Escape Rope (Battle Styles)
Date Reviewed: April 8, 2021
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Escape Rope is conveniently this week’s Throwback due to being reprinted as well as the 18th best card of Sword & Shield Battle Styles. This item card states that both players must switch their Active Pokemon with one of their Benched Pokemon, though your opponent has to do it first. Even though this effect is currently printed on Escape Rope, it actually debuted way back on the Gym Challenge expansion via Warp Point, another trainer-item card that exactly did the same thing, albeit slightly different wording that still serves the same purpose. If one of the players don’t have any Benched Pokemon, then they don’t have to switch, if neither player aren’t able to do that, then I’m pretty sure this card can’t be played to fail.
As this effect had been around the Pokémon TCG for over 20 years, I should have a clear picture of how good this card is, and I occasionally have copies of both Warp Point & Escape Rope. This may serve as an extension to Switch, such that you wanted to do more than just switching your own Pokémon, but to also switch whatever your opponent has in front. But if the opponent has at least two of the same Pokémon in play, then the opponent switching aspect won’t help as much. Switch is sadly outclassed, and while there might be some situations where you don’t want your desired target to be switched, Pokemon Catcher and/or Boss’s Orders is there to fix that issue anyways, and those cards are in most decks. In fact, Guzma is a glorified Escape Rope, despite being a Supporter card, as it acts like Switch and Gust of Wind in one card, thus almost outclassing Escape Rope in Expanded.
Escape Rope still maintains somewhat good usage in both the Legacy and the Theme formats (something I didn’t point out on the previous Throwback three years ago). The errata of Pokémon Catcher and lack of an equivalent of Boss’s Orders saved Escape Rope’s viability. As for the Theme Format, I know they are in there when looking at BW Plasma Storm’s respective theme decks, but I haven’t had time to skim through the contents of various Theme Decks between BW Plasma Storm to SS Vivid Voltage to see how good they’ll be. I can assume that while Escape Rope is a good card, the rest of the contents of various Theme Decks are questionable at best.
Escape Rope is another one of those cards that you would want to use, but more often than not, won’t have room to fit in most decks. Depending on the format it is re-entering, it may have a chance to shine, at least now when there’s no equivalent of Guzma currently in the Standard format.
I did not Ctrl-F search to see if there are several reviews of Warp Point, though I found at least a couple older reviews of escape rope when it missed being on the top X list of BW Plasma Storm (https://www.pojo.com/COTD/2013/Feb/21.shtml) as well as a Throwback when it reprinted in SM Burning Shadows (https://www.pojo.com/COTD/2017/Sept/7.shtml). Looks like it missed being in the top 10…at least thrice!
Escape Rope (BW – Plasma Storm 120/135; XY – Primal Clash 127/160; SM – Burning Shadows 114/147, 163/147; SW – Battle Styles 125/163) is this week’s Throwback pick, having just been reprinted in our latest TCG expansion, and thus reintroduced to the Standard Format. Escape Rope is a Trainer-Item that has each player switch their Active with one of their Benched Pokémon, your opponent doing so first. Escape Rope is like playing a copy of Switch with a copy of Repel, all in a single card; not a new thing for the TCG, but this usually chances the card’s stats as well. In this case, we’re still using an easy-to-play Item. Balance is preserved because you aren’t always going to want both effects at the same time.
Most of the time, Escape Rope is on par with Switch. They’re equally good under similar circumstances, because forcing your opponent to change out their Active is often neither an advantage nor a disadvantage. While there are indeed times when it will be a drawback, there are also times when it can be very helpful. The net result will vary depending on the specifics of the match-up, itself usually determined by the metagame. Which matches up to my experiences with Escape Rope; sometimes it is a very good card, other times, it is easily forgotten. I don’t think that is going to change, either, given the card has over a two decade history.
