Detail on Donphan

All About the Top 8 1st Seed Philadelphia Regionals Lists

I recently got back from an amazing weekend at Philadelphia Regionals. I was excited to make top 8 at a large event and spend an awesome weekend with my friends in the Pokémon community. The first weekend of a tournament series is always very exciting because the format is relatively undefined, and there are sure to be at least a few surprises. And with more Regional Championships approaching over the next couple of weeks, it’s very important to adapt to the decks that were successful. This could either mean practicing against the decks that were successful or picking up a new deck that you overlooked.

For the most part, I ran into many of the decks that were hyped going into Regionals — I played against Seismitoad variants, Fighting variants, Virizion/Genesect, Plasma, and quite a few Yveltal decks. Most of these decks have been discussed quite a bit and I don’t feel that I have too much to add to that discussion even after participating in Regionals. Rather, I’m going to talk about the deck I chose to play: Donphan. I feel that Donphan as a card is slightly underrated because nobody is sure exactly which cards to run alongside it. It is very easy to see Yveltal stomp a Donphan/Trevenant deck and dismiss Donphan as a deck entirely as a result.

I actually almost made the same mistake. Quite a few players told me Donphan was either tier 2 or outright terrible, so I wasn’t even going to bother to waste time testing it. Ideally, I would test every deck I thought had any kind of potential, but realistically there is only so much time anybody can devote to Pokémon. But then my friend Russell LaParre told me that he was considering playing Donphan for Regionals. After testing some games against his Donphan deck, I saw that it had a lot of potential. We both ended up making day 2 with similar lists, which is a testament to how strong the deck is in the current metagame.

In my article, I’ll be explaining what I feel is the best way to play Donphan in the current format. I’ll then discuss my expectations heading into day 2 and my thought process behind playing Donphan/Accelgor.

Table of Contents

Elephant in the Room

ash donphan

I feel the best way to explain how to play Donphan is to go over a card-by-card analysis of the deck. Every card serves a very specific purpose and it’s difficult to play the deck correctly if you don’t know why a certain card is in the deck. After a lot of testing, this is the list I ended up playing:

Pokémon – 16

4 Phanpy PLS

4 Donphan PLS

2 Sigilyph LTR

1 Zekrom LTR

1 Kyurem LTR

1 Dedenne FFI

2 Hawlucha FFI

1 Mewtwo-EX NXD


Trainers – 33

4 Professor Sycamore

4 N

3 Colress

3 Korrina

2 Bicycle

2 Lysandre

1 Pal Pad

1 Computer Search

2 Ultra Ball


3 Float Stone

1 Switch

2 Muscle Band

2 Silver Bangle


3 Fighting Stadium

Energy – 11

4 Strong

4 F

3 Double Colorless


4-4 Donphan PLS

The main strategy of the deck is to use Spinning Turn with Donphan and bring up the most annoying Pokémon for your opponent to deal with. Donphan got a huge boost with the release of Furious Fists with all the extra Fighting support. With Strong Energy and Fighting Stadium, Donphan can now easily 2-shot opposing Pokémon-EX. This concept alone makes Donphan a fundamentally strong deck. If you can Knock Out an EX every other turn with Donphan, you take 2 Prizes in two turns. Since your deck is filled with non-Pokémon-EX, at best your opponent can usually only take 1 Prize per turn. Since Donphan can attack fairly consistently on the second turn of the game, it has the potential to trade with the EX decks in the metagame.

Now there are plenty of Pokémon that can 2-shot opposing Pokémon-EX, so what really makes Donphan stand out is the fact that it gets to run away to the Bench after attacking. This means that if you send up a non-Pokémon-EX that your opponent cannot Knock Out in one turn, you pull ahead in the Prize trade off by taking 2 Prizes to their 1 Prize. The other key element of running away to the Bench is that you’re usually sending up Pokémon without Energy attached and slowly building up Energy on your Benched Pokémon as the game goes on. This is a huge advantage as your opponent will constantly have to replace their Energy in play as you Knock Out their Pokémon-EX every other turn.

