#8 Escape Board
– SM Ultra Prism
February 7, 2018
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
You know what’s better than a rock that makes you lighter? A skateboard that lets you ROLL AROUND AT THE SPEED OF SOUND!! Still no skateboards in Pokemon surprisingly. We’ve got Bicycles and roller blades, so it’s only a matter of time. Gen 8 Boards!
Escape Board is a Tool that lets your Pokemon Retreat for 1 less Energy in its cost, and it can retreat even if it’s Asleep or Paralyzed. I joke about a rock that makes you lighter, but that’s entirely based on Float Stone. Now there’s a couple of things in regards to looking at Escape Board and Float Stone together and then where they’re at in their respective formats.
Generally speaking as far as manual retreat goes, Float Stone gets you free Retreat, which is generally better than Escape Board’s discount cost. However Escape Board takes advantage of something that Float Stone never could: the Ability to escape even when under a Status Condition that would prevent it. That’s a bit of a niche principle, considering the Float Stone user was almost always something on the Bench, but that’s where the format discussion comes in.
As of this writing, the most recent printing of Float Stone is in BREAKThrough, which is set to rotate out here in a few months. Assuming there’s no reprinting of Float Stone in the near future, we’re likely to lose it and have Escape Board become our only option. That makes it more of a niche Tool to pick rather than a must-have for your essential Bench sitter the way Float Stone is – only certain Pokemon can really maximize on Escape Board. Again, it does allow for Switches out of the Active slot even when Asleep or Paralyzed, which is something even a free Retreat cost can’t do by virtue of game mechanics, and that may mean a possible emphasis on these Status Conditions down the road will propel Escape Board to be more widely spread, or they may not come up as much in which case it becomes our only alternative to Float Stone in Standard.
Also consider this: it’s better to knock a Retreat Cost of 1 to 0 than use something like Guzma or Acerola as your Supporter for the turn to get the same result.
Standard: 3.5/5 (I don’t expect Escape Board to absolutely sweep through every deck, but I do expect it to make good stride)
Expanded: 3/5 (in time, I’m sure it’ll be considered a good alternative for decks with cheaper Pokemon)
Limited: 4/5 (and it still technically can do more than Float Stone – that rock can’t get you out of Sleep!)
Arora Notealus: Escape Board is a different kind of Tool that works with what it can do better than a predecessor. I have to give Pokemon the benefit of the doubt with these kinds of “remakes”, since they at least work on trying to give the new card a different spin. In this case, it’s letting a Pokemon retreat for cheap, but not as cheap as Float Stone, and they can also bend the Status Condition rules.
Next Time: A new kind of card…with a familiar face?
Escape Board is a Pokémon Tool card which reduces the retreat cost of any Pokémon by one (unless said Pokémon has free retreat, in which the reduction means nothing). Also, the Pokémon with the tool attached to it can retreat even if the Pokémon is Asleep or Paralyzed. This brings great utility, as it lets Pokémon shake off special conditions, something that Float Stone cannot completely do. Yet, Float Stone outclasses Escape Board because it cancels all retreat costs.
This is a card to keep in mind of future formats, since that may signify that Float Stone won’t be around for much longer. Once Float Stone is gone, then Escape Board would be the replacement of such a utility. Unfortunately, you would have to wait several months for the 2018 rotation to happen. Therefore, that’s going to affect how I am going to rate this card for the time being.
Retreating is an important aspect in Pokemon – being able to switch attackers to claim a knock out and taking prizes is part of the game itself. However, there are times where a Pokemon you didn’t want Active is suddenly dragged into the Active slot by gust effects such as a Guzma and/or Pokemon/Counter Catcher. So how do we get out of this predicament? Usually, we use Float Stone as the method of choice to return them back for free. But when Float Stone is rotated out this September, what do we have to return them back?
The answer is handed to us in the form of Escape Board, a unique Tool card which also subtly break the rules of the Trading Card Game. On its own, Escape Board doesn’t carry an effect as strong as Float Stone, only reducing the retreat cost of the Pokemon it is attached to by [C]. There are some bench sitters which has a 3 retreat cost which can be problematic, but there are those with a 1 retreat cost, meaning that they will have free retreat. But the hard ones are the 2 retreat cost Pokemon; they are the best recipients of Float Stone since they sit in an awkward position of “Do I want to commit more than I need to this guy to just retreat or leave it stranded?”, on which Float Stone is much better than Escape Board. However, there’s a catch; the Pokemon that Escape Board is attached to can retreat when they are asleep or paralyzed. This is a great trick since these status conditions can lock you out of an OHKO by just paralyzing you and hoping that you can’t retaliate back with something like a Guzma or a Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX.
