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Pojo's Pokemon Card of the Day


Donphan #107/123

HeartGold & SoulSilver

Date Reviewed: 02.24.10

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Modified: 3.33
Limited: 4.40

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale.
1 being the worst. 
3 ... average.  
5 is the highest rating.

Back to the main COTD Page

Baby Mario
Top 4 UK Nats

Donphan (Prime) HGSS


Donphan Prime is the one that got all the hype when players first got the spoilers for this set. It’s also the Prime which is going for the most money on eBay right now.


Looking at the top and bottom stats, you can see that Donphan is a pretty solid Pokémon. 120 HP is very good for a Stage 1, and Resistance to Lightning is great given the popularity of Luxray GL. The retreat cost of four is horrific, but no-one expects an elephant to move fast. The x2 Water Weakness is a bit of a worry as Gyarados and Palkia G will see play. Some of these weaknesses are mitigated by Donphan’s excellent PokeBody, Exoskeleton, which reduces any damage done to Donphan by 20. This means that a Water Pokémon will need to do 70 damage to OHKO a Donphan, even with the double Weakness.


But none of those things are the reason why some players have been looking forward to Donphan for months. Nope, the reason why he is the most sought-after Prime lies in his first attack: Earthquake.  For the amazing cost of [F], this attack does 60 damage. This gives Donphan the potential to hit hard and very fast. Start with a Phanpy, go second, and you can drop Broken Time-Space, an Expert Belt, and Donphan, and be dishing out 80 damage with a 140 HP tank from your very first turn. If your opponent starts with anything but a high HP SP Basic like Dialga G, you are already up in Prizes. If they don’t have anything else benched, you have won the game.


Sounds amazing, right? Well don’t be surprised that there are serious drawbacks to consider. Firstly, Earthquake does recoil damage of 10 to all your benched Pokémon. Repeated use of Earthquake could KO them, or at least make them easy targets for snipe or spread decks. You could run Manectric PL to prevent Bench damage to everything but itself, but because the deck focuses on a fast Donphan, you will most likely have to wait a couple of turns to get it out. Another alternative is Nidoqueen RR for constant healing, but putting Stage 2s and Rare Candy in the deck means sacrificing speed and consistency, which are Donphan’s greatest assets in the first place.


This leads us to the second major issue which the deck has. Yes, it can be fast and take cheap Prizes early game, but what if your opponent survives the onslaught? Once your opponent starts setting up 130+ HP Stage 2s or high HP SP Pokémon, that 60 damage becomes ineffective very quickly. Sure, Donphan has another attack, Heavy Impact, which does 90 damage for three Energy. That seems like a bargain until you realise that all three Energy must be Fighting, which means that Donphan can’t really benefit from extremely useful Special Energy cards like Call, Double Colourless, and Warp.


This combination of a relatively low damage cap and recoil damage to your own bench means that Donphan tends to have a very poor late game. Sure, you could partner it with another attacker (such as Flygon) to compensate for this, but then you greatly reduce your chances of that Phanpy start and early Donphan KO . . . and that’s the only reason for running Donphan at all.


I do expect to see Donphan played at States, but I feel it is a very risky choice. The lack of a long game, and the existence of some very powerful Water decks in the format means that players should think long and hard before they write out a decklist with Donphan on it.




Modified: 3 (Win fast, or not at all)

Limited: 4.25 (big cheap damage on a tank of a Stage 1)


Happy midweek, Pojo readers! Prime Week continues this week with a card that was massively hyped in my area, and was definitely the card to fear during my local HGSS prerelease. Today's review of the Armor Pokemon, Donphan.

Donphan Prime is a Stage 1 Fighting Pokemon. Fighting-types aren't commonly played right now, but that may change with card. Donphan has 120 HP, which is great for a Stage 1. Weakness to Water is quite bad, with Kingdra, Gyarados, and Feraligatr all pretty much Knocking Out Donphan in one hit. Resistance to Lightning is good against Luxray GL and Ampharos. Donphan's Retreat Cost of 4 is horrible, and shouldn't ever be paid with Energy. Use Switch and Warp Point instead.

Donphan has a Poke-Body and two attacks. Donphan's Poke-Body, Exoskeleton, reduces all damage done to Donphan by 20 after Weakness and Resistance. While not game-breaking in any sense, the Body is still really useful in most situations.

Donphan's first attack, Earthquake, deals 60 damage for [F] and deals 10 damage to each of your Benched Pokemon. 60 damage for a single Energy is quite good, and although the bench damage may seem like a drawback at first, there are easy ways around it (Nidoqueen RR or even Blissey Prime come to mind). Plus, if you can get Donphan Prime out very early in the game, Earthquake can be very deadly for your opponent.

The second attack, Heavy Impact, deals a vanilla 90 damage for [FFF]. Combine this with an Expert Belt, and you can be dealing a lot of damage pretty quickly.

Modified: 3.5/5 Donphan has a chance to be really awesome in a deck with Nidoqueen and other support Pokemon. It may be a little slow to compete with speedy decks like Jumpluff and Kingdra, and it will probably get destroyed by Water decks, but it definitely has potential.