The fact that you can build up Energy throughout the game allows Donphan to take full advantage of its second attack, Wreck. Despite the high Energy cost, this attack won me countless games at Regionals. The key is to divide the Energy between two Donphan in case of Lysandre. For example, if you have a Donphan with two F Energy attached along with a Donphan that has a Double Colorless and a F Energy attached, your opponent cannot stop you from potentially using Wreck with Donphan by using Lysandre.

Wreck is simply another way to get ahead in the Prize trade at the end of the game. Since Donphan is a non-EX attacker, you only give up 1 Prize while taking two on an opposing EX. Donphan simply tries to trade with opposing attackers using Spinning Turn while looking for opportunities to get a two for 1 Prize exchange in order to get ahead. Once the deck takes a Prize lead, it’s very hard to fall behind if you have multiple Donphan out to protect yourself from Lysandre.

2 Sigilyph LTR

Sigilyph is the first annoying Pokémon the deck plays to promote after Spinning Turn. Sigilyph is very strong because its Safeguard Ability protects itself from a metagame dominated by Pokémon-EX. However, my Donphan deck differs from a lot of other Donphan lists by running only two copies.

There are quite a few EX decks that have some sort of counter to Sigilyph, usually in the form or Garbodor LTR or a Stage 1 attacker. Many players choose to play three or even four copies of Sigilyph, a heavy count of Lysandre, and adopt a Pyroar-like strategy. By this I mean they try and eliminate Garbodor or whatever attacker threatens Sigilyph so that Sigilyph becomes invincible the rest of the game. While this strategy seems very sound, it simply doesn’t always work. It’s difficult to always play Lysandre when you want to play draw Supporters to set up. Garbodor requires Donphan to have two Strong Energy and a Muscle Band attached. If your opponent draws a Lysandre to target your Donphan before you draw a Lysandre to target their Garbodor, it’s often very difficult to come back.

I try and use Sigilyph as an early wall against EX decks in order to get ahead in the Prize trade and force them to waste several resources to deal with a Basic Pokémon. While I will occasionally Lysandre my opponent’s lone Trubbish or Garbodor if their field is filled with EXs, I generally just adapt the mindset that either my opponent has a solid answer to Sigilyph or they can’t easily deal with even just one Sigilyph. Against a deck such as Virizion/Genesect, I can simply promote the same Sigilyph after every Spinning Turn. Against decks with Garbodor, Sigilyph can delay your opponent for the first few turns and then you can simply switch to a better Pokémon to wall with after they set up Garbodor.

1 Zekrom LTR, 1 Kyurem LTR, 1 Dedenne FFI

Anti-Yveltal measures.

Originally, the Donphan deck played Snorlax PLS as a potential wall alongside Sigilyph. Block was almost never useful, but I often found myself using Snorlax for its 130 HP. This gave me the idea to replace Snorlax with a more effective 130 HP wall. The simple answer that came to mind was to play the dragons with Outrage.

Yveltal could be a difficult matchup because of the Fighting Resistance and the Yveltal XY, so the deck needed a solid answer. I felt that running two Zekrom was more consistent and took up less space than running a thin Raichu line. Zekrom seemed like a much better wall on paper because if your opponent attacked into Zekrom, you could 1-shot Yveltal with Outrage and get ahead in the Prize exchange.

However, your opponent usually won’t put 90 damage onto Zekrom in practice because they want to try and play around Outrage. They will either Knock Out Donphan in one turn or play a Lysandre. It’s actually fairly difficult to Knock Zekrom Out with Y Cyclone as the Yveltal player because you need Muscle Band, Hypnotoxic Laser, and Virbank City Gym since your Stadium will likely be countered. The alternative is to stack Energy on Yveltal and Knock Out Zekrom with Evil Ball. The other play your opponent can make is to put a small amount of damage on Zekrom with normal Yveltal’s Oblivion Wing, while charging Yveltal-EX on the Bench.

I needed a way to punish my opponent for making these plays and found an answer in the form of Dedenne. Dedenne forces your opponent to make sub-optimal plays during the game, or gives you a huge swing in the Prize trade by drawing 2 Prizes off of an opposing Yveltal-EX. By Benching Dedenne, your opponent can never have three Energy attached to an active Yveltal-EX because Energy Short can Knock it Out with the help of Silver Bangle.

