Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
Elephants in Magic: The Gathering
Pachyderms aren't the most common creature type in Magic: The Gathering, but they often wield high toughness attributes, letting them tank several hits in a single turn without falling, and many also bear the helpful trample trait, allowing excess combat damage to bleed through opposing creatures and hit an opponent's life.
As befitting their bestial yet structured nature, most elephants belong to the white and green factions. While I'm still waiting for a competitive legendary elephant commander, we've seen more than a few interesting tusked mammals to satisfy our curiosity in the meantime. Don't believe me? These are the 10 best elephant spells in Magic: The Gathering!
10. Greenbelt Rampager
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 1
Considering its incredibly low cost of a single mana pop, Greenbelt Rampager boasts an amazing 3/4 power and toughness ratio, but you have to pay two energy counters when it enters the field. Energy counters are a rare resource that fuel the abilities of certain cards; luckily, Rampager can help accumulate them. If you cast Rampager but can't yet pay its price, it bounces back to your hand and provides you with one energy counter.
This makes Rampager useful not only as a fierce low-cost beatstick but also as a handy way to accumulate energy counters, which you can later use to cast Rampager or save to empower other cards.
9. Bosom Buddy
From the wacky unhinged set comes Bosom Buddy. Its 1/4 stats are low for its cost of four, but Buddy grants you 1/2 a life whenever you play a spell for each word in that card's name. It's as simple as that; Buddy has low offensive power, but its decent toughness and life-regenerating quality keep you in the game long enough to win with other methods. The elephant/townsfolk subtype pairing also offers a unique blend that qualifies for a few handy support effects.
8. Frankie Peanuts
Another unhinged release, this elephant/rogue mixup also requires four mana. Although Frankie only wields a mediocre 2/3 combat stats, he offers a unique ability no other card can grant. At the start of your upkeep (the beginning of your turn), you can ask a target player a "yes or no" question. They must answer truthfully and abide by that answer (if possible) as the turn progresses.
Creative players can gain a variety of information to best map out their turn. You can determine whether your opponent has a specific card in hand (useful for prediction blue negations), learn how your opponent would assign a blocker in combat, and much, much more with this mob-boss prize.
7. Sandsteppe Mastodon
Even with the green forests' mana-ramping strategies, acquiring the seven mana needed for Sandsteppe Mastodon won't be easy; luckily, you can gimmick it to the field with cards like Norwood Priestess to avoid its considerable fee.
Fortunately, Mastodon compensates for its price, with a solid 5/5 stat and the reach trait, letting it block both ground and flying opponents. Better yet, when it enters the field, you bolster 5, adding five +1/+1 counters to the unit you control with the least toughness.
This often drastically strengthens an ally, but if Mastodon happens to have the lowest toughness when it appears, it'll raise its own abilities to a daunting 10/10! And since this activates whenever Mastodon enters the field (not necessarily having been cast), you'll also enjoy the bonus even if Mastodon was revived from the graveyard or gimmicked into play with Priestess.
6. Spelltithe Enforcer
Spelltithe Enforcer's 3/3 stats don't particularly impress considering its cost, but this ivory elephant also bears the handy wizard subtype, qualifying for many blue support abilities. Even better, the plains-dwelling beast forces your opponent to either pay an extra mana or sacrifice a permanent whenever they play a spell, dwindling their army or draining their mana reservoirs.
Thankfully, since Enforcer isn't legendary and doesn't adhere to the legend rule, you can have multiple out at once, and their effects will stack, making it incredibly difficult for your opponent to simply use their resources without forfeiting cards in the process. Enforcers combos particularly well with white staples like Ghostly Prison or Mana Tithe, forming a powerful siege engine to win any war of attrition.
5. Loxodon Gatekeeper
Another four-cost white elephant (and soldier), Loxodon Gatekeeper wields a mediocre 2/3 stats, but like Bosom Buddy, you're mostly here for its trait. Having Gatekeeper fielded makes your opponent's artifacts, creatures, and lands enter the battlefield tapped.
Creatures without the haste keyword can't attack or tap the turn they're played anyway due to summoning sickness, but having them enter tapped prevents them from blocking and dampens haste-bearing foes. Gatekeeper's effect is similar to the Blind Obedience enchantment, but unlike Obedience, it also makes lands enter tapped, drastically hindering your opponent's resource generation in addition to their artifact and creature potential.
4. Loxodon Smiter
Another Loxodon elephant/soldier, Smiter offers one of the best white and green spells in the game. Only demanding three mana, Smiter enjoys a fierce 4/4, and he can't be countered, bypassing many blue entrance hazards. Plus, if a spell or ability an opponent controlled would cause you to discard Smiter, you instead put him onto the battlefield!
Strong stats, low cost, and barriers against negation and discard make Smiter a powerful and inevitable force to unleash against your adversary. An impressive unit, but we've still got one last Loxodon to cover...
3. Loxodon Hierarch
Wielding the elephant and cleric subtypes, this mammal also arrives as a 4/4, decent stats for its CMC of 4, and when it joins the fray, you automatically gain four life. Additionally, you can at any time pay one white and one green mana and sacrifice Hierarch to regenerate every other creature you control, an awesome guard against field-wipes like End Hostilities that would otherwise annihilate your entire army.
Definitely a formidable defensive unit, but note that some nukes (like Damnation) can bypass Hierarch's shield with anti-regeneration effects.
2. Aggressive Mammoth
Aggressive Mammoth needs six mana, high enough to consider using cards like Norwood Priestess to avoid the drain but low enough to achieve with a bit of ramping. Mammoth brandishes a daunting 8/8 as well as the trample effect, bulldozing through blockers to land pierce damage against your opponent.
Additionally, Mammoth also gives your other creatures trample, making stall tactics much less of an issue as you sweep your way through whatever weak creatures your opponent desperately scrambles to block with. Who would have thought an Aggressive Mammoth would be so aggressive?
Both today's most mana-taxing and mightiest card, Terastodon requires eight mana but harnesses an incredible 9/9 stats, making it one of Magic's strongest creatures. Plus, when it arrives, you can target and destroy up to three noncreature permanents, and for each eliminated, its controller creates a 3/3 green elephant token.
In most cases, you're much better off destroying opposing artifacts, enchantments, and even planeswalkers despite giving your opponent a mid-size unit for each, replacing their passive boosts with beatable monsters. You can also choose to eliminate some of your own permanents, useful if you have leftover early-game artifacts or enchantments that have served their purpose.
I've used Terastodon to great effect myself, especially in Omanth, Locus of Mana EDH decks that can easily gimmick him to the field. Luckily, despite Terastodon's fierce powers, it's a surprisingly cheap card available to budget players, often costing less than a dollar! It also makes a great stocking stuffer to young players, who will value it for its sheer size and strength (even if they don't fully understand the game yet).
Future of Elephants in Magic
As we've seen, elephants come in many shapes and sizes to boost your arsenal. As of the 2007 "Grand Creature Type Update", all former mammoth cards became elephants, simplifying the bunch into one combined group. Spells like Gift of Tusks can generate elephant tokens, generally with 3/3 stats, and the type enjoys the powerful Elephant Graveyard support land, which can tap to either provide a colorless mana or regenerate an elephant.
Thus, we've got the beginnings of a full-fledged creature type, but time will tell if our humongous allies will acquire the last pieces needed to sculpt them into a functional kin. But for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next pachyderm expansion, vote for your favorite creature and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2018 Jeremy Gill