MTG Commander Deep Dive: Modern Horizons 3’s Six

Which Modern Horizons 3 preview is one of a kind, no category? Bennie Smith retraces the future of Commander with legendary Treefolk Six!

Six, illustrated by Andrew Mar

In the very first Modern Horizons, Wizards of the Coast (WotC) introduced Wrenn and Six, a symbiotic planeswalker that instantly made a big impact on the Modern format. Wrenn was the planeswalker, and Six was the Treefolk partner. In the Magic storyline, Wrenn later partners with another Treefolk, as represented by Wrenn and Seven, and eventually Wrenn partnered with Realmbreaker, the Invasion Tree, as represented by Wrenn and Realmbreaker. It’s fun that we get to see the Treefolk Six separate from Wrenn: simply named, but with intricate deckbuilding potential!


The Race to Retrace

The eye-popping ability of Six is that it gives nonland permanents in your graveyard retrace so long as it’s your turn. Retrace is a mechanic first seen in Eventide, and it was only put on instant or sorcery spells. WotC’s design team opened up the mechanic to permanents with Deeproot Historian from The Lost Caverns of Ixalan Commander, providing Merfolk and Druid cards in your graveyard with retrace.

Retrace cards aren’t all that popular in Commander because generally you’d rather be deploying lands to the battlefield rather than pitching them to the graveyard, but having the ability tied to your commander means you can build your entire deck around making retrace not just viable, but powerful. To my mind, the trick is to provide plenty of ways you can pitch lands to retrace without missing your land drops, and even in a mono-color green deck, there are many options. Six itself provides the means for that by milling three cards when it attacks, and if there’s a land among the milled cards, you can put one of them into your hand. If you stock your deck with plenty of nonland permanents, that mill ability will provide you with options for retracing.

Let’s dig in and see what we can cook up!

Lands in Graveyard

Titania, Voice of Gaea Rumbleweed Elvish Reclaimer Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar World Shaper Aftermath Analyst Splendid Reclamation Turntimber Sower Erinis, Gloom Stalker Centaur Vinecrasher

I started off by looking for cards that care about lands in the graveyard. One of the first cards I thought of was Titania, Voice of Gaea. Titania gains you life whenever one or more land cards are put into the graveyard from anywhere, and there’s the meld potential during your upkeep if there are four or more land cards in the graveyard and you have Titania and Argoth, Sanctum of Nature on the battlefield. It’s not a hardship running Argoth, since activating it to self-mill is helpful to the deck’s strategy.

If Titania and Argoth meld into Titania, Gaea Incarnate, you get to return to the battlefield all land cards you’ve milled or pitched to retrace. Similarly, you can run Aftermath Analyst, Splendid Reclamation, and World Shaper to bring all those lands to the battlefield. Since Titania, Aftermath Analyst, and World Shaper are all permanents, you can retrace them back to the battlefield and use them again.

Rumbleweed seems like a great inclusion here, since it costs one less to cast for each land card in your graveyard. It provides an Overrun when you cast it, and leaves behind an 8/8 creature with vigilance, reach and trample. If I had ten lands in the graveyard, I might chain this together with Six and Greater Good, sacrificing it to draw eight cards (and then discarding three), and then pitching a newly drawn land to retrace Rumbleweed to do retrace it and do it again, until my hand is overflowing with pure gasoline.

Centaur Vinecrasher has been kicking around since Commander 2015 looking for a worthy home, and I think we may have finally found it here. We’ll need at least six lands in the graveyard to make this worth the mana investment. Whenever you pitch a land to retrace, you can spend two green mana to return Centaur Vinecrasher to your hand from the graveyard, so you can potentially use this to fuel something like Fauna Shaman.