If your opponent plays a Lysandre on Dedenne, simply benching it forced your opponent to ignore your Donphan with Strong Energy and a Pokémon Tool attached. This allows you to use Wreck easier at the end of the game. If your opponent ignores Dedenne on the Bench, drawing Lysandre at any point in the game allows Dedenne to take 2 Prizes on a Benched Yveltal-EX after your opponent charges it with either Y Cyclone or Oblivion Wing.

Editor’s Note: Despite the obvious lack of synergy between elephants and mice, I’m inclined to trust Dylan’s judgement here.

I realized that while Outrage was a nice option to have with Zekrom against Yveltal-EX, any 130 HP Pokémon would serve almost the same purpose. Your opponent needs to Knock Out your 130 HP wall in one turn or you would pull ahead in the Prize trade because Donphan is naturally strong at trading with Pokémon-EX. Your opponent also couldn’t do this by simply using Evil Ball, or they would be punished by Dedenne. For this reason I opted to drop one copy of Zekrom in favor of Kyurem. While Fighting-based decks were already a favorable matchup for Donphan, Kyurem gave the deck extra insurance against Landorus-EX. In addition, Kyurem is a huge card in the Donphan mirror matchup. It not only takes two attacks from Spinning Turn to Knock Out a Kyurem, but after being attacked Kyurem can threaten to Knock Out an opposing Donphan with Outrage and Lysandre.

I decided to play only two dragons with Outrage because a Donphan without Energy can also act as an additional 130 HP wall if need be. I also usually get asked if I considered playing Reshiram LTR. While it seems good on paper against Virizion/Genesect, Sigilyph is flat out the better wall in that matchup because it forces your opponent to either Red Signal six times or to waste a lot of resources using G Booster on Sigilyph. The Outrage Pokémon also have the added benefit of trading decently with Seismitoad or at the very least forcing your opponent to break the Item lock. Overall, these Pokémon made a large contribution in helping me get to day 2-of Regionals.

2 Hawlucha FFI

An out against ‘Toad.

Hawlucha may not seem important at first since its Flying Press attack does about as much damage as Spinning Turn. This makes it seem redundant to play since Donphan already serves a similar purpose. However, Hawlucha is very strong because it can retreat for free and it can attack on the first turn when going second. This allows Hawlucha to potentially apply early pressure and can be a decent wall for Donphan when you don’t have a Float Stone available.

But where Hawlucha really shines is against decks that lead with Seismitoad. Hawlucha allows you to trade with a Seismitoad for one Energy if your opponent doesn’t have a Muscle Band, Hypnotoxic Laser, and a Virbank City Gym. In addition, it’s essential to have a wall with free retreat against Seismitoad. This is because if Seismitoad uses Quaking Punch, any other Pokémon you choose to send Active will get stuck because you cannot attach a Float Stone.

The fact that Hawlucha is a Fighting type allows you to find it under an Item lock thanks to Korrina. By using Spinning Turn into Hawlucha or attacking into Seismitoad turn one, you force your opponent to either fall behind in the Prize trade or break the Item lock by switching to an alternate attacker.

1 Mewtwo-EX

Mewtwo-EX feels like the most situational card in the deck and can easily lose you the game if you don’t play it carefully. Since your deck is filled with non-Pokémon-EX, your opponent can target Mewtwo-EX with Lysandre to try and end the game the turn before you were going to win with Wreck. Despite the risk, Mewtwo-EX helped me win at least a few games at Regionals.

The most obvious use for Mewtwo is to use it to counter opposing Mewtwo-EXs. However, this doesn’t mean that you should always X Ball an opposing Mewtwo-EX every time you have your own Mewtwo and a Double Colorless Energy. If your opponent has another Mewtwo-EX ready on the Bench, trading Mewtwo-EXs simply accelerates the game for both players. Since Donphan can trade Prizes fairly well, this can be very good or very bad depending if you’re ahead or behind in Prizes. For example, if you have a Donphan ready to use Wreck and only 4 Prizes remaining, it would be a good idea to X Ball your opponent’s Active Mewtwo-EX. If they use X Ball in response, you can simply draw the final 2 Prizes with Wreck. If you’re behind or can’t set up a win condition like the example, it’s often better to Spinning Turn into a Sigilyph or a 130 HP wall, depending whether your opponent has Garbodor set up or not.

