Welcome to Part 3 of my Marvel Snap Guide on how to get to the Infinite Rank. In this article, I will be going through the concept of understanding the Meta of the game. This will be useful to you because, with a decent knowledge of approximation, prediction, and math skills, you will be able to read your opponents like an open book!
How to Reach Infinite Rank in Marvel Snap – How to Read and Predict Opponents?
As always, you have this little makeshift Table of Contents here, with links to all guides in the series.
- Grasping the Game and Card Mechanics
- Obtaining the Necessary Cards and Tools
- Understanding the Meta – Know Thy Enemy
- How and When to Snap or Retreat
- How to Improve your Mental Game
Where do I get this Marvel-Character-Like Future Prediction Ability?
First of all, here’s the current meta-snapshot analysis by Marvel Snap Zone. In there, you will be able to see what’s being played in the top ranks of Marvel Snap. Marvel Snap does not have an infinite amount of playable decks and playable cards, every player has 12 cards in their deck, which carry the limit of what can be done with the presented Deck. Of course, it is very useful to know how every Deck works.
Why? Because then you cannot ask your Deck to do more than it physically can, and on the other hand, you’ll know what to (approximately) expect from your opponent’s Deck.
You do not need to necessarily play the Deck yourself to learn it. You can watch others play, or you can play against them, like in any TCG/CCG. Given the constraints of the game (the mentioned 12 cards, 6 turns, limited Energy pool, and three Locations with a total of 12 playable card slots) it is somewhat possible to approximate what can and cannot happen by the end of the Match. Especially when the meta is in the “solved” state, where at least 9 out of 12 cards in a certain deck are the same with any player (and that’s an exaggeration, it’s most probably 10, for some decks even 11 cards that everyone plays, and that mostly happens because someone doesn’t have that one netdeck card but manages to do decently well anyway).
Do not get strained and pressured about learning everything right away (as I mentioned in an earlier article). Things take time. I gathered my collection for months until I decided to step it up and aim for the highest ranks. Took three seasons of attempts, but it worked in the end, and I am here to shorten this path for you as much as possible with this article series. And as you keep playing, it will be easier and easier to adopt new stuff that comes in.
Oh no, Mathematics! I thought I escaped Mathematics forever after graduating!
Well, no. Mathematics and Statistics are the core of every card game. I’ll arbitrarily declare the four “pillars” of every Match:
- The way you play your stuff (your impact on the game).
- The way your opponent plays their stuff (the opponent’s impact on the game).
- The mathematical power of the two of you, both current and future (potential, calculated, approximated) which has a certain value.
- The statistical odds of some stuff happening on the (specific part) of the board (card draws, Location spawns, etc.).
If you are piloting a certain Deck, you are expected to know what the Deck can and cannot do, what are the limits of its Power, and to know when you’re weak (didn’t draw good cards on time, got countered early) so that you can bail out of the match and cut your losses, or go “all-in” when you are sure that “you got this”.
When you are facing your opponent, you watch what cards they are spewing out, analyze the situation, and determine what type of deck they are playing (signaling Move cards like Kraven, Iron Fist, Multiple Man, Cloak implies a Heimdall Move deck, and you immediately can understand that they are going to play that 8-Power Nordic God on right Location on Turn 6 in 90% of the cases or more, which gives you a chance to seize it easily since nothing else will be there unless there’s a Multiple Man there for example… and that’s just one layer of calculation, you can basically predict how Heimdall will move your opponent’s cards and how strong will your opponent be at the end of that Turn, which is why that deck is not really played by anyone despite the support Second Dinner is adding to it).
When you play enough matches against certain decks, you will start to notice that there are many patterns to them, and you will soon understand the power extent of every relevant deck, which will help you gauge whether you stand a fighting chance or not, when you take into account what resources you have.
Suppose you see a Shuri, for example. In that case, you are to expect that a Red Skull with 30 Power will arrive on a Location guarded by Cosmo or Armor, or even on an empty one (in case they want to Arnim Zola it next turn) and that a Taskmaster is probably about to come on a Location where an On Reveal effect can be played. In addition to that, a 1-Cost Zero, Titania, or Spot may arrive somewhere to steal a Location, and/or improve their Tiebreaker in case it becomes needed in the end-of-match tally.
If you see a Wong, for example, it can mean many things, but it’s a certain signal for you to disrupt plays on that Location until the end of the Match if you intend to win it. It can be a White Tiger + Odin swarm Deck, it can be a Hazmat deck (if you see an early Luke Cage, it’s basically confirmed, and save your disruption cards for when you figure out where the combo will take place.
If you see a Cerebro, you are bound to see a Mystique follow-up as well, and if you have a way to counter it (Cosmo, Rogue, Red Skull) you should be good to go.
If you see The Hood, it means that a Viper will send it to you next turn, or perhaps, Carnage will come and kill it.
If you see a Lockjaw, it’s either a Thanos deck or a Lottery Discard deck (which can be identified by the next card they play basically).
If you see a plethora of Ongoing cards, you’re definitely trading blows with a Spectrum Deck. My match for the entry to Infinite Rank was against an Ongoing Deck, on a Worldship Location (strangely enough this was quite the movie ending for my Infinite Rank journey), where I’ve “put” my opponent on Iron Man as their Turn 6 play, and I was right. The entire card database went through my head rapidly like in those movie scenes where everything is sped up and everyone speaking sounds like Donald Duck because I was thinking about which card will make me lose this match and what would be the odds of them both having it and deciding to play it (people make weird decisions in the absence of information). Luckily, I was right and my Shang-Chi delivered the victory. You will also, with time, be able to predict what’s coming on the last two turns.
