[Last updated 01/16/2023]
I used this deck to climb from 85-100 for the Savage Land season. It's definitely viable.
Update: Patch 9.16 (Collector Token Patch) introduced a balance change (nerf) to Onslaught that reduces the overall power of this deck, but certainly does not make it unplayable. Onslaught's effect now stacks additively instead of multiplicatively. The bottom line is that our Onslaught>Mystique>Patriot sequence now provides all Vanilla and Token cards +12 each instead of +16. This is a reduction of 8 Power per Location for most games, which on the whole is not that big of a deal as our end boards were already dramatically higher than others. There will be some close games that are lost because of this, but I do not think the deck is much weaker because of the changes.
I've been playing SNAP since May 2022 and have played 1,000+ games with Patriot Combo. I pushed to Infinite in Season 5 almost exclusively with this deck. Patriot Combo is definitely a strong deck for gaining Rank in Marvel SNAP!
Patriot is a build-around card from Series (Pool) 3 that enables cards with no abilities to get huge by copying his +2 Power effect with cards like Mystique and Onslaught. As of Patch 8.7, sending Mystique to a Location immediately after Onslaught will cause Patriot to buff your 'no ability' a.k.a. 'Token' units by 16 power each. While this combo requires extending the game with Magik and careful sequencing of your cards, the payoff includes such hits as:
Wasp: 0-cost, 17 power
Misty Knight: 1-cost, 18 power
Mister Sinister: 2-cost, 20 power
Shocker: 2-cost, 19 power
Brood: 3-cost, 38 power
Ant-Man: 1-cost, 25 power [more below]
Patriot Decks are usually built in one of three ways:
Glass-cannon builds. Fragile, more easily disrupted, but the most high-risk high-reward variants.
Consistency at the cost of an overall lower power ceiling. You will Retreat less often, but your potential vs. point-stacking decks is minimal. These include Patriot Destroy, Patriot Destroy_er_, and other niche builds.
A weaker version of the Combo variant, in my opinion. Ultron is also draw-dependant but does not have ways to smooth out its draws for the relatively small benefit of being able to play into inaccessible locations with Ultron. Its optimal end-board numbers are also more beatable than the Full-Combo variant.
Core Cards: 9
Sadly, half of this deck is from Series (Pool) 3. (Worth the wait!) You can experiment with the deck as soon as you have Patriot unlocked, but the Pool 3 cards are what make it competitively viable so mileage will vary.
The namesake of the deck. Our plan is to duplicate the +2 Power effect of Patriot as many times as possible via Onslaught and Mystique. As of Patch 8.7, sending Mystique to a Location immediately after Onslaught will result in Patriot buffing your 'cards with no ability' a.k.a. 'Token' units by 16 power each.
Onslaught provides the potential for exponential unit growth, as it doubles the effect of Patriot and is our primary target for Mystique.
Mystique's primary role is to copy the effect of Onslaught. As of Patch 8.7, this results in an 8x multiplier of Patriot's +2 Power effect for a total of +16 Power for each card with no ability that we play. There are rumors of changes to this formula in the future, but nothing is clear as of now.
Magik is essential to the deck as she enables us to play Mystique after Onslaught, which is usually impossible.
Mister Sinister & Brood:
These are the 'Token' generators for our deck. The cards created by these are counted as 'cards with no abilities.'
Wasp, Misty Knight, Shocker:
The rest of our Patriot targets, each with specialized use cases due to their varying Energy costs. These are a.k.a. 'Vanilla' units.
Flex Spots: 3
This version of the deck has three definite 'Flex Spots,' which are ideally filled with anything that makes our combo more reliable. I would not suggest anti-Meta/Tech cards in these slots as we do not have the luxury of taking a turn off to interact specifically with the opponent's game plan. Scarlet Witch could be an exception if there is a particularly bad Featured or Hot Location in rotation.
Mathematically, Chavez does not have much of an impact on drawing any one particular card in a given game (3-6% depending on the turn) but she does increase the odds of drawing both Magik and Onslaught by turn 5 by 8.5%. This is very consequential long-term. The amount of games Chavez guarantees that you will see all of your combo pieces outweigh the number of games where she blocks you from drawing the final piece you needed, which will happen occasionally.
Update: I consulted with resident Marvel Snap math expert u/TigrisCallidus on Reddit to see if Chavez was mathematically optimal for the deck or not. It turns out that the odds of seeing both Magik and Onslaught by Turn 5 with Chavez in the deck are greater than seeing Magik by Turn 5 and also Onslaught by or on Turn 6 when not playing Chavez, even though you get an extra draw on Turn 6 to look for Onslaught when you do not play Chavez.