However, Mewtwo-EX has several other niche uses. Mewtwo-EX can be very strong against Abomasnow PLB and Beartic FFI, both of which have the potential to take out multiple Donphan with Lysandre or Red Signal if left unchecked. Mewtwo-EX can also check a Donphan that uses Wreck in the mirror matchup or just act as a backup attacker to finish the game if all your Donphan get Knocked Out. Mewtwo-EX can also act as a 170 HP wall as a last resort. Although it gives up 2 Prizes, using Spinning Turn into Mewtwo-EX with a Float Stone attached and playing N can be a great way to come back when your opponent is sitting at 1 Prize remaining.

4 Professor Sycamore, 4 N, 3 Colress

There aren’t many strong draw Supporters in the format, so these are pretty standard choices. The deck plays enough Pokémon where Colress is usually very strong, but not quite enough where I’d take the risk and play four copies. The deck can often fall behind one or 2 Prizes in some matchups and having four copies of N helps make the comeback a little easier. Although Donphan doesn’t benefit from discarding cards, Professor Sycamore is an extremely strong draw Supporter and Donphan can usually play its hand down so that it doesn’t discard too many key cards.

3 Korrina, 2 Bicycle

korrina full art

A lot of people compare Korrina to Skyla, but Korrina is so much better than Skyla right now. I don’t really like playing Skyla in anything other than Virizion/Genesect right now because Tropical Beach has been rotated. Most decks simply cannot afford to Skyla for another Supporter because it puts them too far behind. Korrina searches for twice as many cards as Skyla, the only downside is that it can leave you with a dead hand if you don’t run another draw Supporter.

This is why it’s essential to run Bicycle. Korrina always lets you search for a Pokémon, even under an Item lock, and then gives you the choice between drawing a few cards with Bicycle if your hand is bad or searching for a useful Item. If you have no draw Supporters in your hand and play Skyla, you are forced to search for a Supporter rather than an Ultra Ball to start applying pressure with your ideal attacker. In a fast format like this one you cannot afford to give up a turn like that in the beginning of the game. Adding Korrina gives you the option of playing single copies of situational Item cards because they become searchable.

2 Lysandre, 1 Pal Pad

This deck doesn’t usually want to open with Lysandre, but you usually want to Lysandre once or twice per game. This meant that I was testing with two Lysandre and Dowsing Machine to potentially retrieve one that I was forced to discard, or play a third copy Lysandre. Neither of these options were ideal because Computer Search was better in almost every other situation, especially since it could search for Strong Energy and Double Colorless Energy. Three copies of Lysandre didn’t seem like a terrible option, but ultimately I drew it more often than I would have liked and felt that I was wasting a spot.

The perfect solution was to run a single copy of Pal Pad. Pal Pad fixed the problem of being forced to discard a Lysandre with Professor Sycamore and it also improved the chance of drawing a strong draw Supporter off of a late game N. In a long event like Regionals, I wanted a deck that was as consistent as possible. I wanted to minimize my chances of losing a long game to N because I didn’t want to tie very often. My plan was to concede early if I was obviously too far behind to win, since Donphan plays a slightly longer game as it forces your opponent to draw 6 Prizes off of non-Pokémon-EX. If I lost a long game to N, I knew I would likely only be able to complete one more game of the three and would just be playing for the tie.

1 Computer Search

With Pal Pad to recover Lysandre, there really aren’t many key Trainers you would need to recycle with Dowsing Machine. Computer Search helps you achieve an ideal setup every game, search for an early Lysandre if you need it, search for a guaranteed Supporter next turn after Korrina, or get a Double Colorless Energy for a game-winning Wreck. There really isn’t any other ACE SPEC to consider for the deck. You simply want to set up Donphan as quickly as possible, Spinning Turn into annoying Pokémon, and build up for Wreck. The basic outline of the strategy is fairly linear, so Computer Search makes sense since you just need to accomplish this strategy in as many games as possible.

2 Ultra Ball

Korrina alleviates the need for more.

