Arguably the best Big Bad to date in terms of versatility, deck building potential, and just plain fun. The irony in all of this, of course, is that Thanos himself is not the star: the stones he adds to your deck are what make him so valuable, as they provide a draw engine to get to other cards, or synergize with their effects on their own.
With all of the different variances in the types of Thanos decks out there, this guide aims to highlight the major archetypes that are viable. These decks are built to be collection-level friendly, but the beauty of Thanos is finding builds that work for you. This guide can serve both as suggestions for decks and their playstyles as well as a starting point for your very own Thanos build.
The best stone when you have stones. Getting the Mind Stone on turn 1 is often a snap condition, as it thins your deck by taking stones out and lets you draw at least one more card with the stones you get. It can also be useful to play on turn 6 to fill your hand for Devil Dinosaur.
A cheap Scarlet Witch that draws you a card. Get rid of unfavorable locations, turn off opponents’ Limbo, Stormed locations, or just play it to draw a card. It doesn’t synergize with any particular archetype but is just a great utility tool. Plus, it’s always fun to add some chaos.
To move or not to move a card, that is the question. Naturally a great pairing with Lockjaw decks, it can be generally useful to just move cards out of locations to a place you need them more, or just to draw a card. This can be a lifesaver in Destroy builds if an Armor or Cosmo prevents destruction of vital cards. Play this on turn 5 to play some mind games with your opponent, who will have to guess whether you’ll move a card or not.
Arguably the strongest stone, this cheap ramp option allows you to play a card this early while getting the benefit of a ramp. Play powerful 5 drops on turn 4, play multiple 6 drops a game, or just have more energy to play more cards. Generally, this card benefits nearly every archetype. Plus, it gives you the option to pair Galactus with Thanos decks without more restrictive ramp cards like Electro or Wave.
Simply a good value card. A 1 energy 5 power card when a lane is full, which is quite often in this meta. It has ridiculous value in an Onslaught or in his citadel. Even with Luke Cage, it still gets you a draw, so you can always feel comfortable playing it. This is the High Evolutionary Abomination’s best friend.
The stone with the least utility. It at least has a good stat line for a 1-draw and if you somehow play all six stones in a game, your opponent has to respect the possibility of a 20 power Thanos being dropped somewhere. Unfortunately, there is no card draw with this one.
Now onto the builds…
In the comics, Thanos pines for Death, which motivates his quest to snap away half the universe. In Marvel Snap, Death and Thanos are a natural and powerful pairing.
The goal of this type of deck is, of course, to destroy as many cards as possible—mostly your own, but some builds can include your opponent’s. Carnage, Killmonger, and Death are must-includes , but there is a surprising amount of variance in the builds past them. The stones make excellent fodder to reliably reduce Death’s cost, often reducing her to 2-3 with a single Killmonger. Destroying the stones alone gives Knull 8-power. The time stone can allow you to ramp into Knull, Thanos, or—if you are feeling cheeky—you can throw in a Galactus and catch your opponent by complete surprise. This archetype has also been furnished with more tools with the past month’s releases in X-23 and Lady Deathstrike, both in destruction and ramp potential. Alioth also looks like a very promising addition to Destroy as a whole, and may work well in Thanos Destroy.
The listed deck is the basic Thanos destroy list, but there are less-common builds as well. Iron Lad is a solid addition that can either draw you more cards or destroy more things. An Arnim Zola can distribute large Venoms or even large Knulls if you’re lucky. The early power combos of Stones, Bucky Barnes, and Carnage can intimidate your opponent out of a lane, especially with a Negasonic Teenage Warhead on top (remember that card exists?). Regardless, this deck has the potential to go tall or go wide, so keep in mind your opponent’s plays in the midst of your destruction to determine the best route to victory.
The major counters in Armor and Cosmo, separately, shouldn’t give you too much trouble. Play away from the lane they are in, and you can still destroy plenty. If your opponent has both in the same deck and play them in two separate lanes, you have a very tough match ahead, but not impossible.
The stones being all one-cost allows for some early power on the board that many other decks cannot compete with. In this vein, Thanos Lockdown aims to take advantage of this early power placement and lockdown one lane, preferably early. Professor X is the star of this deck (even more powerful with a Daredevil on the board), as playing the Time Stone on turn 3 let’s you play X on turn 4. The key to this play is to play X on a lane you are well ahead of, or anticipate your opponent's next play to figure out where you’ll be ahead. If you’re not comfortable being ahead by a razor thin margin or are down in the X lane, Jeff the Baby Land Shark, Blue Marvel, and Klaw can help boost it up, often surprising your opponent. Then you can win another lane with a powerful 5 or 6 drop (Devil-Dino, Thanos, or Iron Man) or a smart tech play with Shang-Chi. Storm is of course another great option, especially if you have a bunch of stones on the board by turn 3, or simply use Spider-Man or Juggernaut to get them out of the lane (preferably when you have priority). Jeff is the most difficult to obtain, but can be comfortably subbed out with Nightcrawler.
