“Shaymin-EX Costs How Much?!” — A Couple Of Budget Decks

Hello everybody! How’s things? If you’re like me, then you’re super excited for 2016-17 Play! Pokemon season, and have been testing like crazy. And if you’re like me, all that testing has still not helped you decide on a deck to play. So I’m gonna throw some ideas at ya in this here article. Now, if you’re like me, then you’ve already read dozens of articles (about M Scizor-EX) and watched hundreds of YouTube videos about all of the supposed ‘top tier’ decks in the format. So instead of boring you guys with the same ol’ M Rayquaza-EX list that’s two cards different than everyone else’s, we’re gonna be looking at some less conventional (but still very powerful) decks today.

Not only are these decks less conventional, but they’re less expensive too! In fact neither of these lists play a single copy of Shaymin-EX, which is at an all time high of $72.64 dollars for the regular art! (Market price on TCGplayer.com). With most decks running at least two of these guys, it can be hard for newer players to build a good deck without first selling an arm and a leg. There also seems to be an abundance of new players to the game right now (which is great!), presumably due to the new prize structure for tournaments, which promises cash payouts (also great!). So I figured now is a great time to look at some budget decks. Don’t be fooled though, just ’cause they’re cheap doesn’t mean they’re weak.

For those of you testing for Regionals, I’ve chosen one standard list and one expanded list to showcase. I chose these two decks because I thought they were the best in their given format based on strength, price, and the amount of skill required to play them (to make them more accessible to newer players). Alright lets check out the first deck!

Lucario / Klefki

Usually a non EX that can OHKO EX’s means a successful deck. Take for example Vespiquen, Zoroark, or Night March. But Lucario is a Pokemon that hasn’t seen much play at all since it’s release in Fates Collide. This is probably due to the awkward requirement of having fewer Pokemon in play than your opponent (or less Pokemon on your Bench, because you’re both going to have an Active Pokemon), which can lead to getting benched easily. However, the perfect partner for Lucario has recently come out in Steam Siege and the duo is ready to take on the meta!

Pokemon (11)

4x Lucario (FAC #63)4x Riolu (FAC #45)3x Klefki (STS #80)

Trainers (40)

4x Professor Sycamore (BKP #107)4x N (NVI #92)2x Lysandre (FLF #90)4x VS Seeker (SV #140)4x Trainers' Mail (RSK #92)2x Acro Bike (PRC #122)2x Ultra Ball (DEX #102)2x Level Ball (NXD #89)1x Repeat Ball (PRC #136)4x Captivating Poké Puff (STS #99)3x Max Elixir (BKP #102)2x Exp. Share (NXD #87)2x Escape Rope (PRC #127)2x Super Rod (NVI #95)2x Faded Town (AOR #73)

Energy (9)

9x Metal Energy (GEN #82)
Total price: $123.15 (based on the market price of each card on TCGplayer.com)

Card Choices

4-4 Lucario

What with Lucario being our main attacker (and one of my favorite Pokemon) we’re naturally playing a full 4-4 line of it. While Fight Alone is the main attack here, Vacuum Wave is decent as well and shouldn’t be forgotten, as it can potentially deal more damage than Fight Alone. Note however that it does not hit through all effects — just Weakness and Resistance. So it cannot hit a Glaceon-EX through Crystal Ray (unless you play Pokémon Ranger). Also note that Pokemon Ranger does not shut off the effect of Vacuum Wave (nice try). Anyway back to Fight Alone. To better understand the attack, let’s take a look at the damage based on how many less Pokemon are on our Bench compared to our opponents.

0 = 30 Damage

-1 = 90 Damage

-2 = 150 Damage

-3 = 210 Damage

-4 = 270 Damage


So with a bench of -1 we’re killing Vespiquen as well as Geomancy Xerneas, Rainbow Force Xerneas, Xerneas BREAK, and Gardevoir-EX due to Weakness. If we have -2 we’re KOing most non EX’s without Fighting Fury Belt like Volcanion, Yveltal, and the other Yveltal, as well as M Gardevoir-EX and (once again) the other M Gardevoir-EX, due to Weakness. -3 and we’re taking out everything relevant except Volcanion-EX and Darkrai-EX with Fighting Fury Belt, M Scizor-EX, and M Sceptile-EX. And with -4 nothing can stand in our way.

