Jan. 23, 2023

Truly, Madly, Deeply in Love with Marvel Snap

Truly, Madly, Deeply in Love with Marvel Snap

Marvel Snap has been out in full for about three months and I'm still in love with the game's mechanics. Three months in and I'm still not bored and I still look forward to playing every single day. Let me gush to you about what makes this card game addiction so dang good.

If you're unfamiliar with Marvel Snap, in short, the player who has the most power on at least two of the three locations at the end of each match wins. Each card has a set power and most cards have special abilities that affect the power of your or your opponent's cards. I've seen the game described as Competitive Accounting, and I think that's apt.

I consider myself something of a card game connoisseur, and let me tell you, I was completely dismissive of the mechanics of Marvel Snap before release.

12 card decks? 6 turn matches? Both players play cards at the same time? "You can't plan and execute strategy with that!" I said out loud in my kitchen. Oh how delightfully wrong I was!

It all starts with those 12 card decks. In comparison to Magic: The Gathering's 40 card decks or even Hearthstone's 30 card decks, Marvel Snap's decks can feel downright claustrophobic. But these tiny decks get you straight to what makes cards games fun, executing on a strategy!

For example, the first deck I built and enjoyed in Marvel Snap was a Discard Deck. The deck centers around a card called Apocalypse. Apocalypse starts with 8 power and has the ability "When you discard this from your hand, put it back with +4 Power." Discard decks should contain cards like Blade, Lady Sif, and Blade Master. They each discard a card from your hand when played. Throw in a Swarm card ("When this is discarded from your hand, add two copies that Cost 0 to your hand") and a Wolverine card ("When this is discarded or destroyed, play it at a random location"), and you've got a recipe for success!

The goal of the deck is to discard Apocalypse as much as possible to make him as powerful as possible. Then, on the last turn of the game you plop him down on a lane, securing that lane and preferably the victory. Discarding Swarm or Wolverine also gives you some lesser but meaningful benefits too.

With only 12 cards in your deck, I'm able to start executing on my Discard Apocalypse strategy sometimes on turn 1. There's no lands to play like in Magic, there's no playing along the mana curve like in Hearthstone, it's just playing the cards for your strategy. Straight to the point.

But is 6 turns really enough to feel like you're executing a strategy? And are you still able to counter your opponents' plays when you play cards at the same time? The answers to both of those questions is yes!

Even though both players play their cards at the same time, the cards are revealed on one player's side and then the other. Whose cards are going to be revealed first is based on who is winning at the time and noted on the game screen.

So technically, players still take turns playing cards, it's just that you're trying to predict what your opponent is going to play instead of reacting to what they're playing. Countering an opponent's cards as they're being revealed can feel particularly satisfying.

But perhaps the mechanic that makes Marvel Snap truly unique and stand out from its competition most is its locations. As I mentioned earlier, to win the game, you must have the most power at two of the three locations in a match. But what are these locations?

They are completely random places or areas from various Marvel properties that have different, often game-changing, effects. For example, Deaths Domain destroys any card played there. Central Park adds a 1-power Squirrel to each location. Elysium makes all cards cost 1 less to play.

Not only do you as a player need to know what to do with your deck to give you the best chances of victory, you also need to know how to best manage each match's random locations and try to understand and predict what cards your opponent might play. The endless combinations of locations that are possible each game are by far my favorite part of the game.

Every turn makes those gears in my brain turn in so many different directions in an effort to give myself the best odds of winning a match. Even if I'm outplayed by my opponent or I just have plain bad luck and lose, I'm never mad. With the matches each taking less than 5 minutes, I just queue up for the next one and try again.

I'm undeniably deeply in love with Marvel Snap and its mechanics. Even if you're a person who hasn't tried card games before, you owe it to yourself to at least give it a shot. If you regret it, at least it's only 5 or so minutes of your life you won't get back.