We’ve put a lot of hours into a lot of amazing games this year, but you better believe that a free-to-play mobile game has demanded just as much of our attention as pretty much any other.
App stores aren’t hungry for trading card games, and that’s easy to say, but Marvel Snap has a special sauce. When you combine sleek, easy-to-understand systems and impeccable design with one of the most beloved franchises in the world, you’ve got a Hulk smash on your hands, and by the sounds of it, developer Second Dinner is just getting started.
We’re about to tell you why you need this game on your phone, but be warned: bathroom breaks are about to get a lot longer.
What is it about?
Marvel Snap is a card game (and no, it’s not Snap) that lets you build multiple 12-card decks themed around the famously vast Marvel Multiverse. Once collected, you battle these cards against other players. Each card has an energy cost and a power level. The higher the power, the more useful the card is… except that’s not entirely true, because some cards have unique abilities attached to them that when used correctly can boost your score tremendously.
The aim is to win in at least two out of three places that each Marvel Snap battle takes place above. You win a location by having a higher combined power level stored there than your opponent after the last round. Slots also spawn with their own effects, some that only reveal themselves after a number of hands have been played, and they can quickly change the game state. Winning matches will increase your rank, earn you in-game currency, and allow you to unlock new cards and upgrade the cards already in your deck.
When you hit a high enough level, you’ll unlock the titular Snap mechanic, which lets you play more of the experience points at stake in a particular match if you’re feeling confident (or just fancy a good bluff).
Is it good?
It’s amazing, and terrifyingly much more. Marvel Snap works so well for several reasons. Firstly, the basic rules are very easy to pick up, meaning anyone can start throwing cards and have a good time. But there is an enormous depth to the game that gradually reveals itself the more you play.
Building a good deck requires thinking about how certain cards or moves will interact to give you the best possible score. Iron Man doubles your total power in one spot, making it a great card to have in your deck towards the end of a match when the table is at its busiest. Odin can reactivate cards that have reveal abilities to devastating effect, while Star Lord can give you a +3 power boost if you correctly predict the placement of your opponent’s cards. Hulk just smashes things. Obviously. The game pits you against very forgiving AI opponents as you learn the ropes, but you’ll need to develop strategies that take into account multiple turns and cards to emerge victorious against high-level human players later on.
Second, all matches are decided after just six innings, meaning you can easily play a handful of matches in a 15-minute tea break and it never takes long to get over an agonizing defeat. Marvel Snapits fast-paced nature makes it perfect for mobile, and it’s a game that respects your time, even if it’s definitely going to eat it all up.
Third, the fan service is brilliant. Marvel Snap leans more into the brand’s rich comic chef heritage than the MCU, and anyone with even a passing interest in its many diverse characters will quickly become very invested in their collection. Upgrading cards gives them new cosmetic effects and styles, which allow you to build decks themed around certain card types and just look cool. Rotating the phone in your hand to reveal a card’s 3D finish never gets old.
Finally, and most importantly, is the game’s shockingly generous (at least for now) free-to-play model. You can use real money to buy new cards and visual variants if you’re into it, but every card in the card can technically be unlocked without spending a dime. By all means throw money at a much deserved development team if you can spare it, but the game will never punish you for not doing so.
Where can I get it?
Marvel Snap is available on iOS via the App Store, Android via Google Play and on Windows via Steam, and is free to download on all platforms.