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Donphan

by Ninjomewtwo

Donphan

Sets

Defensive Rapid Spinner

Item Held
Leftovers
Nature
Impish (+Defense, -Special Attack)
Effort Points
252 HP – 252 Defense – 6 Attack

Although Hippowdon is far better as a wall since it has Sand Stream to wear down its opponents and Slack Off to recover, Donphan is still around for one main reason. And that’s Rapid Spin. In the current metagame, almost every team has a Spiker and Donphan is one of the best choices to Rapid Spin away those annoying pointy rocks or Spikes. Moreover, with the prevalence of suicide leading Pokémon nowadays, it means that they may not be able to set Stealth Rock again, granting you safer switches for the rest of the match. Donphan can also set Stealth Rock itself, but if you already have a Spiker in your team, Knock Off is a nice move for sending away your opponents’ items. Earthquake is definitely Donphan’s main way of attacking and when coming off a base Attack stat of 120, it isn’t weak at all. In the last slot, there are two possible options. Ice Shard makes Donphan move first and covers Salamence and Gliscor but its low base power is a problem. On the other side, Stone Edge has more base power and hits Gyarados but it has less PP and lacks the priority advantage that Ice Shard has. Of course, using both Stealth Rock and Knock Off in the same moveset is perfectly viable, since Donphan isn’t supposed to aim for perfect coverage being a defensive-minded Pokémon

This Donphan does better in the OU environment than the one below, mainly because of the amount of physical sweepers found there, hence the defensive nature and Effort Point distribution.

Offensive Rapid Spinner

Item Held
Leftovers
Nature
Adamant (+Attack, -Special Attack)
Effort Points
252 HP – 252 Attack – 6 Speed

A more brutal version of the Rapid Spinner set, made for UU play due to the abundance of Ghost-types found there trying to block Rapid Spin. While the main objective of this set is still to blow away Spikes or Stealth Rock, this Donphan is built to hit hard incoming Pokémon like Mismagius, Rotom, Spiritomb and Dusclops. The former two fear Assurance, especially if you have Stealth Rock set in the field. The latter two are 2HKOed by Earthquake, but beware of Will-O-Wisp. Ice Shard finds its way in the set again, this time hitting Altaria, Torterra and Jumpluff which don’t mind switching in on an Earthquake.

Choice Band Sweeper

Item Held
Choice Band
Nature
Adamant (+Attack, -Special Attack)
Effort Points
252 HP – 252 Attack – 6 Speed

Donphan’s attack stat of 120 is already more than acceptable, add a Choice Band and it can deal high amounts of damage to almost anything in UU. Earthquake is your all-around, STAB attack, hitting hard anything that touches the ground. Ice Shard and Stone Edge cover the Flying-type Pokémon that try to predict an Earthquake. Ice Shard also deals with Torterra who would otherwise wall this set and turn Donphan into a set-up fodder. Assurance is here for Mismagius and Rotom again. Rapid Spin is also a choice in the last moveslot for blowing Spikes away, but you’ll have to switch out afterwards.

An alternative Effort Point spread would be 252 Attack – 252 Speed – 6 HP with an Adamant nature. This spread hits 199 Speed, outrunning Milotic’s minimum of 198. However, it severely reduces Donphan’s survivability.

Other Possible Options

Roar is a nice option for the defensive Donphan and works great if Stealth Rock is down. Rest and Sleep Talk could be used as Donphan lacks any other form of recovery, however it loses either Rapid Spin or type coverage. Fire Fang, Thunder Fang, Poison Jab, Superpower, Seed Bomb and Body Slam are other alternative physical moves but they offer no better coverage than the ones listed in the sets. Rock Polish is Donphan’s only way of setting up but it lacks the initial Speed to pull such a set off.

Counters

Bulky Grass- and Water-types are the best counters to Donphan. In Overused, Suicune, Swampert and Vaporeon can all come in and KO with Surf although they don’t take Choice Band boosted Earthquakes with ease. In Underused, Milotic is the best Water-type for that job, as it even outspeeds Donphan. Poliwrath and Azumarill can also switch in and dish out some nice hits with Waterfall. Grass-types, like Tangrowth, resist Earthquake and don’t take much damage by Ice Shard. Torterra resists Stone Edge as well, but its 4x weakness to Ice Shard is a problem. Ludicolo, being both Water- and Grass-type, is a nice counter too, able to take on Donphan with any of its STAB moves.

Levitate using Pokémon are quite good at countering Donphan. In OU, Cresselia can take a hit or two and knock Donphan out with Grass Knot or Ice Beam. Same applies for Bronzong which only fears Choice Band boosted Fire Fang, which is almost never seen. Azelf can switch in on an Earthquake and hit back with Grass Knot, though a predicted Assurance can bring the pixie down if Stealth Rock is in play. In UU, Weezing is your best bet, being not only immune to Earthquake but also able to totally shut down Donphan with Will-O-Wisp. Claydol fares quite well too, resisting Stone Edge and hitting Donphan with Ice Beam.

Flying-type Pokémon could also work in a similar way, however most of them are weak to Ice Shard and/or Stone Edge. Zapdos, one of the most sturdy Flying-types is always 2HKOed by Stone Edge and OHKOed by the Choice Bander. In case those two moves are absent, the aforementioned Zapdos as well as Gliscor, Gyarados and Salamence can all wear down Donphan while Altaria, Moltres and Mantine do quite well in UU.

Final Thoughts

Donphan got a new rival in this generation and its name is Hippowdon. While both of them are quite sturdy, Hippowdon seems to win the match-up with Slack Off and Sand Stream, making it a better wall overall. However, Donphan’s access to Rapid Spin still keeps it popular, especially in the lower tiers. Ice Shard, Stone Edge and Stealth Rock are all nice moves that Donphan acquired after the generation jump, letting it to hit more threatening Pokémon like Salamence and Gyarados. While Donphan is still excellent at Rapid Spinning, the lack of a reliable move for recovering really limits its defensive capabilities.

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