As mentioned before being a Steel type means we hit Fairy and Ice types for Weakness. It also gives us a nice Resistance to psychic, which really comes into play in the M Gardevoir match-up (more on that later).

Also note that we’re playing this specific Riolu because it’s the only one whose attack we can actually use. It may not seem like much (and it isn’t really), but there are situations where we go second and flip double heads with Riolu, then next turn with a bench of -2 we total 170 damage.

3 Klefki

Klefki is a great partner for Lucario. The biggest issue this deck faces is streaming attackers every turn. Normally you need to find everything you need in one turn, to be able to stream Lucario (so you always have one Pokemon on your Bench), but Klefki here buys us an extra turn to find our stuff by ensuring our Active Lucario survives another turn. By letting Lucario survive to attack again, we also reduce the amount of times we need to get another Lucario set up. Most mega decks (with the exception of M Gardevoir-EX / Xerneas BREAK) don’t have a great secondary attacking option, so a Lucario with a Klefki will almost assuredly survive until next turn. Against non mega decks Klefki still finds use. It acts as another basic so we don’t mulligan a billion times, and it acts as a Pokemon that can be sacrificed if need be. If you’re not able to attack for a turn, it is much better to send in Klefki to be KO’d than your Lucario. If you find you have too many Pokemon on your Bench, simply attach Klefki to a Pokemon (even another Klefki if you need to get rid of more than one) and watch them disappear next turn.

Let’s say you have a Lucario Active and no one on your Bench. You’re able to take a KO if you keep your Bench at one Pokemon or less. In your hand is a Klefki and a Professor Sycamore. You need to get a Riolu, so you can keep attacking next turn. If you Sycamore and discard the Klefki, you would run the risk of being benched if you whiff the Riolu. If you Play the Klefki then Sycamore and hit the Riolu, then you can attach Klefki to Riolu and still take the KO. And if you bench Klefki but whiff the Riolu, then the next turn you can send Klefki Active and give yourself another turn to find Riolu.

4 Professor Sycamore, 4 N, 2 Lysandre, 4 VS Seeker

Because we don’t run Shaymin-EX we need to max out our draw Supporters to keep consistency up. Sycamore is the best draw Supporter in the game and N combos beautifully with Captivating Poké Puff (which we’ll get to in a bit). Playing two Lysandre makes it easier to draw into when we need it, and is pretty standard now that Battle Compressor has rotated. VS Seeker essentially gives us four more draw Supporters, as well as better access to Lysandre.

4 Trainers’ Mail, 2 Acro Bike, 2 Ultra Ball, 2 Level Ball, 1 Repeat Ball

These are our consistency Items. We have a total of 36 Trainers (not including Trainers' Mail) so we have pretty good odds with Trainer’s Mail. It is especially helpful in pulling off the N + Captivating Poke Puff combo. Acro Bike is for some non Supporter draw so we can dig a little deeper if need be. Because we play at least two of everything except Repeat Ball and plenty of recovery, we don’t really have to worry about discarding something we don’t want to.

I feel like 2-2-1 is the best ball line for this deck, and is actually the same line I played in my Wobbuffet / Crobat deck for a while. Ultra Ball gets anyone with the drawback of needing to discard two cards from our hand (Klefki is a good option for this against non mega decks). Level Ball can grab Riolu and Klefki for free. And Repeat Ball gets us anyone we already have in play. Some cool things you can do with this, is get a Riolu before you evolve, or a Klefki before attaching one as a tool (at which point you can’t get it because it’s a tool not a Pokemon).

4 Captivating Poke Puff

Captivating Poke Puff is the backbone of the deck, and we absolutely need to run four. Without it our opponents could simply not bench any Pokemon, and we’d be stuck using Vacuum Wave for 50. This is not acceptable. Poke Puff lets us force our opponents to play down their Pokemon (we’re literally forcing their hand). They also can’t activate the ‘coming into play’ Abilities of the Pokemon we play down this way, potentially leaving them with a dead hand after we Poke Puff the Shaymin-EX or Hoopa-EX they were saving for next turn. On top of that, we get to look at our opponents’ hand, so we always know what they have. If we see that they have a dead hand, then we know not to N them to a potentially better one. If they have the VS Seeker for Lysandre for game, then we know we should play N. This also makes it hard for our opponent to make a surprise play on us if we’re paying attention.

