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Building Around Six in Commander

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Today I'm going to be exploring a new legendary creature printed in Modern Horizons 3 that I was lucky enough to pull out of a booster pack. I was even lucky enough to pull a portrait version, which has some pretty sweet artwork. I've built a few Treefolk decks in the past year but this one looks like it will be more focused on the graveyard than on any single creature type.

Building Six in Commander

Six

Six is a legendary Treefolk with reach and both a modest casting cost and stats. For three mana I get a two power, four toughness body and an interesting party trick. Whenever Six attacks, I'll mill three cards and put a land from among them into my hand. As long as it's my turn, nonland permanent cards in my graveyard have retrace - meaning that I can discard a land to cast them out of the graveyard. Retrace doesn't exile the original card - it's just like casting from my hand, but out of the graveyard for the normal casting cost, and the added cost of discarding a land.

I love commanders that give me a puzzle to solve and this is a great example. How much should I focus on self-mill? Should I pursue a landfall strategy or avoid focusing on lands because I want to have lands in my hand so I can use Six's retrace ability? Do I need to try to give myself hexproof to avoid being hit with a Bojuka Bog? There is no one right answer, as every player has their own preferred playstyles and every deck is playable at the right power level. Ultimately I need to find what makes sense and works for me.

Today's column started with a list that I then built in paper and played a few times. My deck was different in a lot of ways from my original first draft, in no small part because I don't proxy and build with what I have available. It ended up being a weaker deck, more fit for casual play, but that's fine by me and fits well with some of the groups I regularly play at.

Inevitability

One of my favorite high powered EDH decks is my Muldrotha, the Gravetide list. If the game goes long enough it's very likely that I will get a combo together that can win the game. The reason for its consistency is that it lets me pull cards back out of the graveyard. Muldrotha has more colors and less hoops for me to jump through, but I think the premise is a good one. Playing with a commander that provides easy access to cards in my graveyard works really well with a combo plan, as I should be able to attempt a win multiple times.

The key with Six is that my combo pieces should probably be permanents. In mono green that's not a hard challenge but I am limited by what is available in my commander's color identity.

Squirrel Nest
Earthcraft
Concordant Crossroads

Not only does Squirrel Nest combo do a spiffy job at creating a huge army of Squirrels, it also feels right for a Treefolk commander like Six. I might have trouble with any tax on attackers from a Ghostly Prison or Propaganda, but it's still a solid way to threaten a win. Nest lets me enchant a land so that I can tap it to create a Squirrel. Earthcraft lets me tap that Squirrel to untap a basic land so I can do it again.

It's worth noting that Concordant Crossroads would fit in nicely to let me swing with my Squirrel Army and would also fit in with an Ivy Lane Denizen combo plan. Scurry Oak and Herd Baloth both let me create a huge army with Denizen, and having haste is a great way to avoid that turn cycle where you give everyone a chance to wipe the board before you can attack. I might add Ivy Lane Denizen combo into the list at some point if it proves to be a fun deck to play.

Abundance
Cultivator Colossus

If I've got Abundance on the field, play Cultivator Colossus and have a land in hand, I can play the land and then use Abundance to make sure I keep drawing lands until I've dumped every land in my deck into play. They'll be tapped, but it's a great feeling to have that much mana available and usually greases the wheels to get me to a win. I'll still need to have a land in hand, but playing bounce lands like Jungle Basin or Guildless Commons can solve that problem. Amulet of Vigor or Spelunking would solve the problem of those lands entering tapped, and may well be worth running in this list.

Once I have an abundant amount of mana, I just need to draw into what I need to try to win. This list could use a few staples like Beast Whisperer and The Great Henge, but in one of my games I was able to use Regal Force to draw into what I needed to get there. The only risk to a Colossus turn is that I have no lands in hand and no way to use Six's retrace ability. It's a real risk to be top-decking mana dorks when I need to be using all my mana, but it's also more fun to lose after doing a big splashy play than after not doing anything interesting.

What makes this deck's basic plan so good is that if someone sends one of my key combo pieces to the graveyard, I can always just discard a card and recast the combo piece with Six's retrace ability. There isn't much I'll be able to do about a well-timed Path or Swords. I could run Riftsweeper, but shuffling a card from exile back into my deck doesn't exactly make it available unless I've also loaded up on tutors and can get it back into my hand or graveyard.

Playing Fair

I've always felt that a good high-powered deck doesn't just aim for a combo win. It also has backup plans that allow you to present a threat in some other way. In most cases that means establishing a board presence and attempting to kill your opponents with combat damage.

Molimo, Maro-Sorcerer
Terastodon
Bane of Progress

This deck cares about lands, but instead of focusing on landfall I decided to run Molimo, Maro-Sorcerer, who has a power and toughness linked to the number of lands I control. I'm also running some big bodies that can serve as removal along with presenting a threat on the battlefield. Terastodon can blow up three noncreature permanents and gives me a 9/9 body to swing with. It also hands out 3/3 green Elephant creature tokens, so if I decide to blow up my own stuff I'll get an additional 9 power worth of creatures on the field.

Bane of Progress and Whiptongue Hydra are additional answers that can really turn the tables on certain decks. The former will destroy all artifacts and enchantments and will get a +1/+1 counter for each permanent destroyed this way. In one of my first few games with this deck I was able to cast a Curious Herd to make over a dozen 3/3 Beast tokens and then follow it up with a Bane of Progress to wipe those artifacts. Whiptongue will destroy all creatures with flying and will get a +1/+1 counter for each creature destroyed this way.

