Two Card Monte



  • Deck Description

    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.

    Decklist

    This is the deck I played at the Lone Star Lhurgoyf Vintage Invitational:

    Primary Combos

    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

    This one is a bit more self-evident. With Painter's Servant in play, all cards will share a color. Therefore, Grindstone will mill the targeted player's entire library.

    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.

    Painter's Servant

    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!

    Other Combos

    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

    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

    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)

    Other Tips

    • 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)



  • I'm open to further input on this, ya'll. Other builds, cards to consider, sideboard guide, etc. The point is to help people learn the deck, not argue over the best way to use it!



  • Thanks for the write up - I love the deck.
    I've played the deck online on and off for a couple of years.

    I love your main deck canonists - it makes a lot of sense in this meta.

    In my current build I play more of the sol lands + 3 chromatic lantern. The card has really overperformed. It gets you to 4 and completely fixes your mana.

    I also play a myr battlesphere as my tinker target; I've found it better at buying time against mentor and shops decks.



  • It may be too obvious to be worth noting in the primer, but 2CM vs dredge is one of the most unmercifully one sided matchups in the history of constructed magic. So if you have a meaningful dredge presence in your local environmental it makes this deck meaningfuly stronger.



  • Someone ever thought of an Oathmorphboard? Since Dredge is almost an autowin, and you can adjust with MD Canonists your Combo Matchup, there is only Aggro wich needs to be solved. Mentor often has the wrong answers to, so maybe there would be the Space in the SB. I have seen with Oath Helymline Hybrids, so maybe there could be design Space.



  • @typeonestorm It's definitely worth considering. I think oath tends to lose a lot of power when it doesn't have access to force of will - unless you're winning the same term ala burning oath / paradoxical oath it's pretty important to be able to draw into protection.



  • @AntiRush said in Two Card Monte:

    In my current build I play more of the sol lands + 3 chromatic lantern. The card has really overperformed. It gets you to 4 and completely fixes your mana.

    Interesting. What changes have you made to fit the Lanterns? Have any other cards been added due to the increased ease of colored mana production?

    Most importantly: Got a list!?

    @walking.dude said in Two Card Monte:

    It may be too obvious to be worth noting in the primer, but 2CM vs dredge is one of the most unmercifully one sided matchups in the history of constructed magic. So if you have a meaningful dredge presence in your local environmental it makes this deck meaningfuly stronger.

    I started writing the matchups just about the time the rum started taking hold. Matchups should be posted this week but yes, we crush Dredge.



  • Preface to a Series of Crimes:

    This is the first in a series of appendices intended to supplement and slowly transmogrify the primer of my good friend @thecravenone into a work all my own, in my usual subtle yet entertaining fashion. This mirrors my time with the deck itself, which I started playing after @JACO crushed me with his version in round one of Vintage Champs in 2015. Since that day I have not played another vintage deck. My life and love belong to 2 Card Monte.

    My list, which I will vaguely reference throughout my supplemental material:

    Addendum One: Goblin Welder is Not Your Friend

    When you were young, you always felt like an outcast. The world was trying to dress you in the trappings of a life that did not fit you. To mold you into something else. Something ugly. Something uniform. You cursed silently and tried to resist, but each day took more from you. It was tearing you apart, and forcing the pieces back together to form some caricature of you that you could not recognize or embrace. It was slow torture and soon there would be nothing of you left. Just the shell of who you could have been forced into being what their world decided.

    alt text

    Things changed the day you met Goblin Welder.

    You were standing by yourself outside of a Mirrodin concert, trying not to look nervous or out of place. Feeling like an impostor, you felt only panic as the grimiest little guy in the street came charging your way. He was bellowing Agnostic Front lyrics and stomping about with questionable balance. He thrust a Mindslaver full of an unknown substance at your face, and you had no choice but to drink it. It burned as it went down, but with the warmth came inebriation. Fast and strong, it was a welcome departure from the emotions twisting about inside you like Teferi’s Puzzle Box. You would not remember much from that night, a theme that would recur throughout the years you would spend together. His methods and madness would rattle you like the Chains of Mephistopheles but they would leave you feeling alive.

    From that day on you ran the scene together. You were unstoppable. A Juggernaut tearing through the walls that used to contain you. The world was yours. Side by side, your companionship was forged in darksteel and penned in aether. It felt like it would last forever, like nothing could knock you from the high of endless nights of consuming Serum Powder and Thousand-Year Elixir. The spirit of Lin-Sivvi was coursing through your veins.

    When you were an Apprentice Wizard it was easy to ignore the writing on the walls as you tore them down like a Dwarven Demolition Team. Every moment was a new opportunity, and consequences never manifested if you did not look too closely. Never mind that the path was paved with problems, you had to keep charging into the light. It was more important to escape the darkness than face the music.

    Punk Rock forever.

