Perhaps the biggest draw of card games is the ability to build your own deck and compete against others. You can also get a taste of your opponent's deck and learn about different play styles, and even if you're winning, the variability of each card can catch you off guard. Here's one person who loves and enjoys the unpredictability of card games more than anyone else.
Kranich is a YouTuber who specializes in card games. From the original card game, Hearthstone, to the latest card game, Marvel Snap, he's mastered a wide variety of card games and recently won the Jukon Cup for Marvel Snap twice in a row, including an undefeated victory in the first round, proving that he's a true powerhouse of card games. We caught up with him in person as the warmer weather heralded the arrival of spring and had an in-depth conversation.
Can you introduce yourself to our readers?
Hi, I’m Kranich, a card game streamer. Most people know me for Hearthstone, but I'm currently working on Marvel Snap.
How have you been recently?
Until mid-last year, I was more of a Hearthstone player. I have quite a long career as a Hearthstone player, but I wanted to stream more, so I mostly streamed recently. This year, I’ve been playing other games too.
What other games do you play?
Just games in general. There’s another YouTube channel where I upload the full streams with other games.
You introduce a variety of Marvel Snap decks in your stream. What are your top three favorite decks?
(Note: This interview was conducted before the Thanos nerf)
Thanos decks have been really strong recently. I played it often before it was this strong, so it was one of my favorites, but after it became a top-tier deck, many people complain that it’s one of the culprits of the balance being destroyed.
And then there’s the Darkhawk deck, which I used to win the tournament. I like the Darkhawk card itself. The next would be a control deck using Electro — it’s also called a ramp deck, and it’s really fun to increase the energy cost with Electro.
Where do you gain information about Marvel Snap?
Mostly from the official lounge, the website, and Discord. There are Twitter pages and foreign forums where there’s info and many Marvel Snap fans are active, but I mostly go there when it’s really necessary. I recently used Marvel Snap Inven as well because it’s convenient to show my viewers as I explain.
You won the inaugural Marvel Snap Jucon Cup undefeated. Did you think you’d be undefeated?
Not at all. [Laughs] I did win all the matches, but there were really close moments. I could have lost any of them. The friendly battles in Marvel Snap take quite a long time, and since it was so close, I didn’t really feel that I won. Now that I think about it, I think I got lucky.
You had a huge turnaround in game 2 in the finals. Did you think you’d be able to turn it over?
I didn’t know until the last set. I usually lose early, and then catch up little by little. I didn’t think I’d be able to turn it around, but I probably won because that’s my style. You know, sometimes people get nervous when someone’s right behind you.
Do you often get nervous in tournaments?
I used to, but since I was a pro player for so long, I’m not anymore. Even if I get nervous before the tournament, once the game starts, I get alright. I didn’t really mind the set score, so I played well without getting nervous.
Fans watched you live. How was it?
Since it was a streamer tournament, I could stream it live, but I couldn’t play while monitoring the chat. I wasn’t able to see the fans cheering for me live, but I did check it after the games. It was fun watching them cheer me on, and I was happy and thankful to read all the chats and feedback they gave me.
What card or location was the most critical in your win?
I included Doctor Doom in my deck, so there were many variables. Due to that, the opponent seemed to be aware of it, even if it wasn’t in my hand. A lot of people told me that they were worried about the last game since the opponent could have won, but he was too aware of Doctor Doom.
Also, Subterrania appeared in the last game, which is very positive for Darkhawk decks, so I thought, “Huh? I got this!”
Which card was your favorite during the tournament?
It was Doctor Doom for me.
What do you think about the meta and balance in the previous “Into the quantum realm” season?
Zabu and Silver Surfer were strong, but they were nerfed. Leader was also nerfed as well, so I think the developers accepted the users’ feedback quite quickly. I always think it’s really difficult to have a perfect balance. There are many patches and tests as the game goes on, and this was really interesting during the last season. It’s fun for me when the meta changes from the balance changes.
Which card helped make the game more balanced and fun?