Play Lands from Graveyard

Crucible of Worlds Ramunap Excavator Ancient Greenwarden Conduit of Worlds Perennial Behemoth

Crucible of Worlds, originally printed in Fifth Dawn, was the result of a fun “You Make the Card” program driven by votes from the Magic community. The Ron Spencer artwork is brilliant, and the card itself was a uniquely cool effect of letting you play lands from your graveyard, which makes it perfect for this deck – you can pitch a land to retrace something, and then play the land from your graveyard to the battlefield. Even though it’s been reprinted several times, it’s quite expensive, but thankfully WotC has given us this effect attached to other, much more affordable options. I’d likely run all of these that I could in this deck, especially since they’re all permanents that can be retraced with Six.

Lands to Hand

Guildless Commons Arid Archway Thawing Glaciers Life from the Loam Cultivate Kodama's Reach Nylea's Intervention Tilling Treefolk Groundskeeper Yavimaya Elder Kura, the Boundless Sky Verdant Mastery Sprouting Vines Nissa's Triumph Nissa's Pilgrimage Boseiju Reaches Skyward

Most of the time, when building green decks, you fill out your curve with cards that help you mana ramp, putting lands from your library directly onto the battlefield, but in a Six deck, we should take a look at the green cards that put extra lands in our hand to retrace with. Cultivate and Kodama’s Reach do both, but we can go harder with cards like Nylea’s Intervention and Kura, the Boundless Sky. Life from the Loam is an excellent choice since you can get it back with its dredge ability.

The bouncelands Guildless Commons and Arid Archway advance your mana development while putting a land back in your hand. Thawing Glaciers is a fun old-school option, especially if you’re playing Spelunking (and in this deck, you probably should) and plenty of ways to play lands from the graveyard. Activate Thawing Glaciers, return it to your hand, pitch it to retrace, and then play it from the graveyard to the battlefield.


Argoth, Sanctum of Nature Smuggler's Surprise Eccentric Farmer Mulch Hermit Druid Crawling Sensation Circle of the Land Druid

Green has other ways to self-mill that we might want to use to supplement Six’s self-mill, with Crawling Sensation being one of the best ones. Retrace helps ensure Crawling Sensation will make you a 1/1 green Insect token ready and willing to chump block. I also really love Smuggler’s Surprise for this deck too!

Creatures to Retrace

Blossoming Tortoise Eternal Witness Timeless Witness Springbloom Druid Reclamation Sage World Breaker Shigeki, Jukai Visionary Bane of Progress Generous Ent Spinewoods Armadillo Deadwood Treefolk

There’s no shortage of awesome green creatures that you’ll want to retrace when they end up in your graveyard, but for this list, I went looking for creatures that support the themes of the deck. Blossoming Tortoise mills, returns a land from the graveyard to the battlefield, and does fun things with creature-lands you might want to play. Eternal Witness and Timeless Witness make excellent creatures to cast early to retrieve something sweet that you self-milled, and then later, you can retrace and get even more value. I used to play Deadwood Treefolk a lot back in the day, and if we’re playing with Treefolk synergies, I’d think about using it again here.

I love the channel ability of Shigeki, Jukai Visionary for refilling your hand in the late-game, and you can retrace it to cast it again, and your next turn bring it back to your hand and do it all again.

Bane of Progress is an incredibly powerful card that I don’t play all that much, since I usually play artifacts and enchantments that I’d hate to destroy in the process, but since I can recast those with retrace, I’m less worried about collateral damage and more interested in the sweeper.

Artifacts to Retrace

Blackblade Reforged Swiftfoot Boots Horn of Greed The Great Henge Throne of Eldraine Roaming Throne Containment Construct Currency Converter

These are fun and powerful artifacts often targeted for destruction by your opponents, but with Six’s retrace ability, chances are pretty good they can stick around long enough to grind out an advantage. Containment Construct lets you discard a land to retrace, and then let you play that land. Currency Converter lets you exile the land you discard to retrace, and then you can activate it to put the land into your graveyard and get a Treasure token.

