[Top 15] Marvel Snap Best Early Cards That Are Excellent

Snap's best early cards are featured in this image of a Marvel Snap deck.
A deck full of Snap's best early cards. But which one reigns supreme?

There are some truly amazing Marvel Snap cards in Pool 2 and beyond. I think everyone already knows that. There is a reason why players typically climb as fast as they can to the top of Pool 3. You get access to all of the meta decks that streamers and forum posters love to gush about. And theoretically, that means you win.

But something often unsaid is that you can make competitive decks with just your starter cards. While it feels daunting and sometimes hopeless to have a collection level below 1000, especially if you spend any time on the Marvel Snap subreddit, there is hope.

A lot of the cards you unlock before Pool 2 are actually fantastic. In fact, some of these cards will be in decks you will continue to use well after you collect all the Pool 3 cards. They’re good cards friend, you just need to know which ones will stand the test of time.

For clarity’s sake, this list will cover cards you unlock automatically (the first 10 collection levels), cards that are part of the free “Recruit” season pass and Pool 1 cards (those that you unlock before collection level 215). These are the first cards you will get your hands on in Snap and also some of the best.

15. Colossus

The Colossus card from Marvel Snap

Colossus doesn’t do much. He doesn’t buff. He doesn’t destroy or discard. He doesn’t really synergize with most other cards. But that’s also his strength. Colossus is stable.

He is your best bet at negating bad locations. If you’re stuck with Bifrost (which moves cards to the right) or Danger Room (which kills 25% of cards) or Death’s Domain (which kills all cards played there), you will start to love Colossus.

His flavor text says that he cannot be destroyed, moved or have his power level reduced. This means he’s also a great play in Jotunheim (which reduces cards played there by 1 power each turn), Klyntar (which reduces cards by 2 power) and Negative Zone (which reduces cards by 3 when they’re there).

Later on, he can be played anywhere before Destroyer since he will survive that landing too. The only place you shouldn’t play Colossus is Oscorp Tower. I learned that the hard way. While Colossus can’t be moved laterally, he will still swap sides on turn 3 just like all other cards. Let me do the science so you can avoid the pain.

Best played in: Klyntar, Death’s Domain, Danger Room, Negative Zone, Bifrost, Jotunheim
Best played with: Angela, Bishop, Carnage, Deathlok, Any buff card (like Kazar or Blue Marvel)
Decks to include: Ongoing decks with Spectrum, Destroy

14. Nightcrawler

The Nightcrawler card from Marvel Snap

Nightcrawler, like Colossus, is a good play in most locations. Outside of Jotunheim, anywhere bad you could play him can be mitigated by moving him next turn. And on top of that, when you are stuck with locations like Kyln (where cards can’t be played after turn 4), Sanctum Sanctorum (where cards can’t be played at all), The Vault (where cards can’t be played on turn 6) or Death’s Domain and Danger Room, you can always play him elsewhere and move him into those locations after they lock.

This also makes him a good hand when your opponent locks a location with Storm as he can move into it after.

Finally, you can play Nightcrawler early into Bar Sinister and then have multiple copies to move whenever you need them. Plus, once you move your Nightcrawlers out, you can copy other cards there.

Best played in: (moved into) Death’s Domain, Sanctum Sanctorum, The Vault, Kyln, Danger Room and (played into) Bar Sinister
Best played with: Storm after she locks a location
Decks to include: Move decks and anywhere you need a utility 1-cost card

13. Mister Fantastic

The Mister Fantastic card from Marvel Snap

The leader of the Fantastic Four is another great utility player that will serve you in many different types of decks. That is, with the exception of move. I couldn’t find a way to make him work there without giving up a more useful card.

But besides that, Mister Fantastic can be a…ummm…great addition to any deck because of his key skill; he adds 2 power to the locations on either side of him. This means that if he is played in the center location, you get 2 power in the middle, 2 power on the left and 2 power on the right. For 3 energy, this could make a huge difference to the ending score. And if you throw Onslaught into that middle location with Mister Fantastic, you can add another 2 power to each of those outside locations. This makes Mister Fantastic a nice 3-cost addition to a ton of early decks and a few later ones too!

Best played in: Middle location if possible, especially if it’s Onslaught’s Citadel
Best played with: Onslaught, Captain America, Medusa, Cosmo
Decks to include: Ongoing and any deck where you need an easy 3-cost for (potentially) 6 power

12. Bishop

The Bishop card from Marvel Snap

Bishop is a card that doesn’t have a lot of specific synergies for early play. Technically he could fit into a zoo deck (because you will be playing a lot of low cost cards which will buff him quickly) but in the end he will take the spot of a card that can be buffed so it doesn’t really work. But if you are playing a deck that doesn’t have a specific archetype, he can often be a value-add.