    Each passing sunset made it a little harder to disregard the price of your friendship. The freedom you felt at his side began to show the true cost. He was always taking your things. Sometimes your nice things. Sometimes things you needed. Things you cherished. And he was trading them for things he told you that you wanted. That you could not live without. Things that he needed. His next fix. He was giving you the refuse from his crime-laden lifestyle and making you an accomplice. You could only turn a blind eye and swallow the truth for so long. Your Limited Resources were strained. Soon they would be One with Nothing.

    Times were changing. Your battle raged on, but the more you pushed against the Rule of Law the more you were left with only Exhaustion. The purpose of the fight had become so hazy that you could no longer be sure there was an enemy. You began to question why you were fighting at all. The spirit of resistance dwindled. You were working too hard and accomplishing too little.

    Things had to change.

    When Goblin Welder got locked up, it was a breath of fresh air. You took a job at the Bazaar of Baghdad to try and get your things together. After some courses at the Tolarian Academy, you established yourself in a real career working for Mishra. By the time you went out on your own and founded Gifts Ungiven incorporated, your reckless Goblin friend was a fading memory.

    alt text

    We will fast forward through the years to last week, when Goblin Welder showed up unannounced to your Suburban home front to the extreme discomfort of your new and rather conservative wife.

    At first, you are elated to see your old friend. Sealed away in the confines of nostalgia, you remember him as a safe, fun-loving brother from your Glory days. You recall things being much better than they were, and you are excited to catch up and maybe even get a taste of your former life.

    So you spend an evening pounding beers and trying to keep him quiet as he tells stories that make your new spouse cringe and send you into a panic as you worry about your kids overhearing his steady stream of profanity and vulgarity as they are supposed to be asleep down the hall. You drop numerous hints that it is time to wrap things up. He has a comfortable disregard for your prodding and your wife’s discomfort, and after a few more beers he cannot possibly manage to get anywhere safe.

    So he is sleeping on your couch.

    He will be gone in the morning.

    But when you get home from work the next day, there he is, cutting out lines of Serum Powder in front of your mother in law talking about the time you stole Squee’s Toy and hid it in the private chambers of the Adventurer’s Guildhouse after properly compensating Rubinia Soulsinger. As you erupt in anger to keep him from providing the most intimate details of your past in front of your nearby children, too overwhelmed to begin addressing the open use of substances in front of your family, he stares at you in disappointment.

    His feelings are hurt.

    He tells you that you have changed, and sulks off into the living room. He plops down on your couch as you follow him, wondering if he is right, too rattled to know what to do. Your new life is a little too close to the molded shell they were making for you when you met him, but it is a hell of a lot better than waking up smelling of vomit and holding your head to keep it from throbbing, trying to figure out where you are as you stumble out of an abandoned warehouse near the Rishadan Port.

    Youth has its place. And that place is the past.

    You try to explain things to him, and he pretends to understand, but the conversation is distant and full of unspoken resentment on both ends. He agrees to pack his things and head out the next day, telling you about a fishing trip he has planned with Karn, Silver Golem that he was going to drag you along on as a surprise for your upcoming birthday, despite the fact that your birthday was a month ago. You begrudgingly agree to let him stay one more night in exchange for his promise to reign in his behavior, knowing well that you are already in over your head with your family for his exploits.

    You look in on him from the kitchen as he drinks a bottle of your expensive scotch on your couch, dripping it down his GG Allin shirt that smells like it has not been washed since before the Time Spiral. It is a sad sight on tired eyes.

    They say Legends never die. But let’s face it. The last thing your successful and happy life needs is an old legend bringing up the time you snorted Serum Powder off the belly of the Masked Gorgon to get so snow blind that she could not turn you to stone. Even as you reflect on this you have to worry that he is working on trading your four door sedan that you use to drop your kids off to school for a Goblin Charbelcher, unaware that you no longer keep a stock of green mana around to fire it up by the pool. With any luck he has not already turned your lawn mower into some ticking gnomes or traded your satellite dish for a darksteel reactor. There is just no place in your life for Goblin Welder.
    alt text

    Let go of the past. Punk is dead.

    To Sum things up in a more direct manor, Goblin Welder does not make the cut these days. He is a liability at best. I played him for too long, trying to make him good, but it was more work than it was worth. He is at his best if they kill or counter him, fearing him from some memory reflex instead of practical application.

    You are playing Leyline of the Void, making him worse against your opponent at least some of the time. Removal in main decks increases every day, and even when the Shops deck does not shut him down with a Revoker they shoot him with a Ballista. Goblin Welder is a weapon of the past, better left to rest in memory than tarnish in resurrection.

    Next up will be addendum 2, the Draw 7 Diatribe, but I think this is as much as I have in me for the morning.



  • Ben, you are truly a gem of the community.