At first glance, playing two copies of Ultra Ball seems really low, but it makes a lot of sense with Korrina. Korrina gives you plenty of outs to search for Pokémon early game. The deck also doesn’t need much to get going in the early game. It needs the ideal Pokémon for the matchup to send up after Spinning Turn, a Donphan, and another Phanpy in case your opponent decides to Lysandre your Donphan. Playing Korrina for Ultra Ball even lets you search for two Pokémon if you really need to.

Once the deck sets up a couple of Donphan and benches a couple walls to Spinning Turn into, any copies of Ultra Ball remaining in the deck are usually unnecessary because the deck sustains itself fairly well.

3 Float Stone, 1 Switch

Float Stone is the obvious choice for a deck that plans on retreating the same Pokémon multiple times throughout the course of the game. Float Stone also gives you the option to protect Donphan from Beartic if your opponent doesn’t have Startling Megaphone. The single copy of Switch is an answer to Hypnotoxic Laser. If you stay Asleep in between turns, Switch helps prevent you from missing a turn of attacking so that you can continue trading with Spinning Turn. You usually have access to the single copy of Switch when you need it thanks to Korrina and Computer Search.

2 Muscle Band, 2 Silver Bangle, 3 Fighting Stadium

Muscle Band, Silver Bangle, and Fighting Stadium all help improve Donphan’s damage output so that Spinning Turn can trade with opposing Pokémon-EX. Donphan usually has no problems 2-shotting opposing Pokémon-EX with Muscle Band, the main exception being Yveltal decks.

The Fighting Resistance in tandem with the fact that they run counter Stadiums can make it difficult to deal with Yveltal-EX with two Spinning Turns. Silver Bangle makes this feat much easier to accomplish and helps prevent Donphan from coming up 10 damage short. In addition, Silver Bangle makes Dedenne that much more dangerous as it threatens a Yveltal-EX with only three Energy attached, making it very difficult to play around.

I chose to play three copies of Fighting Stadium, rather than just two copies because you want Fighting Stadium to stay in play as often as possible against Yveltal decks that play Virbank City Gym.

4 F Energy, 4 Strong Energy, 3 Double Colorless Energy

Strong Energy is another card from Furious Fists that helps Donphan Knock Out opposing Pokémon with ease. You usually always want to draw Strong Energy, so I decided to play four copies. Double Colorless Energy is necessary for Wreck and the occasional Outrage, but it’s very awkward to open with. You would much rather attach a Fighting or Strong Energy to Phanpy on the first turn. Since I don’t want to open with it very often, I decided I didn’t want to play four copies.

However, the deck really needs to attach at least one Double Colorless Energy per game. This makes it very risky to play only two copies because you cannot really afford to discard or prize one of them. I rounded the deck out with four copies of F Energy since it felt like the right number after testing and the deck has only so much space. If you are really having trouble drawing Energy in practice, you could easily play one copy of Professor’s Letter as it’s searchable with Korrina.

P r e p a r i n g f o r E x p a n d e d

ash giant poke

For the first time, players were allowed to change decks between day 1 and day 2. While this seems like it would promote creativity and allow for the better players to succeed, it’s actually very difficult to prepare for two formats. Every individual has a certain amount of time they can put toward playtesting, and now that time has to be divided between two different formats. Spending all of your time testing the Standard format gives you the best chance on paper of advancing to day 2, but leaves you unprepared for the Expanded format. However, splitting your testing evenly means that you’ll be underprepared against a majority of the playerbase that only tested the Standard format, but in a great spot if you make it to day 2. It really is quite the conundrum.

The general vibe I had leading up to Regionals was that everyone was frantically testing Standard and had little or no experience with the Expanded format. I believed that in order to give myself the best chance at winning I should split my testing something like 80/20 between Standard and Expanded. I think the more games you practice the more you improve. However, I believe that you improve a lot less playing a few more games after you’ve already played the matchup close to a hundred times compared to playing a few more games when you’ve only played a matchup once or twice before. For this reason, once I had a pretty good understanding of all the matchups in Standard, I switched to testing Expanded the couple nights leading up to Regionals.