Having Bishop on the field gives you a safe (from being killed by 1-cost hunters), medium-power card that will continue to go up in power as you play normally. This can be a great addition because, c’mon, you’re going to play cards right? What deck are you not playing cards? It just makes sense to increase the value of every card you play by buffing Bishop at the same time.

Best played in: Any location except Jotunheim or locations where he will be destroyed
Best played with: Moongirl (for extra low cost cards to play), Sentinel, Angela, Nightcrawler and other 1-cost cards
Decks to include: Zoo, Swarm, Destroy

11. Carnage

The Carnage card from Marvel Snap

Our good friend, the symbiote-infected Cletus Kassady, is an odd one when you first pull him. I remember thinking, why would I play a card that eats other cards? I will have fewer cards and even if he gets +2 power for every card he destroys, will that actually help?

Well, let me tell you; in certain situations, Carnage can be a game-changer and swing a losing location into a winning one. For instance, if you are frustrated because one of the locations you’re playing on is Central Park or Savage Lands (which add low power cards that clutter a location), instead of getting bummed, why not feed them to Carnage? Instead of having two out of four spots filled with raptors, now you have a 6 power Carnage that only costs 2 energy to play!

And if you are running an early destroy deck with Nova or just want to make room for more cards on a location filled with Quicksilver and Nightcrawler, slap Carnage down and buff him up. When he eats Nova, he will gain the 2 power buff for consuming him while sending a 1 power buff to every other card you have on the field! Not a bad tradeoff for his low cost to play. And, if you are smart enough to also roll with Angel (and he’s not in your hand or already played), Carnage’s feast will summon him out from your deck to replace that meal and add his 2 power to the location.

Best played in: Shadowland, Savage Land and anywhere but Wakanda or locations where he will be destroyed
Best played with: Wolverine, Angel, Nova, and most 1-cost cards
Decks to include: Destroy

10. Lady Sif

The Lady Sif card from Marvel Snap

Lady Sif is another card that, when you first get it, will seem like it’s all downside. Why would I ever want to play her if the tradeoff is that she discards my card with the highest cost? Playing her for 3 energy and only getting 4 power makes her a bit of a liability even before she slices up your Hulk. But Lady Sif has a very important role and a very important synergy with Apocalypse.

Yes, Lady Sif is the peanut butter to Apocalypse’s jelly. While eventually, you will have other cards that are buffed if they are discarded from your hand, the real reason to keep Lady Sif in your deck is to discard and increase the power of Apocalypse. Each time you play Lady Sif (or another card that discards from your hand), Apocalypse is discarded and comes back with 4 more power. That may not seem like a huge amount but if you manage to discard Apocalypse a few times before turn 6, he goes from a middling, 8 power finisher to a whopping 20 power behemoth.

The key to continually buffing Apocalypse comes in how you stack your Discard deck and how quickly you are lucky enough to pull Apocalypse into your hand. The key benefit is that in most Discard decks, Apocalypse is always your highest cost card so Lady Sif will always target him. This makes her an invaluable add to any deck of this archetype.

Best played in: Kamar-Taj (especially if Apocalypse is you only card left in your hand)
Best played with: Apocalypse (duh), Wolverine
Decks to include: Discard

9. Apocalypse

The Apocalypse card in Marvel Snap

Discard decks are some of the hardest to play before you get your hands on all of the Pool 2 cards. But if you are going to attempt it, Apocalypse is the keystone of the whole operation. If you don’t draw him early, it’s best to think seriously about retreating.

But once you do (and especially if your hand stays small), there are any number of ways to buff him. You can discard him with Blade or Sword Master by chance or with Lady Sif (as long as he is your only 6-cost card).

There is something supremely satisfying about both you and your opponent knowing you’re sitting on a 6-cost, 20 power Apocalypse but only you know where he will be played.

Best played in: Any location that isn’t locked or set to destroy played cards
Best played with: Lady Sif, Sword Master, Blade
Decks to include: Discard

8. Odin

The Odin card from Marvel Snap

Oh Odin. You are the pièce de résistance in early On Reveal decks and, to be honest, still a major player in meta decks in Pool 3 and onwards. Getting the chance to re-trigger the On Reveal skills of all your other cards in one location can be a huge power swing on turn 6.

