Deck Analysis: Healphan- Donphan and Blissey Prime

by Pikkdogs ~ June 11th, 2011.

A big hello to all you OHKOers out there, this is Pikkdogs here with a deck analysis.  The deck that I will spotlight is a Donphan variant.  Donphan has been a deck that people have talked about, but few people have shown a good list.  Donphan Prime is kind of like Lebron James.  They’re both great early game, but tend to fizzle out in the 4th quarter.  The challenge is to create a deck that will be able to last the entire game.

Most people play it with Machamp Prime. In hopes that they could have Donphan attack early, and then switch to the hard hitting Machamp later in the game.  However, every time I have tried to make the change between a full powered Donphan and a Machamp with DCE, the opponent ends up knocking out the Donphan before  the switch.  Because of its vulnerability in the tag between Machamp and Donphan, I have given up on this combo.  However, I have not given up on Donphan.  I think it is still a good fast tanking deck that can take a hit and do damage.

When I first began building HGSS-on decks, I knew that I needed to take a look at Donphan.  Its ability to withstand almost any hit is pretty crazy.  I first paired Donphan with Noctowl HGSS and Zekrom.   Noctowl made the deck a little faster later game, and Zekrom was there to absorb the damage counters from “Earth Quake”  and then send it back at the opponent later in the game.  The deck worked fairly well, but it did not blow me away.  It was a good deck, but nothing I was thinking of bring to Nats.  So I began to think of other combos.

Eventually I thought of paring Donphan with Blissey Prime.  Blissey helps Donphan because after Donphan absorbs a big hit, Blissey can heal all the damage counters.  The deck that I made is all about keeping Donphan alive for as long as possible.

How the Deck Works  

The deck is pretty self explanatory, not a very complicated deck, but I will give you a basic explanation.  Donphan Prime has the “Earthquake” attack that does 60 damage for only 1 fighting energy.  With the help of  a Plus Power, Donphan should be able to 2HKO must every Pokemon in the format.  It also has weakness on popular Pokemon like Cincinno, Magnezone Prime, and Zekrom.  It can OHKO all three of those Pokemon with the help of a Plus Power or two.  Donphan also has the “Heavy Impact” attack that does 90 damage for three fighting energies.  If you can get 3 energies on Donphan it will be helpful, but this deck rarely gets that much energy in play at one time.
Donphan also has the “Exoskeleton” Poke-Body that reduces all damage done to Donphan by 20.  That means that if you want to OHKO Donphan you need to do 140 damage to him.  This deck also uses Defender, which is like another “Exoskeleton” Poke-Body in trainer form.  Because of all this, Donphan should be able to take a hit.  To help Donphan take two hits, this deck adds in Blissey Prime.  Blissey has the “Blissful Nurse” Poke-Power, which lets you remove all damage counters from all of your Pokemon that are damaged, you then must discard all energies attached to any Pokemon that was healed.  This deck seeks to force your opponent to take 3 turns to knock out a Donphan.  Do the math if you are 2HKOing the opponent, and they are 3HKOing you, the game will be in your favor.  If you add that fact to the fact that you are probably setting up a turn before your opponent, the facts are pretty good for Donphan.

“Earthquake” also adds 10 damage to your benched Pokemon, but with Blissey Prime healing your bench, the chances are the damage counters will not stack up.

The List

I will give you a version of the deck that I am currently working with.  Since I just created this deck the other day, the deck is far from polished.  It is not a list you can netdeck and take to a tournament, but it is a deck you can copy and start testing it yourself.  Once again, if there are some weird cards in the list, don’t complain about it, it is not a tournament ready list.

Pokemon-15

  • 4-Phanpy-either HGSS or Cl, both have good things about them.    Blissey Prime - GS
  • 4-Donphan Prime
  • 3-Chansey HGSS
  • 3-Blissey Prime
  • 1-Smeargle-  A decent starter that can be used late game, unlike the babies, Smeargle can survive some Earthquakes.

Energies-9

  • Fighting-9

Trainers- 36

  • 4-Professor Junipers- The major draw engine of the deck
  • 4-Pokemon Collector- perhaps you could lose a copy of this card
  • 1-Judge
  • 2- Professor Oak’s  New Theory
  • 1- Flower Shop Lady- a very important card that lets you get a 5th Donphan
  • 2- Professor Elms-pretty much standard in all of my decks
  • 4-Pokemon Reversal- if you can get heads, you can provide some early game disruption or some cheap Knock Outs
  • 4-Pokemon Communication
  • 3-Junk Arm- Essential for re-using communications, Plus Powers, Defenders, or Energy Retrievals.
  • 2-Defender- if you use this card at the right time, it can be very pivotal
  • 3-Plus Power
  • 2-Energy Retrieval- crucial for getting energies that you discarded with “Blissful Nurse” or Juniper.
  • 2-Switch- used if you get a Chansey Start, want to use “Portrait”, or want to hide a damaged Donphan.
  • 2-Dual Ball

Techs

Here are some possible techs that you can use in this deck

  • Zekrom– Its a good counter to a deck that has a water tech in it for the Donphan matchup.
  • Machamp– you could probably fit in a 1-1-1 or 2-2-2 line in without causing too much trouble.
  • Starting Pokemon– You could add in more Smeargles or another starter.

Matchups

I like to say that a deck is only as good as its matchups, so lets look at them.

Reshiboar– This matchup is about even or a little favorable for Donphan.  Reshiram cannot really OHKO Donphan, and “Outrage” is not really a huge problem for Donphan.  Donphan should be setup on turn 2, while Reshiram should take an extra turn to setup.  That gives Donphan a little advantage.  Another advantage is that Healphan has a healing element, where Reshiram does not.  This matchup should go to Healphan most of the time.

