September 28, 2020 Banned and Restricted Announcement

Posted in News on September 28, 2020

By Ian Duke

Ian Duke is a developer in Magic R&D and has been with Wizards of the Coast since 2012. A gift of an Ice Age starter deck in 1995 sparked Ian's lifelong passion for Magic. He also enjoys math, physics, board games, and puzzles. To the surprise of few, his favorite guild is Azorius.

Announcement Date: September 28, 2020

Standard:

Effective Date: September 28, 2020

The list of all banned and restricted cards, by format, is here.


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. 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. 

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. 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.

Finally, I'd like to emphasize that for this B&R change our focus was primarily on Standard and Historic, with an eye for the upcoming 2020 Season Grand Finals. Changes to other formats, if needed, will be included in future updates.

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