Let’s say, for instance, you’ve filled your right location with Star-Lord turn 2, Ironheart turn 3 and White Tiger on turn 5. If you play Odin in that location on turn 6 (and your opponent plays a card against you), you’re sending a second 7 power Tiger Spirit to an open space, re-buffing Star-Lord by another 3 power and buffing 3 other random cards with Ironheart’s skill. That’s a whole lot of benefit for one 6-cost play.

Obviously there is always a chance that your opponent plays Cosmo in the same location and renders your Odin impotent, but that’s a risk with all On Reveal cards.There are a lot of different scenarios where a second On Reveal trigger can be the difference between winning and losing a location or even a whole match.

Best played in: Kamar-Taj (although this will send you into animation purgatory but the results can be funny and profitable)
Best played with: White Tiger, Wolfsbane, Jessica Jones, Ironheart, Elektra, Spider-Woman, Doctor Strange, Rocket Raccoon, Star-Lord, Groot, Gamora, Enchantress
Decks to include: On Reveal

7. Blue Marvel

The Blue Marvel card from Marvel Snap

Blue Marvel is, in some decks, a nice add-on, and in very powerful early Snap deck part of a one-two combo of cascading buffs. The Zoo deck is generally the most useful and successful deck you will have access to before you start collecting Pool 2 cards, and it's anchored by Kazar and Blue Marvel.

Zoo decks are named after the collection of small animals you play to fill the board and then buff like crazy. Animals like Ant(man), Squirrel(girl) and other 1-cost cards are the soldiers and Kazar and Blue Marvel are the generals urging them on. It’s a simple deck that is easy to learn and most players' starting point. Blue Marvel is one of the cards that ties this deck together both because you can play him on turn 5, after you already played Kazar and because he buffs all cards (not just cards that cost 1 energy).

Best played in: Onslaught’s Citadel
Best played with: Kazar, Onslaught, Spectrum, Captain America, Cosmo
Decks to include: Zoo, Ongoing, Spectrum Ongoing

6. Ironheart

The Iron Heart card from Marvel Snap

If you’re looking for value-add cards that work in most decks, Ironheart is another great choice. Not only does she give a low-cost buff to three random cards on your side of the playfield, but, if you play her right, you can actually control where those buffs go. If you get Ironheart in your hand by turn 3, and you only have 3 cards in play, you know that those three cards will get the buff.

In a deeper On Reveal deck, you can use Odin to trigger Ironheart’s ability a second time and once again buff 3 random cards in play. If you happen to play Ironheart in Kamar-Taj, Ironheart will send out 3 random buffs two times and the whole thing can be triggered again if you play Odin in a subsequent turn. I think you can start to see just how powerful this seemingly meager 3-cost card can be.

Best played in: Kamar-Taj, Muir’s Island (which can give her power where she started with 0)
Best played with: Odin
Decks to include: Swarm, On Reveal

5. Jessica Jones

The Jessica Jones card from Marvel Snap

My girl Jessica Jones cracked the top 5 early cards because her power/tradeoff is fantastic. While her drawback is that you can’t play a card in her location the next turn, for that small price she doubles her power to make her a 4-cost, 8 power juggernaut. Well, not that Juggernaut but you get the point.

She becomes especially useful when you run into locations that are about to lock as you can guarantee yourself another 8 power and know you won’t be able to accidentally play there and hurt her buff. JJ works in so many combinations because, like Mister Fantastic and Ironheart, she doesn’t need other cards to make her work. That said, you can always play Odin on her location once her On Reveal skill is triggered to gain another 4 power but that’s something you can figure out when the time is right.

Best played in: Kamar-Taj
Best played with: Odin, No one (the turn after so she gets her 4 power buff)
Decks to include: On Reveal

4. Iron Man

The Iron Man card from Marvel Snap

Here is another utility player that can make or break a game. There are so many instances where doubling a location's power, especially late game when you have the energy to play Iron Man, will make a huge difference. It can sometimes make sense to save Iron Man for your last turn to catch your opponent by surprise in a location they were narrowly winning.

Obviously, Iron Man’s doubling ability comes at the cost of having zero power himself. If you are doubling 2 power, it may not be worth the 5 energy or the location spot to play him. But if you already have a location built up with 13 power and your opponent has 15, that’s a great trump card to turn the game around in your favor at the last minute.