One thing our opponent may try to do, is discard all the Pokemon from their hand with things like Ultra Ball (they can choose not to get a Pokemon from their deck). To counter this, we can play N then immediately Poke Puff down the Pokemon from their new hand, before they get a chance to discard them. With no card in format capable of picking Pokemon up off the field, any Pokemon that are Puffed down are gonna stay there (boosting our damage) until we KO ’em (with the exception of Shaymin-EX who can Sky Return). One more cool play. Because we have only seven Basics in our deck, we’re bound to mulligan every now and again. If you mulligan a few times and go first, you can Poke Puff the Pokemon out of their larger than usual hand, then N them out of any other cards they may have drawn (then Poke Puff again!).

3 Max Elixir, 2 EXP. Share

This is how we’re gonna pay for Fight Alone’s two Energy attack cost. Max Elixir lets us accelerate onto Riolu early game, and Exp. Share keeps those Energy on the board for later, leaving Lucario just a manual attachment away from being fully charged up. I would’ve liked to fit a third EXP. Share in here, but with Klefki also taking up the tool slot, I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

2 Escape Rope

These are mostly in here to mitigate Klefki starts (you can only Wonder Lock if he’s on the Bench), but it’s also good for retreating a Lucario that doesn’t have enough energy to attack. We can also retreat a Riolu if we started with it, and have a charged up Lucario on the Bench (thanks to Max Elixir). We opt to play Escape Rope over Switch because it gives us an out against Glaceon-EX.

2 Super Rod

While most decks only play one (actually two is becoming more common now due to Sacred Ash rotating), we definitely need two in here. Often times we can’t afford to bench a Pokemon in our hand, and have to discard it with Sycamore. So Super Rod can get these guys back for us. Of course we’ll want to attack with six Lucario throughout a game, so we need two Super Rods to pull that off. Against Mega decks, it’s better to use Super Rod to get back Klefki, as that will (ideally) get us another attack just as a Lucario would, but is much easier to get back into play. There is always the option to get back Energy as well.

2 Faded Town

Parallel City is everywhere. And it’s a common strategy for our opponents to limit their own Bench while discarding the Pokemon they used to help get set up. As long as Parallel City is in play we can’t raise our opponents Bench to above three with Poke Puff, so it’s important that we can bounce our opponents Stadium. They’re aren’t many great Stadium options for this deck, but I’ve chosen Faded Town for the M Scizor-EX, and M Sceptile-EX match-ups. Normally we can’t OHKO either of these Pokemon with a -3 Bench, but with the 20 Damage from Faded Town we can turn a 2HKO into a OHKO.

9 Metal Energy

This seems like the perfect amount of Energy. It’s enough to consistently hit it with our Max Elixirs, and not so much that it clogs up our hands.

Other Options

The list above is my personal list. But this deck does have a few other options you can mess around with. Some of these are meta dependent, so feel free to adjust the list to what you’re expecting.


Unown serves much the same purpose as Klefki. That is, you can bench it then discard it if necessary. I think Klefki makes Unown kinda unnecessary, but I suppose you could replace the Acro Bikes with ’em. Each has their own benefits. Acro Bike digs deeper and you can’t start with it (I hate starting Unown), but good luck not getting caught trying to bench an Acro Bike.

Pokemon Ranger

Pokemon Ranger provides us with a solid out to Glaceon-EX, instead of having to rely on Lysandre + Escape Rope shenanigans. Because of Weakness we only need a Bench of -1 to OHKO a Glaceon-EX, or -2 if is has a Fighting Fury Belt on. If there’s a lot of Glaceon in your area, consider putting in a Pokemon Ranger.


Alongside Max Elixir, Wally would allow for a turn one Fight Alone. The chances of us pulling that off however are very low. And even if we did pull it off, it would most likely be a 2HKO, in which case we may as well have taken a OHKO the next turn. Not worth the space in my opinion, but if you want to try it knock yourself out.

Reverse Valley

The only other Stadium I would consider putting in, Reverse Valley gives Lucario a bit more bulk. It turns a belted Chaos Wheel from a OHKO into a 2HKO. It forces M Mewtwo-EX to have three Energy attached for the OHKO (assuming there’s two on lucario), instead of two. And it forces M Gardevoir-EX to discard a third Pokemon with Despair Ray. I don’t particularly like Reverse Valley because it has to stay in play through your opponent’s turn to have any effect, and all of these decks play high counts of Stadiums. So it’s pretty easy for our opponent to get rid of Reverse Valley before it can even do anything (although it at least got rid of our opponent’s Stadium). Still, if you aren’t expecting much M Scizor-EX or M Sceptile-EX then Reverse Valley could prove more valuable than Faded Town.