You are 50.91% likely to see both by Turn 5 with Chavez in deck and 48.48% likely to see both 'on time' when she is absent. The 2.43% gain in consistency is clear, but it also compounds by giving you an additional 3.78% chance to see another card that Chavez works extremely well with:
It's important to see Adam Warlock by turn 2, so it's nice to have Chavez on the same team. Drawing just one extra card with Chavez in your deck increases the odds of seeing Magik by turn 5 (essential) to 91%. Games where you draw three cards from Adam Warlock guarantee your full combo, too.
Ant-Man is a 1-cost, 25-power unit in our deck under optimal circumstances. (Onslaught+Mystique+Ant-Man at a full Location). This allows us to sneak a ton of power into a Location that most opponents will assume is an easy win for them, as Patriot+Mystique+Onslaught is only 8 Power. Misty Knight and Wasp can also accomplish this at 17 and 18 Power, but we'd rather deploy them elsewhere to leave our 'combo Location' clear in the event that we are sent a Goblin or Rock along the way.
Honorable Mention: Invisible Woman:
If you want to safeguard yourself against Enchantress and Shang-Chi, Invisible Woman can definitely help, but she lowers your overall potential as she competes for the Ant-Man slot. I think it's better to learn which decks are likely to have Enchantress and play carefully by holding Patriot and playing without Initiative rather than give up an important deck slot.
How to Play (Intro):
Because this Deck is combo-oriented you have to pay close attention to your games. If you don't know what Yondu destroyed or what Sokovia discarded from your hand, you may be wasting your time and Cubes by staying in a game. (Yondu normally hits Chavez, which actually helps us!)
The basic gameplan:
Deploy 2 'Tokens' at two different Locations
Turn 5: Magik
Turn 6: Onslaught
Turn 7: Mystique
You can play Patriot early or late depending on your draw/matchup. Playing Patriot early allows you to buff cards that are supporting Adam Warlock for extra draws. Playing Patriot later does not expose you to Enchantress or Shang-Chi as much as you are likely playing from behind at that point and will not have Initiative going into the final turn.
You need to identify your Locations and win conditions ASAP. Ideally, you have:
Token Location 1
2+ Tokens with room for Adam Warlock or Magik, not both.
Token Location 2
2+ Tokens with room for Adam Warlock or Magik, not both.
Ideally, your Combo spot has Onslaught, Mystique, Patriot, and Ant-Man/Misty Knight/Wasp.
These are always subject to what Locations reveal, as some will block your Token cards while others will block your Combo cards.
Always play your 1-cost card blindly to the third Location in anticipation of Adam Warlock, even if you do not have him on turn 1. In my experience, players do not blindly play into this location very often, so you are usually rewarded with at least one extra draw when you have Adam Warlock. Misty Knight over Ant-Man in this case, every time when you have a choice.
Adam Warlock + Wasp on turn two is very strong. You can follow this up with Mister Sinister or other plays on 3. Ant-Man is always worth pairing with Adam Warlock early on as the Ant is only valuable when we get to our full combo and Misty Knight/Wasp does a good enough impression at our Combo Location in those games.
Sequencing your plays to maximize Adam Warlock while also setting up two Tokens at two Locations takes practice, but becomes easy over time. Adam Warlock followed by Brood is a slower start, but can be strong if followed by a Turn 4 Patriot.
Always err on the side of caution (leaving more open space) when filling up Locations. I.E., Play Shocker instead of Minister Sinister in case a Goblin or Rock is sent your way or a Location like this reveals next turn:
Learning to adapt is a key to success with Patriot Combo (and SNAP in general!), so always be clear on where your Magik is going and where your Tokens and Combo Pieces are headed. Sometimes you will have to accept that your 'Combo Location' only has room for the three major cards so you may lose that one, so focus on optimizing the other ones.
Keeping a mental note of your combo progress is very important. You will often be looking to see how many cards are left in the deck as you decide whether to play through opposing Snaps or not (more on that later). If you don't have Magik early on, start planning to win with what you have + Chavez (rare) and be prepared to Retreat when your opponent Snaps or if you feel weak on the final turn.
Patriot Combo does not require exact sequencing except for Magik on Turn 5 and Onslaught before Mystique. Apart from that, many paths lead to victory. There is a definite Plan A and Plan B, however:
Plan A - Unstoppable Exodia:
An optimal end-game looks like this:
Combo Location: Onslaught, Mystique, Patriot, and Ant-Man | 33 Power
Token Location 1: Magik, Two 'Tokens' | 38-42 Power
Token Location 2: Two 'Tokens' | 35-39 Power
Note: Adding a third 'Token' to either Location is very common and adds another 17-20 Power.
