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When to snap in ‘Marvel Snap’

We’ve got 7 tips, in order of greatest to least advisability

(Washington Post illustration)

In Marvel’s Avengers movies, the snap was an apocalyptic event in which Thanos put his thumb and middle finger together to wipe out half of all life in the universe. In mobile hit “Marvel Snap,” it’s a similarly dominating maneuver — a declaration of absolute certainty in your impending victory — but on a much smaller scale. When to do it, though? That’s the question.

When you snap in “Marvel Snap,” you wager your own rank on the idea that you’ve got a game in the bag. You can do it at any time. If you snap and win, your rank gains four points — represented by cubes — toward leveling up. If you snap and lose, you lose four. If both you and your opponent snap, one of you stands to gain eight while the other loses an equal number. It’s high-stakes stuff, just like wiping out half of all life in the universe.

In order of advisability from greatest to least, here are some recommendations on the best times to snap in a game.

It’s the final turn and you’re dominating all three spaces

This one basically goes without saying. Your opponent might have one final trick up their sleeve, but they’re going to need to spread themselves thin to retake two of the three spaces you’re occupying, and the strongest cards often cost all six of the energy points they have to move. Often, a snap at this point will get your opponent to retreat instead of playing to the end. The writing’s on the wall; you just have to show it to them.

The only downside here is that if your opponent retreats, you get fewer cubes. In this case, snapping is more of a formality. Complete domination just feels good, whether you get eight cubes or two.

In basically every game for the first 25 ranks or so

“Marvel Snap” matches players pretty generously early on, both against training bots and other humans. You’ll likely win the vast majority of your first games, so you may as well snap to move up the ladder faster. If you drop a game here or there, you can just make up for it with victories on the next few.

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When you draw an above-average hand

Due to the randomness of “Marvel Snap’s” spaces and the card-stealing abilities of some decks, victory is never certain. But if you pull basically every linchpin card in your deck’s central strategy, you’re more likely to win than not, so you may as well snap.

Earlier is better in these cases; opponents are less likely to retreat if they believe there’s still time to turn things around. For example, I play an Ongoing deck (meaning my strategy revolves around cards with Ongoing abilities) and when I get Klaw, who boosts an adjacent space by six power points, and Onslaught, who can double that ability (while adding a hefty power value of his own), I can reliably take two spaces — even if only by a thin margin. I get a little nervous every time I do it, but I snap because statistics are on my side. This method earns way more ranking cubes in the long run.

When your opponent gets off to a wonky start

“Marvel Snap” delights in making fools of even the most meticulous planners. I cannot count the number of times I’ve ended up in a game where, say, one space decreases my cards’ power to below zero, another forces me to play a pitifully weak card while my opponent gets to play their heaviest hitter on turn two, and a third mixes a bunch of nonsense — either random cards or rocks — into my hand. Usually by the third turn or so, you can tell when a clown car of unlikely events has completely thrown your opponent off their game. Snap early in these cases. Momentum is very much on your side.

Bonus tip: If you’re on the receiving end of unlucky cards and spaces, think about retreating. Better to lose one cube and move on than to waste time and lose more.

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When you’re honestly not sure who’s going to take the win

Now we’re getting into the territory of what makes snapping fun, albeit not always advisable: mind games. Maybe you’re on turn three or four and you don’t have an ideal hand yet, but you want your opponent to think you’ve already assembled your personal squad of Avengers. Or maybe it’s the final turn of a close game, and you realize defeat is likely — but your opponent hasn’t snapped. This could suggest that they’re also worried, and a display of unearned confidence might be enough to frighten them into a retreat. You chance losing more than you gain in these cases, but when you pull it off, you are fully allowed — and in fact, encouraged — to let out an evil cackle. That’s got to count for something.

When your opponent snaps and you feel a sudden tinge of anger

I mean, how dare they think they’re better than you? They probably also live in a big house and drive a nice car. You can’t just let some elite have the satisfaction. This is a principled snap, a snap for the little guy. It rarely works out, but it’s absolutely what The Incredible Hulk would do, and that guy’s a superhero.

On the first turn of every game, without fail, heedless of circumstance

This is deranged. I cannot advise this. However, I also have tremendous respect for everyone who does it. Go forth, agents of chaos. Blur the lines between bravery and foolishness and inspire us all.