Paint Roller

This is an option if you want to do away with the Stadium altogether. Just use the space to play Paint Roller. It does add a little consistency to the deck, but I still think that Faded Town is the best of the three.


M Rayquaza-EX – Positive

Because of how many Pokemon this deck runs, we’ll have no problem OHKOing their guys. If the Ray player misses Hex Maniac for a turn, Klefki can make our day even easier. This is our best match-up.

Rainbow Road – Even

They need four types on the Bench to OHKO Lucario. If they make full use of their dual types, that’s two Pokemon plus a Xerneas. This is more than enough for us to KO them, especially when factoring in Weakness. Because they play EX’s and we don’t, we should be able to use Lysandre to pull ahead in the prize race at some point in the game. The only trouble we have in this match-up is streaming attackers. Because of Rainbow Road’s speed (and the fact that Xerneas isn’t a mega), they will likely demand that we replace our Lucarios every turn, which can prove problematic if we need to do this six times.

Xerneas BREAK / Giratina-EX – Even

Xerneas BREAK goes down easily due to Weakness. Giratina-EX is a bit tougher, needing a -3 bench to OHKO. Try to Lysandre up and KO their Shaymin-EXs when you can. You don’t really need to worry about Garbodor if they do run it – just be careful with benching Klefki. This match-up largely depends on if we can Poke Puff down enough of their Pokemon to take OHKO’s.

M Mewtwo-EX / Garbodor – Even

This match-up is tricky. Try to keep garbodor offline for as long as possible, unless that bench spot means you’re in OHKO range of M Mewtwo-EX. (If you kill a (M) Mewtwo-EX they need to replace it, but they likely won’t replace the Garbodor). You can’t afford to not OHKO M Mewtwo-EX because they will just Damage Swap (which Klefki doesn’t block), and fully heal themselves while knocking you out. Luckily Mewtwo decks usually bench a couple Pokemon to get set up, and they (normally) don’t play Parallel City, So they won’t be able to discard these Pokemon after using their abilities. This leaves our opponent with the decision to either bench these Pokemon and boost our Damage, or suffer a slower setup.

Volcanion / Volcanion-EX – Even

It is very easy for Volcanion to KO us with a couple Steam Ups and a Power Heater. But if they bench Volcanion-EX it’s also easier for us to KO them. If you can OHKO their Volcanion-EX’s go for them, if not try to take out their Shaymins. As with the Rainbow Road match-up, it’s just a matter of taking out an EX to get ahead, then continually streaming Lucarios.

M Gardevoir-EX – Negative

At first glance this match-up kinda looks like a breeze; Abuse their Weakness and your Resistance to score OHKO’s, while using Klefki to prevent any sort of comeback. Then you remember that Despair Ray discards Pokemon from your own Bench. (I’ll give you a minute to figure it out. 2+2=5).

So they bench all their Shaymins to get set up then ditch ’em, leaving us doing 60 damage with Fight Alone. But all is not lost! Two things turn this match-up from abysmal to unfavorable, and that is our typing and Klefki. Thanks to our Beautiful Steel typing we not only hit Gardevoir for Weakness, but also resist it due to it being part psychic (that whole dual typing thing kinda backfired didn’t it?). When factoring in Resistance, the Gardevoir player will still need to discard two Pokemon with Despair Ray in order to OHKO Lucario. This may not seem like much, but it means that they will need to leave some Pokemon in their deck to discard on following turns, or take the 2HKO instead. Either way this boosts our damage. The former means that we can use the N + Poke Puff combo and increase our damage to potentially OHKO numbers for a turn. The latter give us an extra turn to attack with each Lucario. Klefki also buys us extra turns of attack, and makes it much easier for us to keep the pressure on (as we don’t need to continually stream Lucarios – just Klefkis). He also makes it possible to keep our bench at zero if our opponent doesn’t play Hex Maniac (which could remove Klefki), therefore increasing the potency of any Poke Puff plays. By utilizing Super Rod we can potentially buy ourselves nine turns with klefki.

