The Battle Mammoth is an Elephant creature card from Magic the Gathering’s Kaldheim set which features the Foretell mechanic. Early in Kaldheim spoiler season, the Legendary Creature Ranar, the Ever Watchful was spoiled as the head of one of two Commander decks to be released alongside Kaldheim. It wasn’t revealed what the Foretell mechanic actually did, so the revealing of Battle Mammoth finally spoiled the mechanic.
Foretell allows you to exile the card face-down for 2 generic mana. You can then cast that card from exile on a future turn for its Foretell cost. In the case of Battle Mammoth, you can cast it later for 4 mana: 2 generic, 2 Green. Foretell doesn’t give a card “flash,” so you can’t simply play it at any time you could play an instant. But, playing a 6/5 trampler for 4 mana is generally good. The downside is that you’re paying 6 mana for a 5-mana creature. But, is that actually a downside?
Battle Mammoth is already a powerful body with 6 power and 5 toughness, and having trample makes him a formidable presence on the battlefield. He also has the ability that whenever an opponent’s spell or ability targets a permanent you control, you draw a card. This is similar to the second ability of the notorious Legendary creature Leovold, Emissary of Trest. Of course, the Mammoth doesn’t have Leovold’s oppressive first ability of preventing opponents from drawing more than one card per turn.
At worst, Battle Mammoth essentially replaces itself if it’s targeted by removal that can kill it in one shot. But, more importantly, you get to draw a card when an opponent targets any permanent you control, whether it’s an artifact, creature, enchantment, token, or land. This ability can be much more powerful than it appears.
The issue that many players have with Battle Mammoth is that there are simply better creatures at the 5-mana slot in Green. The Mammoth entered a Standard format where Elder Gargaroth was the chief 5-mana Green creature. Gargaroth’s upside is much higher, allowing you to activate an effect whenever it attacks or blocks. Elder Gargaroth also has vigilance and reach, meaning it doesn’t need tap to attack and can block creatures with flying. Battle Mammoth has neither of those keyword abilities. Even after Gargaroth left Standard, no one was exactly tripping over themselves to play the Mammoth.
All that being said, Battle Mammoth is a good card, even if he isn’t one of the more exciting mythic rare creatures we’ve seen in awhile. Still, Magic players have been spoiled by quite a few sets in a row printing extremely powerful and format-warping creatures at mythic rare. Honestly, though, while paying an extra mana to be able to cast it from exile seems bad, the Mammoth might prove better in the long run than some players think.
Foretell is a better mechanic for cards that can be cast at instant speed, such as popular spells such as Behold the Multiverse and Saw It Coming. It’s also solid for the board wipe Doomskar, despite being at sorcery speed. The cool thing is that the Foretell card is exiled face-down so that your opponent doesn’t know what it is. Having a face-down card in exile is just like having an extra card in hand. So, Battle Mammoth can be very good against decks with plenty of interactive spells that target things you control. It won’t be so good in decks that are less interactive.
Could Battle Mammoth find itself stuck in sideboards? Indeed, the Mono-Green Aggro decks that dominated early Innistrad: Midnight Hunt Standard did in fact board two Battle Mammoths. At the very least, the Mammoth can surprise a lot of people, being a pretty nice sideboard option against decks with lots of targeted removal. If he draws more than one card while he’s on the battlefield, he’s well worth the inclusion.
Also, like many mythic rare cards on the fringe of competitive play, Battle Mammoth is finding a niche in several Commander decks. First and foremost is Old Gnawbone, who benefits from creatures with Trample in order to create Treasure tokens with his combat damage ability. Saryth, the Viper’s Fang, who’s becoming a popular Deathtouch Tribal commander, especially appreciates trample thanks to how the Deathtouch mechanic works. Deathtouch requires you to only assign a single point of damage to a creature in order to kill it, meaning the rest can go to your opponent’s face or a planeswalker they control.
The last Commander who seems a good fit for Battle Mammoth is the fun Volo, Guide to Monsters. As likely the only Elephant in a Volo deck, you can get two copies of Battle Mammoth, which isn’t at all a bad deal for the initial investment of just five mana, and even better at his Foretell alternate cost of four. Several other Commanders who care about trample, such as Stonebrow, Krosan Hero, are also becoming enamored with Battle Mammoth. That means even if Battle Mammoth peaks as a sideboard card in Mono-Green Standard decks in competitive play, he’ll always find a number of homes in Commander.
How would you play Battle Mammoth?