I think it was Zabu. Zabu allowed some cards to get played more often. Many 4-cost cards were inefficient, but Zabu reduced the costs, so players were able to play great cards such as Spiderman or Wong. I guess Zabu was the key card of the last season.
Which cards did you often use with Zabu?
My main picks were Spiderman, and Dracula since it’s strong and uncounterable.
Several more cards were added in the next season. Which card do you think is the best?
I think Master Mold is pretty good. It blocks the opponent’s hand in a way, and it could be pretty effective, so I’m looking forward to making decks with it.
Do you have any decks to recommend using new cards?
Ronan the Accuser decks are mostly considered for fun decks, but if you combine it with Master Mold, the opponent gains more cards in their hands, and even if they play Sentinels, they keep going back in their hands, so I think Ronan’s value will rise. Including Ronan, Master Mold, and Baron Mordo will be good. It still might be a for fun deck, but it’s worth a shot.
When’s the best time to SNAP?
I personally don’t SNAP often. SNAPping is best when both sides think they’ll win. If the opponent also thinks you’d win, they would simply escape. So I don’t often SNAP unless I’m quite positive. I seldom SNAP on the last turn. When I do SNAP, it’s after the third location is revealed, or between the 3rd-5th turns. For your SNAP to be effective, you need to do it carefully when the opponent’s guards are down.
Are there any cards or updates that you’re looking forward to?
I’ve heard of The Living Tribunal, which isn’t released yet. It has an Ongoing ability where it splits the total power evenly in all locations, and it looks really fun.
I’m also looking forward to having a proper update in the UI of the PC version. I still stream from mobile, and a lot of my viewers find it inconvenient. I heard that’s one of what will be updated next, so I’m looking forward to it.
You also played against your viewers. How was it playing against them?
I had a 50% win rate. I played many different decks, but some of their decks were insanely creative, so there were some rounds that I fell helplessly. I was quite surprised at the creativity the people had. I lost a lot to them. [Laughs]
Any people you remember particularly?
There was a person who had my nickname in Korean, “크라니쉬”. I beat them, and I asked if they were going to change their nickname, but they said no.
Will you keep on playing against viewers during your streams?
Yes. I think friendly battles are more fun than ranked. You only play strong meta decks in ranked mode, but in friendly battles, there are more unique rules, and you can try many different decks. Because of that, I’ll probably invite the viewers to play more often.
Comparing Hearthstone and Marven Snap, which is more your type?
Recently, I’ve been playing Marvel Snap more. It’s really similar to Hearthstone, but at the same time, it’s the opposite. When I first played Hearthstone, I used diverse and creative decks, but I realized the limitations of that style and played more toward meta decks.
But as I play Marvel Snap, I get different. It could be because I played meta decks too much before, and when I play Marvel Snap, I try different things. It might not make sense, but when I play Marvel Snap, I don’t really need to do the best of my best — I can escape whenever I want to.
Escaping is one of the most interesting parts in the game. When I first played this game, one of the reasons I struggled was that I did my best until the end, even if I didn’t have a chance, which led to losing eight cubes. In this game, it’s more important how you win and how you lose. I change the way I think with the SNAP system, and I think that’s an interesting style.
The original developers of Hearthstone made Marvel Snap now. It’s amazing how the developers interpret card games. Content is getting shorter and shorter — like shorts or reels — and they applied it to card games. Hearthstone, at its release, was a very light simple game. Marvel Snap has gotten so much lighter than that now.
You are one of the most famous card game streamers in Korea. What do the cards mean to you?
I like uncertainty. When I play games, I like to create variables, and I like trying detours than going through the main paths. That’s more fun to do in card games. Every card has its own way of creating variables, and there’s also the element of luck. That’s why I started playing card games. The uncertainty of card games is really fun. I don’t get stressed from that.
Lastly, what is SNAP to you?
To me, SNAP is a TRAP. You know, when the opponent mistakenly thinks that they’ll win, they SNAP. I often return the favor in those situations. In other games as well, you lure the opponent in to win.
So when I beat them by luring, trapping them, after making them SNAP, I feel really good. Although I told you I don’t SNAP often, to me, SNAP is a TRAP.