Greninja BREAK – Negative

I don’t believe in auto-losses but if there ever was one, this is it. Here’s how the Greninja player approaches the match-up. Set up one Greninja BREAK with no one on the bench. Use Rough Seas to heal most of the pitiful Damage we do with Vacuum Wave. Meanwhile use Giant Water Shuriken and Moonlight Slash to leave us hopelessly behind in Prizes. There’s almost nothing you can do. They play three basics. Three. It’s not even worth teching for. Take the loss.

Final Thoughts

This deck is really only as strong as Poke Puff. If you can Puff down enough Pokemon, you should be good. If not, you’re in trouble. This makes it a very hit or miss deck. I’d say this deck lies at around tier three. It sports pretty even match-ups across the board with one positive and one negative. And of course the auto-loss to Greninja, but that’s not really seeing much play right now because of Garbodor’s popularity.

My sister recently took the exact list above to a League Challenge and got second in the Seniors division. She beat a Raichu deck round one, a Yanmega deck round two, and lost to Greninja in the finals.

The future looks pretty good for Lucario / Klefki. The release of Karen gives a major boost to M Gardevoir-EX, which is one of our worst match-ups. But it also gives a boost to Rainbow Road and M Rayquaza-EX, which are some of our best match-ups. Greninja also doesn’t look to be taking off anytime soon, but the threat is always present. Be on the lookout for more beneficial cards to the Lucario archetype in upcoming expansions.

And in case any of you were wondering, I have not been able to build a satisfactory list for Lucario in Expanded. I think Lucario is best left to Standard, but if you’re looking for a cheap expanded option, consider trying out this next deck.


Donphan isn’t a new archetype. Continually use Spinning Turn and activating Robo Substitute to deny Prizes, then close out the game with Wreck. It used to be one of the best decks in Standard, but never really took off in Expanded. With Yveltal-EX based decks being a large part of the meta, players kinda wrote off Donphan as a good play because of a seemingly poor match-up against the most popular deck in format. Now, with Trevenant BREAK decks also running rampant, the meta seems more hostile than ever towards our tusked friend.

However, Donphan has a lot of options available to it, and can be tailored to improve pretty much any match-up. Because Donphan lists can vary so much depending on what decks you’re aiming to beat, instead of giving you guys a full list, we’re gonna take a look at a skeleton list, then go over some cards you can use to fill it in. After that, I’m gonna give you guys my personal Donphan list, then we’ll briefly go over some match-ups.

Here’s a skeleton list detailing (in my opinion) the bare minimum counts of cards that every Donphan deck should include:

Pokemon (10)

3x Donphan (PLS #72)3x Phanpy (PLS #71)2x Hawlucha (FFI #63)1x Jolteon (AOR #26)1x Eevee (PLF #89)

Trainers (19)

3x Korrina (FFI #95)2x Professor Sycamore (BKP #107)2x N (NVI #92)1x Lysandre (FLF #90)1x Computer Search (BCR #137)3x VS Seeker (SV #140)4x Robo Substitute (PHF #102)2x Focus Sash (FFI #91)1x Muscle Band (XY #121)

Energy (9)

4x Strong Energy (FAC #115)1x Double Colorless Energy (GEN #74)4x Fighting Energy (GEN #80)
Open slots: 22

The Necessities

These are the cards that you’ll see in about 99% of Donphan decks. Most of these cards are pretty self-explanatory, so I won’t go into too much detail.

3-3 Donphan

Most Donphan decks play a 4-4 count. Because of Spinning Turn’s defensive capabilities (especially when combined with Focus Sash) you normally won’t need more than 3 Donphan in a game. But for the sake of consistency 4-4 is recommended. If you don’t play any secondary attackers (other than Hawlucha) or recovery cards, then definitely go with 4-4.

2 Hawlucha

Hawlucha makes a great starter as well as pivot thanks to his free Retreat. But the real reason he’s in here is because of his ability to go toe to toe with EX’s (especially when equipped with a Focus Sash). He is also our primary answer to Glaceon-EX.

1-1 Jolteon

While this is a tech, I included it in the skeleton list because it is so important to your Yveltal and M Ray match-ups that I consider a 1-1 line a necessity. It lets you deal some meaningful damage thanks to hitting for Weakness, and completely flips these match-ups around if you can keep him on the field. If your looking to improve these match-ups further, consider a 2-2 line.

You can play any Eevee you want, but I consider this one to be the best because of Growl.