Plan B - Playing to Win Two Locations:
In many games, you will be locked out of your usual combo path or a full Location for various reasons. Knowing how to optimize your two Location game is critical. There are two plans when playing for two Locations, the 'Two Towers' approach where you go huge at two Locations, or the 'Go Wide' approach where you look to win two Locations by copying Patriot sub-optimally and ending with a more modest board.
This is basically your 'full combo' condensed into two Locations:
Location 1: Onslaught, Mystique, Patriot, and Ant-Man/Misty Knight/Wasp | 25-33 Power
Location 2: Magik + 2-3 'Tokens' | 38-60+ power
There's no room for Adam Warlock in these games, so your draws will need to be good.
Here's an example of a weaker Two Tower plan in action:
Sometimes you will be able to put up a respectable end-board without comboing off properly. If Magik is not available for some reason, you can still Patriot>Mystique>Onslaught which gives your 'Tokens' +8 instead of +16. While much weaker than our full combo, dropping three 'Tokens' at a Location will still amount to at least 30 power in these games. The goal is to sequence plays as efficiently as possible to get more 'Tokens' deployed than usual and account for the weaker buff.
In other cases, you will only be able to play Patriot+Mystique or Patriot+Onslaught for a lackluster +4 Power buff. You can definitely win games this way, as you are able to play 'Tokens' into all three Locations by deploying Patriot to one Location and Mystique into another with lots of room left over. Even Patriot+Onslaught at the same Location allows room for two 'Tokens' there for an ending power of at least 18. Constantly reassess your position in these games and never be afraid to Retreat and live to fight another day.
How to Snap:
Snapping with Patriot Combo is very straightforward.
You don't want to Snap early because the deck is fragile and things can go from apparently good to hopeless very quickly. Professor X is one of our worst enemies and that is usually coming down on Turn 5. The ideal Snap point is on Turn 6 when the full combo is available, but before our opponent sees that we have the Onslaught. You can also Snap on Turn 5 if you have all of the combo pieces and are relatively sure they won't Professor X you.
Playing Ranked with Patriot Combo is nice because your win and lose conditions are extremely easy to realize. You are either putting up gigantic numbers or you are way behind. Don't be tempted to gamble with this deck if you are trying to gain Ranks unless the math makes sense. 'Calling' a Snap for a single Cube to see one more card is simply correct if you have three cards left and only need to draw one particular card to Snap back and win 4-8 Cubes. 66% of the time you lose 2 Cubes here, but 33% of the time you win 4-8. This is breakeven at worse, and quite profitable at best.
The more you know about draw odds, the better you will perform in Ranked. For instance, if your opponent Snaps on turn three and you only need Magik to assemble the Full Combo, should you stay in? Yes! Your odds of getting Magik by turn 5 at that point (thanks to Chavez) is 40%, so you have more Cube equity than in the example above.
Onslaught also provides a lot of bluff equity since players who know your deck's potential will have to respect it, especially if you have drawn extra cards during the game. They do not know that you've 'bricked' your draws, so feel free to Snap if they are not very strong on board. For the same reason, you can play to a draw more often with Patriot Combo than with other decks. Playing an Onslaught on Turn 6-of-7 and then slow-rolling a Retreat Later will often have people Retreating to you preemptively or Retreating Later themselves.
How to Beat/Counter Patriot Combo:
Having played so. many. Patriot games, I have also had the unhappy experience of witnessing every face of death the Deck can suffer. 🤣
Cosmo is a minor inconvenience in our 'Token' Locations (Mister Sinister/Brood), but hurts a ton when the Good Boy™ prevents Magik from giving us Limbo. If Cosmo is sent to our combo Location it's the worst-case scenario as it prevents Mystique from copying Onslaught.
Friends: When you expect Cosmo (Destroyer/Ongoing decks), the safe play is to go for a Plan B win. You can probably bait Cosmo with an early Patriot and then drop Mystique afterward into another lane to hedge your bets. Onslaught can come down wherever it makes the most sense later on, but if you can dodge Professor X in these matchups, you can overpower most of their endboards with a Plan B finish.
Foes: You have to respect the full combo, so Cosmo at the Patriot/Combo Location is always good. If you have Professor X and Cosmo, we likely cannot win unless you misplay.
One of the deadliest cards against us, as she can strip Patriot and/or Onslaught of their abilities.
Friends: Any deck with Sera may be packing Enchantress and Zero decks always play her, so beware! Holding Patriot for Turn 7 is always safest if you suspect Enchantress from your opponent because it allows us to play from behind and ensures that our opponent flips first on the final turn.
