Two Card Monte is a Mishra's Workshop-based combo deck that looks to win the game through the use of a number of two card combos. At the very least, the combos of Helm of Obedience + Leyline of the Void and Painter's Servant + Grindstone are used, though some players choose to add further win conditions. 2CM players frequently choose the deck because they want to play something that is quite powerful and capable of winning quickly while also wanting to play something outside of the usual results-defined metagame.
This is the deck I played at the Lone Star Lhurgoyf Vintage Invitational:
Two Card Monte
Card Selection (8)
Leyline of the Void + Helm of Obedience
Helm of Obedience mills the targeted player one card at a time, "until a creature card or X cards are put into that graveyard this way, whichever comes first." (Emphasis mine) Leyline of the Void creates a replacement effect that prevents cards from ever going to your opponent's graveyard. Therefore, with Leyline of the Void in play, any Helm of Obedience activation for X>0 targeting an opponent will result in their entire library being exiled.
Painter's Servant + Grindstone
Synergies and strengths with these combos
Leyline of the Void
Leyline of the Void is the most obvious strength of these combos. With reasons ranging from Delve to Flashback to Crucible of Worlds, there are few, if any, mainstream Vintage decks that do not suffer at least a little bit from losing their graveyard.
Additionally, Leyline of the Void offsets most of the negative effects of activating Grindstone without a Painter's Servant in play.
When Painter's Servant names Blue, Pyroblast becomes a one mana counter-or-destroy-anything spell. Note that in some situations, it may be wise to name a color other than Blue with Painter's Servant to keep from allowing your opponent to pitch otherwise-nonblue cards to their [[Force of Will]
Helm of Obedience and Grindstone
Activating Grindstone or Helm of Obedience without the other halves of their combos in play can be used to disrupt your opponent, especially when they're using [Brainstorm] effects or top-deck tutors. However, the opponent may come to expect this and Brainstorm or tutor accordingly (or even put back cards that are better in the Graveyard). Additionally, you may be fueling a Delve, Flashback, Deathrite Shaman, Yawgmoth's Will, Crucible or Worlds, or numerous other graveyard synergies for your opponent.
Activating Helm of Obedience is especially dangerous against creature-heavy decks. Trading one of your win conditions for a creature is rarely going to be a beneficial trade. Note that against combo or combo-like decks that attempt to win with creatures (eg, Bomberman), it may be worth it to remove an opponent's primary win condition. Against combo or combo-like decks that attempt to win with a big creature (eg, Oath), it's certainly worth trading half of your combo kill for a couple-of-turns clock - and it feels so good!
These two combos are less common in 2CM decks. I've added them because they are additional kills, they each contain a card that is otherwise good in the deck, and because it helps to further illustrate the possibilities of the deck.
These combos are part of the reason that the primary combos are 4+3 and 4+3 rather than a full 4+4 and 4+4.
Tinker + Bot
Using Tinker to find a large Artifact Creature is one of the classic ways to win in Vintage. I chose to play Tinker because it is otherwise good in the deck, as three of the four primary win conditions in the deck are artifacts. It can also find some sideboard protection such as Ensnaring Bridge. Since I've already chosen to play Tinker, I added a bot as another way to win quickly in the deck.
Sphinx of the Steel Wind is my personal favorite Tinker bot. Which bot is best is likely a discussion best left to its own post.
Time Vault + Voltaic Key
Time Vault + Voltaic Key is another classic Vintage win. I'll admit that it's a bit forced in this deck. However, the combo is easily cast, found, and activated in the deck. The Voltaic key acts as a role player ramping with Sol Ring, Mana Vault, and Mana Crypt, stops Mana Vault from pinging you, and can give your Tinker bot vigilance.
Other card choices
Goblin Welder's uses in this deck apply to both sides of the board. You can weld away an opponent's hate-piece, exchange mismatched combo pieces, or turn low-value tapped moxen into win conditions. To be honest, this primer could easily be over half Welder interactions!
There are two common use cases for using Welder on your opponent's side. Defensively, Welder can get rid of a big threat such as a Lodestone Golem or Blightsteel Colossus. Offensively, Welder can turn an opponent's defensive artifacts, such as Chalice of the Void or Null Rod into something less problematic to your plan.
Welder can also be used on your side of the board. The most common example of this is returning a countered or destroyed combo piece. This is a rare instance where, even against a perfect opponent, casting spells into a Chalice may be the right call!
One last point for Welder: The Painter+Grindstone trick. Given a Grindstone, the mana to activate it, and a Painter's Servant in the Graveyard, you can activate the combo. To do so, activate Grindstone maintaining priority then weld out Grindstone for Painter's Servant. When Grindstone's ability resolves, all cards will share a color and you will mill your opponent's entire library.
Ethersworn Canonist is a strong role player in the deck. It rarely affects you while hurting all non-Workshops strategies. It keeps Mentors to a reasonable size, prevents Storm from comboing off, and ensures you have the last word when countering a non-Artifact spell on your opponent's turn. If worst comes to worst, a 2/2 can serve as a 10/10 clock.
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth makes your Black tutors easier to cast. More importantly, you play several lands that have restrictions on them. Mishra's Workshop can now cast non-artifacts or activate them. Ancient Tomb and Mana Confluence no longer hurt, if you don't mind them only making (B)
- The contents of the Graveyard and Exile zones are both public information. If an opponent chooses to go through the combo rather than conceding, make note of the cards that are flipped and use that information to your advantage in sideboarding and future games.
- If your opponent has Null Rod in their deck, it may be wise to not play your Leyline of the Void so that you can use Goblin Welder as an additional way to get rid of Null Rod.
Matchups and Sideboarding
To be added. I'm the kind of guy who likes to sideboard by feel (and beer)