3 Korrina, 2 Professor Sycamore, 2 N, 1 Lysandre

I shouldn’t have to explain these. These are pretty low counts. Unless you plan on adding some other Supporters, definitely up the counts of some of these.

1 Computer Search, 3 VS Seeker, 4 Robo Substitute

Again, not much to explain. I think Computer Search is the best Ace Spec for this deck, and work beautifully with Korrina. VS Seeker is a shoe-in and the only real reason to not play four is if you wanted to play more Supporters to help against Item lock decks. Four Robo Sub is absolutely necessary.

2 Focus Sash, 1 Muscle Band

Focus Sash plays along with the whole prize denial thing. It lets Hawlucha trade two Prizes for one against an EX (by living to two-shot it), and ensures that Donphan will survive after using Wreck or getting brought Active with Lysandre. Muscle Band increases our damage to make the math much more in our favor.

4 Strong Energy, 1 Double Colorless Energy, 4 Fighting Energy

Strong Energy boosts our damage. Double Colorless Energy makes Wreck more accessible. And Fighting Energy is so that we have enough Energy that we can consistently draw into them.

The Optional

Alright, so now you have an idea of what you need to include in your Donphan list. Now let’s take a look at some cards we can use to fill that list in.


Umbreon is solely for the Trevenant match-up. With Shadow Drain hitting for Weakness we can tank against Trevenant all day long. The only way for the Trevenant player to stop us is with Bursting Balloon or by discarding our Energy (and preventing us from attacking the next turn). The former we can respond to with a Lysandre or Xerosic. For the latter we’ll need need to find another Energy (normally a Double Colorless). For this reason if you run Umbreon consider playing a higher count of Double Colorless Energy. Also, because it can be difficult to set him up under Item lock, I strongly advise at least a two count of him (and Eevee).


Yet another eeveelution (whoever came up with that term is a genius), Leafeon helps significantly against Seismitoad-EX based decks. Once again, by taking advantage of Weakness we can hit for huge damage for just a single Energy with Energy Crush. Leafeon also resists Water, so he will likely be able to attack a few times before going down. I think Leafeon is best kept as a one-of.


Yet another counter to Seismitoad-EX, Marowak works wonders for the match-up by shutting off the Item lock altogether. This match-up becomes much easier when you have access to your Robo Substitutes. With Korrina in the deck, it is easy to get him set up, even under item lock. Also thanks to Korrina, we don’t need to run a super thick line of it. I’d recommend a 1-1 line. I’ll let you decide which of the two Cubone you’re going to run (the dragons exalted Cubone or the BREAKthrough Cubone). While the former has more useful attacks, it’s also weak to water and therefore Seismitoad-EX (which is the match-up you would be using him in). I think for this reason I’d use the BREAKthrough one (which is weak to grass).


Archeops is a major concern for this deck, and we need some way of shutting him off. That’s where Wobbuffet comes in. Not only does Wobbuffet shut off Archeops, but he also greatly increases our odds against Blastoise decks.

Mr. Mime

Darkrai-EX is a pretty popular guy in Expanded, and his Night Spear attack sniping for 30 means that our dudes aren’t safe on the Bench. Mr. Mime here can alleviate pressure on our Bench with his Bench Barrier Ability. While our opponent can use Silent Lab to shut off this ability, doing so would be more beneficial to us than them, because Silent Lab also shuts off Hawlucha’s Ability. With Shining Spirit shut off, Hawlucha can easily OHKO an attacking Darkrai-EX (damage modifiers would be required). If you’re concerned about Darkrai-EX, just throw a single copy of Mr. Mime in your list. I prefer the fairy one from BREAKthrough because it resists Dark.


Colress provides a good shuffle and draw option, and can usually be used to pretty good effect in Donphan, because of our reliance on benched Robo Substitutes. It’s nice to have another form of shuffle and draw for when you’re ahead in prizes, and Colress works perfectly for this. Because she’s better in the late game, I would keep this to one.


A turn one Ghetsis really hurts. It’s especially deadly against decks like Blastoise, Night March, Vespiquen / Flareon, and turbo Darkrai-EX. So if you’re looking to improve these match-ups, put a Ghetsis in your list. It’s best to stick to one, because it loses potency after the first turn.


Because your opponent doesn’t take any prizes for KOing Robo Subs, Donphan has more chances to use Teammates than any other deck. An all around strong card (especially when running four VS Seeker), this is best kept as a one-of due it being conditional.


