Charming Calvin|20k Series|Deck Guide

Card draw simulator

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Derived from
None. Self-made deck here.
Inspiration for
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Valentin1331 · 56145

Calvin Charms death with his Talisman and ragged Fine Clothes


Credit: Anthony Devine


As I am always interested in underdogs, I thought I'd give one of the most exciting and atypical investigators in the game a bit of a revamp, especially with the re-packaging of The Forgotten Age lurking around.

This series is a celebration of the 20k points on ArkhamDB to thank you all for all the ♥ received.
I will release a new standalone-ready deck concept every week on Friday for the following months, so stay tuned and keep pressing the ♥ button if you want to see more!

Let me know which investigators you would like to see next in the comment!

Table of Contents:

  • Overview

  • Main Strategy

  • Boost Your Stat Line

  • Safety Nets

  • Other Cards

  • Upgrade Path


Difficulty: ★★★★★
Enemy Management: ★★★★☆
Clue-getting: ★★★★☆
Encounter protection: ★★★★☆
Survivability: ★★★★☆
Economy: ★★★☆☆
Card Drawing: ★★★☆☆

Main Strategy:

Boost your statline:

Safety Nets:

Playing Calvin is a nerve-wracking experience. Not only do you have to face the mythos, but you also have to do it on the edge of death and insanity at all times.

  • Talisman of Protection is your best safety net as it also works with direct damage/horror that would kill you.

    • It is fast, so you can play it at any point during your turn, when you have spare resources, and it is an Item, so it works with Scavenging, to always have its protection up.

    • You can either play 2 on yourself to absorb the most significant blows, even a on a Rotting Remains; or play the second one on a teammate if they are at risk of being defeated too. It would then join your discard pile if discarded from another investigator's play area, directly ready for Scavenging.

  • Fine Clothes is a cheap, Scavengeable Item that also soaks a horror. You can consider the Protective Gear if it is not enough.

  • Peter Sylvestre absorbs horror, which is really convenient while using the Meat Cleaver.

  • Until the End of Time can also be critical to absorbing unforeseen direct damage/horror. Plus, the art is too good not to have it on the table.

  • Ward of Protection to keep you away from nasty treachery cards that would ruin your day like Curse of Yig, and the horror can go to Peter Sylvestre that just healed.

With all these safety nets, you should feel comfortable with only 1 health and 1 sanity.
If you do so, you'll have 7 at all your skills, 9 while using the Meat Cleaver, and 9 with the Ice Pick (3) and Plucky (3)

Other Cards:

  • Fickle Fortune is a special case.

    • The direct damage and horror are beneficial early in a scenario. If you find it later in the scenario, the direct damage and horror will be absorbed by Talisman of Protection as it would defeat you.

    • If it is in your discard pile, you can use Resourceful to do it at any time. You can do this during the witching hour (the last round of an agenda) for free healing or to remove a doom at a critical time.

    • If you want to heal your whole team, you can play the first ability and then use Resourceful immediately to remove the doom you just added for a net heal of 2 damage and 2 horrors for each investigator.

  • Schoffner's Catalogue works with Scavenging and pays for the cycling of Ice Pick (3), Talisman of Protection, Fine Clothes and itself.

  • Glory, Rabbit's Foot, Take Heart and At a Crossroads compensates for the poor draw.

    • At a Crossroads is also a great way to gain actions once you are fully set up.
  • Short Supply boosts the consistency, increasing your chances of getting your key cards early in the scenario. To access your essential cards from your discard pile, you have Scavenging, Resourceful and Scrounge for Supplies (later upgraded to Shrine of the Moirai).

  • Shrine of the Moirai is especially good in Calvin as at the beginning, the encounter cards mean damage/horror that will boost you, and later in the scenario, they are no threat to you anymore.

  • In the Thick of It is especially good in Calvin because the trauma is double benefits.
    Yet it also means that you should be careful not to take too much trauma throughout a campaign.
    You'd better get a bit of damage/horror at the beginning of a scenario while you are setting up rather than having to change investigator at the end of a campaign because you overshot the threshold of trauma Calvin can take.

  • Fire Extinguisher (3) can be a good upgrade once you have 3+ sanity trauma so you can deal 2 damage even if you cannot take horror, before your Peter Sylvestre, Talisman of Protection and Fine Clothes are on the table.

Upgrade Path:

Link to the 0xp deck

 Cost  Total
   In the Thick of It  →  Five of Pentacles 1 XP 1 XP
   In the Thick of It  →  Five of Pentacles 1 XP 2 XP
   In the Thick of It  →  At a Crossroads 1 XP 3 XP
Core Upgrades 3 XP
   Rise to the Occasion  →  Ice Pick ••• 3 XP 6 XP
   Rise to the Occasion  →  Ice Pick ••• 3 XP 9 XP
   Scavenging    Scavenging •• 2 XP 11 XP
   Scavenging    Scavenging •• 2 XP 13 XP
   Rabbit's Foot  →  Moon Pendant •• 2 XP 15 XP
   Rabbit's Foot  →  At a Crossroads 1 XP 16 XP
   "Look what I found!"  →  Fickle Fortune ••• 3 XP 19 XP
   "Look what I found!"  →  Fickle Fortune ••• 3 XP 22 XP
Luxury Upgrades 22 XP
   Scrounge for Supplies  →  Shrine of the Moirai ••• 3 XP 25 XP
   Scrounge for Supplies  →  Shrine of the Moirai ••• 3 XP 28 XP
   Fine Clothes  →  Plucky ••• 3 XP 31 XP
   Peter Sylvestre    Peter Sylvestre •• 2 XP 33 XP
   Peter Sylvestre    Peter Sylvestre •• 2 XP 35 XP
   Meat Cleaver  →  Fire Extinguisher ••• 3 XP 38 XP
   Meat Cleaver  →  Fire Extinguisher ••• 3 XP 41 XP
   Ward of Protection    Ward of Protection •• 2 XP 43 XP
   Ward of Protection    Ward of Protection •• 2 XP 45 XP