Removal attached to creatures or permanents is the way to go with a commander like Six, so I've also chosen to run Acidic Slime, Caustic Caterpillar, Voracious Varmint, Rec Sage and a few other ways to get rid of problem permanents.

Kura, the Boundless Sky
Groundskeeper
Spore Frog

A lot of this deck's focus is on making sure I'm able to put lands into my hand. Skittering Surveyor, Traveler's Amulet, Wanderer's Twig, Life from the Loam, Yavimaya Elder, and even Jungle Basin are here to help. While light on flyers, Kura, the Boundless Sky is a Dragon Spirit with flying and deathtouch who has the perfect death trigger for this deck. When Kura dies I can go get up to three lands out of my library and put them in my hand, or I can create an X/X green Spirit creature token where X is the number of lands I control. This works nicely with Greater Good if I've got enough lands to play Kura, sacrifice it to draw cards, and then play it again out of the graveyard.

This version of Six was where I really dove into playing cards like Satyr Wayfinder and Borderland Ranger, which can tutor lands to my hand. I've got a lot of these guys and I've learned that it's tempting to start messing with graveyard stuff early in the game but the best plan is to first focus on ramp and then pivot to graveyard stuff in the mid game. With enough bodies on the field, I can turn a Overwhelming Stampede into an alpha strike, even if those bodies are in the 0-2 power range.

This might be the perfect Loam deck, as it can fill my graveyard with Dredge 3, and it can put up to 3 lands into my hand from my graveyard. Bouncelands are just what Six wants, but I can only run two. Neither are great, but drawing one in the mid to late game could set me up to retrace something important back to my hand.

Spore Frog is great in this deck as it is very easy to cast, at one green mana, and I'll usually only need to protect myself from the player with the strongest board. If I can bring it back every turn for a few turn cycles, that might give me enough room to do what I need to do. Sometimes that just means surviving after putting a ton of lands into play tapped so I can have a turn with access to all that mana. Other times it might mean keeping a tablemate alive either because they're having a rough game and I'm a soft touch, or because I need their help to deal with another player who has gotten even more out of hand.

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I Got Six

I'll forgive you for not getting a reference to the old Schoolhouse Rock song, but I won't forgive you if you sleep on this legendary Treefolk. If you're looking for a green commander not named Titania who can give you a fun graveyard-interactive game of commander, I think Six is an exciting new option MH3 has added to our format.

This list is another deck with a huge creature count. I decided to run a bunch of mana dorks to help me have an easier early game, and I also tacked my ramp and removal onto creatures whenever possible. It wouldn't take much to pivot to a deck that could probably win outright with the sorcery Primal Surge, but I didn't want to go down that path this week.


While this deck aspires to be in the mid-to-high power range, I decided not to run creature tutors, fast mana, or any of the staxier cards that you might want in order to compete at high power, like Collector Ouphe or Hall of Gemstone. My personal preference is to somewhat avoid playing decks and strategies that stop other players from doing their thing.

Moving towards higher power would involve dropping out some of the chaff and adding Ivy Lane Denizen combo along with more interaction and tutors. I'm also missing card draw staples like Beast Whisperer and The Great Henge, and there are lots of other cards you could add to push up in power. You'll probably still not do much at a cEDH table, but I think you could probably play high powered EDH with a fully tuned Six deck.

If you wanted to tune this list down, it's already not playing tutors but you would probably want to drop out the combos and move it towards a less explosive wincon. Landfall works well in mid to low powered EDH and provided you aren't trying to Scapeshift a dozen lands into play with a scute swarm on board, I expect you'll do fine. High-powered landfall shenanigans are more akin to combo than anything else. Ultimately you should view this list as a starting point and try to build your own Six deck in a way that fits in with your playstyle and the power level of the groups you play with.

Final Thoughts

I recently played back to back games at an LGS with mono-green decks. In the first game I was on Aeve, Progenitor Ooze and in the second match I was on a fairly casual Yisan, Wanderer Bard list. I happened to see a few of the same cards in each game and I was reminded of how staples and power creep have somewhat homogenized the format. The decks were very far from identical, and the player who pointed out that I was playing the same cards again was joking around, but his comment stuck with me.

When I decided to build Six in paper, my first draft went out the window and it's probably a good thing that it did. I hadn't loaded up on cards like Satyr Wayfinder and the deck felt like more of a generic mono-Green EDH deck. This list now has an emphasis on putting lands in my hand and I'm playing cards I might not put in any other deck I run. I also skipped out on personal staples like Pilgrim's Eye and Skittering Surveyor, even though they are really perfect for what I'm trying to do here. One of the greatest things about EDH is the variety you can see in the decks you play and play against, and that is never more true than at lower power levels.

I'm even starting to lean away from playing Sol Ring, as we are playing a 100 card format and if Sol Ring is in every deck I build, I'll be missing out on a little more of that variety that you can get when you play Commander. At lower power it's less about optimization and winning and so far I haven't really missed that shiny one mana albatross. I still play Sol Ring, but at lower power levels I'm more and more likely to leave it out.

You should play Sol Ring, and whatever other cards you feel like playing if they are right for your playstyle and the power levels you are playing at. Just because I'm an aging hipster doesn't mean you have to be.

That's all I've got for today. Thanks for reading and I'll see you next week!

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