It's a little weird to try to zero in on one particular card and have a strong discussion about it when a format's still so young and there aren't really any defining tech cards yet. The best deck of the format's still totally undecided, with the power balance in different metagames swinging wildly between Mermails, Inzektors, Fire Fists and lots of others. At this point, it really comes down to speculation and rational guessing as to what you'll be seeing for the next three months across the face of the competitive circuit.

Even more than that, Legacy of the Valiant comes out practically a week from today, and that's going to shift the format dramatically. New Bujin and Gravekeeper cards are going to hit the TCG pretty hard, and there will definitely be people trying out Mobius the Mega Monarch. Well, more people than there were on Team Granmarg, anyway. (If you're on a legitimate team and you call yourself 'Team Granmarg,' that's amazing and I love you).

So what can we take away from the last three weeks of testing and really use as helpful information for the coming months of competition? Backrow-intensive decks are going to be popular, and people will probably be building to counter those trap-heavy strategies. Inzektors have been driving that second point home lately with promising Regional success, so that's something to keep in mind during deck building. Unless you're going to be playing Inzektors yourself though, that probably doesn't help you fight off the load of traps that are going to be flipping in your general direction. As far as splashable solutions go, probably the best advice right now is to start testing with Trap Stun.

It's A Trap!
My favorite thing abou Trap Stun is its simplicity. It shuts off traps for one turn, clean and easy: no cost, no requirement, no combos – you just do it. Slippery, fit-anywhere cards like Trap Stun are incredible pretty much all the time, and you can see that reflected when you look back at some of the best traps of all time over the years: Compulsory Evacuation Device, Mirror Force, Torrential Tribute, Bottomless Trap Hole, Solemn Judgment... Anything generic is generally strong just by virtue of range of use.

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Once you get past that and start to look at the card effect itself, you have to play the comparison game. While it's tremendously strong, Royal Decree does virtually the same thing as Trap Stun, except for more turns. Why would you purposely use a card that does the same thing as another, but does it less? The biggest difference is Trap Stun's lax interaction with your own traps. If you're going to be packing Royal Decree you basically have to be defenseless as long as it's active, and that limits Decree to strategies that can get away with a lot of hand-traps or Quick-Play Spells. Frog Monarchs are a good example, as are some Karakuri variants. There were some Dragon Rulers that tried to get on that bandwagon last format also, since all they really had in the way of non-monsters was draw power and Return from the Different Dimension.

Trap Stun swoops in like a glorious, purplish angel with a lightning jetpack, ready to disable traps just long enough for you to safely establish a field or make sure a play gets forced through. Afterward, it has the courtesy to step away so you can hold your position with whatever defensive traps you have set. If Decree was like disabling two swordsmen's shields, Trap Stun's like ripping your opponent's shield away just long enough to stab him a couple times.

Beyond that, it can turn off floodgate cards for a turn without clearing them completely away, a use that doesn't see nearly as much discussion as I think it should. If you had Rivalry of Warlords or Gozen Match out because your opponent's deck can't handle that kind of restriction, but you also needed to make a Synchro or Xyz Monster with the wrong type or attribute, you could Trap Stun and make your play with no interference. Once the turn ends, those floodgates turn back on and lock up the game again. Imperial Iron Wall, Macro Cosmos, Light-Imprisoning Mirror and a handful of other cards all fall under Trap Stun's jurisdiction in that way. The utility's outstanding, and you don't need to waste a Mystical Space Typhoon to get around your own barriers.

There's a super important interaction between Trap Stun and Abyss-sphere that you should know about since Mermails are likely going to be popular this format; at least for the first while before we see things shake up with Legacy of the Valiant. A lot of people think that a negated Abyss-sphere won't leave the field, where just as many believe it destroys itself anyway. Here's how it is: in the TCG, specifically for the US, Abyss-sphere doesn't destroy itself. The part of Abyss-sphere that self-destructs is considered an effect. If you go over to Europe or the OCG though, it's considered a condition and it WILL destroy itself even under Trap Stun or Royal Decree. Keep that in mind while you're playing against Mermails and you might be able to lock them out of the few important spells they run.