You’re mostly gonna be using this guy for the tool removal effect. By KOing a Pokemon through removing it’s Fighting Fury Belt, you are saving yourself an attack against that Pokemon, essentially giving you an extra attack in the game. He’s also good for removing Bursting Balloon in the Trevenant match-up. For the sake of consistency he’s best kept as a one-of.

Hex Maniac

Hex Maniac is most useful for shutting off Trevenant’s item lock, but is also great when played turn one to hinder your opponents set up.


Wally allows for a turn one Spinning Turn. But more importantly, he can search for Pokemon when under Item lock. And because you evolve from the deck, you can evolve even when Archeops is in play! This is a good one to improve your Trevenant match-up, especially if you’re running Umbreon.

Level Ball

Great for searching out Eevee early, so it’s ready to evolve on following turns.

Ultra Ball

Similar to Level Ball, only now we can search out anything. You can discard the techs that you don’t need for that match-up.


Like Wally, Evosoda finds use in being able to evolve through Archeops. Evosoda is probably the better answer to Archeops, but Wally is more useful in the Trevenant match-up.

Professor’s Letter

Professor's Letter works great in conjunction with Korrina. With it in the deck, you can Korrina for a Pokemon to attack with and the Energy needed to fuel the attack! You’ll probably only need one of these.

Super Rod

I highly recommend a copy of Super Rod if you’re playing low counts of tech Pokemon, or a 3-3 line of Donphan.

Puzzle of Time

Eight Robo Subs a game? Yes please! But seriously, Puzzle of Time is a great recovery option that can get back things that Super Rod can’t. Plus, with Korrina and Teammates it’s relatively easy to have two in hand at once. Obviously this is only worth running as a four-of.

Silver Bangle

Silver Bangle has a +10 advantage over Muscle Band, but only affects EX’s. A split between this and Muscle Band works well; A 2-1 or 1-2 depending on what you expect to face.

Float Stone

This is almost an auto-inclusion if you run Wobbuffet (or any support Pokemon With a two Retreat Cost). It allows you to Spinning Turn into him every turn against Blastoise, without having to worry about finding a switching card every turn. It also allows you to conserve Wobbuffet for when you need him against Archeops, potentially allowing you to evolve multiple times through the use of one Wobbuffet. I would run one or two, depending on how many support Pokemon you’ll need to attach it to (for example if you run two Wobbuffet, run two Float Stone).

Magnetic Storm

There’s a lot of Pokemon in Expanded that resist Fighting. But that’s okay because Magnetic Storm takes that Resistance away, essentially giving us a 20 damage boost against any Pokemon that resists fighting.

Fighting Stadium

Conventionally the more popular choice of Stadium in Donphan decks, and for good reason. Instead of hitting Fighting resistant Pokemon for +20, we hit all EX’s for +20. A split of this and Magnetic Storm works nicely; a 2-1 or 1-2, again it depends on what you’re expecting to face.

Silent Lab

With Silent Lab we can purposefully shut off Shining Spirit and hit fighting weak EX’s for huge damage with Hawlucha. Because we don’t play Shaymins, it doesn’t really hurt us to have this in play. If you can play this turn one along with a Ghetsis, you can pretty much just laugh at your opponent and write that game off as a win. You could choose to play this as your primary stadium for disruption, or just as a one-of to make the Hawlucha play possible (Hex Maniac can fill this purpose as well).

Rough Seas

Yeah, you read that right. Rough Seas. Just…hear me out.

With Jolteon in play, all of your Stage 1s are also the Lighting type (and can therefore be healed with Rough Seas). This turns the Trevenant match-up into a game of rotating Donphan (Spinning Turn into another Donphan, then repeat), while constantly healing with Rough Seas. In order to pull this off you’ll need at least a 2-2 line of Jolteon and three Rough Seas.

Another thing you can do with this combo is if a Donphan gets hit while Focus Sash is attached, you can heal it back to full health and reactivate the Focus Sash (or attach another one if it was discarded).

One problem with this is that it hurts your match-ups against Blastoise and Seismitoad-EX (as they can use Rough Seas too).

My List

Just to give you guys an idea of what a finished Donphan list looks like (and something to base our match-up overview on), here’s my own personal list. As I’ve been spending most of my time recently testing for Standard, this list is still very early in the testing process. Feel free to take this list and tweak it as you feel necessary (then report back to me!).

