Pokémon Prime Time: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Donphan (Part I)


“Deterrence is the art of producing in the mind of the enemy… the fear to attack. And so, because of the automated and irrevocable decision making process which rules out human meddling, the Donphan machine is terrifying. It’s simple to understand. And completely credible, and convincing.” -Quote Edited

With LV.X Pokémon soon to be rotated, we are left with Pokémon Prime and the Pokémon Legends that stand out above the rest of the cards in the format. Today I will be discussing the Prime Pokémon powerhouses that will most certainly be important in the upcoming format.

The central point of this enterprise will be the Pokémon I consider to be a cut above the rest: Donphan Prime, but for now I would like to consider the utility of the other Primes starting with:

Ampharos Prime

Ampharos Primepokebeach.com

Ampharos is usable mainly for his Poké-Body “Conductivity”. Widely regarded as useless in a format full on Pokémon SP that could attack for as little as one or even zero energy, I have a feeling that he will have an opportunity to shine next season.

First, resistance to Metal is not bad with Scizor and Steelix Primes still around, and all of his other stats (other than Fighting weakness) are pretty solid. Conductivity however will be crushing to those decks which rely on fast and consistent energy acceleration.

This will most likely target Emboar and Feraligatr variants, as both Pokémon have energy acceleration Poké-Powers that are necessary for the expensive costs of water and fire Pokémon.

Also, with Pokémon like Reshiram discarding two energy each time they attack, consistent maintenance will have to find some way to deal with the Ampharos’s Poké-Body. This ability will still be most helpful when stacked of course, although even one Ampharos at a time can add up damage quickly.


Blissey Prime

Blissey Prime has the Poké-Power “Blissful Nurse”, which allows you to completely heal one of your Pokémon with the added cost of subsequently discarding any energy attached to them. I had an idea a while back that involved Steelix, Blissey, and Shaymin, but it took up too much bench and deck space to pull of the defensive combo.

Not to mention both Blissey and Shaymin can only activate their powers when played from the hand, forcing you to run several Seekers/Super Scoop Ups. Fortunately for us, but unfortunately for poor little Blissey, Pokémon will be releasing Max Revive in the next set, a trainer card that will do exactly what Blissful Nurse does without the necessity of a Rube Goldberg machine to pull it off.

I hate to see cards become obsolete (it’s so sad), but it’s okay since Blissey almost never saw play in the first place (though some did run him in “Healix” builds). Bye bye Blissey.

Feraligatr Prime


Ah, good ol’ Rain Dance. I remember this power from back in the Base Set days. One thing Feraligatr has going for him is the Grass weakness, a type that probably won’t see too much table time next season, giving Feraligatr an almost free pass to wreak havoc.

The one problem is that his attack “Hydro Crunch” is just awful for its cost, meaning you have to find Pokémon to partner him with. Kyogre & Groudon LEGEND has been one, but since Legends are so difficult to get into play this deck has retreated into obscurity.

Most of the best matches with this guy also end up being Stage 2s (Samurott) and while decks with multiple Stage 2s can work, they often do not do as well as simpler, faster, and more consistent decks. The fact that he is confined to water types also doesn’t help, and I’m pretty sure Emboar will be a much more popular energy accelerator.


Meganium Prime

Meganium’s “Leaf Trans” is similar to the Pokémon Power of the Base Set Venusaur, and is likely to be used as infrequently as he was. As I said above, Grass just doesn’t seem to have the power at the moment.

Some possible Grass types that this could work with are Tangrowth, whose damage increases with each energy attached to him, but with 110 HP, he likely won’t be around for too long. This can also come in handy once Max Revive is released, since the power can move energy temporarily while you heal, then move it back.

This reminds me a lot of the new Black and White Klinklang, who could be a staple for the next generation Healix decks. Although Meganium has decent stats, 80 for four and a weakness to fire makes me want to reconsider his usefulness in the next format.

Clearly, his utility will be directly related to that of Grass type Pokémon in general, which is to say: not much.

Typhlosion Prime

pokebeach.comTyphlosion is much more useful; with fire dominating the next format he is going to be extremely helpful with energy acceleration. For example, discard a fire energy with Ninetales’ “Roast Reveal” and draw three, Afterburner the energy on to a Pokémon, and then attach one from your hand.

Boom, just like that you’ve paid for Reshiram’s attack cost and drew three cards for the cost of a measly 10 damage. One can also use this damage to their benefit by using Afterburner to accelerate Ursaring Prime’s attack costs and then using the 10 damage effect to kick in Ursaring’s Poké-Body, “Berserk”, allowing all of his attacks to do 60 more damage.

An added bonus to Typhlosion is his “Flare Destroy” attack, which although it makes you discard an energy attached, it also allows you to discard one on the defending Pokémon. Still, I think Emboar is going to be a more popular support Pokémon than Typhlosion since he has more muscle as far as energy acceleration is concerned.