Related: How to Find Out if Your Opponent is Playing Thanos or Agatha in Marvel Snap
For comparison, check out this Poker hand where a famous poker player Daniel Negreanu gets a good read on what his opponent Gus Hansen has based on what was happening in the first stages of the “hand”.
If you see Wave, Psylocke, and Electro, that person is ramping up their Energy to get ahead of you and probably drop a Galactus before Turn 6, which is to be followed by a Knull, Death, or something scary along those lines. If that happens and you have the tracking tool I mentioned in the previous article, you know the potential power of Knull and the Energy Cost of Death and you can re-think the possibility of that deck just being a silly Dr. Doom + Odin combo. But no, usually (ideally) it’s Turn 4 Galactus, Turn 5 Spider-man, and then a scoop-up on Turn 6 unless you Retreat.
“So, what you are saying is I should be “shadowboxing” and taking part in a simulation…”
That’s exactly what you should be doing (re: 4th pillar). We’re no longer casually throwing cards on the table to pass the time on the toilet seat, we’re making you a tournament-killing machine right here, and right now. It does sound weird and freaky, but some patterns in this game do exist. When you have enough battle experience and want to progress your ranking, you really must go out of your way to calculate what your opponent can do. And yes, this means wearing their shoes and asking yourself how would they play out their turn in order to win in the Match (which I am having difficulties with since I wear size 16, but I made it work, so you can too!)
It’s Turn 6? Great. What deck are we against? Destroy? Ok. How many destroyed cards? Five? Ok, nine minus 5, we now know that the Death costs 4. Does 12 Power bother us? What can this deck play for the remainder of the Energy? What’s the Power of all destroyed cards so far? 14? Can we deal with a 14-Power Knull? Sure, we can. Do you catch my drift so far?
In most cases, you are supposed to assume the worst-case scenario and see how can you beat it (if you can beat it) and then decide if you are going through with it or not. Let’s face it, you get to see most of your Deck throughout a Marvel Snap match. Usually, just a few cards stay buried in the Deck at the end of the Match. It’s always the question of what remains in the Deck and what’s in their hand on the final turn. It’s not a shame to lose to a better player who just had every solution possible, but it’s a shame to lose more Cubes than you absolutely had to.
Mind you, this isn’t a perfect method either. I lost quite a few times to people who seemingly play their stuff sub-optimally (whether it’s on purpose or out of ignorance) because I’ve approximated what they need to do if they want a certain victory and laid out a counterplay that’s perfect against that. They (were afraid of that or misplayed?) took the gambling route and won because of it. They perhaps estimated that I might counter them and tossed a Hail Mary and it worked…
This is one of many reasons why I claim that Marvel Snap is a mental game, with all the trickery that you can do in various aspects of the game. Sometimes the situation is crystal clear and you just know you must Snap or Retreat, and sometimes you think you should gamble.
Related: Is Marvel Snap Pro Bundle Worth it? Contents Revealed
And sometimes, your brain explodes when you are dealing with a Nimrod deck because the opponent can try using a Galactus, Arnim Zola, Destroyer, Venom, Carnage, or god knows what, to replicate Nimrod. Sometimes you do not know what you are supposed to counter. I was, a lot of times, met with a choice, where I either attempt to counter Galactus on one lane and lose if I get a Knull against me, or attempt to counter Knull and then lose to Galactus. Statistical probabilities are not that hard to calculate, but you will in most cases, get away without doing them.
The only real statistical probability you need is, for example, when you are using a Jubilee to drag something out of your Deck, and then you need to estimate what’s going to happen with any of these “choices”. Sometimes, bad Jubilee proc can lose you the game with no chance of a comeback. Another (more detailed) example would be a discard Deck.
You are sitting with Lady Sif, Apocalypse, and Hela in your hand (and some other random stuff). It’s basically a coin flip (50/50 chance) to play Lady Sif and expect that Apocalypse will get tossed out for that sweet power boost. Now, you need to gauge if you should take the risk of playing Lady Sif. Losing Hela is a problem because you are then forced to wait for a Ghost Rider (which is, let’s say, one out of 5 remaining cards in the deck) with 3 turns to go, which is 20% to get it on Turn 4, then if that fails, 25% to get it on Turn 5, and 33% to get it on Turn 6, when you’re better off planning on that Apocalypse play.
Even if you do get Ghost Rider, he drags out one card from your Discard pile. Assuming you used Blade on Turn 1 and Colleen Wing on Turn 2 to discard two cards, you have a 33% chance to get Hela, which then drags out the rest of the gang, and even if that happens, it’s a lottery, because you do not know where these cards will pop up, and if they will be strong enough to claim a victory for you.
This probably clarifies the story about the “chaotic” decks with unstable end results from the last sub-article. Now, why would you force yourself into this train of thoughts by playing this and risking a lot of frustration when things don’t go your way (you’re literally throwing more RNG into a game that’s really an RNG in its foundation, don’t expect to win every single time).
Basically, I know that this looks and sounds horrendous despite the examples, but that’s how a lot of players are playing. Ridiculously enough, I admit that this is sometimes overkill and that it’s “sweating” and “tryharding” by definition…
…But seriously, how else do you think you can keep winning? By letting the cards play themselves? Oh, that’s right, that’s possible as well, with our good ol’ friend Agatha. The game is that simple, just play Agatha and bin these guides, AI will take over the world soon enough anyway.
That’s it for this sub-article, folks! The discussion about the two most important aspects of Marvel Snap – Snapping and Mental Game are coming up next!