A good example here will be something like Raichu (SM BUS) with the Evoshock ability which paralyzes your current Active Pokemon. Well now with Escape Board, instead of commiting to play a switch card this turn, you can retreat out of those lock out conditions, but you still need to pay an energy (or not, depending on the Pokemon) and get out of there, significantly reducing the power from these lock decks that rely on status conditions. You can then still play other Supporters, such as a Cynthia or an N to continue drawing more cards from your deck and continue the setup without having to resort on an early game Guzma which doesn’t really do much to setup your board.
Overall, there is no denying that Escape Board is a weaker Float Stone. But that September will come that Float Stone is saying its goodbyes to the Standard format, and so Escape Board will fill in that hole left by the stone as the way to prevent stranding of Pokemon with sneaky plays.
Escape Board (UP 167) rolls into the meta from the Ultra Prism expansion set. This tool card reduces the retreat cost of the Pokemon it is attached to by 1 Colorless energy and gives it the ability to retreat even if you’re Asleep or Paralyzed.
I won’t gripe again about how underpowered this card is, I know I did enough complaining yesterday. The ability to retreat when Paralyzed or Asleep is a bonus. Hypno (BKP 51) is still running around out there, and the new Pachirisu (UP 49) Raichu GX archetype actually looks somewhat decent (I’m 1 W 1 L with it so far so too early to tell). So it’s not like you’ll never come across those special conditions. However, they are few and far between, so this card has very limited usefulness. It might replace Float Stone when that rotates out, but even then players might just opt for another Guzma or Escape Rope.
Standard: 1.5 out of 5
It has really great artwork though. And who wouldn’t want a jet powered skateboard!
Our eighth place finisher is Escape Board (SM – Ultra Prism 122/156, 167/156), a Trainer-Item that is also a Pokémon Tool. Its effect is to lower the Retreat Cost of the Pokémon to which it is attached by [C] and to allow it to retreat even if it is Asleep or Paralyzed. It has no attachment restrictions, added costs, or the like; simply attach it to gain access to its effect. Being an Item can cause it to run afoul of Item like, such as provided by the “Trashalanche” attack of Garbodor (SM – Guardians Rising 51/145), Ghetsis, yesterday’s Luxio (SM – 47/156), etc. and being a Tool makes it vulnerable to Field Blower (among others), but there are some useful cards to combo with it because of its status as a Trainer, Item and Pokémon Tool, like Trainers’ Mail, the “Junk Hunt” attack of Sableye (BW – Dark Explorers 62/108), or the “Change Clothes” Ability on the new Magearna (SM – Ultra Prism 91/156). Yes, I had to go back aways to find Item-support (hopefully I’m just spacing on something that has proven worthwhile).
So, is the effect worthwhile? Retreating isn’t essential to every game or even every deck, but it is a pretty common thing to need to do, at least from time to time. “Pivot Pokémon” are handy for that reason; even if it is just so you don’t have to make up your mind about what Pokémon you really want Active after your previous Active has been KO’d. Shaving [C] off the Retreat Cost isn’t great… unless the Pokémon only has a Retreat Cost of [C], in which case it is perfect! Ignoring Paralysis and Sleep is unusual, but nice as well. In fact, the only thing going against this card is… for now, the effect seems unneeded. Not because retreating no longer matters, but because we still have many effects that can reduce – even zero-out – Retreat Costs, and quite a few that change out your Active without needing to manually retreat. The “Stand In” Ability on Zoroark (XY – BREAKthrough 91/162) allows it to promote itself from the Bench once-per-turn, as long as Abilities are working, and the Tool Float Stone sets the Retreat Cost of any Pokémon with it attached to zero. Put the two together, and you gain a fake switch once per turn. Speaking of which, Escape Rope, Guzma, and Switch are also all popular, potent cards. It isn’t the same thing as Escape Board, and in some cases can even combo with Escape Board, but it also replaces some of the uses for Escape Board.
As you may be able to tell, I’m conflicted about this card. The good news? The designers didn’t just resort to the usual power creep, and release a better Float Stone; instead, they made a variant on Float Stone that reduces Retreat Costs by less but allows that Pokémon to ignore the two Special Conditions that (barring combos) prevent a Pokémon from retreating. If the powers-that-be don’t reprint Float Stone, or keep releasing so many effects that reduce Retreat Costs, sooner or later Escape Board will have its time to shine. It already will replace such things under niche circumstances, namely decks where nothing costs more than [C] to retreat; yes, I know some effects increase Retreat Costs, but for now, they aren’t a pressing concern. Escape Board is great in the Limited and Theme Formats; it is legal for the latter due to appearing in both the “Imperial Command” and “Mach Strike” Theme Decks that released alongside SM – Ultra Prism.
For those wondering, Escape Board earned eighth place by appearing on three individual reviewer lists, scoring 42 voting points out of a possible 100. It didn’t make my personal top 10, nor even my top 20… but I am happy the designers are playing around with the cards like this, and Escape Board could have a very, very bright future (especially by next September).
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