Crobat Prime

Crobat Prime has some of the best stats of any Stage 2: Free Retreat Cost, 130 HP, and resistance to what could arguably be the second most ubiquitous type in the format: Fighting. Combo that with the ability to snipe for 30 or poison for 40 in between turns and you have a mobile toolbox Pokémon in complete control of the board.

Unfortunately, most players have not yet realized this gem’s potential, but given the right combination you could build a very solid toolbox deck that can really put your opponent on tilt.

The combination of “Severe Poison” with Fighting resistance also makes Crobat one of the best possible Donphan counters around. The one thing keeping this guy from top tier is a more powerful attack, but with free Retreat Cost you can just switch out to a number of viable options.

Players often forget how powerful Special Conditions can be until they are on the receiving end of them. With some combos like Roserade around, all he’s missing is a way to lock your opponent in from retreating, although Mandibuzz could be used to help snipe opponent’s who have retreated to the bench as a result of poison.

Kingdra Prime

pokebeach.comThere’s been a lot of recent hype over Kingdra Prime, and it’s easy to see why: low Retreat Cost, solid HP, 60 damage for one energy, and the ability to drop 10 damage on any of your opponent’s Pokémon each turn.

Unfortunately, Kingdra himself is better used as a tech, since (much like Crobat above) he doesn’t get much better than that one attack, especially when you can’t exploit for fire types due to the effects of “Dragon Steam”.

I have a severe problem with running Stage 2s as techs though, since they take up so much space for what effectively is an option and not generally part of the real deck strategy. I doubt Kingdra will be very viable, since fire is going to be so dominant.

Even Colorless decks like Cinccino will probably run Ninetales, which is enough to nerf Kingdra’s Dragon Steam into futility. The next format is going to see HP powerhouses as well, so we should consider the fact that an extra 10 damage might not be worth it, especially with PlusPower still around.

While he combos well with Mandibuzz, if you’re going to run a stage 2 with Mandibuzz you’re better off having it be Tyranitar.

Lanturn Prime

Lanturn has a lot of promise: his “Powerful Spark” attack can do as little as 70 damage for its cost, but can be pumped up far beyond that quite easily with the right energy acceleration techniques.

The first and most obvious combination is Feraligatr Prime, since “Underwater Dive” allows Lanturn to be targeted with Rain Dance, and since water acceleration generally helps Powerful Spark in the first place.

However, he can also be added to Emboar decks, since “Inferno Fandango” can target any Pokémon you have in play as opposed to just water types. Additionally, his type can either counter fire types’ water weakness or he can change to water type to counter Donphan or mirror matches.

Just be careful in confronting Donphan since your opponent is likely to return the KO immediately. I’m sure Lanturn will see some play this season, the only question is how will he be used and with what partners?

Steelix Prime


When this guy hits the table, Crobat players should probably just scoop. Steelix cannot be affected by status effects, has resistance to psychic, and 140 HP for a stage one. This guy is the ultimate tank.

Combo him with Skarmory for energy acceleration and then add the Max Revive/Klingklang combination and you have yourself an unmovable tank on your hands. Steelix’s “Energy Stream” attack also allows you to retrieve any energy card from the discard pile, including special metals.

Slap four of those under this guy and your opponent is likely to get nowhere. “Gaia Crush” can also discard any stadium in play, but there are only three in the next format and none of them are particularly stellar.

The attack may also cost a whopping five energy, but this won’t be a problem since Steelix should be around for a few turns at least, you can retrieve energy with Energy Stream, and you can always use Klingklang to move the energy to another Steelix and super scoop up the injured one. Watch out for that fire weakness in the next format though.

Tyranitar Prime Tyranitar Prime

With 160 HP and an attack for one energy that splashes damage on all non-dark type Pokémon, Tyranitar will have plenty of opportunity to stack damage before getting KO’d.

Alternatively, you can use his other two attacks which can come in handy depending on the situation, although I personally don’t like the idea of discarding the top three of my deck unless absolutely necessary.

Instead Ttar is most likely to be used for “Darkness Howl”, and instead of spending a DCE or more dark energy on him players are likely to be getting Zoarark, Mandibuzz, or Umbreon techs ready to go on the bench. Mandibuzz makes an especially good tech due to his fighting resistance and ability to snipe for 50 on any Pokémon that already has damage on it.

Naturally I’m skeptical of the Fighting weakness, but with 160 HP and the ability to add 20 damage on to Donphan’s 10 from “Earthquake”, Tyranitar could give fighting types a surprisingly good match.

Ursaring Prime


Ursaring is an all around average Pokémon. He’s got mediocre HP, high retreat cost, high attack costs, and weakness to Fighting. However, the one redeeming point for the big brown bear is his Poké-Body “Berserk”, which allows him to do 60 more damage with each attack so long as he has damage on him already.

