We all know Donphan is as annoying as it is popular. A force to be reckoned with, Donphan can turn any player, newbie or veteran, into a potential round loss at a tournament. Don’t get me wrong, Donphan is a great card, and arguably the most game changing card of the last 3 expansions, barring maybe Jumpluff, Spiritomb and Expert Belt.
The thing that makes it one of the most frustrating cards is the fact that it can be played by just about anyone, and with a few lucky coin flips, can win matches that shouldn’t be won under normal circumstances. Being a Stage 1 with a 1-for-60 attack is unmatched by any Pokémon in the format, coupled with a fantastic damage reducing Poké-Body makes it a fantastic card.
That is to say it is not without its weaknesses, of which there are many. Besides the fact that the deck relies on up to 8 coin flips per game, (4 Pokémon Reversal, 4 Super Scoop Up), there are many Pokémon in our format to counter and exploit his weaknesses. I believe Donphan will be played for as long as it is legal, and my goal in this article is to show you how to tech against it.
Non-SP Deck Counters:
1. Glalie (AR)
Glalie is a Stage 1 Water type with a very good Donphan killing attack. “Wreck”, for a single Double Colorless Energy, will 1HKO an Un-Belted Donphan if there is any Stadium in play, doing 20 damage plus 50 more damage and then discarding that Stadium.
This is particularly good because you don’t have to commit to playing any Water energy, and it exploits the often maxed-out Broken Time Space line that many Donphan variants include. 90HP and a +20 weakness to Metal makes it less susceptible to an easy revenge prize. A Retreat Cost of 1 is payable or Unown Q abuse-able.
Great for decks that already play 3-4 Double Colorless Energy, can’t afford to play another specific energy type, already play 3-4 Stadiums.
2. Shedinja (SV)
Shedinja is also a Stage 1, although it’s stats are less impressive. 60 HP and Grass type. The thing that makes Shedinja a good Donphan counter is it’s Poké-Body “Marvel Shell”, that prevents all effects of attacks, including damage done to it by Pokémon with Poké-Bodies or Poké-Powers. A fully set-up Donphan play field will usually include: Donphan (Active), Donphan, Donphan Uxie, Uxie, and Mespirit on the bench.
pokemon-paradijs.comThis means none of them can hit Shedinja for any damage, essentially giving you the win. Your opponent even sets you up perfectly for Shedinja’s only attack “Spike Wound”, which will hit for 30 anywhere on the board to a Pokémon that already has damage counters on it. If your opponent used “Earthquake” at all during the game, this gives you a 30 snipe for a single C energy.
Of course, there is a downside to this strategy. “Spike Wound” will only do 10 damage to any Donphan in play, but this can be increased to 30 on the active with Expert Belt. The bigger problem is a Nidoqueen tech, which will essentially turn your 30 snipe into a 10 snipe, or worse yet, disable “Spike Wound” all together due to the massive healing of “Maternal Comfort”.
Great for decks that already play 2-3 Expert Belt, can’t afford to play another specific energy type, can’t commit too much space for a Donphan tech.
3. Frost Rotom (RR)
Frost Rotom is another viable counter, though perhaps the most finicky on the list. It’s 2nd attack “Crushing Ice” will do 40 damage plus 10 more damage for each energy requirement in the Defending Pokémon’s Retreat Cost. This will 1HKO even a Belted Donphan, which is really nice.
This strategy has many cons, however. This is the most cost-defective of the techs in this list, forcing you to commit a Double Colorless energy and a Water energy to take down Donphan. The Retreat Cost of 3 is horrifying, so pack Warp Points. Another downside is that a common tech in Donphan is Flygon, giving Donphan free retreat, and finally, a Mesprit drop will turn off his “Type Shift” Poké-Power, and therefore make Donphan resistant to it rather than weak.
The fact that Donphan lists are packing Mesprit’s and Flygon’s along with Rotom’s own shortcomings seem to make the cons outweigh the pros, but it is still a good, if not risky counter.
