Marvel Snap took the world by storm faster than, well, a snap. The competitive card game, developed by Second Dinner Games and out now for Android, iOS, and Steam, has found wild success due to a design philosophy as old as time: It’s easy to pick up, near-impossible to put down, and constantly showers you with progression rewards. Also superheroes. Lots of superheroes.
A little Gwent, a little Marvel Ultimate Alliance, matches of Marvel Snap unfold over six turns. Every card has an energy rating (how much it costs to play) and a power rating (how much it’s worth on the board). Your energy increases by one each turn, from one on turn one, two on turn two, all the way up to six on turn six. There are three lanes — room for four cards on each side — each featuring a location themed around Marvel lore, with abilities that shift the parameters at play. You win if you get the highest score on two of the three lanes.
If you’ve played a competitive card game, you’ll be familiar with the basics. But Marvel Snap, despite its smooth onramp, doesn’t fully explain every little facet. There’s a lot you can miss, from organizational tricks to tactical strategies to the one thing everyone loves: free money. The following advice should ensure you start off strong.
You can get a free batch of credits every day
Marvel Snap has a number of in-game currencies, but none are more important than credits. You can use credits to, among other things, level up your cards, which in turn helps you unlock more cards. Every time you level up a card, you earn points toward your collection level; in the early stages, you get a random card every four levels, though new cards become more sparse later in the game.
By heading to the store (it’s the tab all the way on the left) and scrolling down to the blue subsection, you’ll see a row of credit packages you can buy for gold (another in-game currency). One of those packages, you’ll note, “costs” 0 gold. You can make this purchase once per day. Don’t forget, but if you do, you’ll see a red notification over the store icon in the app whenever it’s available.
There’s no reason not to upgrade cards
You can level up cards in exchange for credits and boosters. Higher levels cost more than lower levels: It costs 5 boosters and 25 credits to increase a card to its second level, 10 boosters and 100 credits to its third level, and so on.
I’m still in pool 1 — Marvel Snap’s designation for the early goings, and the cards you can unlock as a result — but I haven’t seen any good reason to avoid upgrading a card when given the chance. Early on, thanks to daily challenges and the game’s general progression system, you’ll have more credits than you know what to do with. Plus, boosters are character-specific — you can’t, for instance, use your Iron Man boosters on an Odin card — so you might as well use boosters when you have them.
Again, leveling up cards helps you unlock more cards, which you can then level up to unlock more cards, and on and on. For more on how exactly this all works, check out our rundown of how the card-unlocking process works (which also includes some suggestions for the best decks for beginners).
You can’t play with an incomplete deck
The impulse is natural: Build a svelte deck with only a handful of powerful cards, then you can tightly control which heroes actually show up in your hand. But Marvel Snap won’t let you play a match unless you have a full dozen cards in your deck. Also, even if you have multiple variants — twists on existing cards you have, with the same stats and abilities but done up in a different art style — you can only add one of each hero to your deck.
Ties are determined by total power
It’s rare, but sometimes matches break down in a tie: Each player winning one location, with a tie at the third. The victory goes to whoever has the most total power. (In these instances, the Mojoworld location, which grants 100 power to the player with more cards played there, can be key.)
You can filter your card library
You’ll quickly accrue more cards than your phone screen can display at once. By default, your card library shows your entire collection: every card, at every power level, plus every variant. Click on the key-shaped icon in the lower right corner to pull up a list of filters. Turning off “all variants” (it’s on by default) will reduce clutter significantly. You can also turn on filters for energy cost and general abilities — whether it’s an “ongoing” card, an “on reveal” one, or so on. Applying filters is a solid method for reducing clutter on a menu that gets more unwieldy the more you play. You can also sort your cards by a variety of criteria, including “Upgradeable” (which puts cards you can upgrade first) or “Recent” (which shows your most recently acquired cards first).
The bigger number isn’t always better
It’s a logical move: Play a card with a big number on it, you win the location. But thinking outside the box with lower-powered cards can steer you toward victory just as well. Take the Mr. Fantastic card. It has just two power, but it also adds two power to adjacent locations. Now, say the Bar Sinister location — which fills the whole spot with copies of whichever card you played — is in the middle. That means you apply Mr. Fantastic’s effect four times on both other locations. Yes, this strategy means you’re essentially giving up the middle lane, but it shores up your score on the other two. Smart move! And one you wouldn’t get by playing, say, the 12-power, ability-free Hulk on Bar Sinister.
One of Snap’s key mechanics is in its name: the snap. When you snap, you double the amount of cubes (the game’s version of ranked points) in play for both players. Snapping only goes into effect after the opposing player completes their next turn — you can’t snap in the middle of a turn and have it immediately count – but it’s something you want to do when you’re feeling confident of winning the matchup. Each player can only snap once per game, and doing it early will increase your rewards if the other player drops out (and could intimidate them into doing so). Speaking of which…
Know when to quit
Because of the snap and cube system, staying in a game that you’re losing can be a bad decision. If things aren’t breaking your way — maybe the locations synergize poorly with your cards, or maybe your opponent just outplayed you — cut your losses and accept a one-cube defeat, rather than risking losing four or even eight.
There’s a 60 fps mode
Why you’d need a battery-devouring higher frame rate mode for a mobile game like Marvel Snap is beyond me. But hey, if you want it, the option’s there!