Card of the Evening – Donphan Prime (HeartGold & SoulSilver HS 107)

pokebeach.comWelcome to today’s Card of the Evening! I will be reviewing Donphan from the Heart Gold Soul Silver expansion set. Let’s get started!

Donphan is a fighting type Pokémon, which is an average type to have. There are some Pokémon that have a resistance to fighting, such as Gyarados, which will give Donphan problems, but Luxray GL LV.X also has x2 weakness to fighting, so it has some benefit at the same time. Donphan has a monstrous Retreat Cost of 4, which is terrible, but expected. It has a x2 weakness to Water, meaning he will be 1HKO’d by Gyarados and Kingdra Prime will take it down relatively easily. The resistance to lightning is nice.

Its Poké-Body, “Exoskeleton”, reduces all damage done to it by 20, which combined with its huge 120 HP (for a Stage 1), makes Donphan a pretty good potential tank. Its first attack, “Earthquake”, will do 60 damage to the defending Pokémon and 10 to your bench, for just 1 Fighting Eenergy. That is a very powerful, fast attack. Its second attack, “Heavy Impact”, does 90 for FFF.

As you can see, Donphan is a card that is meant to be fast, aggressive and take a lot of damage before going down. It does a pretty good job at that.

If you’re wondering what’s stopping Donphan from being Tier 1, there are a few things. The first is the x2 Water weakness, which means it’ll be 1HKO’d by two popular attackers, meaning the tanking idea won’t work very well. The second is that it typically doesn’t have enough power for to keep up with decks like Jumpluff and other big attackers late game.

There are a lot of different cards that have been put in decks with Donphan. People have used Flygon to get free Retreat Cost, Nidoqueen to heal, Machamp to ensure SP is an auto-Win, in SP as a mirror-match tech and with Entei & Raikou LEGEND. One other combination that seems to be gaining popularity is putting Donphan with Kingdra Prime.

What was once a very hyped card is now a Tier 3 deck that just couldn’t survive in this LuxChomp dominated format. To make things worse for the card, Dialga G LV.X is now seeing more play than Luxray GL LV.X meaning that Exoskeleton is shut off and it has less of an advantage in that match up.

Perhaps something in the upcoming boosters will be able to give Donphan the support it needs, but until then.

Modified Rating: 3/5 (The more Dialga is played, the more power Donphan looses.)

Reader Interactions

7 replies

  1. Adam Capriola

    I couple other things to mention about the card for newer players:

    Expert Belt is good with it.

    And Crobat G can be an issue because of Poison and its Resistance.

    • Dakota Streck  → Adam

      Yeah. However, because it’s becoming easier and easier to KO donphan, the extra 20 HP and damage probably won’t be worth the reward against Gyarados, Kingdra or Dialga G.

      Crobat G is an issue as well, like you said. Crobat G is actually a pretty good counter to Donphan, but Donphan can, in turn counter Crobat G by running 3-4 Warp Points/Switches.

  2. Tonu Taitto

    At the moment, I think Donphan should be tier 2 deck since Gyarados isn’t so played deck at the moment and techs like ERL (or other Fire type Pokémons) will cut Kingdra Primes attacks base damage by 40. Kingra matchup is really favorable to you as long as it doesn’t play 2 LA Kingdras and/or either Reversals or Luxray GL lvX. Gyarados matchup is terrible and huge factors to the game is your opponents prizes, his start and that how many times you may put your opponent to shuffle his hand in certain spot during the game. on both matchup, ERL usually takes about 2-4 Prizes per a shot which is the best way to win those decks. Stark Mountain Stadium card is the key to make Donphan to work IMO. Before you’r Donphan is going to KO or you’re about to flip SSU, you can move one energy from it to another Donphan and then one more from your hand. So if you had one energy on it before you started your turn, you can make it to hit 90 damage already.

    Dialga G techs and decks is annoying mainly because it also shuts down Manectric’s Body. Without getting any Bench Shields on you benched Pokémons, they will KO if you use your ERL. At least ERL can Detonation Spin Dialga G lvX to death if it stays at active Pokémon.

    After we (hopefully) get Hunter, Rescue Energy and Junk Arm from the next set, Gyarados will be a lot more played card and will become one of the BDIF. This is why Donphan should be played right now when many people doesn’t play Gyarados. Donphan will remain good tech after the next set.

    I would give 4/5 to Donphan since it is great card which you can make deck of or you can tech it in a various number of decks. Cons are heavy Retreat Cost (needs some Warp Points/Switches), Weakness to Water (Gyarados and Kingdra LA will hurt it a lot)…

    Random note: At Worlds on Master division, only 4 played Donphan as far as I know. End of the Swiss rounds: me (FI) 5-2, Koujiro T. (JP) 4-3, Joseph H. (US) 3-4 and Juha-Pekka R. (FI) 2-3.

    PS: I have lost to LuxChomp only twice with Donphan deck. Ok start, Uxies got Sprayed, didn’t draw Energy, opponent used Froslass GL and I flipped Tails on sleep condition. Other match were terrible start (Relicanth and Regirock). At Worlds I won 3 LuxChomps and during our test games I won LuxChomp like 4 out of 4 games. I also tested this against DialgaChomp (lost a bit over half of those games) and SableLock (this won more than it). Now that Donphan lost its Claydols, SP matchups will be a bit harder since one Spray could cost you the game.

    • venny kid  → Tonu

      I have to agree with what you said, and I think that Donphan will be a better tech card this season than the main deck focus. Heck! I teched it INTO my Gyrados to counter Luxray…

  3. Zachary Slater

    This card was much like Flygon RR when it first came out, everyone knew it was a good card, but nobody could pair it with anything. In the end, this format is just faster and more speed dominated, so until then… I don’t know if Donphan can win.

    …Especially with the game moving towards the ‘Lost Zone’ next set and Gengar Prime >.>

  4. the sidewalk

    Are you SERIOUS?! 3/5?! This is one of the best cards out there. It’s one of two decks that practically has an auto-win over the most successful deck in the format! It OHKO’s Luxray X with one energy and doesn’t need a Candy (like Machamp) to do it. The only drawback this guy has is hitting the bench, but that can be fixed easily. With Seeker, Manectric and Expert Belt in format, this guy has everything it needs to win. It also has a really good Machamp match up, which is useful. The only problems with this card are Gyarados and Kingdra’s abilities to run through it. However, Gyarados is a rarity in Master’s, and Kingdra even more so. This guy needs a 4/5.

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