How can something that released a little over eight years ago actually have over 20 years of history? Escape Rope is an example of “New Name, Old Card”, or however I last referenced this phenomenon. Warp Point (Gym Challenge 126/132; Expedition 152/165; EX – Team Magma vs Team Aqua 85/95; EX – Unseen Forces 93/115; EX – Crystal Guardians 84/100; Diamond & Pearl 116/130; DP – Majestic Dawn 88/100) is also a Trainer-Item, though you will not see that term printed on the card. That is because Warp Point released before the term was coined, and such cards were simply “Trainers” or “normal Trainers”. However, it was ruled such cards do count as Trainer-Items when you use them in Expanded. As for Warp Point’s effect, though it is often worded differently, functionally it is the same as that of Escape Rope.
Over the years, we’ve reviewed both cards multiple times. Warp Point’s original review didn’t happen until late 2005, by which point we’d had access to it for a few years. It had its second and last review in 2007. If that sounds odd, remember that regular, seven-day-per-week reviews only began in 2020; the original printing for Warp Point was around when Ness’s original CotD articles began and he had a lot to cover! Throwback Thursday’s are still relatively new as well, starting back in 2017. Warp Point was lucky to get two reviews, even with it being a significant card in the TCG for seven or so years! As for how we thought about it, overall, it was well reviewed. Helping it was a lack of cards like the original Gust of Wind being Standard-legal, as well as modern stuff like Boss’s Orders. The weak but reliable Active/Bench disruption is a lot more helpful when its competing with cards like Pokémon Reversal and POW! Hand Extension.
Escape Rope’s first review was around the time it released, back in early 2013. Again, we thought it was an above-average card, with some of the crew being very impressed by it. I believe the proliferation of Special Conditions, mostly due to Hypnotoxic Laser being a major part of the metagame, made all switching effects a lot better. Plus, this was three months before Float Stone joined the international cardpool. We didn’t look at Escape Rope again until its next-to-most-recent release, which was still back in 2017. The scores were all over the place this time, and glancing through the reviews, I believe it was at least in part due to there being some strong anti-Item effects at work. Unfortunately, I never submitted a review for it back then.
In the Standard Format, I believe Escape Rope is a good, solid option for decks in general. I keep comparing it to Switch, and that is because that has been its traditional role. I don’t just mean as an Item-based switching effect, but as a sometimes alternative, sometimes compliment to Switch. In Expanded, or rather, the Japanese Expanded Format, a lone copy of Escape Rope was included in the Mad Party deck that won the Champions League Aichi on March 27, 2021. Our most recent Expanded Format event for which I can find data is still the Regional Championship that was held in Collinsville, IL back on February 29, 2020. The 11th-Place and 22nd-Place decks included a copy of Escape Rope. Things have changed quite a bit since then, but coupled with Escape Rope’s long history and even a single result out of Japan, I’m assuming it is still a solid card there as well.
While I would normally list out what World Championship decks and what regular Theme Decks contained Escape Rope (and probably Warp Point), it is just too large of an undertaking this time. That missing Escape Rope re-review aside, I recall Escape Rope being a good card, just not as good as Warp Point in its prime. It is pure Theorymon, but I would think Escape Rope would be good, maybe even very good, in the Legacy Format. There’s no Lysandre, Guzma, or Boss’s Orders there, just stuff like post-erratum Pokémon Catcher. As such, I think Escape Rope will function more like Warp Point when such competition is lacking… but that still isn’t enough for me to bump up the score. Escape Rope missed out on any recent Theme Decks, but ignoring the rest of whatever decks it is in, it remains an above-average card. Just, as in Legacy, not quite good enough to justify rounding up to a four-out-of-five.
- Standard: 3/5
- Expanded: 3/5
- Legacy: 3/5
- Theme: 3/5
If Escape Rope wasn’t Warp Point but with a new name, it would be a great example of how the Pokémon TCG can innovate without really succumbing to power creep. At a glance, it looks like Escape Rope would be a better Switch, and in some metagames, that is exactly what happened. In others, players were smart to keep it super simple with Switch instead. Most of the time, it is a more complex but just as good alternative. Escape Rope would have been our 18th-Place pick if had been a large enough countdown, and that is because I had it on my list. Indeed, it has been a near miss from showing up on my list – but not the overall site list – more than once. Maybe next time.
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