Wizards of the Coast has banned from Standard play Uro, Titan's of Nature's Wrath, one of the format's most dominant cards. Banning Wilderness reclamation and other cards ahead of the new Standard format rotation wasn't enough. Today's ban comes after the release of the game's latest expansion set, Zendikar Rising, which introduced the card Omnath, Locus of Creation, a powerful payoff for ramp decks that utilize Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath. While Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath has been a staple of the most powerful decks in Standard since it debuted in the Theros: Beyond Death set earlier this year, it's synergy with Omnath, Locus of Creation has created a clear metagame inbalance. The Legendary Creature's trigger when entering the battlefield, which puts its controller up a card and three life, has proved hard to answer. That a player can bring Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath back from the graveyard using the Escape mechanic has made graveyard removal a necessity in the sideboard, if not the main deck, of all Standard competitive decks.
"We've been keeping a close eye on the emerging Zendikar Rising Standard format over its first week of availability on Magic: The Gathering Arena and Magic Online," Magic: The Gathering designer Ian Duke explains on the game's website. "With millions of games having already been played on digital platforms, early data and results from events this past weekend have shown that multicolor ramp decks featuring Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath, Lotus Cobra, and Omnath, Locus of Creation are a problem in the new post-rotation metagame.
"While Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath was a powerful and contentious card in the pre-rotation Standard environment, we wanted to allow the metagame to adapt to the last set of Standard changes and the imminent rotation before making a decision on whether to let it remain a part of the environment going forward. This weekend's events underscored that the Four-Color Omnath decks are dominating early play, and that even the decks built to try to beat those decks utilized the powerful titan.
"In order to weaken these post-rotation ramp strategies, we're choosing to ban Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath in Standard. Our goal is to bring these decks down to a level where they are still appealing and competitive, but where natural metagame forces are enough to keep them in check. In general, we prefer this approach to overshooting the mark and removing an archetype from viability. However, we've certainly noted this weekend's strong results for the Four-Color Omnath deck and will continue to watch how that strategy and the overall metagame adjust in the coming weeks."
Bans have become more common in Magic: The Gathering in the years since Magic: The Gathering Arena debuted, with 19 cards banned from Standard since 2017, after no bans taking place before then since 2011. The game's popularity means that people are playing Magic more than ever and data on the metagame is easier than ever to collect. That's part of why this ban comes days after Zendikar Rising came out for paper Magic.
"It's unusual for us to make a change this early into the season, but in this case we're targeting a card that has shown signs of being problematic in the past and which continued to display its dominance during events this past weekend," Duke writes. "Additionally, the speed at which high-level digital play attacks new formats, particularly when digital play is the only high-level play available, means that metagames advance past the early stages far faster than they used to. We prefer to make this change now so that players can continue to get the most enjoyment out of post-rotation Standard, which is one of the most exciting times in Magic to explore and innovate."
Duke also notes that this round of ban considerations focused on Standard and Historic, the only ways available to play in Magic: The Gathering Arena. Wizards of the Coast will monitor other formats for future updates.