Swim’s Reach Calveit (Updated)


-- 6,100


This is the optimized Calveit deck I made on stream recently, which heavily favors reach and reliable tutoring to enable calveit to full value.  You aim for a long round 1 after hopefully using operator on Cantarella and decoying any spies they might play, and opt for a bleed strategy in round 2 to force them out of good cards while you put value into round 3 with Combat Engineers and Regis.  The deck has a VERY strong round 1, and then uses combat engineers and Regis as a round 3 plan.  Be sure to check out this budget version if you’re short on scraps to craft this list. 

Crafting Order: Cantarella -> Alzur’s Double Cross -> Joachim De Wett -> Operator -> Regis  -> Zoltan: Animal Tamer -> Xarthisius -> Vilgefortz -> Roach


If you have any of the following cards, you can replace any cards not owned in this list with:

Gold replacements: Geralt: Igni, Assassinate, Ciri, Tibor Eggebracht, Stefan Skellen, Vilgefortz (with roach), Xarthisius

Silver replacements: Treason, King of Beggars, Cyprian Wiley, Peter Saar Gwynleve, Decoy

Do NOT use cynthia, sweers, albrich, auckes, or assire in this deck, as it will disrupt the ADC into operator. 

Update 1: -Xarthisius, -Combat Engineer, -Decoy, +Letho, +Rot Tosser, +Cleaver

Xarthisius was having a really hard time seeing real gold value, decoy was mostly just useful for enemy spies and as such was kind of a win-more card in many ways, and I didn’t need the third combat engineer. 

Letho is great against any non-scoia’tael matchup, going so far as to auto-win certain situations early vs henselt or harald.  Make sure to play him on the right side if you’re playing him on 3 or fewer units, so that if roach jumps to that row you can banish him too.  Cleaver is very solid at shutting down problem snowball cards, and you can’t run Auckes as he interferes with ADC. 

Update 2: -Cleaver, -First Light, +Treason +Dimeritium Shackles

Cleaver wasn’t accomplishing as much as I felt a silver slot should be able to, and treason was giving me pretty good reliable grabs at 2nd spies, while also helping the henselt matchup a bit.  Dimeritium Shackles also combines pretty well with Letho in niche circumstances, and weather is rare enough that I feel like I don’t need the First Light. 

Update 3: -Regis, +Yennefer: Conjurer

Regis was fine, but Yennefer: Conjurer dramatically increases the winrate vs scoia’tael.  Solid card all-around. 






Impera Brigade: Backbone of this deck.  Keep at least 1 in hand from mulligan, play one first, and try to stagger them by having your first one be buffed by a cow carcass which dies before the 2nd brigade is played.


Emissary: The best bronze unit in this deck.  Buffs Impera Brigade, gives value to Calveit, and allows you to more reliably hit your other key bronzes.  Don’t play this card if your board is empty, as finding any combination of combat engineers or ambassadors is very bad there. Keep all of them in your opening hand.  In matchups where you may want to letho their ranged row, consider holding off on playing emissaries until then, or at very least play the emissaries on the left side of their row. 


Ambassador: Accomplishes huge value very reliably.  On average provides ~18 value in round 1, and can synergize with combat engineer. Mulligan these away to blacklist them, but find them with emissaries. 


Combat Engineer: Very good synergy with the reach that this deck allows for.  Use them a bit later into a round after your ambassadors have hit targets and your brigades have grown a bit, and use them on units that you want to carry over into next round.  Allows you to slow the pace of the round down while maintaining high reach to take the round after the pass.


Rot Tosser: Seems a bit counterintuitive with Calveit but actually has very good synergy with Impera Brigades.  Allows you to stagger your Impera Brigades as well, as you can have your first Impera Brigade buffed up once by a temporary cow carcass that doesn’t buff the others.  This card has a really hard time seeing less than 8-10 value, as the cow carcass will buff your impera brigades and at the very least force our removal.  You do want to avoid using this card if you think you might calveit next turn, as it can lock you out of doing that, and you’ll often be limited to using this on the siege or maybe melee row. 




Cantarella: Must-have for any Nilfgaard deck.  Pulling it out with ADC is a great option, as you’ll get more points after using Calveit.  Try to play this after you’ve thinned a bit with emissaries, and hopefully after you’ve operated it. 


Joachim de Wett: Huge value with Calveit, and synergy with Combat Engineers as well, since you’re stacking buffs.  Try to play it when there’s a unit on your board, so that you have a combat engineer target in a pinch.  If you have Cantarella but not Operator or Alzur’s Double Cross, you can try to fish for Operator with Joachim after thinning a bit.  Lastly, he can be used as an operator target if you can’t operator cantarella. 


Alzur’s Double–Cross: One of the best cards in this deck.  If you draw cantarella, this gives you access to operator to clone it, if you don’t, it gives you access to cantarella.  Absolutely core in John Calveit decks.  If you’ve pulled both operator and Cantarella already, it will roll between Impera Brigade and Rot Tosser, which is still OK. 


Decoy: Basically you’re looking to return Cantarella, Yaevinn, Donar an Hindar, or Prince Stennis with this card, to steal back later.  Otherwise, use it on Combat Engineers or Rot Tossers.