This is easily accomplished with Teddiursa, who attacks for 20 and does 10 damage to himself, or, more simply, a Rainbow Energy. Careful about slapping too many special energies on him though, since Lost Remover can Lost Zone them, or Scizor Prime’s Red Armor can give himself immunity from Ursaring’s attacks.

One way to get around this while also getting the damage on Ursaring is to combo him with Typhlosion, allowing you to accelerate payment of Ursaring’s attacks while also activating his Poké-Body.

Ursaring’s attacks look much more reasonable with 60 damage added to them, and it’ll be interesting to see the ways players manage to activate this ability.


So far we have covered all of the Primes from HGSS and the Unleashed Expansion (with the exception of Donphan for now). Next time I’ll cover the Undaunted and Triumphant Primes, ending with the focal point of this enterprise, Donphan.

Reader Interactions

13 replies

  1. Michael Sison

    This is a very interesting article. I mean, I think a lot of deck archetypes next season would focus on Pokémon Prime. :-)

  2. Grant O'Brien

    Good luck beating water with your savior Donphan. What are you going to use? Amphan?

  3. Anonymous

    Nice article. I also agree with you that Crobat Prime has some potential (see my CoTD). One thing you left out about Crobat & Kingdra, though, is that they have a weakness to Lightning. Does the name Zekrom ring a bell? Also, you forgot to mention that Steelix will cripple under ReshiBoar. That deck just does too much damage for Steelix.

    • Dave Wilson  → Anonymous

      Thank you! I originally mentioned how crushingly poor the matchup with Reshiboar was but edited it to keep it shorter though you are correct and this is a point that should be stressed. A tank deck can’t do too well if one of the most popular types in the format can hit for at least 240 with weakness. As far as Zekrom, I do think he could be a problem but at the moment from my play testing it seems like an all-or-nothing donk deck that loses momentum quickly; Magnezone is probably more of a threat at the moment. Besides, Zekrom can hit for 120, which is such a high level of damage that he could OHKO most Primes anyways, especially with Pluspower.

  4. Martin Garcia

    I dunno about you guys, but i WONT be playing anything with more than 2 retreat cost in a format with gust of wind.
    And that takes out half of the much hyped primes you wrote about.
    Nice article, but i disagree with most things here.

    • matthew green  → Martin

      What exactly do you disagree with? He was just saying what each Pokemon Prime does, not saying how much it would be used.

      There really isn’t much to disagree with.

      I do believe that Crobat will never be a useful card, just too many other options. Also that Ursaring is a useless card as well. Why use a card that does 120 only if it has four energy and damage on it when Cinccino can do 100 for a dce, with a lower retreat cost.  Other than that he was more or less just stating facts.

  5. nilay patel

    I agree with Micheal. The primes will be the power houses of the next season along with Reshiram and Zekrom. How come you didn’t cover any of the Undaunted/ Triumphant Primes?

    • wisconsinsquad  → nilay

      He said that he was covering them in the next article. This one only covered HS and UL Primes.

  6. Julian Silva

    I love teching in Kingdra Prime into my decks that already run Stage 2’s and Rare Candies. It really comes in handy making almost OHKO’s in to for sure OHKO’s. It remind me how people tech in Crobat G in their decks to ensure perfect KO’s and in my opinion it is worth it.

    I’m so stoked for this next format, its going to so much more creative and fun for that matter. I can’t wait to see what other players can come up with! Also, Donphan was my favorite Pokemon growing up and still is, I’m anxious to play him next format because he is an absolute beast!

    Nice article, I enjoyed reading it.

  7. Anonymous

    I think Kingdra could be really useful in Reshiram or maybe Zekrom because 130 HP will be a big number to go for next format, and both of those hit for 120. Sure there’s Pluspower, but that has its own pros and cons.

  8. Anthony Desiata

    my question is are we talking about hgss-bw or hgss-bw2. cuz from what you mentiond max revive is not out soooo… i assume bw2 if thats the case, gothetelle is a very solid option and pretty much ruins about 95% of the cards you just mentiond.

  9. Emil lumen

    For Crobat Prime, I would tech it with 2-2 or 3-3 Drowzee and Hypno from HGSS. Its ability to put your opponent to sleep for a heads is great cause it’ll leave them there poisoned. (unless switch or if they roll heads) but chances are your going to get them asleep and they will get frustrated and think about how to get rid of your hypnos once you get 2 out (3 lol)
    Ampharos prime might shine more this format, its attack is good either flip you get, 80 for KO if they’ve suffered her poke-body, or discard an energy which can still hurt your opponent. Prolly 3 or 4 ampharos in the deck and rare candy to get her out fast, and she also has 140 HP, not even the reshi/zekrom can OHKO.

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