The more I play Marvel Snap, the more dickish I become with my deck builds. Hate me, because I keep leaning toward those cards that mess with the opponent over and above winning a location. And hate me most, because after all the fun of playing cards like Scorpion, Killmonger and Hobgoblin, my favorite moment comes when I unleash Heimdall’s finale maneuver.
I’m very late to the deckbuilding party. Having recently found my way in through a side door via Pokémon TCG, the deep passion for Marvel Snap in Kotaku’s Slack meant I couldn’t resist taking a look. It was love at first sight, the combination of a comparatively tiny deck (just 12 cards) from an ever-growing pool of options, along with the lane-based ever-changing location conditions, makes it just the perfect mix of strategy and luck. And then the more I played, the more I discovered how griefy I could be.
My first decks were either plain bad, or deeply valiant efforts. Given time (but little progress: I’m bad at this), I refined a couple of decent decks, one based on moving cards, another on duplications, and started winning at post-level 30 matches. I was a good person, back then, in the olden days of last week. Then I unlocked Scarlet Witch, Scorpion, Killmonger, Hobgoblin, and Heimdall, and I’ve gone entirely chaotic evil. Let’s break those five down:
The inverse of Okoye, which buffs your cards, Scorpion takes 1 Power from every card in your opponent’s hand. This play is especially screwy if you get it early, and they’re about to play something like Squirrel Girl, Elektra, or Hawkeye, and just generally making anyone feel sad about the game that’s just started. That’s important, because this is all about bringing moods down before entirely crushing them.
Scarlet Witch has the ridiculous ability to change a location’s nature, to something entirely random. This can be useful, removing a crappy one, that—say—removes 2-power from every card, but there’s no controlling what it changes to. It can be as chaos-inducing as suddenly restricting the game to four rounds instead of six. And given she can be played from Round 2, it’s just such a daft way to mess with a match. All this said, it’s sometimes better to hold her until somewhere near the end of the match, to give your opponent a false sense of hope. Suddenly, the zone they were depending on that will give them extra cards when they fill it up isn’t going to do jack.
Killmonger is the card most players want to see nerfed, given from Round 3 you can use it to remove every 1-power card from the game. For people playing Zoo Decks, this is devastating (and as such, hilarious), causing much lamenting because it’s so obviously OP. Even if you’re not playing a specialized deck, any early move your opponent has made is likely gone with Killmonger around. If they haven’t played anything? Well, maybe you’ve got Nova in your hand, and Killmonger buffs your cards without needing to touch your opponent at all. Killmonger is as dickish as he is versatile.
Then there’s Hobgoblin, which is just an unequivocal dick move. On reveal, the card moves itself to the opponent’s side of the board, and then adds -8 to their power for that location. It’s a brutal amount to take off, and never better than when it’s taking up the final spot for that lane, leaving players close to helpless to undo the harm. It backfires splendidly, too, if your opponent fills that last slot themselves, thus leaving it on your side in a spectacular own-goal.
But Heimdall is my favorite. I’m not sure many would consider it quite such a troll card, given it doesn’t do anything that directly affects your opponent. But its Round 6 ability to move every other card you’ve played one location to the left is so enormously game-changing, and so unpredictable for other players, that it’s like throwing in a bomb in the last moment.
I like to hope that after fucking with my opponent so much, this final blow of then moving most my cards to entirely new locations, such that nothing they were planning for still applies, makes a seed of hate grow into a fruit-laden tree of abject loathing.
No, it absolutely isn’t the most tactical way to play, and other decks stand much better chances of winning. Hell, this isn’t even the most asshole deck I could be playing. With cards like Cosmo (stops reveals), Professor X (locks down a lane) and Shang-Chi (destroys high level cards), you can technically formulate an entire deck that’s meant to counter nearly anything your opponent might think to do.
Still, what I first intended to build as a Black Panther deck is now titled “Grief Deck.” And, importantly, it’s pretty good. It does work! And it’s never better than when the other player Snapped super-early like it’s some amazing power-move, and I Snap right at the last to scoop up my full 8 points.
Oh, but there’s one caveat here: None of this applies if the other person plays any of these cards. Then, when that happens, they’re awful, over-powered cards that need to be banned from the game immediately. People who use them against me are such pricks, and just not the sort of people you want ruining fun games like Marvel Snap.