(View at

Link to the full xp deck

To create your own guides, find the template I have created here


Dec 30, 2022 Wittebaard · 293

Cool deck, as always! Would love to see a deck for my favorite investigator ever: Trish Scarborough

Dec 30, 2022 Pjotter · 1

I’m excited to try this on a Dream Eater run tomorrow, but is the Meat Cleaver as only combat option enough to deal with enemies in later scenarios?

Dec 31, 2022 Eruantalon · 104

I absolutely love how you well balanced maxing stats and keeping Calivn alive! So many safety nets while so many damagers at the same time!

My biggest issue when playing Calvin is always efficiency - yeah, I'm passing tests most of the time, but just discovering one clue/dealing one damage isn't really too impressive. Ice Pick and meat clever help to a degree, but I wonder if you crack up enough action compensation?

Dec 31, 2022 sge · 1

@Eruantalon You can just run Sharp Vision or Brute Force. Both are very good with Calvin. And maybe a True Survivor to buy them back.

Dec 31, 2022 Valentin1331 · 56145

@Eruantalon thanks for the feedback! Building a deck for Calvin Wright is indeed a balancing act between: stat maxing, staying alive, enabling (resource/draw) and finally increasing efficiency.

Because there is really limited space for efficiency, the Ice Picks (3) are fantastic. We already use Scavenging for the Talisman of Protection and Fine Clothes anyways, and having 2 Vicious Blow on tap is really a huge boon.

As a flex, dealing 6 damage in 2 actions is solid, and if you can scavenge them right after with your third action, you have them available at the end of each turn in case you draw an enemy. It is in my experience more than enough to carry your own weight.

If you are leaning towards main fighter, then you can add Brute Force as @sge suggested, but the uses are limited and it can be hard to find 2 card slots for it.

Jan 04, 2023 bernieschlotfeldt · 1

Love the use of the new Dilemma cards! Hadn't thought of them in this context.

Personally, I'd upgrade out of Meat Clever once I have 3 or more Physical Trauma. Or at least add additional weapons. Fire Extinguisher (3) is a good option at that point, if you have Ice Pick (3).

Jan 05, 2023 Cimejes · 1

Nice list i absolutly sure to try it my next game. Will you plan to do a decklist for core set investigatoras?

Jan 05, 2023 Valentin1331 · 56145

@bernieschlotfeldt the Fire Extinguisher is a good call, especially in a Scavenging (2) deck that can also use the second ability for a massive evasion. I'll add it to the upgrade path.

@Cimejes Let me know how it goes!!
I actually have something for all core set investigators, except Wendy Adams as I can't compete with @chirubime's deck, so stay tuned!

Jan 13, 2023 Vengil · 1

Has anyone tried this build? It is interesting, but I have some fears before embarking on a new campaign.

  • Fickle Fortune looks dangerous when drawing the first card or when drawing a card after changing the agenda.

  • Scavenging works with a +2 success. But Calvin is weak at the start of a game. And there are a lot of objects to collect if you throw the ice pick every turn.

  • Fire Axe + Mariner's Compass + Dark Horse + this built (with Scavenging) = would work or is bad idéa (too heavy and too expensive) ?

  • Drawing Thin could it be useful?

This build is it strong enough for an entire campaign? Thank you for your answers !

Mar 02, 2023 tophmittydragon · 1

Upgrade for scavenging isn't really worth it as most of the items that are scavenged are already fast with ice picks and amulet of protection.

May 29, 2023 curtek · 1

FYI, Talisman of Protection cannot be played anytime, as it can only be played on your turn, despite being fast.

May 29, 2023 Valentin1331 · 56145

@Vengil, it’s a bit late to answer all your questions, but if you ended up using the deck or a variant, I’d be happy to know how it went :)

Fickle Fortune is a bit of a risk but is in my experience worth it if you have Resourceful in your deck. At best it’s pure value, at worth you spend a Resourceful on it yo cancel the doom, still giving heal to your whole team.

For Scavenging, you are right. The reason why it works well in Calvin Wright is that by the time you draw it, play it, and find/play your other items, it is also the time it takes for you to boost your stats at the beginning of a campaign. Later in a campaign, you’ll have enough trauma to scavenge on turn one.

For Dark Horse and Drawing Thin, these are good options but it’s a different deck overall :)

@tophmittydragon you are right, the only reason why we upgrade is to cycle the Schoffner's Catalogue, which would otherwise be quite action intensive.

@Horus_Lupercal thanks for pointing that out, my text was not clear. I edited the guide to bring more clarity.

Jun 25, 2023 drassain · 1

I'm playing this Calvin deck and it's very good and above all very fun. As my first Luxury Upgrade I put in Drawing Thin and swapped it for Glory. It's working great in my The Circle Undone campaign.