As long as Yu-Gi-Oh's been a thing, powerful traps have been a huge facet of the game. Even in the very first few sets, we had major power cards like Mirror Force and Solemn Judgment running around everywhere, plus lesser threats like Two-Pronged Attack and Trap Hole all over the place. Compulsory Evacuation Device, Torrential Tribute and Bottomless Trap Hole followed not so long afterward, and Sakuretsu Armor and Dimensional Prison added more to worry about in the Battle Phase. With Mystical Space Typhoon Limited for the majority of that period, and Heavy Storm and Giant Trunade only offering so much real protection, dealing with all of those power cards was basically reduced to careful play. There weren't many actual outs, so sidestepping threats and making solid 1-for-1's was huge in avoiding problem situations every single game.

Back then, not many cards directly addressed traps head-on in the way that cards do now; Jinzo and Royal Decree were basically as good as it got, and they didn't let you use your own traps; if you weren't willing to leave yourself defenseless, you usually had to resort to some gimmicky and narrow options. Trap Jammer was a thing, but it only saved you from traps in the Battle Phase, and that's not when the majority of threats were live. Remove Trap was a joke.

Since then, those options have expanded in a big way with Naturia Barkion, Legendary Six Samurai - Shi En, Light and Darkness Dragon, Dark Bribe, Evolzar Laggia and plenty of others. Unfortunately most of them aren't splashable, and the generic ones aren't very good. Now that Dragons of Legend is out, we have a new tool with a lot of promise: Wiretap.

Just Hear Me Out
You probably noticed that I skipped over Seven Tools of the Bandit there. Wiretap and Seven Tools are on the same page in a lot of ways; they're generic Counter Traps with no restrictions on when or what they're allowed to negate. With so many identical points, the real comparison comes down to one thing: one's free and the other puts traps in the graveyard, effectively removing them from the game permanently. There are some recursion cards that snag traps back once they're gone, but generally speaking they're so unplayable that most people probably don't know they exist. Next time you're at your locals, ask around for Trap of Darkness and watch all of maybe one person be sure they might have one at their house.

…Probably.

#####CARDID=16093#####

What it really comes down to is how big the difference between the two cards is in practice, not just on paper. For traps to be their most effective, duelists tend to save them for when they're truly necessary; no one wants to Mirror Force a single monster, or Solemn Warning the first cannon fodder minion to come along. Timing and reservation are everything, and appropriately using your traps comes down to knowing what opportunity looks like. Unfortunately for anyone you plan to use Wiretap on, that means most successfully negated traps are a huge blow to your opponent's hold on the game. If the trap you negate secures a victory, it being returned to the deck hardly matters. Depending on the longevity of your monsters, negating a Summon-stopping trap can lead to a dead-draw later in the game if the card ever comes back at all.

Thanks to Soul Charge, Solemn Warning's basically solidified as a staple, and that means that Life Point payments are going to be common. The cost on Seven Tools of the Bandit's suddenly way more relevant. If it were the only card that cost any LP, then it wouldn't be worth thinking of, but when you're paying a quarter of your LP to stop a Summon, and another 1000-5000 LP to try and end the game with Soul Charge, that extra Seven Tools cost is enough to put you in a rough situation. With Wiretap, there's no concern over not being able to activate anything in the late game.

Seven Tools isn't the only comparison worth making, though; Trap Stun's similar in a way, too. It's not a Counter Trap, so there's a slightly more narrow field of uses for it, but they're both free. The biggest point in favor of Wiretap, over Trap Stun, is that your opponent can't chain anything to it. If you try to stop a Bottomless with Trap Stun, your opponent could chain Torrential Tribute. If you try to negate a Dimensional Prison, Fiendish Chain might pop up instead. Wiretap can only be negated with Seven Tools or another Wiretap, so you have less to worry about in that regard.

Wiretapping Everywhere
Interestingly, Wiretap's so universal that there really is no wrong deck to put it in. From Dark World to Bujin, Samurai to Geargia and just about everything in between, it's a solid choice. The only exceptions would be alternate win-condition decks like Exodia or Chain Burn that ideally want to end things before the early game's over, and don't really care about traps anyway.

You could stop a rogue Lightforce Sword from keeping Exodia out of your hand, but when's that gonna come up?

That being said, there are some decks that naturally synergize better with Wiretap, because of their common tech choices. Anything with Royal Decree makes Wiretap a much more serious threat, effectively upgrading the one real downside the card has to an unexpected positive – Wiretap potentially hands out dead draws. If you have Royal Decree active by the time whatever Wiretap put back in the deck comes up, that's essentially a draw phase that never happened.

If you're running Royal Decree, it's because you want traps to be a non-issue indefinitely, but you're probably familiar with the very real problems that Royal Decree presents: drawing it in the first place, and having it immediately ruined by Mystical Space Typhoon. Wiretap gives you a way to fight off traps before Royal Decree shows up, and then something to use after it's destroyed while you're waiting for another. You hand them back a Solemn Warning or Geargiagear and when they eventually pick it up again, and you and Royal Decree are right there to laugh about their Misfortune.

Six Samurai, Shooting Quasar Plants and other decks with boss monsters that have negation effects are generally better suited for Wiretap, also. Those King of the Hill strategies that want to push out a controlling force like Shi En or Quasar have a hard time dealing with the rest of the game if their initial setup gets shut down. That means getting through any backrow that would prevent your field from coming together is a big deal for you. Both of those decks have Naturia Barkion to fall back on, or bring out at the same time, to the same end as Royal Decree.

#####CARDID=11298#####

I don't really want to be that guy right now, but I don't see any way around it either; Dark Simorgh and Wiretap. Okay, Wiretap doesn't have anything to negate if Simorgh's on the field, but it does provide extra safety for the initial Summoning of Simorgh, and Simorgh completely invalidates any trap that gets drawn, including the one that Wiretap sent back into the deck. With Pendulum Summoning around the corner, putting Simorgh onto the field's going to be easier than ever, and having a several-monster Pendulum Summon negated is the last thing any duelist wants to see, so Wiretap might see a swing in use when that happens, if it isn't already rampant.

For The Record
Even on a basic level of card design, Seven Tools of the Bandit's a fair comparison point-- Wiretap skips out on paying LP, but there's still at least some kind of drawback to using it. Whether or not that downside's very important is up in there air, but it's still present. Based on the general way that traps are played, and cards like Royal Decree or Barkion being in the game, it's pretty easy to overlook that as a legitimate fault. Then take into account the fact that Solemn Warning's going to cost a massive total of 4000 LP for anyone that tries to activate it a second time and Wiretap becomes rather appealing, without being broken or abusable. If that's not the definition of good card design, what is?

At the end of the day, Wiretap feels like a stronger version of Seven Tools of the Bandit with more flexibility and the same overall outcome, even with the tacked on downside. Pair that with the majority of decks right now running eight to twelve traps at a time and it seems like a good time to start packing extra negation. No matter what deck you're playing, if traps are a problem or concern for you, Wiretap's probably the answer, or at least an augmentation to the answer you already had.

Are you running Seven Tools, Wiretap or neither of the two right now, and in what decks? Either way, expect to see Wiretap across the table from yourself when you sit down to play, because it's likely going to be popular for a while.

-Beau