Pokémon Face-Off: Mudsdale vs. Donphan

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I have to admit: After not being terribly moved by the Pokémon designs in Pokémon Sun and Moon at first, the little critters have really grown on me as I’ve continued to play. I’ve spent the last few weeks eagerly filling out my Pokédex and raising up different Pokémon to see how they fare in the online battling scene, and my latest experiment has been with Kahuna Hapu’s signature Pokémon, Mudsdale.

As a fan (and frequent user) of non-Pikachu Electric-type Pokémon, I have a healthy respect for the Ground type, but I generally shied away from using them in years past because every other Trainer seemed to have a Water- or Grass-type handy to smack them down. Mudsdale’s power really impressed me, however, and it pushed me to look back and see what other bulky Ground types I had overlooked in the past. One such Pokémon that stood out was Donphan, a Gen II beast with a similar statistical profile to my new favorite draft horse. I was curious to see whether Ground types had improved over time or if the original models still reigned supreme, and that meant only one thing: a face-off!

(As always, the data in the following analysis comes from the good folks at Serebii.net.)

The Stats

Statistic Mudsdale Donphan
HP 100 90
Attack 125 120
Defense 100 120
Spec. Attack 55 60
Spec. Defense 85 60
Speed 35 50
Total 500 500

These two Pokémon are very similar in that they sell themselves as tough, powerful physical attackers that couldn’t outrun a snail. With only marginal differences between the two, I give Mudsdale an edge for the following reasons:

  • The defensive differences are basically a wash: Donphan has a twenty-point Defense advantage, but Mudsdale counters with a +25 in Spec. Defense and +10 in HP to better absorb damage.
  • Despite the relative disadvantages, Mudsdale’s 100 Defense is still respectable, and its 85 Spec. Defense is decent. On the flip side, Donphan’s 60 Spec. Defense is not good, its small Spec. Attack advantage is a waste compared to its monstrous attack, and despite having the Speed advantage, 50 is still really slow, so you’ll probably be attacking last anyway.

Advantage: Mudsdale

The Abilities

Mudsdale Donphan
Own Tempo Sturdy
Stamina Sand Veil
Inner Focus

Most of these abilities are situational: Own Tempo prevents confusion, Inner Focus prevents flinching, and Sturdy prevents 1-hit KOs. Mudsdale ekes out a slight win here because Stamina pumps up its Defense with every hit and thus helps cover its Defense deficit to Donphan. In comparison, Donphan needs to learns Sandstorm via TM to take advantage of Sand Veil, and it does not get the Spec. Defense bonus from Sandstorm that Rock types do.

Advantage: Mudsdale (slightly)

The Moves

Kanto Ninetales Alolan Ninetales
Top 3 STAB Attacks
Name Type Power Phys./
Spec.
Name Type Power Phys./
Spec.
Earthquake Ground 100 P Earthquake Ground 100 P
High Horsepower Ground 95 P Magnitude Ground 10-150 P
Bulldoze Ground 60 P Bulldoze Ground 60 P
Top 3 Non-STAB Attacks
Superpower Fighting 120 P Giga Impact Normal 150 P
Mega Kick Normal 120 P Slam Normal 80 P
Heavy Slam Steel Weight P Knock Off Dark 65 P
Other Notable Moves
Counter Deals double damage back if physically attacked Fire Fang Fire 65 P
Iron Defense Sharply Raises Defense Thunder Fang Electric 65 P
Bide Take damage for 2 turns, then deals it back doubled Rapid Spin Normal 20 P

Earthquake is one of the strongest no-side-effect moves in the game, and it is absolutely terrifying in the metaphorical hands of Mudsdale and Donphan. Its “Kill them all, and let the gods sort them out!” nature makes it a risky play during Double Battles, however, and Donphan has no other STAB move to turn to in those situations. Mudsdale, in contrast, has access to High Horsepower, which is almost as powerful as Earthquake and has none of its drawbacks. It’s finally possible to use a Ground-type Pokémon effectively in Double Battles!

While Donphan has the strongest non-STAB move between the two Pokémon, Giga Impact forces the user to forfeit its following turn, limiting its usefulness. Slam is notoriously inaccurate and Magnitude’s power is completely random, which forces users to choose between four different mediocre moves (Knock Off, Horn Attack, Fire Fang, and Thunder Fang) for reliable damage. Thankfully, these moves give Donphan decent type coverage, and force Water- and Grass-type Pokémon to think twice before switching in.

Mudsdale gets access to Superpower, but it’s a move best used sparingly due to its Attack-lowering side effect. Mega Kick, however, has no such side effects, and gives Mudsdale a perfect option for those pesky Flying types that avoid Ground moves and resist Fighting ones. Another intriguing option is Heavy Slam, a Steel-type attack whose power depends on how much the attacker outweighs the defender. Given that Mudsdale is the fourth-heaviest Pokémon in the game (if you include mega/primal forms separately, it still only falls to sixth), this move will usually pack a serious punch. (Although you have to wonder why a Clydesdale Pokémon is nearly an order of magnitude heavier than an elephant Pokémon…)

Given that nearly every move that both Mudsdale and Donphan learn is an attack of some sort (both learn a whopping 3 status-based moves apiece), this section comes down to “Who can hit the opponent harder and more reliably?” The trophy goes to My Not-So-Little Pony here.

Advantage: Mudsdale

The TMs

Mudsdale Donphan
Top 4 TM Moves
Name Type Power Phys./
Spec.
Name Type Power Phys./
Spec.
Giga Impact Normal 150 P Poison Jab Poison 80 P
Rock Slide Rock 75 P Stone Edge Rock 100 P
Rest Restores full HP, user sleeps for two turns Sandstorm Whips up sandstorm for five turns
Payback Dark 50 P Brutal Swing Dark 60 P

Mudsdale gains a few decent moves via TM, but does not gain much power or type coverage in the process. Donphan, on the other hand, can expand its arsenal with Poison Jab, Stone Edge, Gyro Ball (finally, a use for that sloth-like Speed!) and Brutal Swing, and can use Sandstorm to activate its Sand Veil ability. Donphan takes the prize here and avoids the shutout.

Advantage: Donphan

 The Results

Honestly, this might be a bigger rout than Mimikyu vs. Spiritomb. Mudsdale has a better stat distribution, stronger and more versatile moves, and a slightly better ability pool. Its only drawback is its mediocre type coverage. Donphan may have seniority, but it’s outclassed in nearly every other category.

Winner: Mudsdale

Another impressive showing from the Alolan crew! Mudsdale may not have the power to hold its own in its literal weight class (which includes Groudon, Giratina, and Dialga), but it’s got more than enough power to go toe-to-toe with most Pokémon. I’ll be keeping my Pachirisus far, far away from this beast!

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