The Best Marvel Snap Discard Decks and How to Play Them (MODOK or Not)

marvel snapThe February 2023 seasonal meta was dominated by MODOK, which means that discard decks have never been more fashionable.

Many Photograph decks fall into one of three archetypes: ramping up to a big combo or card on turn five or six, setting the pace early to take control of the game’s pace and block some spots or counter the big combos or cards of your opponent. Discard decks tend to fall in the first one – the cards you’re playing normally lead to a massive play on turn six. But there are a few different variants of discard decks that you should be aware of.

I think the easiest way to divide discard decks is into two categories: “Hela Decks” and “Apocalypse Decks”. A lot of Photograph players are familiar with Apocalypse decks – Apocalypse is a powerful card in Group 1 and can be a cornerstone for early decks. With the addition of MODOK to the game, Apocalypse has had a resurgence. Photograph, as the two cards have a natural synergy together. MODOK folds his hand and Apocalypse wants to be folded, so it’s a great option for a strong turn six.

Hela is newer for many players, as the card is locked behind Group 3. Hela decks have a higher ceiling than Apocalypse decks, but a lower deck, due to the inherent randomness of the effect: Hela resurrects all the cards you discarded in this game in a random location. There’s a certain amount of randomness to which cards you can discard in each game, and then there’s the matter of where they’re played. But if you manage to discard a lot of powerful cards before playing Hela, chances are very good that you will like the end result.

Let’s start with a rundown of some of the best cards to look out for in the discard rotation, before getting into the Apocalypse versus Hela of it all.

Good cards for general discard decks

  • Mistress Sif: A three-cost, four-power card, Lady Sif is extremely valuable because of its effect, which discards the highest-cost card from your hand when revealed. By eliminating a good amount of the randomness inherent in discard decks, you have more control over your endgame – you can basically guarantee to discard 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 powers every time you discard a card. If you have a deck built on discarding as many times as possible, Morbius might be the rare two-cost card that gives you a runway of its own. Fair warning though: Morbius’s effect is ongoing, meaning it can be countered by Enchantress or stolen by Rogue.
  • Dracula: A four-cost, zero-power card, Dracula discards a card from his hand at the end of the game and takes its power. One of the best cards Photograph, Dracula can easily gain a spot on his own if you have the right deck for him – whether it’s discarding an Apocalypse one last time and taking its power, or discarding a card like The Infinaut and gaining 20 power without having to worry about the “you cannot play a card in the previous turn”. Also in Dracula’s favour: the effect is non-continuous (thus, it is immune to Enchantress) and, as it turns out later in the game, it is also Shang-Chi-proof.
  • 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. Swordmaster is a three-cost, six-power card that discards one random card from your hand, while Hell Cow is a four-cost, six-power card that discards two random cards from your hand. Generally speaking, I think these cards are best 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 over and over), but they’re solid in both decks and can help you earn clues while also chasing your ultimate win condition.

Image: Second Dinner/Nuverse

Good Cards for Apocalypse Decks

  • Colleen Wing and Swarm: A combo pack, you would 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 her hand when revealing. 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 don’t have two other costs or a cost), you are guaranteed to get two free cards. It might not seem like much, but it can make all the difference on turn six, when you can play a six cost plus two cards. These cards are less good with a Hela deck because you want Hela to resurrect more powerful cards.
  • Teeth: Cards played in the same location as Lockjaw will be replaced by another card in your deck. This happens after the “on reveal” effect, so you can play lower power discard cards like Blade, Gambit, and Lady Sif, utilize their discard effect, and also replace them with (hopefully) a higher power card in your hand. board . This works particularly well with Colleen Wing and Swarm, as you can also use her zero-cost Swarms in the Lockjaw location.

Good cards for Hela decks

  • Jubilee: Your Hela deck will include a lot of powerful cards to play with, so you’ll want to introduce other ways to get them on the board. Jubilee, which plays an additional card from your deck, is a great way to bring a powerful surprise card and can help you stay competitive if you don’t draw 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 her big cards) and then Ghost Rider on turn four (playing the same discarded card).
  • The heavyweights: The most important part of a Hela deck is all the big cards you want to resurrect. They are the usual suspects; any card with high power will do the trick: the Infinaut, Giganto, Magneto, Death and Hulk 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 when you start to discard some important cards, a well-placed Cosmo or Shang-Chi can derail your entire day. Invisible Woman can help you hide this information until it’s too late, and leaves room for you to play MODOK with Hela, as MODOK’s effect won’t kick in 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 ensure you don’t accidentally discard Hela.

The best Marvel Snap discard decks…

…if you have MODOK:

A Marvel Snap deck featuring Morbius, Swarm, Colleen Wing, Lockjaw, Moon Knight, Lady Sif, Sword Master, Dracula, Hell Cow, MODOK, Apocalypse, America Chavez

Image: Second Dinner/Nuverse via Polygon

The deck: Morbius, Swarm, Colleen Wing, Lockjaw, Moon Knight, Lady Sif, Sword Master, Dracula, Hell Cow, MODOK, Apocalypse, America Chavez

The goal: Dracula gains a clue by discarding Apocalypse after the game ends, and you gain another clue through a combination of Morbius, MODOK, and your other high-powered cards. Your third clue 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 the Apocalypse.

Alternatives worth considering: Gambit, Wolverine

…if you don’t have MODOK:

A Marvel Snap deck featuring Zabu, Lady Sif, Sword Master, Jubilee, Ghost Rider, Hell Cow, Captain Marvel, Magneto, Hela, Giganto, The Infinaut, Death

Image: Second Dinner/Nuverse via Polygon

The deck: Zabu, Lady Sif, Sword Master, Jubilee, Ghost Rider, Hell Cow, Captain Marvel, Magneto, Hela, Giganto, The Infinauta, Death

The goal: 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 main thing is to discard your big cards with Lady Sif, Sword Master and Hell Cow so that Hela can revive them all in the end. An important word of warning: be careful when 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 fun with this deck.

Alternatives worth considering: Morbius, Dracula, Hulk, Invisible Woman

Finally, here are some beginner discard decks for players not yet in Tier 3.

The best discard deck in Marvel Snap Pool 2

A Marvel Snap deck featuring Blade, Iceman, Ant-Man, Nightcrawler, Swarm, Morbius, Wolverine, Sword Master, Bishop, Lady Sif, America Chavez, Apocalypse

Image: Second Dinner/Nuverse via Polygon

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 gain your other non-Apocalypse clue, depending on whether you’re drawing your discard cards or your good one-cost cards.

Alternatives worth considering: Sunspot, Yondu, Angela. If you’re in Pool 1, it’s best to wait to get more pieces before playing a discard deck. Try playing one of these starters marvel snap decks instead.

Happy disposal!

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