Pokemon (17)

4x Donphan (PLS #72)4x Phanpy (PLS #71)2x Jolteon (AOR #26)2x Umbreon (DEX #60)2x Eevee (PLF #89)2x Hawlucha (FFI #63)1x Wobbuffet (PHF #36)

Trainers (32)

3x Korrina (FFI #95)3x Professor Sycamore (BKP #107)2x N (NVI #92)1x Colress (PLS #118)1x Ghetsis (PLF #101)2x Lysandre (FLF #90)1x Hex Maniac (AOR #75)1x Computer Search (BCR #137)4x VS Seeker (SV #140)4x Robo Substitute (PHF #102)1x Level Ball (NXD #89)3x Focus Sash (FFI #91)2x Muscle Band (XY #121)1x Float Stone (PLF #99)2x Magnetic Storm (FLF #91)1x Fighting Stadium (FFI #90)

Energy (11)

4x Strong Energy (FAC #115)3x Double Colorless Energy (GEN #74)4x Fighting Energy (GEN #80)
Total Price: $112.58 (based on the market price of each card on TCGplayer.com)

As you can see my list is tailored to beat Yveltal-EX and Trevenant decks. Notice the heavy emphasis on the Eeveelutions, as well as the inclusion of Wobbuffet. My list also sports a rather heavy Supporter line, and favors Muscle Band and Magnetic Storm over their counterparts. The high count of Double Colorless Energy is to support Umbreon’s Shadow Drain.


Yveltal-EX / Darkrai-EX – Positive

As I mentioned, I’ve teched heavily for this match-up. Between Wobbuffet, and Hex Maniac, Archeops shouldn’t be much of a problem. With Jolteon on board you’re hitting pretty much everything in their deck for Weakness. Not much else to say.

Archie’s Blastoise – Positive

One word: Wobbuffet (well Ghetsis helped too).

Just keep Wobbuffet Active the whole game, and watch as the Blastoise player does…absolutely nothing.

Night March – Positive

Night March hates Robo Sub. Our heavy emphasis on Muscle Band (over Silver Bangle) and Magnetic Storm (over Fighting Stadium) really helps this match-up out. Focus Sash is also really useful here. This match-up is actually pretty straightforward – just use Spinning Turn.

Umbreon actually makes a good secondary attacker in this match-up, and can OHKO a Joltik or Pumpkaboo with Shadow Drain, so long as they don’t have Fighting Fury Belt attached (and if Umbreon has a Muscle Band he can OHKO Pumpkaboo with a Fury Belt or Mew without one).

Turbo Darkrai-EX – Positive

We hit them for Weakness, they die, repeat, repeat, game. Pretty much.

Trevenant BREAK – Even

Even with our thick Umbreon line, Trevenant can still give us trouble. The biggest concern here is getting Umbreon into play and attacking before he goes down, then keeping him attacking long enough to actually accomplish something. This one can go either way.

Vespiquen / Flareon – Negative

They OHKO us and we can’t say the same. Combine that with the fact that they’re non EX’s, and you have yourself one of our only poor match-ups. The best thing to do is try to take out their pre-evolutions, then Wreck a Shaymin-EX at the end of the game. Use Focus Sash, as Muscle Band actually doesn’t help the math in this match-up.

Final Thoughts

Like I said, I haven’t yet had the chance to do extensive testing with Donphan, but the potential is definitely there. With these new additions to the archetype, I think Donphan could return to at least tier three status. Most of our match-ups are at least slightly positive, and even our negative match-ups aren’t auto-losses.


I definitely consider these to be some of the best decks for newer players to begin their competitive career with. They may still seem pretty expensive (and they are honestly), but they are some of the cheapest options out there today. Plus, because some of the cards overlap (are in both decks), to build both you would be looking at around $179.20 instead of $235.73. Most of the cost is for staples like VS Seeker, N, Computer Search, and Max Elixir, so the money would be well spent.

Coming in at over 6,200 words, this is by far my longest article yet, so I’d like to give a huge thanks to all of you guys for reading through it. Hopefully you now have a deeper understanding of these two archetypes, and maybe I even inspired you to go try ’em out. As always, any feedback is much appreciated. If you guys do try out one of these decks, let me know how your experience with them is. If you have any questions about either of these lists, don’t hesitate to ask. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. If you think something in here is way off the ball, tell me about it. One more huge thanks for reading my article.

Until next time