Enchantments to Retrace

Guardian Project Spelunking Kenrith's Transformation Lignify Song of the Dryads Tribute to the World Tree Virtue of Strength The Mending of Dominaria Growing Rites of Itlimoc Case of the Locked Hothouse Elven Chorus

Similarly, there are fun and powerful enchantments often targeted for destruction by your opponents that you’ll be happy to retrace and cast again. I wanted to call out The Mending of Dominaria since it provides self-milling, brings back creatures from the graveyard, and eventually returns all the lands in your graveyard to the battlefield.

Planeswalkers to Retrace

Wrenn and Seven Nissa, Who Shakes the World Nissa, Ascended Animist Ugin, the Ineffable Freyalise, Llanowar's Fury Vivien, Monsters' Advocate

I often skip playing planeswalkers in Commander because players often target them early and often for removal spells or attacks by creatures, but since planeswalkers are permanents Six can retrace, some number of them might be worth playing. Wrenn and Seven is particularly good, since it can help find extra lands for retracing. I also like the utility built into Nissa, Ascended Animist; Ugin, the Ineffable; and Freyalise, Llanowar’s Fury.

Battles to Retrace

Invasion of Zendikar Invasion of Ikoria Invasion of Shandalar Invasion of Ixalan

Battles are a permanent type we might want to retrace. The battle side usually has a sweet immediate effect, and the transformed side often will eat removal. Invasion of Ikoria is cool because it scales over the course of the game, depending on how much mana you want to pump into it.

Treefolk Matter

Fangorn, Tree Shepherd Quickbeam, Upstart Ent Bosk Banneret Timber Protector Dauntless Dourbark Battlewand Oak Orchard Warden Realmwalker Reach of Branches Rootgrapple Everbark Shaman

While I likely wouldn’t make a Six deck purely Treefolk typal, as Six doesn’t provide any effects specifically for Treefolk, I might pepper in some cards that care about Treefolk, since I’ve got a relatively inexpensive Treefolk sitting in my command zone. I particularly like the “Ents” from The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth, like Fangorn, Tree Shepherd and Quickbeam, Upstart Ent. Timber Protector protects Six from dying during combat when it attacks, and if it dies, it’s a prime target to retrace. Everbark Shaman is something I might consider running—if Six dies, I can let it go to the graveyard, exile it with Everbark Shaman to search up two Forests to pay for commander tax, and put Six back in the command zone from exile.

What other awesome cards would you consider adding to your Six deck? What other legendary creatures from Modern Horizons 3 have caught your eye?

Talk to Me

Do me a solid and follow me on Twitter!  I run polls and start conversations about Commander all the time, so get in on the fun!  You can also find my LinkTree on my profile page there with links to all my content.

I’d also love it if you followed my Twitch channel TheCompleteCommander, where I do Commander, Brawl, and sometimes other Magic-related streams when I can.  If you can’t join me live, the videos are available on demand for a few weeks on Twitch, but I also upload them to my YouTube channel.  You can also find the lists for my paper decks over on Archidekt if you want to dig into how I put together my own decks and brews. 

And lastly, I just want to say: let us love each other and stay healthy and happy. 

Visit my Decklist Database to see my decklists and the articles where they appeared!



SCG CON is coming to Baltimore, MD on July 26-28, 2024! The world’s premier trading card game convention features three full days of Magic: The Gathering, Flesh and Blood, Disney Lorcana, and Star Wars Unlimited action:

  • Magic: The Gathering Bloomburrow Prereleases all weekend long, Modern $10K, Legacy $5K, cEDH $5K, Commander Celebration, and Regional Championship qualifications
  • Flesh and Blood Pro Quest + events
  • Disney Lorcana Core Constructed $2K and $1K events
  • Star Wars Unlimited Premier Constructed $2K and $1K events
  • Side events all weekend long

And so much more!

Plus, meet fan-favorite special guests and artists!

Make your plans for SCG CON Baltimore!