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Ah. Everyone’s favorite subject in school: Math.
Marvel Snap, like many other competitive card games, rewards quick mental arithmetic. Knowing and mentally visualizing the numbers after the dust settles on the last turn of the game can mean the difference between victory or defeat in a match—and it can all come down to just one point of power. Of course, surprises do occur, but there are plenty of things you can do to drastically improve your outcomes. And that all starts with improving your mental arithmetic in games.
Know your lines, and visualize your opponent’s
Every deck has thresholds of power that can be reasonably achieved in a standard game of Snap where you are able to play out your strategy, and not face any disruption from either your opponent or the locations of your game. You should have a rough idea of the kinds of power you can expect to generate from your deck in a typical game. How is that power spread across lanes? Do you typically try to go wide and put power into all three locations, or do you go tall and try to stack a lot of power in just two locations?
What do you expect your opponent to play to close out the game of snap? Based on the deck they are playing, what lines of play do you expect from them in the course of a game? How will you recognize if their game plan is coming together, or if they have drawn poorly and are missing critical components to enact their strategy and put it into action? There are hundreds of subtle questions that can be asked in the course of only a three minute game, and each of them have merit.
This boils down to building intuition and heuristics within the game, and getting better at predicting your opponent’s play and structuring your own around them. For example, against Thanos Control, if they played Time Stone on turn three, you can expect Professor X to come down on turn four.
Where is the most likely location you expect it to be played? If you were your opponent, where would you place your Professor X in hopes of catching your opponent off guard and securing an early location victory? These types of questions are essential and very often mean the difference between victory and defeat or retreat.
One thing that can make mental math more difficult in Marvel Snap is cards that result in drastic swings in power, usually through some kind of destroy or power debuff effect that is afflicted on your opponent’s cards. Then, there are cards that lead to predictable swings, and those which have increased variance. The key to swing cards is trying to understand the potential outcomes of your effects and what is most likely to occur.
Swing cards can make mental math difficult, so when playing cards like this, it is important to take as much time as you need to feel confident in your decision making process. For variable swing cards, hedge your variance and try to put the odds in your favor. There’s a big difference in betting cubes on an RNG decision that is 70% in your favor versus only 33.33%.
Predictable Swing Cards
Variable Swing Cards
Ghost Rider if you’ve discarded more than one card.
The rule of 3, 5, and 9
Since his release, Alioth has been a meta staple in Marvel Snap and terrorized the ranks of the ladder. Even post-nerf, players need to be aware of his presence and be able to play around his powerful effect. It’s helpful to try to visualize what the game will look like if your opponent plays Alioth.
Are they ahead in a location? Do they have priority? Are you winning a location by more than three points (and does your opponent have any cards like Nightcrawler, Jeff, or Vision that have moved into a location?)? Do you need your card to flip in order to win the game? Can your game plan survive if Alioth destroys one or more of your cards on turn six?
Doctor Doom is back and has been putting up impressive numbers since his previous nerf was reverted. He’s another card that it’s helpful to be mindful of at the close of the game as a popular finisher. Doctor Doom enables a ‘go-wide’ strategy that seeks to spread its total power across the board.
Can you beat a Doctor Doom if he puts an extra five power into each location? Will Doctor Doom help your opponent win an otherwise restricted or locked down location? Are you under the effect of an opposing Sandman? Will Doctor Doom activate Ms. Marvel once his tokens land?
It’s no secret that America Chavez is the most-played Marvel Snap Card using our tracker (and has been for numerous weeks). America Chavez is included in countless different decks and archetypes as a way to thin the deck and improve consistency of card draws in turns one through five.
But she’s also a catch-all contingency play for many decks in the case they simply didn’t hit their draws. Quick mental math with this rule means understanding what the board will look like if your opponent decides to drop America Chavez into a lane to try to close out the game. Can you come up with enough power to beat America Chavez when played in a location you need to try to win?
Outside of understanding the meta, you should work to build experience with recognizing patterns and what deck you are playing against. Knowing what to expect from your opponent in the final turns of the game will help you compare your mental numbers to a reasonable baseline of what you can expect from your opponent. The more you play and mindfully practice this, the better you will get at it.
For example, if you are playing against Deadpool Destroy, you can try to keep track of how much power they have destroyed throughout the game to get a pulse for Knull’s total power. You can also expect Death to come down if they have destroyed 6-7 cards. Sometimes, their final turn will end up being Venom or Deathlok and Death, or simply just Knull. It’s difficult to keep track of everything happening with their deck, but these are the types of elevated gameplay and thought processes which will help propel you to new heights in Marvel Snap!
Pro tip: the Marvel Snap Zone Tracker on PC is a great way to get ahead of the competition. It will update in real time and show you what deck it expects your opponent is playing, and what cards are likely left in their deck. This can be extremely helpful in knowing what you likely need to look out for on the final turns of your match and help you play around your opponent’s strategy. There will still be surprises, but it is a great visual aid to help with your thought process.
Mental math is an essential part of Marvel Snap. And the more you practice it, the better you will get at Snap. Mental Math provides the quantifiable numbers needed to answer your questions during a game and try to make the best decisions you can with the information you have at the time. Of course, mistakes in mental math happen to all of us. The math can get wonky in complex games of Snap. But practice this skill set and I promise you will improve your game!
How do you approach the mental math of Marvel Snap? Drop a comment below or follow me on Twitter!