Marvel SnapThe February 2023 season meta was dominated by MODOK, meaning throwaway decks have never been more in vogue.
A lot of snap decks fall into one of three archetypes: progressing to a big combo or card on turns five or six, setting the pace early to control the pace of the game and locking in some locations, or countering your opponent’s big combos or cards. Discard decks usually fall in the first – the cards you play usually lead to a huge game on turn six. But there are a few different variants of discard piles to watch out for.
I think the current simplest way to divide discard piles into two categories is “Hela Games” and “Apocalypse Games”. 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 snap, because the two cards have a natural synergy with each other. MODOK discards your hand, and Apocalypse wants to discard, so it’s a great match for a strong turn six.
Hela is newer to many players, as the map behind Pool 3 is closed. Hela games have a higher ceiling than Apocalypse games, but a lower floor, due to the inherent randomness of the effect: Hela revives every card you discarded in this game in a random location. There’s a certain amount of randomness to which cards you get to discard each game, and then there’s the issue of where they’re played. But if you manage to discard a lot of powerful cards before playing Hela, chances are you’ll like the end result.
Before we get into the Apocalypse vs. Hela of it all, let’s start with a rundown of some of the best cards to watch out for when discarding.
Good cards for discard piles in general
- Lady Sif: Lady Sif, a three-cost, four-power card, is extremely valuable for its effect, which discards the highest-cost card from your hand when revealed. By removing much of the randomness inherent in discarding decks, you have more control over your endgame – you can basically guarantee to discard your Apocalypse or any high-value card you want to revive with Hela with Lady Sift.
- morbius: Morbius is a card with two costs and no power. Every time you discard a card, Morbius gains two power. If you’ve built a deck around discarding as many times as possible, Morbius can be the rare two-cost card that only wins you a job. A fair warning, though: Morbius’s effect is continuous, meaning it can be nullified by Enchantress or stolen by Rogue.
- Dracula: Dracula, a card with four costs and zero power, discards a card from your hand at the end of the game and takes its power. One of the best maps in snapDracula can easily win a location himself if you have the right deck for it – either discard an Apocalypse one last time and take his power, or discard a card like The Infinaut and gain 20 power without worrying about the “you cannot play a card in the turn before’ condition. Also in Dracula’s favor: its effect is not persistent (therefore it is immune to Enchantress), and since it happens at the end of the game, it is also Shang-Chi proof.
- Swordmaster and Helkoe: These two aren’t necessarily a combo pack, but they’re good for the same reason: they’re high power for their cost. Sword Master is a three-cost, six-cost card that discards any card in your hand, while Hell Cow is a six-cost, four-cost card that discards any two cards in your hand. In general, I think these cards are better in Hela decks where you try to discard a lot of cards (while in an Apocalypse deck you repeatedly try to discard one card), but they are solid in both decks and can helping you win lanes while also pursuing your ultimate winning condition.
Good cards for Apocalypse decks
- Colleen Wing and Swarm: A combo pack, you would definitely want to get these two together if you decide to include them. Colleen Wing’s effect is the opposite of Lady Sif’s, where the cheapest card from your hand is discarded upon reveal. Swarm, a card with two costs and three powers, creates two free duplicates of itself when discarded. So if you play Colleen Wing with Swarm in your hand (if you don’t have any other two-cost or one-cost), you’re guaranteed to get two free cards. It may not sound like much, but it can 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, as you want Hela to revive more powerful cards.
- jaw clamp: Cards played in the same location as Lockjaw are replaced by another card in your deck. This happens after their “on reveal” effect, so you can play lower-powered discard cards like Blade, Gambit, and Lady Sif, use their discard effect, then also replace them with (hopefully) a higher-powered card on your board . This works especially well with Colleen Wing and Swarm, as you can also use your free Swarms at the Lockjaw location.
Good cards for Hela decks
- Anniversary: Your Hela deck will contain too many powerful cards to play, so you’ll want to introduce other ways to place them on the board. Jubilee, playing an extra card from your deck is a great way to land a surprising, powerful card and can help you stay competitive if you don’t draw a Hela.
- Ghost Rider: Ghost Rider plays a card you’ve already discarded – think of it as a mini Hela. A great combination is to play Lady Sif on turn three (discarding one of your big cards) and then Ghost Rider on turn four (playing that same discarded card).
- The heavy hitters: The most important part of a Hela deck is all the big cards you want to bring to life. They are the usual suspects; any high power card 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 also fun to include.
- Invisible Woman: A Hela deck can be easy to read, and once you start throwing away some big cards, a well-placed Cosmo or Shang-Chi can ruin your whole day. Invisible Woman can help you hide that information until it’s too late, leaving room for you to play MODOK with Hela, as MODOK’s effect only takes place post-game when played behind Invisible Woman. Even without Modok, you can use Invisible Woman for some of your other throwaway effects (like Hell Cow) to make sure you don’t accidentally throw Hela away.
The Best Marvel Snap Disposable 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 target: Dracula wins one job by discarding Apocalypse after the game is over, and you win another job by combining Morbius, MODOK, and your other powerful cards. Your third job is for Lockjaw to play as many discard effects as possible. America Chavez is here as a safety valve, especially if you’re not drawing Apocalypse.
Alternatives 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 target: Place as many of your giant cards on the board as possible. Lady Sif and Ghost Rider are a crucial combination, and Jubilee helps too. But the most important thing is to throw away your big cards with Lady Sif, Sword Master and Hell Cow so Hela can bring them all back to life at the end. An important caveat: be careful playing Jubilee before playing Lady Sif or any other 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.
Alternatives worth considering: Morbius, Dracula, Hulk, invisible woman
Finally, here are some beginner discard piles for players who are 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 target: Discard Apocalypse as often as possible, or Wolverine and Swarm if you can’t. Bishop of Morbius can win your non-Apocalypse other job, depending on whether you draw your discard cards or your good one-off cards.
Alternatives worth considering: Sunspot, Yondu, Angela. If you are in Pool 1, it is better to wait until you have more pieces before playing a discard pile. Try playing one of these beginner games Marvel Snap cover instead.
Have fun throwing away!