Step Light, Strike Hard.
There aren't a lot of occasions for me to talk about Six Samurai since they're not very relevant to the game right now, but Trap Stun's a huge boost for the theme. The Six Samurai - Yaichi's one of the strongest Samurai right now because it can generate free +1's in a heavy backrow format. Packing Trap Stun can make sure nothing gets in the way of Yaichi's Summon or effect, and that can set your early and mid-game steamroll into motion.

If Summon-stopping traps are a concern, you can activate Trap Stun at the beginning of the turn before you try to bring out Legendary Six Samurai - Shi En or Naturia Barkion. Making sure they get to the field uninterrupted is just as good as taking your opponent's traps offline indefinitely, and Trap Stun stops working at the end of the turn so you can still fall back on Musakani Magatama. It's sort of like Royal Oppression in the way that you do all of your own Special Summoning, and then make it impossible for your opponent, but backwards; you make sure they can't use their defensive cards, and then you're free to activate all of yours later.

Geargia are probably going to use Trap Stun too as the format moves on, since they're so defensive anyway. Solemn Warning, Torrential Tribute and Bottomless Trap Hole are all bad news for most Geargia decks, especially when it comes to putting Gear Gigant X on the field. Between Geargiarmor and Gigant X netting you free cards, you'll have a strong enough card economy that the -1 from Trap Stun won't be a problem. Even one search from Geargiarmor negates the loss completely. It won't stop Warning, but you can activate Trap Stun and chain Geargiagear to make sure Bottomless, Compulsory and Torrential Tribute don't bat away your monsters. When Warning's not a direct threat or it's already been used and you're staring down three set cards, that play can help you safely build your field and try to apply pressure.

There's more to Trap Stun than just opening up a turn and hoping for the best after you've created a set-up. Yaichi's one way to clear locked traps so they can't be used later, but it's not the best example. Inzektors take that honor; using Trap Stun to freeze out backrows and then destroying everything with Inzektor Hornet and Inzektor Dragonfly is unreal. Depending on your hand and your opponent's field you could blow up every card they control, but as long as you have Dragonfly and Hornet, you're getting at least two. Going -1 to activate Trap Stun's not great, but meeting that with a +1 Hornet from the graveyard, a +1 from Dragonfly's effect, another +1 from the Hornet and a final +1 from the Centipede you Special Summoned with Dragonfly feels pretty good. You're scoring a +3 for nothing, and your opponent won't be able to stop any of it without hand-traps.

Not Just A Flash In The Pan
The versatility that Trap Stun brings to the table by being both offensive and defensive is incredible, and being able to more-or-less Cold Wave your opponent before going and decimating their field shouldn't be regarded as 'fair' or 'a nice thing to do.' In general, any card that can be played in so many ways and fits into several decks and strategies promotes critical thinking and forces players to really understand what they're doing and why. Even an inexperienced player can chain Trap Stun to something and negate it as an even 1-for-1, so the risk factor's practically nonexistent. Every deck right now runs at least a couple traps.

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Looking at the way the immediate future of the game's headed, Trap Stun's basically got everything it needs to catch the spotlight. The only things it can't stop are Counter Traps, and literally every Counter Trap is reactionary; thanks to that, you can just use Trap Stun at the start of a turn and dance right through anything and everything anyways, Spell Speed 3 or not.

If there's a better example of a low-risk, high-reward card, I can't think of it. Trap Stun fits just about anywhere, has next to no negatives, and generally requires smart decision making and a good sense of the game to get the most out of. It's user-friendly and has more utility than Batman's belt. There's essentially no reason to not at least test with Trap Stun right now, and you can plan on seeing it over the next few months.

-Beau