Limited: 4.5/5 Donphan destroys everything in Modified. If you can get out Donphan quickly (and you probably will), you will probably win very quickly. Just watch out for Water Pokemon like Feraligatr.


Arise… Donphan Prime!


You’ve got the touch… you’ve got the power… yeah!


Mmmm… Transformers.  Yes, recycling the same joke because a) I really, really love Transformers and b) getting hit by Donphan probably feels like getting hit by a semi, again connecting it to Optimus Prime from several series.


Name: Donphan

Set/#: HeartGold and SoulSilver 107/123

Rarity: Prime

Type: Fighting Pokémon

Stage: 1 (Evolves from Donphan)

HP: 120

Weakness: Water x2

Resistance: Lightning -20

Retreat Cost: CCCC

Poké-Body: Exoskeleton

Any damage done to Donphan by attacks is reduced by 20 (after applying Weakness and Resistance).

Attack#1: (F) Earthquake [60]

Does 10 damage to each your Benched Pokémon. (Don’t apply Weakness and Resistance for Benched Pokémon.)

Attack#2: (FFF) Heavy Impact [90]

Name: Phanpy

Set/#: HeartGold and SoulSilver 77/123

Rarity: Common

Type: Fighting Pokémon

Stage: Basic

HP: 70

Weakness: Water x2

Resistance: Lightning -20

Retreat Cost: CC

Attack: (C) Flail [10x]

Does 10 damage times the number of damage counters on Phanpy.

Name: Phanpy

Set/#: Secret Wonders 98/132

Rarity: Common

Type: Fighting Pokémon

Stage: Basic

HP: 60

Weakness: Water +10

Resistance: Lightning -20

Retreat Cost: CC

Attack#1: (C) Flail [10x]

Does 10 damage times the number of damage counters on Phanpy.

Attack#2: (FC) Take Down [30]

Phanpy does 10 damage to itself.


Attributes: Donphan Prime has to come from somewhere, so let’s look at our choices for Phanpy.  You can go with the newer version, which has 10 more HP or the one from Secret Wonders which has an extra but so-so attack (Take Down) and compensates for its slightly lower HP score by having Water Weakness +10 instead of x2.  If you’re encountering a lot of Water, the Secret Wonders version might be a safer choice.  Otherwise, Take Down isn’t that great of an attack so 10 more HP is probably worth it.


Being a Fighting Pokémon is pretty nice: it is the most common Weakness in Modified.  Being a Stage 1 Pokémon makes it fairly easy to get into play.  As a Stage 1 Pokémon, 120 HP is great.  Water Weakness x2 is not: any serious Water attack can OHKO Donphan.  Lightning Resistance -20 isn’t much, but at least it’s something.  Anchoring the bottom stats is a Retreat Cost of four.  This is massive, and you will have to pack something to switch out Donphan or just accept that it isn’t retreating.


Abilities: Exoskeleton is a solid Poké-Body since the small drop in damage is combined with good HP and potent low Energy attack, Earthquake.  Earthquake lets Donphan hit for a solid 60 damage and minimal Energy.  The downside is it will hit your Benched Pokémon for 10 damage.  Of course if they are more Donphan… the wording on Exoskeleton should protect them.  You can also drop two more Energy to power up Heavy Impact, which hits for a flat 90.  All the attacks require Fighting Energy, which is a bit of a drag: Donphan can’t make use of most Special Energy cards like Double Colorless Energy, except to pay for its Retreat Cost.  So while none of these abilities are revolutionary, they do compliment each other and allow Donphan to hit hard and fast.


Uses and

Combinations: Donphan seems designed for first and second turn Knock Outs.  Risk an Expert Belt and you all but guarantee you’re scoring a KO second turn.  Your opponent will eventually take Donphan down, but you should have a second and third ready to go by then.  A few Plus Power to help with extra large Pokémon and all you’re really going to have to worry about are rival speed decks and Water decks.


Here is why I think Blissey Prime is a good partner in crime.  While you’ll have to pack plenty of cards to Bench your nearly KO’d Donphan, a well timed Blissey will flush all the damage away, and a single Fighting Energy let’s Donphan resume beating on your opponent.  Best of all, there is a Chansey with Pulled Punch available.  While no where near as good as Donphan, Chansey is certainly then a better attacker than Phanpy.  If you have to, you can drop a Double Colorless Energy and again, Expert Belt and start racking up OHKOs.  If you had to start with Chansey, you can then eventually Bench, bring up Donphan and Evolve Chansey into Blissey when the time is right to get back to the core strategy.  I haven’t had a chance to really develop the deck: this is just the basic idea for it.




Modified: 3.5/5 – As stated, I see the foundation of a speedy, almost cheap feeling deck.  Well have to see if better players will figure out what best goes with it and run it.


Limited: 4.5/5 – Just watch Weakness and that Bench damage: you don’t want to lose because you can’t get Donphan out of a Water Pokémon’s way or because you KO’d your own Bench.



Donphan does not seem to be an especially complicated Pokémon.  Rather, it seems like a straightforward brawler that just needs the right back-up so it can go the distance.  If you want to run it, hit hard, hit fast, and watch out for Water.

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