Thanos Lockjaw and Shuri Zero are the two top archetypes in Marvel Snap. On Saturday night, Second Dinner developer Tian Ding confirmed what anyone who was plugged in to the top end of the Marvel Snap metagame already knew: Thanos Lockjaw and Shuri Zero are a cut above every other deck out there right now.
Why? Well, I’m here to break it down for you!
And who am I? That’s one secret I’ll never tell… I’m kidding. I’m KMBest. In the Marvel Snap beta, I was the highest ranked player by MMR. I’m a streamer over on Twitch and a content creator on YouTube. Over time, my community has attracted a ton of tryhards who are always trying to break the meta, and sometimes we succeed which means I’m in a great position to explain to you why these decks are such a tough nut to crack.
The decks themselves are fairly straightforward at this point. Thanos Lockjaw has converged upon the use of Leech and Wave, while Shuri has adopted Cosmo in order to make it that much harder for the Shang-Chis and Aeros out there to deal with what they’re doing.
Here we see what I consider to be the base build of Thanos Lockjaw. One thing that sticks out is that the list is getting smaller, dropping Magneto in favor of more interaction, now that Thanos himself is such an enormous threat on the top-end.
The deck benefits heavily from the information asymmetry present in Marvel Snap. For example, if you have an early hand containing any combination of Mind Stone, Lockjaw, and Quinjet, you can reasonably assume that you’re going to win the game, and you can snap very early to put a ton of pressure on your opponents.
Leech is a key inclusion in the archetype. A lot of the things people think are good against Thanos tend to fall apart in the face of Leech. An example would be the Toxic Sera deck that I saw a video about. It absolutely demolishes the match up when Leech isn’t around, thanks to the combination of Killmonger, Shang-Chi, and the Hazmat + Luke Cage combo. However, Leech‘s inclusion simply turns all of that off. The decks that want to “counter” Thanos tend to so do via swingy tech cards late in the game, and an early Leech (either from the Time Stone or Lockjaw) simply removes that avenue to win the game.
The rest of the deck is just the best cards in the game. You have an immense amount of freedom when piloting this list. You can play like a Leech control deck, like a Wave + Aero + She-Hulk deck, like a Blue Marvel aggro deck, and everything in between.
Thanos decks are defined by the late inclusions. What I mean by this is that almost all of them should be playing cards like Quinjet, Lockjaw, Thanos, America Chavez, Leech, and Devil Dinosaur. Where you go from there is entirely up to you. It’s a deck with almost infinite customization available to it, and even cards that I don’t think should be cut like America Chavez and Leech have been cut to great success before.
Fundamentally, the reason Thanos is good is that it’s cheating. It cheats with Quinjet and the Infinity Stones, it cheats with Lockjaw and the Infinity Stones, and it does all of that in a very reasonable control shell featuring some of the best cards in the game.
Now, on to Shuri!
Shuri operates on an entirely different axis than Thanos. Where Thanos is a deck full of freedom, a deck that can be customized infinitely, Shuri really only wants to do one thing in every game, and the major play pattern of the deck is “Do the thing, and it probably wins”.
What’s the thing?
- Step 1: Do some stuff in the early game to make sure you have a decent shot at having priority in case you miss one of the steps and have to play a real game of Marvel Snap.
- Step 2: Play Cosmo.
- Step 3: Play Shuri outside of the Cosmo lane.
- Step 4: Play Red Skull into the Cosmo lane. This turns off both Shang-Chi and Aero as reasonable counterplay since they want to Aero you to the lane you’re winning, but you have a Cosmo there.
- Step 5: Play Taskmaster in a different lane. If you don’t have priority, there’s nothing to worry about. If you do, they might try to snipe your Taskmaster with a Shang-Chi. Titania is great for these games, because she can sometimes win a close lane.
The intriguing thing about Shuri is that it also includes a lot of weirdly interactive cards. Armor and Cosmo are great into Bucky Barnes decks, Polaris is sometimes seen as a way to have a bit more interaction, and Aero is… well, she’s Aero.
Speaking of Aero, in games where you don’t pull off the exact combo of Cosmo – Shuri – Red Skull – Taskmaster, you’ll want to keep an eye on filling up the lane that Red Skull is in. This makes your 1-cost cards really important because they’re your easiest avenue to do this. If you fill up the lane you’re winning, they can’t Aero your Taskmaster to it. Just something to keep in mind.
Remember how we talked about how Thanos was cheating? Yeah, so is this. It’s just making the biggest possible units while doing everything it can to prevent opponents from interacting with in any way.
How Do The Decks Match Up Against Each Other?
My testing has taught me that Thanos is favored in the heads up. Shuri is a bit less consistent, and a bit more predictable. The exact Shuri nut draw is good in the match up, but it needs to happen a lot for the Shuri player to be favored.
As a note, people like saying that Leech is bad here. That’s ridiculous. Leech turns off the deck if you hit him on a Taskmaster or Arnim Zola. The deck wants to have two giant idiots because you need to win two lanes. Turning off one of the idiots is great.
The match up felt like it hinged on priority when I played it. Thanos runs Shang-Chi and Aero, and it does so while also pressuring pretty heavily with early Stones and the combination of Lockjaw and Quinjet. This is why the Shuri player needs the absolute nut draw. Without Cosmo – and without priority – they’re going to fall victim to the tech cards in the Thanos deck. My feelings about this match up are what make me believe that Thanos is the best deck in the game right now.
Obviously, there’s still testing to be done. I’m hopeful that I find something that can handle both of them, or find a way to get an edge in the mirrors, or maybe just give up and play Galactus. Either way, if you want to climb in Marvel Snap, these are the decks to beat – and I hope you find success in doing so!
For more from me, you can follow me on Twitter for polished lists and shitposts, YouTube for deck breakdowns and tier lists, and Twitch if you want to keep up with the Marvel Snap meta in real time. I’ll be writing for Marvel Snap Zone going forward, so of course check me out here as well!
Thanks for reading!
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