Dondozo – Scarlet & Violet 61/198
Date Reviewed: May 15, 2023
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
For this week, we’re still continuing to look at cards from the Scarlet & Violet expansion that might have some potential in competitive play, starting with Dondozo (Scarlet & Violet 61/198). A Basic Water type with 160 HP, Lightning Weakness, and a retreat cost of CCCC, it has two attacks. Release Rage costs CC and does 50 damage for each Tatsugiri in your discard pile while Heavy Splash costs WWCC for 120 damage without any effect.
So, apparently, Dondozo is a valuable teammate to Tatsugiri, as they interact with each other in Double Battles via Dondozo’s signature move, Order Up, and Tatsugiri’s signature ability, Commander. Here’s why they worked out well with each other according to Bulbapedia’s Pokemon behavior:
Tatsugiri: “Although relatively weak, Tatsugiri is one of the most intelligent dragon Pokémon. It baits prey such as bird Pokémon by playing dead. When its prey approaches, Tatsugiri then commands its partner, Dondozo to attack. The Dondozo follows the orders of its Tatsugiri partner loyally and provides the Tatsugiri protection and shelter with its large mouth, in exchange for a greater chance at catching prey.”
Dondozo: “Dondozo is one of the biggest Pokemon ever discovered and is a heavy eater. Although powerful, Dondozo is dull and not very good at hunting, so it teams up with Tatsugiri to catch prey. The Tatsugiri would bait their prey by playing dead, and then commands Dondozo to attack. Dondozo is loyal to Tatsugiri and acts as its subordinate, protecting it inside its mouth from enemies.”
With their maneuvers, you can see what today’s card is going for. Tatsugiri (Scarlet & Violet 62/198) has an attack called Mise en Place which lets you search your deck for up to two basic Water energy cards and attach it to one of your Basic Pokemon. That attack alone can already meet the attack cost of Release Rage. It’s 70 HP won’t make Tatsugiri last long on the field, and it helps increase the damage output of Release Rage, which could be as much as 200 damage with all four Tatsugiri in your discard pile, assuming none of them are prized. Alternatively, instead of having to attack with Tatsugiri and having to give up a single prize, Double Turbo Energy (SWSH Brillant Stars 151/172) provides CC with the drawback of lowering damage output by 20. Even with the drawback, 180 is adequate enough to 2HKO the entire game since the maximum printed HP is currently 340. And you still have room to attach Pokemon Tools such as Defiance Band to even push certain thresholds of certain OHKOs.
The Dondozo/Tatsugiri combo doesn’t require any Pokemon with a Rule Box since Dondozo would most likely be the main attacker, but they can include some Pokemon with a Rule Box for useful generic effects, such as Lumineon-V to fetch a Supporter card. With few Pokemon/energy count for this particular deck, it opens up room for many Trainer cards to take advantage of! I think this deck has some potential, as it is one of the few single-prize attackers that can compete against the monstrous Pokemon-ex with its inflated HP. Whether the deck would remain popular remains to be seen. This card kind of reminds me of older Gyarados cards from bygone eras, such as Gyarados (DP Stormfront 19/100) and Gyarados (SM Burning Shadows 33/147). Tail Revenge (free/costs no energy for 30x) and Venting Anger (costs CC for 50x) also does damage based on the number of Magikarp on your discard pile. The difference was that Gyarados is a Stage 1, meaning that you would have to evolve one of your Magikarp or risk doing only 150 damage instead of 200. Ditto Prism Star (SM Lost Thunder 154/214) can let it evolve into any Stage 1 without needing Magikarp while Archie’s Ace in the Hole lets you play a Water Pokemon from your discard pile directly into your Bench. Dondozo, however, is a Basic Pokemon, so it could be put into play quickly and without having to have Tatsugiri in play (can be used as discard fodder when using Ultra Ball and others). Those traits are why I think Gyarados based decks would retire in Expanded because there’s another Pokemon that does the same thing but has better efficiency than older cards.
In Limited, Tatsugiri (three copies) and Dondozo (two copies) is part of the Revavroom group (1-1 Revavroom line) when opening the Build and Battle box of Scarlet & Violet. With that specific amount, Dondozo can strike for 150 damage if all three Tatsugiri are in the discard pile! And if you’re able to get Professor’s Research and Ultra Ball to help discard Tatsugiri cards (the Trainer cards you get from the Build & Battle box is random), you might be able to pull it off in your second turn. It’ll OHKO some pre-prelease promos and other miscellaneous Pokemon such as Pawmot, Hawlucha, Revavroom, and Vivillon, but Quaquaval will survive with 20 HP remaining (and Hawlucha’s Flying Entry ability doesn’t affect the opponent’s Active Pokemon).
Today’s card, Dondozo, is definitely the main attacker. As for Tatsugiri, if there are any future Tatsugiri cards being made, it could make us determine which one is better. But for now, your only Tatsugiri option is the one from the same set as Dondozo.
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