Foes: Play Enchantress as late as possible, preferably after Snapping so you make off with an extra cube. Playing her right after Patriot will give us an easy early exit. You will almost certainly take 8 Cubes from us if we have Initiative and you play her on Turn 7.
When Goose is deployed to a Location, we are unable to send Magik or Onslaught there, so it has the potential to be very disruptive.
Friends: Play around an early Goose by making that Location a 'Token' spot and do your best to adapt when it shows up later. You can always use a single Location as both your Magik and Combo Location, but be prepared to lose that Location as your total power will be 11. When Goose appears at your combo Location, start looking for a 'Plan B' path to victory as Onslaught is no longer possible.
Foes: If Patriot has been deployed, you can send Goose to that Location and prevent our full combo. If there is a Location that we obviously want to convert to Limbo (Magik), you can also send Goose there to annoy us greatly.
A well-played Professor X can beat us singlehandedly. We always want to leave a Location open for late-game Combo pieces and want to deploy Magik on Turn 5, so our plays are very telegraphed and we always have a vulnerable Location.
Friends: Our best counterplay option is to play a single 'Token' (Not Mister Sinister/Brood) into each Location so that our opponent can't tell where we want to deploy our combo. Likely, we will still tip our hand early enough by setting up an Adam Warlock Location giving them a 50/50, but that is better than a guaranteed hit for them.
Foes: Try to discern which Location is our 'Combo Location' and drop Professor X there on Turn 5. If you see Mister Sinister, Brood, or Adam Warlock do not lock those Locations as we never want to play our combo there.
A Storm in our Combo Location or on Turn 6 can be devastating.
Friends: Playing Patriot early is risky vs. decks with Storm as she will easily cut off our combo. If you suspect Storm, be prepared to deploy Patriot and Mystique back to back. You can either stack them in the same Location or spread them out if you want the opportunity to Onslaught one of them later. Either plan is viable, but try to sneak Tokens onto the Stormed location when possible as they can be buffed later to take that Location. Wasp and Misty Knight are great for helping with that. Early Storms are easy to beat, simply deploy Tokens and adapt your Combo as needed.
Foes: Don't Storm without a good reason. Wait until you have some idea of where we are setting up and then Storm accordingly. Sometimes, simply using Storm to counter Limbo and end the game on Turn 6 will do more damage than anything else.
Forced Movement (Polaris, Juggernaut, Aero, Magneto):
Our deck needs certain things in certain places to work, so Forced Movement cards are very strong against us in general. At their worst, they can reduce our Location power by 17+, and at their best, they invalidate our Combo completely. Beware!
Friends: The best way to play against Forced Movement is to swarm Locations to limit where the manipulation can happen. This is at least effective vs. Aero and Magneto as they are late-game plays. If you suspect these two, then make filling up your Token Locations a priority even if it costs you an Ant-Man and Wasp that you'd normally hold until later. This can also work if your opponent is sandbagging their Juggernaut, but Polaris is almost impossible to play around, so just adapt as best you can.
Polaris is good because she can pull Adam Warlock to an empty Location or add a Token to our Combo Location that prevents our Onslaught/Mystique sequence.
Juggernaut is pure mayhem. He can knock stuff away from Adam Warlock and into a Location we needed space in. He can also just 'doink' away our Onslaught into a Location that he buffs nothing in.
Aero and Magneto are classic bullies, shoving people around as they please. (I'm not salty. 🤣) A well-timed Aero
Give Us Junk:
The 'Have Some Crap' cards are quite good against us, particularly Debrii when played correctly and Black Widow. Widow can deny us several draws when Adam Warlock is online and if Debrii adds one too many cards to our Combo Location, we just can't pull it off. Ice Man on Magik is a death knell as we're no longer able to play her. (Magik seems to be an Ice Man magnet, by the way!) Goose at our Combo Location cuts us off as well as we cannot play Onslaught there.
Friends: Play as conservatively as possible to leave open spaces at as many Locations as you can. Aim for a Plan B finish as you will likely not be Comboing off in these games. Patriot + Mystique in a different Location can take these games due to the lower power ceiling of these decks.
Foes: Hold Debrii/Goose until you know where our Combo Location is. It will be the 'non-Mister Sinister/Brood/Adam Warlock' spot or wherever Patriot comes down. You can sometimes drop Debrii on 6 to cut off our access to playing Mystique after Onslaught if we've overfilled the location.
Thanks for reading my (first) Marvel SNAP guide! If you have questions, comments, ideas, or constructive criticism please drop a comment here and we can discuss!
Big shoutout to RipleyJ, who was a Patriot trailblazer during Beta, showed a lot of us 'the way,' and originally inspired me to give the deck a try. His guide on the deck is amazing and taught me the ropes.