– Vivid Voltage

Date Reviewed:
November 22, 2020

Ratings Summary:
Standard: 3.00
Expanded: 3.25
Limited: 4.00

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.

Reviews Below:


6th-place goes to Donphan (SM – Vivid Voltage 087/185; SW – Black Star Promos SWSH067).  This is a baseline Pokémon: no fancy gimmicks like being an Ultra Beast or Prism Star card, and worth only one Prize when KO’d.  Its [F] typing should be handy for exploiting some key examples of Weakness (Eternatus V), and some nice bits of support (Stone [F] Energy).  There are some anti-Fighting effects, but none that are particularly effective.  Similarly, [F] Resistance is one of the more common forms, but not more common than “No Resistance”.  Donphan is a Stage 1 Pokémon, so it isn’t as easy to run as a Basic, but is still quite manageable.  Its 150 HP is solid, made better by you not being down a massive amount of cards or Prizes when it does fail you.  [G] Weakness could be an issue, but the lack of Resistance is typical and the massive Retreat Cost of [CCCC] means you should rely on switching cards, but can make use of cards like Buff Padding.

Donphan knows two attacks.  For [F], it can use “Earthquake” to do 120 damage to your opponent’s Active, but also 20 damage to each of your Benched Pokémon.  Even with the kick, 120-for-one is good.  Not great, as you’re talking 2HKO’s or 3HKO’s and not OHKO’s, but the price is right.  “Heavy Impact”, the second attack, costs [FCC] and does 90 damage.  This is filler, and not even that good of it.  The damage is on the low end for the Energy, but at least it is something you could achieve by dropping the combination of a Twin Energy and – when behind on Prizes – a Karate Belt on Donphan to use.  Earthquake is the star; if you’re behind in Prizes and fueling it with a basic Fighting Energy, that 120-for-one becomes 160-for-one.  Add in a Vitality Band, and now you’re 2HKOing even Pokémon VMAX, let alone lesser cards.  Barring those you’re OHKOing, or which have sufficient Resistance and/or protective effects.

Donphan evolves from Phanpy, and Phanpy (SW – Vivid Voltage 86/185) does enough we gave it its own bonus review today.  Simply put, it has an attack, for [FC], does 30 damage per damage counter on itself… so you can have a Phanpy or three on your Bench, and turn the damage from Earthquake into a somewhat risky power-up.  This also means you can drop Memory Capsule on a badly injured Donphan, attach a second Energy, and swing for up to 340 damage!  It might be possible to build a competitive deck around Phanpy alone… but we’re focused on Donphan, so it is time to move on.  Donphan has a chance at becoming the new single-Prize and/or budget Fighting deck for the Standard Format (available as a normal Rare or Pre-Release promo).  Until now, folks have been doing decent with Excadrill (SM – Cosmic Eclipse 115/236, 246/236).  There’s a chance Donphan might replace it… but the two may also partner up, making each other’s drawbacks more manageable.

In the Expanded Format, Donphan gains access to some significant pieces of support, like Diancie {*}, Muscle Band, and Strong Energy.  Now it is swinging for 180!  If you still fancy the Phanpy, Focus Sash exists so that a Donphan with full HP can’t be OHKO’d, but instead survives with 10 HP.  Focus Sash discards itself after it goes off, so you can still attach Memory Capsule, or you can use some of the other tricks for accessing attacks from a lower Stage.  I don’t expect this to become the next big deck in Expanded, but I think it is at least viable.  In the Limited Format, Donphan is powerful but a bit risky; either you’re intentionally working without a Bench, or you have to be very careful not to KO your own stuff before taking four Prizes against your opponent.


  • Standard: 3/5
  • Expanded: 3/5
  • Limited: 4/5

Donphan is a good, solid Stage 1 Fighting Pokémon, with some serious potential.  120-for-one on a Stage 1, with solid typing and support, means I was sorely tempted to bump this up to a four-out-of-five.  In the end, though, I couldn’t quite justify it.  Donphan should at least become a budget and/or rogue option, able to leverage Martial Arts Dojo and the Prize trade into a viable strategy.  I had Donphan as my 15th-place finisher, so 6th-place does seem high… but specifically because I think there are that many better cards in this set.


So, one looks at Donphan and scratches their head wondering why it is the 6th best card of Vivid Voltage. The attacks are so vanilla, it feels like they would wish Donphan can do more, but I think that’s good enough. Heavy Impact isn’t the reason why it made the list (it does 90 damage for 3 energy), but Earthquake actually is! For the low, low cost of a single Fighting energy (or free attack if Karate Belt is attached to it), that attack does 120 damage. 120 damage for 1 Energy!!! Sure, there is a drawback, but it isn’t as terrible as…V-Blast of Victini from BW Noble Victories (that attack needs 2 heads of coin flips in order to land the same 120 damage for 1 energy); Earthquake does 20 damage to each of your Benched Pokemon, which can be prevented if you have a Pokémon that can prevent your own Bench damage in play. Mew’s Bench Barrier from Unbroken Bonds won’t work, but two of Mr. Mine’s Bench Barrier from older sets does work.

Will it be better than Excadrill CEC? After all, two of Excadrill’s attacks also cost a single Fighting energy, one of them also does 120 damage while discarding the top 4 cards of your deck. Eleventh Hour Tackle can be incredibly powerful if your deck has 3 or fewer cards of your deck as it does 180 damage for 1 energy. For the most part, both Donphan and Excadrill doesn’t need any setup to do 120 damage, but in terms of drawbacks, I still think Donphan has the edge. Standard may have Vitality Band and Martial Arts Dojo to increase the damage output for Fighting Pokemon like Donphan and Excadrill, but Expanded adds more damage output with Diancie (*), Strong Energy, and Muscle Band to help cross certain thresholds and even OHKO Pokemon who is weak to Fighting, even Eternatus V-MAX! Max Potion can flush all the damage away and Earthquake is just an energy attachment away.

Sometimes, certain Pokémon only one thing going for it (whether it be an attack or an ability), but that might actually be enough to consider being on the countdown. I had Donphan as my 11th place pick, mostly because those kinds of attack can rarely be incredible. I remember my experience during the Pokémon League in 2010 where LV.X and Pokémon Prime were still trending, and Donphan Prime with Expert Belt was tearing through most decks (landing 2HKOs or even OHKOs when Weakness is applied) (even BW Zekrom) with its own Earthquake attack that did 60 damage for 1 energy. 10+ years of power creep has rendered Donphan Prime underpowered, but fortunately today’s Donphan kept up with the times in terms of damage/HP ratio.


Standard: 3/5

Expanded: 3.5/5

Limited: 4/5

I am not certain how long Donphan will remain successful, but at least it adds to the list of rogue single prize Pokemon that they might worry about when they encounter them (because they can win the prize trade).

We would love more volunteers to help us with our Card of the Day reviews.  If you want to share your ideas on cards with other fans, feel free to drop us an email.  We’d be happy to link back to your blog / YouTube Channel / etc.   😉

Click here to read our Pokémon Card of the Day Archive.  We have reviewed more than 4200 Pokemon cards over the last 20 years!