  • TMD Supporter

    @shaman-ben said in Two Card Monte:

    Next up will be addendum 2, the Draw 7 Diatribe, but I think this is as much as I have in me for the morning.

    Eagerly awaiting this.

    Also: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlMwc1c0HRQ



  • This deck is so cool. Kudos to all of you. I love everything about this.



  • We will fast forward through the years to last week, when Goblin Welder showed up unannounced to your Suburban home front to the extreme discomfort of your new and rather conservative wife.

    I legit LOL'd reading this at work. My co-workers are equal parts concerned and confused about why this is funny.


  • TMD Supporter

    I played this deck once. A few weeks ago. It was a horrible experience.

    ...

    Horrible, as in... Damn you, Ben... I don't want to play another deck for champs. It was too majestic.



  • alt text

    I play an alternative version called Deuces Wild. It sheds some of the cards that you don't want multiples of for a slightly more consistent mana base. It's also worth more than many other decks you can put together unless you own 40 beta duals like me. So if you're concerned about winning the value fight it might be up your alley.

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    Sample Sideboard:

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    This version cuts a land from @Shaman-Ben s version but maybe gets stoned by Null Rod a bit less (Chromatic static ability still works) in exchange for being able to more reliably cast Leyline of the Void (and other cards).

    I'm also playing Misstep instead of Defense Grid because Misstep is Phyrexian Cancer. Having to invest a main phase mana in a Grindstone only to have my opponent wake up from a snooze, flick a booger out of their nose and make the pro move of Misstepping it is too much for me to bear. So I Misstep the Misstep. Sometimes I even Misstep the Misstep that Misstepped my Misstep. It's thrilling and skill intense.

    I also strip Helms because I don't have skills with it. @JACO reliably hits good creatures that let him win when he YOLO helms. For me its always suboptimal Millstone. I'd rather Tutor for it than fan out triple Helm openers.

    Having a bot that Dack can't steal that ignores Grudge, The Abrade and Chewer is pretty good. He's also very castable when I'm riding on all that chrome(atic lantern). He gets plowed, but Painter gets Plowed alot and I can always enter into the sub game of who has more Missteps.

    There are some bad cards like Time Walk, not too impressive in this deck that I can get behind cutting. After having Daretti, Ingenious Iconoclast go Event Horizon on me numerous times I think a couple of them might be a good addition in this version which excels at making colored mana.

    I'll try to become a better person and learn how to Markup a decklist, that being said pictures are worth thousands of words (and thousands of dollars when your deck is pimped like mine).

    I have a sample sideboard here. I like Witchbane as a catch all, ironically it's decent in the mirror. Stops Hurkyl's, Storm has to deal with it or Empty. Also if Curse Mid Range is big at your store it's a beating. They could well be Defense Grids as well. I have some Grudges and Chewers for shops, Traps for triggering people, Chains for Blue Stew, Virulent Plague is Oath and Mentor hate but probably only on the Draw. I think this deck, like most Shop decks, is one where you are really adjusting your board depending on if you are on the play. I play Jester's Cap because I'm a fucking gangster. Many millenials don't know how it feels to get capped, it's fun to violate the privacy of their libraries and pull all their Oath men for example.




  • TMD Supporter

    @wiley I appreciate the list as well. I browse TMD at work and have to scroll past pictures to stay covert about it.


  • TMD Supporter

    Wow, that list looks great, and those are some NICE Cities!



  • Demonic Consultation also much more exciting when you have less 4 of's. I'm also running Balance. To me the card is such a savaging in a deck playing Leylines. You can reliably get your hand pretty low on the play between fast mana and a Leyline and Balance just becomes an atomic elbow. Of course its also fantastic as a wrath-a-geddon also.

    City of Brass rules. Any game I lose where I have City of Brass out I actually win. I have 2 full sets of altered ones and it depends on my mood. One set are all just fucking Necropotence variations. The set depicted here is a bit more eclectic reflecting some of Tedin's god like work. Orb, Drain, Lord of the Pit and Juzam.


  • TMD Supporter

    @nedleeds said in Two Card Monte:

    I'm also running Balance. To me the card is such a savaging in a deck playing Leylines. You can reliably get your hand pretty low on the play between fast mana and a Leyline and Balance just becomes an atomic elbow. Of course its also fantastic as a wrath-a-geddon also.

    Can confirm, @Shaman-Ben has blown me out multiple times with Balance, sometimes on turn 1.


  • TMD Supporter

    @cutlex said in Two Card Monte:

    @nedleeds said in Two Card Monte:

    I'm also running Balance. To me the card is such a savaging in a deck playing Leylines. You can reliably get your hand pretty low on the play between fast mana and a Leyline and Balance just becomes an atomic elbow. Of course its also fantastic as a wrath-a-geddon also.

    Can confirm, @Shaman-Ben has blown me out multiple times with Balance, sometimes on turn 1.

    @Shaman-Ben is my hero for deck building. :D


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