This deck suffers a bit with the Silky Smoove and Brood/Abs Man decks going around, but smart plays can shut down both. It takes some call-outs on your end with Storm and Prof-X, but locking lanes down can hurt both decks significantly. If a location is Stormed, always be wary of a Legion around the corner as well.
Do you have a Spectrum variant that you want to show off, but can’t find a deck that works well? An Ongoing Thanos deck is a solid option that is relatively underutilized. There are, of course, two Ongoing cards built into the Power and Soul stones. Littering the field with ongoing cards early, like Stones, Ant-Man, and Luke Cage, gives you more Sprectrum targets. Including the most powerful Ongoing cards like Devil-Dinosaur and Iron Man allows for late game plays that juice up a lane, and finishing with Spectrum can catch opponents by surprise. Onslaught has some great targets to go wide (Blue Marvel, Mr. Fantastic) or tall (Iron Man, Ant-Man, and Devil-Dino). You can go toxic with this deck by adding Hazmat, and be greedy by adding Wong as well (I would include both or neither, personally).
This deck can be devastating against decks with both Cosmo and Armor. Consistency is the toughest challenge, as sometimes Spectrum really is the win condition you need to pull, but hopefully you can ramp into a powerful 5 drop to go taller where needed. This deck suffers from the more popular Enchantress, of course, so it can be surprisingly effective.
Thanos Lockjaw’s previous iteration back in January was so powerful, Second Dinner nerfed Lockjaw, the Space Stone, AND Quinjet to tamper with it. While those nerfs jettisoned this archetype out of S-tier status, it is still a solid build that is relatively slept-on.
The idea is to have a host of powerful, high-cost cards and roll the dice with Lockjaw and a stone. The Mind Stone is your best friend in this deck, and getting it and Lockjaw in your hand early is nearly always a snap moment. This deck is one of the few where a Time Stone on turn one or two is advisable, since you can put down Lockjaw and a stone on turn three to guarantee utilizing every turn to roll. The Space Stone allows you to take one of your big pulls from the Lockjaw lane to get it somewhere else, and maybe get another roll on Lockjaw.
Without Lockjaw, you can still ramp into your high cost cards with the Time Stone. Including Psylocke can be hit or miss, but it gives you another option for a ramp in case your Lockjaw isn’t being a good boy and stays on the bottom of your deck. The same goes for Jubilee; she is a somewhat riskier inclusion, as she has a chance to pull a stone or be pulled from your Lockjaw lane, but she can be a backup option and can cycle through your Lockjaw lane for multiple pull attempts.
Magneto is a great big card to include, as it can clog up a lane if pulled at the right time and then moved with the Space Stone. Devil Dinosaur is always great in Thanos builds due to the stones constantly drawing cards. The recent buff to Vision makes him a fantastic inclusion, as it can move out of Lockjaw for another pull and put your opponent on edge, guessing where the 8 power will go. You can even combine this build with High Evolutionary to have both more Lockjaw fodder with Wasp and another big card with Hulk.
This particular build has only Series 3 cards, excluding Thanos, of course.
Turn the liability of having too many stones on the board into a preference with a Thanos Zoo deck! The stones can be powerful in their own right, but this list has some high-power 1-drops like Hawkeye and Ant-Man, and a little disruption with Ice Man. Kazar and Blue Marvel juice up each stone and 1-drop nicely, and Mystique helps increase buffs all around. Bast is an excellent inclusion in this deck, as the only cards it hurts are Kazar and Thanos, but it can add almost double-digit value depending on how many cards you have in your hand.
What’s that? Who’s Killmonger?
This deck does include Armor and Cosmo for some protection against him, and Goose can help stop your opponent from building too high in a lane. Cosmo can also keep Kazar and Blue Marvel safe from any Enchantress shenanigans. If you are early in your collection track, but happen to run into Thanos early, this deck is very solid.
High Evolutionary Thanos
Combining the two most deck-transformative Big Bads makes for a solid deck in its own right. You can include the entire High Evolutionary package with the stones, and they work nicely together. The drawing mechanic of the stones can get Hulk in your hand quicker to start juicing him up. The Soul Stone guarantees a discounted Abomination, in addition to Wasp, Cyclops, and The Thing, while dropping your opponent’s power. Any unspent energy can have Misty Knight add power to cheap stones or just juice up your Susnpot. Enchantress is included in the tech spot to get rid of pesky Luke Cages. Simple, straightforward, but quite powerful.
These starter packs of Thanos decks hopefully provide some fun options if you just got the Big Bad and want somewhere to start. Be sure to share some of your Thanos decks, and if there is an archetype I left out that you swear by, let me know.