Magneboar– This matchup favors Healphan.  It will take 4 energies for Magnezone to OHKO Donphan, and Donphan will be able to at least 2HKO Magnezone.  Because of the weakness and resistance, Donphan should be able to win most of the time.

Vileplume– I would give this matchup to the Vileplume deck.  Healphan is so reliant on trainers that it will not be able to function without it.  Healphan will be hardpressed to win this matchup unless it can use Pokemon Reversal to take out Oddishes and Glooms before they can setup a Vileplume.

Lost Zone Decks– I would say Healphan has a favorable matchup with Lost Zone decks.  This deck does not run a lot of Pokemon, so it should be easier to work around “Hurl Into Darkness.”  If the deck attacks with Mew Prime, this deck should only take 7 turns.  If the deck actually attacks with Gengar Prime, it should be a longer game, but still favorable.

ZPS– I would also say that this matchup is slightly favorable for Donphan.  I admit that this is not a matchup that I have tested, but I think I know what would happen.  If the Donphan deck can survive the first 2-3 turns, I think the weakness of Zekrom will be too much for Healphan.  The ZPS player might be able to keep the lead for most of the matchups, but by the time the judges yell “Time!!!”, Healphan should have the lead.

Feraligatr Prime Decks– Again, I have not tested this matchup, but it is not a hard one to predict.  Because of Donpahn’s weakness, it will not be able to survive a hit.  And this deck cannot exchange OHKOs for OHKOs, so the matchup against water will be an unfavorable one.

Concluding Remarks

I would say that the matchups for Healphan is pretty good.  You will be in a close game with most of the decks out there, with water and trainerlock decks being the only decks that are auto-loss matchups.  I think that this deck is a good well rounded deck that has a good matchup versus most decks.  It also has room for techs in it that you can tailor against your metagame.

So what do you guys think of this deck?  What is your favorite Donphan variant?  Please leave your thoughts in the comment box.

So long and thanks for all the fish!

Category: Deck Discussion | Tags: ,
  • Bob

    Hey Pikkdogs, 

    I like your idea for a heal deck; however, there’s a couple things i would like to say.
    first, I think Machamp/Donphan is my favorite variant. Second, i think that healing Donphan will
    be a lot easier once the new Pokemon Center like card (name slipped my mind) comes out. But until that
    card comes out, i think this deck is great for tanking. Third, I really think Seeker/SSU is necessary in all Donphan builds but thats just me. Thanks for a great article.

    PS: Boo picture. Go Mavs! :)

  • Anonymous

    Many Reshiboar and Magneboar lists that I’ve seen lately run Rayquaza Deoxys Legend. When I run it, I try to hold it in my hand until I can play everything, right after a KO, all at once–both halves, one electric, and Fandango three fire, and then retreat Cleffa or Switch whatever else I have up to bring RDL active. That way, my opponent doesn’t know when it’s coming. Against this deck, I’d have plenty of time to set that up, and it would be tough to stop me from taking two prizes in one turn. Then, the next turn, you could play Defender to stop me from taking another two, if I didn’t have two PlusPowers available. So I might or might not be able to take 4 prizes in two turns against this deck.

    So I think the Reshiboar & Magneboar matchups are affected by that. I will say that I don’t do any of the above if I see Zoroark/Zorua or Bouffalant on the bench; those are automatic return KO’s against RDL, and I think many of the Donphan/Machamp lists I’ve seen run one of these two RDL counters. But they don’t fit well in this list because it doesn’t run DCE (by intent). So that means I don’t know what you should do about that.

    Great, straightforward list though. I especially like how you found a list that runs best without Cleffa. (Mainly cuz I’m getting sick of those sleep-filled Cleffa vs. Cleffa moments on turns 2 & 3.)

    • Anonymous

      Thats true, I haven’t talked about the RDL matchup.  I myself don’t think that its going to be that great in the format, but right now it is a card that is very much talked about.  Thanks for bringing that to my attention.

      RDL would be a problem for this deck, it could take 2 or 3 turns to knock it out.  If you know people are playing RDL, as you said, there are some techs in the format that can return the double prize knockout.  It would not be tough to add in Bouffalant, and keep 1 energy on him.  Or, adding DCE in this deck could help Blissey out too, so you could add in 2-3 DCE and Zoroark or Bouffalant.  This deck has plenty of room to mess with that kind of stuff.  Pokemon reversal and a 3-3 line of Blissey are nice, but it could work just as well without reversals and a 2-2 line.  So its more of a metagame choice. 

      I do like Cleffa, but he doesn’t really mix with Donphan.  If you would play Cleffa you would either need to give up a prize, or keep on dropping Blisseys, which would screw you up.  The good thing about Donphan is that you don’t really need a starter.  Since it doesn’t run a lot of basics, the chance of starting with a Phanpy are pretty good, and it is very easy to get a Donphan.  I do have Smeargle in this list, but at just 1 copy, it isn’t the same as 4 copies of Cleffa. 

      Thanks for the comment. 

  • Anonymous

    Just an update on the deck.  I took out the 4 reversals and a 1-1 blissey line, to fit in a 2-2 Zoroark and 2 DCE.  In my testings Zoroark was only helpful in certain spots, and he was easy to revenge KO.  The inclusion of him also hindered the Blissey healing thing.  So I think I will go down to 1-1 zoroark and keep the 2 DCE’s, while putting back the 1-1 Blissey line.  If I can’t get Zoroark when needed, I can always take him out out, in favor of 1 Reversal and 1 Bouffallant.  Or take the DCEs out for more reversals.