So the next question I had to answer was what would the metagame look like on day 2? I expected it to look very similar with an increase in Yveltal decks because of Dark Patch. I didn’t expect Rayquaza/Eelektrik to make much of a splash because its Seismitoad/Garbodor matchup was terrible and Yveltal was the deck to beat. Trevenant/Accelgor also seemed too risky because of the auto-loss to Virizion/Genesect and the Yveltal/Garbodor matchup was fairly close based on what I saw at the World Championships. With these assumptions and the fact that most people had very little experience in the Expanded format, I didn’t expect anything too creative. People would simply take the decks in the current metagame and add Dark Patch, Enhanced Hammer, and Level Ball.

Although Pyroar didn’t see much play day 2 in Philadelphia, I was worried about it because the deck was very strong. Yveltal with Dark Patch would certainly be the deck to beat. And of course Virizion/Genesect and Plasma decks would be solid choices as they are easy decks to pick up and play. I knew if I could beat all of those decks I would have a great shot at taking day 2. Since I don’t have the time and money to travel to multiple Regionals in the Fall, I needed to give myself the best chance at winning the event, rather than just trying to make it to top 32 and get a handful of Championship Points.

My first instinct was to play Pyroar. The deck had a 50/50 Yveltal matchup and would pick up free wins against a lot of the other decks. However, after seeing how strong Donphan was day 1 I really wanted to make it work day 2. All of its matchups became slightly more difficult with Enhanced Hammer, Dark Patch, and Skyarrow Bridge being reintroduced into the format. If Donphan only had a 50/50 Yveltal matchup, there was little incentive for me to play the deck over Pyroar, other than to beat other Pyroar decks a majority of the time.

My friend Russell and I talked about the Expanded format the week before Philadelphia Regionals and we both felt that Accelgor was potentially really strong in the Expanded format. However, I wasn’t willing to take the loss to Virizion/Genesect so I needed another attacker. At first I looked at all the Fire Pokémon as potential answers, but then I realized Donphan did the job just fine. Donphan and Sigilyph were already very difficult for Virizion/Genesect to deal with and the Donphan deck had favorable matchups versus the metagame with the exception of a 50/50 Yveltal matchup. If I could find room for Accelgor, then the deck would essentially have favorable matchups against all the decks I expected to face.

Paralysis Analysis

accelgor wide-eyed mangaBulbapedia

At first glance, it seems counter-productive to have two Pokémon that hit-and-run to the Bench. However, the way I see it is the metagame is filled with EX-based decks and Pyroar. Donphan already has a solid Pyroar matchup. Donphan and Sigilyph deal with all the EX-based decks that don’t run Garbodor. The EX-based decks that do run Garbodor, which I expected to be mainly Yveltal decks, will likely play low counts of Switch because they already play Float Stone for Garbodor. This made all the decks that could answer Sigilyph inherently weak to Garbodor. With all that said here is my list for day 2 along with explanations of the key differences:

Pokémon – 19

4 Phanpy PLS

4 Donphan PLS

4 Shelmet PLB

3 Accelgor DEX

2 Sigilyph DRX

1 Hawlucha FFI

1 Druddigon FLF


Trainers – 31

4 Professor Sycamore

3 N

3 Colress

1 Shauna

2 Korrina

3 Bicycle

2 Lysandre

1 Computer Search

2 Ultra Ball


1 Level Ball

3 Float Stone

2 Muscle Band

2 Silver Bangle


2 Fighting Stadium

Energy – 10

4 Strong

2 F

4 Double Colorless


4-3 Accelgor DEX

This deck functioned a little differently than your typical Accelgor deck. Usually, Accelgor-based decks attempt to stream Deck and Cover every turn. However, my goal was simply to use Deck and Cover followed by Spinning Turn. This would allow me to build up Energy for Wreck because my Energy attachment for the turn wasn’t being shuffled back into my deck along with Accelgor constantly. If your opponent doesn’t have a Switch available, Deck and Cover followed by Spinning Turn provides you with a way to get ahead in the Prize trade. It also gives you an easier way to 2-shot the Yveltal XY. With Muscle Band and Silver Bangle, you can sometimes even have the math work out so that your opponent’s Pokémon is Knocked Out from Poison coming back into your turn.

The reason for such a thick Accelgor line is because I want to be able to draw it under an Item lock from Seismitoad and have no problems drawing Shelmet and Accelgor throughout the game as they will constantly be shuffled back into the deck. I also wanted to make sure I can get multiple Shelmet on the Bench; otherwise they can be targeted by Lysandre.

