Marvel Snap’s February 2023 seasonal meta has been dominated by MODOK, which means discard decks have never been more in style.
Many Snap decks fall into one of three archetypes: ramping up to a big combo or card on turn five or six, establishing tempo early to take control of the pace of the game and lock down some locations, or countering your opponent’s big combos or cards. Discard decks tend to fall into the first one — the cards you’re playing typically lead up to a massive play on turn six. But there are a few different variants of discard decks to be aware of.
I think the current easiest way to divide discard decks is into two categories: “Hela decks” and “Apocalypse decks.” A lot of Snap players are familiar with Apocalypse decks — Apocalypse is a powerful card in Pool 1, and can be a cornerstone for early decks. With the addition of MODOK to the game, Apocalypse has seen a resurgence in Snap, as the two cards have natural synergy together. MODOK discards your hand, and Apocalypse wants to be discarded, so it’s a great fit for a strong turn six.
Hela is newer for a lot of players, since the card is gated behind Pool 3. Hela decks have a higher ceiling than Apocalypse decks, but a lower floor, because of the inherent randomness of the effect: Hela resurrects every card you discarded this game in a random location. There is a certain amount of randomness to which cards you are able to discard each game, and then there’s the issue of where they get played. But if you manage to discard a lot of powerful cards before you play Hela, your chances are pretty good you’ll like the end result.
Let’s start with a rundown of some of the best cards to be aware of in the discard rotation, before getting into the Apocalypse versus Hela of it all.
Good cards for discard decks in general
- Lady Sif: A three-cost, four-power card, Lady Sif is extremely valuable because of her effect, which discards the highest-cost card from your hand on reveal. By taking out a good amount of the randomness inherent to discard decks, you have more control over your endgame — you can basically guarantee discarding your Apocalypse or a high-value card you want to resurrect with Hela with Lady Sif.
- Morbius: A two-cost, zero-power card, Morbius gains two power every time you discard a card. If you have a deck built around discarding as many times as possible, Morbius can be the rare two-cost card that wins you a lane on its own. A fair warning, though: Morbius’ effect is an ongoing one, which means it can be nullified by Enchantress or stolen by Rogue.
- Dracula: A four-cost, zero-power card, Dracula discards a card from your hand at the end of the game and takes its power. One of the best cards in Snap, Dracula can easily win a location on its own if you have the right deck for it — either discarding an Apocalypse one final time and taking on its power, or discarding a card like The Infinaut and gaining 20 power without having to worry about the “you can’t play a card the turn before” condition. Also in Dracula’s favor: the effect is not ongoing (therefore it is immune to Enchantress), and since it happens at the conclusion of the game, it’s Shang-Chi-proof as well.
- Sword Master and Hell Cow: These two aren’t necessarily a combo package, but they’re good for the same reason — they have high power for their costs. Sword Master is a three-cost, six-power card that discards a random card in your hand, while Hell Cow is a four-cost, six-power card that discards two random cards in your hand. Generally speaking, I think these cards are better in Hela decks, where you’re trying to discard a ton of cards (whereas in an Apocalypse deck you’re trying to discard one card repeatedly), but they’re solid in both decks and can help you win lanes while also pursuing your ultimate win condition.
Good cards for Apocalypse decks
- Colleen Wing and Swarm: A combo package, you’d definitely want to take these two together if you decide to include them. Colleen Wing’s effect is the opposite of Lady Sif’s, discarding the lowest-cost card from your hand on reveal. Swarm, a two-cost, three-power card, creates two zero-cost duplicates of itself when discarded. So if you play Colleen Wing with Swarm in your hand (when you have no other two-costs or one-costs), you’re guaranteed to get two free cards. It might not sound like much, but it might make all the difference on turn six, when you can play a six-cost and two more cards. These cards are less good with a Hela deck, because you want Hela to resurrect more powerful cards.
- Lockjaw: Cards played at the same location as Lockjaw will be replaced by another card in your deck. This happens after their “on reveal” effect, so you can play lower-power discard cards like Blade, Gambit, and Lady Sif, utilize their discard effect, and then also replace them with (hopefully) a higher-power card on your board. This works particularly well with Colleen Wing and Swarm, as you can use your zero-cost Swarms on the Lockjaw location as well.
Good cards for Hela decks
- Jubilee: Your Hela deck is going to include too many powerful cards to play, so you’ll want to introduce other ways to put them on the board. Jubilee, who plays an additional card from your deck, is a great way to bring in a surprise powerful card, and can help you stay competitive if you don’t draw Hela.
- Ghost Rider: Ghost Rider plays a card you discarded already — think of it as a mini-Hela. A great combo is to play Lady Sif on turn three (discarding one of your big cards) and then Ghost Rider on turn four (playing that very same discarded card).
- The heavy hitters: The most important part of a Hela deck is all the big cards you want to get resurrected. It’s the usual suspects; any card with a high power will do the trick: The Infinaut, Giganto, Magneto, Death, and Hulk all fit the bill. But if you’re looking for something a little more interesting, Captain Marvel is another fun one to include.
- Invisible Woman: A Hela deck can be easy to read, and once you start discarding some major cards, a well-placed Cosmo or Shang-Chi can mess your whole day up. Invisible Woman can help you hide that information until it’s too late, and leaves room for you to play MODOK with Hela, since MODOK’s effect won’t take place until after the game if played behind Invisible Woman. Even without Modok, you can use Invisible Woman for some of your other discard effects (like Hell Cow) to make sure you don’t accidentally discard Hela.
The best Marvel Snap discard decks...
...if you have MODOK:
The deck: Morbius, Swarm, Colleen Wing, Lockjaw, Moon Knight, Lady Sif, Sword Master, Dracula, Hell Cow, MODOK, Apocalypse, America Chavez
The goal: Dracula wins one lane by discarding Apocalypse after the game is over, and you win another lane through a combination of Morbius, MODOK, and your other high-powered cards. Your third lane is for Lockjaw to play as many discard effects as possible. America Chavez is here as a safety valve, especially if you don’t draw Apocalypse.
Alternates worth considering: Gambit, Wolverine
...if you don’t have MODOK:
The deck: Zabu, Lady Sif, Sword Master, Jubilee, Ghost Rider, Hell Cow, Captain Marvel, Magneto, Hela, Giganto, The Infinaut, Death
The goal: Get as many of your giant cards on the board as possible. Lady Sif and Ghost Rider are a crucial combo, and Jubilee also helps. But the main thing is discarding your big cards with Lady Sif, Sword Master, and Hell Cow, so that Hela can revive them all at the end. One important word of warning: Be wary of playing Jubilee before playing Lady Sif or another discard card, unless you already have Ghost Rider in your hand. Drawing Ghost Rider with Jubilee is a surefire way to have a bad time with this deck.
Alternates worth considering: Morbius, Dracula, Hulk, Invisible Woman
Finally, here are some beginner discard decks for players not yet in Pool 3.
The best Marvel Snap Pool 2 discard deck
The deck: Blade, Iceman, Ant-Man, Nightcrawler, Swarm, Morbius, Wolverine, Sword Master, Bishop, Lady Sif, America Chavez, Apocalypse
The goal: Discard Apocalypse as many times as possible, or Wolverine and Swarm if you can’t. Bishop or Morbius can win you your non-Apocalypse other lane, depending on whether you’re drawing your discard cards or your good one-cost cards.
Alternates worth considering: Sunspot, Yondu, Angela. If you’re in Pool 1, you’re better off waiting to get more pieces before playing a discard deck. Try playing one of these beginner’s Marvel Snap decks instead.