here when it’s turned off.
- The Raft, The Sacred Timeline, White Hot Room: It’s hard for us to compete for these locations early on.
In this section, I look at match ups against the decks that our Tier List ranks the highest. It’s clear that with the latest OTA, things were going to change, so this week will undoubtedly be a surprise for many.
Two archetypes that were previously in Tier 2 (Evolved Lockdown) and Silent Performer (Thanos Control) ranks have taken over the highest Tier as the only contenders with sufficient numbers to support them as such.
The confrontation against this archetype is certainly interesting.
The Infinity Stones are not really a problem, and playing around Shang-Chi is not hard by going with Nimrod‘s plan over The Phoenix Force. Competing against Devil Dinosaur isn’t difficult thanks to the power that The Phoenix Force and Taskmaster can generate.
The key point is to play around with their location closing tools: Spider-Man and Professor X. Spider-Man is not that annoying thanks to our move and Nimrod cores, but Professor X can complicate all our plans. Play carefully, and if you see a Snap on Turn 5, play as if they have Daredevil on the field and think twice before continuing with the game.
It’s been a while since this iteration of High Evolutionary has been placing in the highest tier on our lists.
Curiously, it’s a confrontation quite similar to the previous one thanks to the similarity between the archetypes.
The main difference (apart from the Stones) is that this archetype adds Storm to the main equation. This is usually not a problem since, as I mentioned above, inaccessible locations are not that difficult to win. Even more so when we can avoid Evolved Cyclops during Turn 4 and Turn 5 by entering the Flooded location during the final turn.
In both match ups, I think we have an advantage if Professor X doesn’t show up. We’re also not 100% lost if he does. Just do your best and play thinking that they will always have that tool available. This will allow us to assess the match correctly and play it safely.
Turn by Turn Breakdown
- Turn 1: Play Human Torch only if you don’t have Iron Fist in hand. We will go for Iron Fist on this turn if we have Human Torch or Multiple Man ready for the next turn.
- Turn 2: Following the line of the previous turn, we can play Iron Fist + Human Torch, just Multiple Man (whether we played Iron Fist on Turn 1 or not), or chose to start the The Phoenix Force combo by destroying Human Torch with Carnage.
- Turn 3: This is where the magic begins. As I have pointed out, decision-making and flexibility are key. You can choose to destroy Human Torch or Multiple Man with Carnage or Venom. In case of doing so with Carnage, we can add Iron Fist as the last play of the turn. This would move The Phoenix Force immediately once it is played on the following turn.
- Turn 4: You must take into consideration the archetype that our opponent is playing here. This will allow you better decision-making between Shuri or The Phoenix Force. If you think the opponent might be playing Shang-Chi, playing The Phoenix Force to revive Multiple Man is the best option. Otherwise, played Shuri or playing The Phoenix Force to revive Human Torch is the way to go. It’s also worth destroying Human Torch or Multiple Man here if you played Hulkbuster during Turn 3 and you are going for the extended combo.
- Turn 5: Depending on the decisions of the previous turns, you can play Nimrod or The Phoenix Force on Shuri. Likewise, don’t forget to move The Phoenix Force if you’ve already played it during the previous turn. In case you haven’t played Shuri but you have played The Phoenix Force, you can also play Shuri here and set up a 16-Power Heimdall for the last turn.
- Turn 6: Always keep in mind that you have to move The Phoenix Force during Turn 5 and Turn 6. If you have opted for Nimrod, this is the turn where the symbiotes will do their job and bounce Nimrod around the lanes. If you played Shuri on Turn 5, you can play Heimdall (which will generate more power to our cards and/or copies of Multiple Man) or America Chavez on her location. Both plays are also OK if you don’t have Shuri. Finally, if The Phoenix Force has enough power, Taskmaster is a great option to close the game without complications.
I’m a believer that The Phoenix Force was already a card with incredible potential before the last OTA.
Now, I think that it has not only improved a lot as a card, but it also generates curves and great play patterns much earlier in the game, something that has great benefits in the long run (especially now that we are in what many players call “The Turn 7 Meta” thanks to Magik‘s newfound popularity).
I think KaptKerr has done a great job with this list. I take this opportunity to send Kapt a greeting from here. The recent buff has only improved this list exponentially.
Thank you, dear readers, for all the support. I hope this article has been to your liking. Let me know your opinions in the Marvel Snap Community Discord, on my Twitter, or in the comments section of this article.
See you soon in a few days when I will be tackling the new Tier 1 decks, giving you detailed deck guides for them. Until then, and as I always say, don’t forget to smile; it certainly makes a difference.
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