I also want to highlight the importance of running the optimal Shelmet with Yawn. I borrowed the incorrect Shelmet during Regionals thinking it wouldn’t matter and just happy to have the cards to play. However, I ran into a strange situation in top 8 where my opponent had one card left, no more switching cards, and all four copies of N in the discard. If I had the option to use Yawn and my opponent stayed Asleep once, they would have decked out the following turn. It really goes to show how important it is to be prepared when building a deck because one small mistake in your list can be the difference between winning and losing.

1 Druddigon FLF

When I tested Donphan against Virizion/Genesect/Drifblim, the deck actually had some issues. Drifblim gave Virizion/Genesect a way around Sigilyph and could often trade two for one to pull ahead in the Prize exchange. Druddigon with Muscle Band gave Donphan a way to trade with Drifblim. It also gave the deck a way to trade with any Rayquaza-EX decks as an added bonus.

In hindsight, this card was useless during day 2 because I didn’t even see those two decks being played. I instead either would have opted for Mr. Mime to make the Virizion/Genesect matchup even better by preventing Genesect-EX from setting up Donphan for a knockout with Megalo Cannon or a Switch as insurance against bad Sleep flips.

3 N, 1 Shauna, 2 Korrina, 3 Bicycle, 1 Level Ball

I wanted to optimize the draw engine I was using in order to be able to use Deck and Cover consistently, while also being able to set up Donphan. Korrina doesn’t help much when it comes to setting up Accelgor, but it’s still necessary to run a couple copies in order to set up Donphan consistently. N becomes slightly less valuable because it’s difficult to draw Accelgor and Double Colorless Energy off of an N toward the end of the game. I decided to replace these two cards with Shauna and a third Bicycle since they also contribute to the consistency of the deck, but are much better at drawing Accelgor and Double Colorless Energy as the game goes on.

Level Ball is a great addition because it allows you to search for a Pokémon without discarding important resources. It’s also searchable with Korrina, meaning on the first turn a Korrina allows you to search for two Basic Pokémon without discarding any key cards from Ultra Ball. Level Ball also searches for Accelgor at any point during the game, which fits well with the strategy of trying to use Deck and Cover every other turn in certain matchups.

2 Fighting Stadium

I decided to drop down to only two copies of Fighting Stadium for space. I felt that the third copy wasn’t necessary against Virizion/Genesect because Knocking Out their Pokémon-EX was manageable with Silver Bangle and Strong Energy even if they counter your Stadium with Skyarrow Bridge. In addition, it’s not as essential to win the Stadium war against Yveltal decks in the Expanded format. If Virbank City Gym is in play, Accelgor does more damage from Poison. If Fighting Stadium is in play, Donphan does more damage with Spinning Turn. I usually just play down a Fighting Stadium in this matchup immediately as a result and if it gets countered it’s no big deal as both Stadiums benefit my deck.

2 F Energy, 4 Double Colorless Energy

Since the focus of the deck is now split between Accelgor and Donphan, I had to optimize the Energy line to reflect this. Double Colorless Energy is now a higher priority because it helps with both Wreck and Deck and Cover. F Energy is less of a priority because Donphan is not the only attacker in the deck anymore. When I was running more copies of F Energy, I found that I often had too many Energy left at the end of the game because the Double Colorless Energy are constantly cycled back into the deck thanks to Accelgor.


who's that pokemon donphanBulbapedia

There seemed to be a lot of curiosity surrounding Donphan after it had some success during the first week of Regionals, so I hope this answered everybody’s questions regarding how the deck functions. I encourage everyone to try the deck out. It’s really fun to play in my opinion, yet very competitive at the same time!

While I’m not attending anymore Regionals, I would definitely play either Donphan or Yveltal the first day. I think there are quite a few other playable decks in the metagame, but they all suffer from at least one bad matchup. If you plan on attending another Regionals in the coming weeks, I recommend playing at least a few games against Donphan. The deck is simply very consistent with solid matchups, so I’d be surprised if it didn’t make a splash in the metagame for week 2. I’m really excited to see how the metagame evolves even if I won’t be able to play in it myself. Good luck to anyone attending upcoming Regionals and as always feel free to ask me any questions!

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