Good for decks that already run 3-4 Double Colorless Energy, already run Water/Rainbow energy, already run 2-3 Warp Point, need to improve their Gyarados matchup as well.
4. Dewgong (SV)
Dewgong is the other card that can 1HKO a Belted Donphan. “Ice Shard” does 80 damage to any Fighting type Pokémon for a Water and C energy. It does share some of the cons of Frost Rotom, however, and is arguably less versatile. 3 Retreat makes it slow, requiring you to run Warp Point. It is a Stage 1 with a terrible potential starter, as both legal Seel’s have a Retreat Cost of 2. Finally, it requires you commit to 2 turns of energy attachments, one of them being specific.
Good for decks that already run 3-4 Warp Point, already run Water/Rainbow energy, need the option to 1HKO a Belted Donphan.
pokebeach.com5. Crobat Prime (UL)
The last of the non-SP specific techs, Crobat can be a devastating tech. “Severe Poison”, for a single Psychic energy will poison Donphan for 40 damage in between turns. Crobat’s own fighting resistance makes it difficult for opposing Donphan’s to KO, and the Poison will kill Donphan by the time you announce your next attack, usually sniping another Pokémon on your opponent’s bench with “Skill Dive”.
Great for decks that already run 3-4 Rare Candy, already run Psychic/Rainbow energy.
SP Deck Counters:
1. Crobat G
A Donphan counter in and of itself, it can poison for 20 in between turns for a Psychic and an Energy Gain. However, it’s free retreat, Fighting resistance, and SP engine abuse-ability makes it a key card in the other 2 SP specific Donphan counters.
Great for decks, heck, every SP deck runs 2-3 of these guys anyway, and if you don’t, you should!
pokemon-paradijs.com2. Quagsire GL
Quagsire is perhaps the most utilized of the SP-specific Donphan techs. for a Water and Double Colorless energy, “Punch and Run” does 40 damage and gives you the option to switch to the bench, where it becomes immune to damage thanks to it’s Poké-Body “Submerge”. The combo is to then promote Crobat G, who can easily take a hit from Donphan, then either retreat or Poké-Turn back to Quagsire GL to “Punch and Run” again to finish the job. You will need 2 Crobat G drops to kill a Belted Donphan using this strategy.
Another pro for Quagsire GL in LuxChomp is that it gives you a place to discharge Luxray GL LV.X’s “Trash Bolt” thanks to “Submerge”. Lightning resistance is also a huge plus. Overall, it is a great tech to counter Luxray GL’s fighting weakness.
3. Froslass GL
This is one of my favorite new Donphan techs because it can serve multiple uses. Her first attack “Sleep Inducer” does just what it says: You get to switch the defending Pokémon and bring up a new one that becomes asleep. This not only usually makes them waste an energy attachment to retreat, but it gives them a 50-50 chance of not being able to do anything, making it a fantastic early game disrupter.
The best thing is that this attack can operate for a single Energy Gain, meaning you can commit your energy for the turn on your main attacker. Her 2nd attack “Wake-Up Slap”, for a Psychic and an Energy Gain, does 20 damage plus 30 more if the defending Pokémon is affected by a Special Condition. Hmmm.. I seem to remember an Pokémon SP that inflicts a Special Condition for the same exact price. Ah yes! Crobat G.
So essentially, the combo would be this: Promote Crobat G, attach Psychic and Energy Gain to use “Deep Poison”. Next turn, take the hit from Donphan, Poké-Turn Crobat G and promote Froslass GL. Attach the very same Psychic and Energy Gain and “Wake-Up Slap” for the KO. This 2HKO combo is more cost effective than Quagsire GL, and combined with her great disruptive ability, makes this a legit Donphan tech to consider for your SP deck.
Well there you go, my favorite Donphan counters specific to SP and non-SP decks. Some are better than others, with my personal favorites being Shedinja for non-SP, and Froslass GL for SP. I included several things for you to consider when choosing a tech. Look at the italic description below each tech that best describes your deck and give it a try. I also need to add, that not every deck needs a Donphan counter!
Have a good day, and happy Teching!