Best played in: Onslaught’s Citadel
Best played with: Onslaught, Hulk, Abomination, Strong Guy and pretty much any other high power or very buffed cards
Decks to include: Ongoing, Spectrum Ongoing

3. Angela

The Angela card from Marvel Snap

Angela holds a special place in my heart as one of the first cards I really enjoyed playing. I’m pretty sure there has been an Angela variant in nearly half of the decks I’ve played in Marvel Snap. Why is that? Because she's just so versatile and reliable.

Angela is easy to buff, useful in so many different deck configurations and allows you to build up a location even when you’re waiting to draw key pieces of your deck’s tech. Maybe you’re stuck waiting on Devil Dinosaur and have to play some cards from your hand. Why not play your 1 and 2 cost cards in Angela’s location and get an easy 2 power buff for each one? It may not seem like a lot but it forces your opponent to pay attention to that location and it makes otherwise less-useful cards play a part in helping out.

On top of that, her 2 energy cost means she can’t be killed by Elektra and her ability is not On Reveal or Ongoing so neither Cosmo, nor Enchantress can negate her skills. Angela is truly a card for all seasons and most decks.

Best played in: Muir Island, Project Pegasus, Wakanda, Xander, Nidavellir
Best played with: all 1-cost cards, Bishop, Nightcrawler, Ant-man, Captain America
Decks to include: Move, Destroy, Zoo

2. Cosmo

The Cosmo card from Marvel Snap

Cosmo is a sometimes underrated good boy. He really is! While his upside is maybe mitigated by the fact that he costs 3 energy for a mere 3 power return, his Ongoing skill can be invaluable if deployed at the right time.

Obviously, defensive cards aren’t the most glamorous ones in your deck. The fun part of the game, at least when you first start playing, is slapping down monster cards with giant power numbers and dominating locations. But if you play long enough, you begin to notice trends. Cards like Black Panther, Carnage and other powerhouses rely on being able to use their On Reveal skills.

When you throw Cosmo into a location, that good boy locks it down in a lot of ways. For one, if you play first, he may actually prevent a big card from popping off. But, he gets a lot of preventative use as well. If you know you’re playing a mostly Ongoing deck, why not keep a location free from On Reveal competition with your trusty best friend Cosmo? That way you can rest assured that you will have about half the amount of shocking twists as you may have feared.

Best played in: Kamar-Taj
Best played with: Ongoing cards, Xandar, Muir Island
Decks to include: Ongoing, Spectrum Ongoing, Control, Disrupt

1. Kazar

The Kazar card from Marvel Snap

Where to begin with Kazar. His skills and power-to-cost ratio seem underwhelming until the first time you play a Zoo deck. Or, in the parlance of the community, a KaZoo deck (as in a Zoo deck that utilizes Kazar). There is a reason this is pointed to as the easiest to play and oftentimes most dominant deck archetype in Pool 1 and even Pool 2 competitive play.

It seems so simple. Flood the board with 1-cost pieces. Play Ant-man, Elektra, Rocket Raccoon, Squirrel Girl and any of your other favorite 1-cost animal friends. Then play Kazar turn 4 and Blue Marvel turn 5 and watch your locations fill up with power.

There are many different incarnations of the Zoo deck but nearly all of them rely on Kazar as the key mechanic. Having a 4-cost card with a respectable 4 power on his own as well as the capability to buff nearly every other card you play (with the exception of Blue Marvel if you use him) is wildly overpowered. On top of that, using so many low cost cards in your deck really helps control the energy curve of your hand. It is rare that you will have no card to play in a round with a KaZoo deck.

This makes the gameplay fast, fun and exciting. And, before you hit Pool 2 with its Zoo deck killer (the dread-inspiring Killmonger) you can rest easy that your cute little creatures are mostly safe, buffed and plentiful.

As the cornerstone of one of my favorite early decks and a powerful card in his own right, Kazar is easily the best starter card in Marvel Snap. Best yet, you get him in the first 10 cards of the game, even before you finish the tutorial!

Best played in: Onslaught’s Citadel, Wakanda
Best played with: Onslaught and Zoo deck cards like Ant-man, Squirrel Girl, Hawkeye, Rocket Raccoon, Misty Knight, Mantis, Angel, Korg, Yondu and Elektra
Decks to include: Zoo, KaZoo

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A veteran of the 360 wars, James is a mentally chill games journalist. His tagged skills include persuasion, game reviewing, indie snobbery and being a dad.
Gamer Since: 1990
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Marvel Snap
Top 3 Favorite Games:Stardew Valley Bachelor Ratings (All Stardew Bachelors Ranked Worst To Best), The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, Just Cause 3

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