Roach: Basically just fodder for Vilgefortz. Try to get this out a bit early with another gold card if possible so that you can’t


Operator: Huge synergy with Cantarella, and can give value to your decoy even when the opponent has no silver spy, as you can give them a Cantarella and then decoy it when they play it.  Pull this with Alzur’s Double Cross.  




Xarthisius: You generally use this card in round 2 or late during round 1 to mess up the opponent’s draws.  Don’t use it early in round 1 as the opponent playing cards like First Light, Emissary, Priscilla, Spies, etc will mess up its effect. 


Regis: Great value gold in general, play this on round 2, although you can play it on round 1 if your opponent has passed and you need 6 points to take the round.


Vilgefortz: Generally you want to use this card on roach to pull out your own card.  You can also use his effect on Zoltan’s parrot or a Combat Engineer.  In very niche situations you can use it on a large enemy unit, although avoid doing that if possible.


Zoltan: Animal Tamer: Card gives 15 values as long as you can hit 4 units, and playing a bird on the opponent’s side will buff your Impera Brigades for a bit more value. 


Unincluded Cards


Auckes, Cynthia, Sweers, Albrich: You can’t run these cards in this deck because they interfere with ADC hitting Operator.  You actually can run Cleaver over Auckes though. 


Nauzicaa Brigade: Killing disloyal units doesn’t really work with Calveit.


Vicovaro Medic: Has a really hard time seeing value in round 1 without Nauzica Brigade, and bronze slots are very tight. 


Ocvist: AoE damage on the opponent’s board is a no-no, due to weakening Calveit, and silvers are incredibly tight.


Myrgtabrakke: Silvers are too tight and setting up cow carcasses loses a lot of value since the opponent has the last action before cow carcasses go off now. 


Treason: A bit redundant with Calveit, but honestly still quite solid of a card; just too hard for it to find room in these silver slots. 


Geralt: Igni: Actually worse than Assassinate for Nilfgaard decks.




Blacklist Ambassadors, Impera Brigades, and Rot Tossers, fishing aggressively for Cantarella + ADC/Operator.  Try to keep 1 Impera Brigade and often 1 Rot Tosser as well, unless there are more important targets. Keep all Emissaries. Overall, very straightforward mulligan phase. 



Round 1


If you have operator/ADC and Cantarella in your hand, use operator first.  Otherwise, use Impera Brigade.  Once you have a unit out, play emissaries, pulling more impera brigades or rot tossers preferrably.  Buff the first Impera Brigade you play with a rot tosser, preferrably very early, avoiding using it on a row with your own emissaries/ambassadors.  The rot tosser will disappear in 2 turns, allowing you to play more Impera Brigades without lining up for scorch/Igni.  If you pull combat engineers, try to use them on units that aren’t vulnerable to scorch/igni if possible, unless you’re sacrificing ~12 or more points by doing so.  Generally, proceed deeper into the round by slowing it down at this point, by playing cantarella(s), decoy on enemy spies, and combat engineers on slightly safe units.  You should be able to force the opponent to pass, allowing you to take the round with calveit; if they don’t pass and you can calveit and overtake their score by 40+ points, do that, and then generally pass afterwards.  Optimally, you should win round 1 going at VERY most 1 card down to do it (with a solid hand, this deck excels at taking round 1 on even cards).  If you happen to be able to close out the round by committing Regis or Xarthisius after a pass, do so.  This deck should very reliably be able to win round 1, or at very least force the opponent to go 2 cards down to take it. 


Round 2


In general you should have taken round 1 noncommittally, or possibly given up round 1 with a 2 card advantage.  If you lost round 1, mulligan away a combat engineer if possible, and stay ahead of them while playing your regis and xarthisius.  If you won round 1, keep the engineers and opt for a slower bleeding strategy, using combat engineers on any leftover units from round 1, or making new buffed units with ambassador/joachim to use combat engineer on.  Use decoy if you still have it on a combat engineer.  Proceed to Regis and Xarthisius before passing. 


Round 3


In general at this point you need to be very safe with your mulligans.  When presented with the option to mulligan, consider the rest of the cards in your deck and play it safe.  I often decline this mulligan unless there’s a card I very much don’t want.  At this point you should have at least 10 points in STR on the board carried over from round 2, and try to close out the round here.  This round should be short and sweet: if you played the early rounds well, more often than not round 3 should just be you closing the game out with a great carryover.  You shouldn’t be looking to generate power in round 3 itself.


 Vs Henselt:


This matchup is a bit difficult.  You need to play very carefully around his promotes, and Calveit won’t be able to steal gold spies.  Avoid giving him the opportunity to promote 2 Cantarellas.  Play Cantarella and Joachim early, and often just calveit there before he has a chance to promote multiple spies.  If they promote Cantarella right away, you can continue normally without too much fear of them getting more value out of promotes as they already locked themselves out of huge value.  Mulligan away Rot Tossers; they have a hard time seeing decent value as you often just end up putting the carcasses on empty rows to avoid giving them more promote targets.  If you have operator and cantarella, you can operate the cantarella and play both, spreading them out such that a single promote wouldn’t hit both of them.  When he henselts them, you should be able to pass 2 cards up. 




Ultimately, there’s only so much I can cover in this guide, as there’s too many possible situations to cover, so if you’re interested in improving further at this deck, feel free to check out my stream to see me play the deck or to ask me any questions.  

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