A beginner's guide on how to play Marvel Snap

Marvel Snap is both easier and more complex than it looks at first glance. Shacknews is here to explain how to play.


Marvel Snap is about to release for mobile players (and PC players in beta) all over the world and there are a few questions that they may have. The most obvious one, at first glance, might be "How does one even go about playing this game?" Marvel Snap looks like a basic card battling title in some ways, but the team at Second Dinner has introduced some unique twists that make it unlike other games in the genre. Shacknews is here to help explain how things work.

How to play Marvel Snap

The first thing to note about Marvel Snap is that each game only six turns with both players taking their turns simultaneously. The object isn't to hit your opponent or to destroy cards, though the latter can certainly be a potential strategy. The objective is to outscore the opponent in two out of three of the board's locations. That leads to the logical next question, which involves explaining what locations are and how they work.

What are locations and how do they work?

A location is destroyed in Marvel Snap

Source: Steam

There are three locations in each Marvel Snap game and they can each hold up to four cards. Locations, like individual cards themselves, will have their own distinct effects. Here are some examples of what locations can do:

  • Some locations can affect card power. (Jotunheim will reduce the power of any card in that location after each turn.)
  • Some locations can affect player energy, which is the game's term for mana. (The Tinkerer's Workshop will give players +1 energy on the turn that it is revealed.)
  • Some locations can have negative effects on cards. (The Danger Room has a 25% chance of destroying any card played there after it is revealed.)
  • Some locations can only hold certain cards. (The Big House does not allow 4, 5, and 6-Cost cards to be played there after it is revealed.)
  • Some locations creates card copies. (The Cloning Vats adds a copy to your hand, while Sinister London will add a copy to a different location.)
  • Some locations don't have an effect until later in the game. (Kyln does not allow players to add cards there after Turn 4.)
  • Some locations can affect the length of the game itself. (The TVA cuts games down to four turns, while Limbo extends the game to seven turns.)
  • Some locations even offer unpredictable wild card effects. (Ego will play out everyone's turns himself.)

The far-left location will be revealed at the start of the game. The middle location will be revealed at the start of Turn 2. The far-right location will be revealed at the start of Turn 3. Cards played at locations before they're revealed will not be affected by that location's effect, unless it's an ongoing effect or an effect that triggers later. (For example, Nidavellir will give cards on that location +5 Power and that will apply to any cards played there before its reveal.)

Some cards will have special interactions with locations. Uatu the Watcher, when in-hand, allows players to peek at what locations will be revealed early. Scarlet Witch allows players to transform a location entirely.

How does scoring work in Marvel Snap?

Rocket Raccoon is played in Marvel Snap

Source: Steam

The number values to look out for on each card are on the top-left corners. The top-left value is Energy Cost. You start each game with 1 Energy and gain one with each turn until you get 6 Energy on Turn 6.

The top-right number on each card is the Power value and this is what is counted towards the final score. Each card has a base Power value, but it can be affected by various factors, including different location and card interactions. The main two keywords to become familiar with are On Reveal and Ongoing.

An On Reveal effect will execute a certain action attached to that card. For instance, Jessica Jones will start at 4 Power, but her On Reveal effect allows her to add +4 Power to her total if no cards are played at her location on the next turn.

An Ongoing effect persists throughout the game and can affect cards in more than one location. You'll have to read a card's text to determine if it does. For example, Iron Man will double your Power total at whatever location he's on. Meanwhile, Blue Marvel will add +1 Power to all friendly cards for the rest of the game, regardless of location.

As you gain more experience, you'll learn which On Reveal and Ongoing cards work best with one another. Some cards don't even have those keywords and just get bonuses as part of their normal abilities, such as Angela, who will gain +1 Power for each new card played at her location. As you increase your collection and learn more about how Marvel Snap works, you might also learn how to disrupt certain effects. For instance, Enchantress has an On Reveal effect that will disable all Ongoing effects at her location.

What does it mean to 'Snap'?

The Cosmic Cube at the top of the screen allows players to "Snap." After reaching a certain player level, winning games will increase that number, while losing will decrease it. If you're certain that you're about to win a game, you can Snap to increase your Cosmic Cube payout, which is tied to your player level. Opponents also have the option to Snap, which will increase the payout to the maximum of eight Cosmic Cubes. The winner collects the spoils, but if you Snap and lose, your level will decrease by a greater amount.

Similarly, a player may feel confident that they are about to win and Snap. At that point, you may examine the board and your hand and find a no-win scenario. If you're cornered and there's no way out, it is possible to hit the Retreat Now button. If you Retreat, you will only lose the minimum of 1 Cube.

The winner of a Marvel Snap game is whoever leads in two out of three locations after the final turn has been played. If one location is tied, the winner is whoever is leading their location by a greater amount. If that number is equal for both players, it is a tie.

That's the basic introduction on how to play Marvel Snap. If you have any questions or anything simple I might have missed, join the conversation and let us know in the comments. Marvel Snap releases on iOS and Android on Tuesday, October 18 and goes into beta on PC that same day. We'll be covering more of this game in the days ahead, so be sure to check out the Marvel Snap topic page for the latest updates.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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