Banu Haqim Legacy

Like many people, Haqim's Law: Retribution caught my eye during the Banu Haqim 5th edition preconstructed deck previews. Turning all your combat cards into +1 bleed modifiers when you do not need them is a powerful effect. It removes a significant obstacle in playing combat cards together with other deck strategies: you need to get into combat to play your cards. Otherwise, they get stuck in your hand, and you need to discard them. So traditionally, you either needed ways to cycle cards your cards via discards, play rushes to reliably enter combats, or become a wall deck. People jumped to try building the new Banu Haqim with Blood Sorcery, a pretty potent combat discipline on its own. I always liked the Quietus combat, which can be super-punishing and unpredictable, but the problem is that it was always tough to make such a deck able to oust.

So with Haqim's Law: Retribution, the obvious thing to try building is a bruise bleed. Quietus and Banu Haqim have a reasonable bleed capability with Loss and Khabar: Glory, and Haqim's Law: Retribution supports that nicely. Because of the new Banu Haqim master, the deck can play many combat cards without being afraid the cards will get stuck in my hand, and we can use them to either punish blockers or make our bleeds more powerful. The quietus/celerity package is very versatile and can exploit weak spots of other combat decks.

The legacy group 2/3 Banu Haqim can afford to run an efficient crypt of midcaps. I think the deck cannot afford to run high-capacity vampires without good multi-act and limited defense or bloat capacity. The primary vampires are 5 and 6 capacities with both main disciplines on superior, helped by Parnassus, a seven cap. Beyond these, the vampire quality drops quite a lot: the deck could really use a QUI cel four cap: Parmenides makes a good impression, but the punishment for a predator draining him of all blood with a Villein is severe.

Decklist

Deck Name: Banu Haqim Legacy
Author: Petr Muller

Crypt (12 cards, min=17 max=26 avg=5.5)
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3x Jalal Sayad     6  pot CEL QUI                Banu Haqim:2
2x Parnassus       7  aus tha CEL QUI            Banu Haqim:2
2x Enam            6  cel obf pre QUI   prince   Banu Haqim:3
2x Abd al-Rashid   5  obf CEL QUI                Banu Haqim:2
2x Parmenides      4  qui CEL                    Banu Haqim:2
1x Anwar           4  cel obf qui                Banu Haqim:2

Library (73 cards)
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Master (15)
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1x Archon Investigation
4x Haqim's Law: Retribution
1x Heartblood of the Clan
1x Priority Contract
1x Tension in the Ranks
1x Underworld Hunting Ground
4x Vessel
1x Wash
1x Wider View

Action (15)
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4x Haqim's Law: Leadership
4x Khabar: Glory
6x Loss
1x Retain the Quick Blood

Retainer (2)
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1x Nar-Sheptha
1x Omael Kuman

Action Modifier (4)
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4x Zephyr

Reaction (4)
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4x Black Sunrise

Combat (32)
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2x Baal's Bloody Talons
2x Blur
4x Dam the Heart's River
2x Psyche!
2x Pursuit
2x Sanguine Entrapment
2x Selective Silence
2x Sideslip
4x Target Vitals
2x Taste of Death
2x Taste of Vitae
2x Thin Blood
4x Weighted Walking Stick

Event (1)
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1x Dragonbound

Ousting

I want to consistently bleed for 2+ with at least two vampires, ideally three or more. I can bleed for more when the situation allows, but this needs reading the game well so that the precious dedicated bleed cards are not wasted into a Deflection. When the prey attempts to block, I will punish him with combat and beat him down. I am not afraid of completely crippling the prey even quite early: the deck should be able to oust a completely torporized player quite fast with cards like Loss and Haqim's Law: Retribution. I will try to manipulate the board state to hit the jackpot with Khabar: Glory, but I will not bend over backward to do so. The deck runs enough combat cards for me to not think twice about discarding them into Haqim's Law: Retribution, but I need to think about which ones to discard and which ones to keep for possible future combats.

Survivability

The deck does not defend that well. The medium capacity crypt does not pressure my pool too much, though, and a bit of bloat with Haqim's Law: Leadership and Vessels helps survive. The deck is aggressive, so I want to ride the wave of pool gained via ousting, boosted by Khabar: Glory whenever possible.

Untapping with Black Sunrise helps defend against decks that do not use much stealth. I am not afraid of crippling or even burning my predator’s vampire when given the opportunity unless my grand predator is even more aggressive. I can also threaten other players with combat to talk them out of actions that I dislike.

Likes

Preys that skate around the 10-12 pool without too much bloat. Slower predators. I should not mind running into most wall decks. The quietus combat versatility should exploit their weaknesses because most decks rely on a single combat defense strategy such as maneuvers or combat ends.

Risks

The deck is still hairy and needs more tuning: right now, it is essentially a Banu Haqim pile. The versatility of the combat package can also result in not having the right answers at the right time, especially if I made wrong decisions earlier and discarded combat cards that would have their use later in the game.

Large bleeds are vulnerable to deflections. I need to pay attention to potential targets' pool health to avoid ousting the wrong player. Compared to stealth bleed decks, the bruise bleed keeps its support cards for future bleeds, which is a good thing.

The deck has a poor defense against aggressive and hard-hitting predators, which means in some games, the seating will be poor enough for me to be ousted quickly without any means to do something about it.

The deck’s offensive combat capabilities are good, but defense not so much. Meeting another combat can lead to a lose-lose situation where both sides cripple their vampires without gaining any advantage on either side.

I would expect the deck to behave and play similarly to the Animalism weenie but worse because of consistency. It will be able to have better bleeds and better combat both but not all the time because of the card variance. The main differentiator is the lack of recursion via Ashur Tablets that Nana Buruku gives to the animalism deck; if this deck had that tech, it would potentially be much stronger.

Early Game

I should be able to influence out a vampire in the second round pretty much all the time. I should avoid influencing out Parmenides as a first or second vampire if possible; the risk of getting drained by Villein is too high. I want three vampires out: Abd al-Rashid and Jalal Sayad are the best: I want at least of them, but if I can have both, that is even better. Parnassus or Enam (in this order) can replace one of them. The four caps play a supporting role.

I do not want my prey to stop spending their pool too soon, so I try to observe the early signals for bloat (big caps, political weenies, The Unnamed) and start being aggressive as soon as I spot them. These decks rarely overextend, so there is no point in waiting. If my prey does not seem to bloat too much, and I can afford it, I avoid putting too much pressure early and focus on setting up (Retain the Quick Blood, Haqim's Law: Leadership and the retainers) instead. The point is to not intimidate the prey from influencing their third vampire and getting into the 12-ish pool territory.

End Game

I do not have table-shaping capabilities, so I expect the deck play mostly as a Malkavian stealth-bleed, just with kicking down vampires instead of stealth. If possible, focus the resources on shutting down important minions first, but unfortunately the deck will not be able to choose that often.

Ideas

  • Find a way to recurse with Ashur Tablets: maybe two Parthenons and three sets of Ashurs would be enough? The deck does not need to play that many masters anyway.
  • The combat package definitely needs to be fine-tuned. The initial version is mostly a pile of combat cards that felt good, but the size, cards and counts are very likely to be entirely different in an optimal build.
  • The deck is missing some good cards because I did not have enough copies of them. I would like to play four Retain the Quick Blood copies, and also add Ghouls of Plaza Morería. The ally would make an excellent addition because it helps to soften vampires for combat, as well as give the deck some blood gaining capability. More ways to gain blood would definitely not hurt.