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I noticed that MTG has an update to the rules for targeting. I don't know how long ago it was changed (the post containing this rule was from 2015), but there used to be this rule:

114.2 Only permanents are legal targets for spells and abilities, unless a spell or ability (a) specifies that it can target an object in another zone or a player, (b) targets an object that can't exist on the battlefield, such as a spell or ability, or (c) targets a zone.

This rule has now been changed:

115.2. Only permanents are legal targets for spells and abilities, unless a spell or ability (a) specifies that it can target an object in another zone or a player, or (b) targets an object that can’t exist on the battlefield, such as a spell or ability. See also rule 115.4.

Was the "targets a zone" text ever relevant? I am pretty sure that no card currently targets a zone (and if such a card existed, it would be strange to remove that part of the rules). But was there ever an old wording on a card (or just a weird rules situation) where a zone would be targeted?

Note that "target player's library" or "target player's hand" targets the player, not the zone (at least under the current rules).

  • I think the explanation given for the change was to make hexproof apply in situations where one would expect it to apply (and presumably to satisfy the general push towards simplification). – ikegami Aug 22 at 20:42
  • @ikegami According to the update article, it sounds like it was simply because after Circu received oracle wording to make it consistent with other cards; there were simply no longer any cards that targeted the library. – GendoIkari Aug 22 at 20:59
  • Re "There were simply no longer any cards that targeted the library", And that was because the cards were changed, and they were changed because ...? The document to which you linked is silent on the matter. – ikegami Aug 22 at 21:08
  • It was only one card, not multiple... this other article talks about why Circu received oracle wording updates; and it was basically just to make it consistent with every other card that interacted with libraries. – GendoIkari Aug 22 at 21:10
  • Well, it's actually consistent with what I said ""target library" versus "target player's library" was subtle enough that not everyone believed there was actually a difference." A difference --the difference?-- being the situation where players have protection or hexshroud – ikegami Aug 22 at 21:12
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The printed text of Circu, Dimir Lobotomist says "target library". The same rules update that changed the rule you quoted also errata'd that card to say "target player's library".

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    Thanks! Out of curiosity, did you just happen to know this off-hand, or did you find it through searching? – GendoIkari Aug 22 at 17:53
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    I actually already knew this. Among people like me who specifically learn about edge cases and weird situations in the rules, this was a fairly well-known example. – murgatroid99 Aug 22 at 18:59
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    Amusingly, being allowed to target a library was created specifically so that Circu could be printed with text of readable size; "target player's library" would have caused each of his first two abilities to require three lines of text instead of two. This is no longer the case now that "exile" is a defined term. – Ben P. Aug 22 at 20:02
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After posting the question, I continued my Google search, and came across this forum post that seems to have the answer.

In addition to change change in 114.2 (now 115.2), 114.1 was also updated from:

114.1. Some spells and abilities require their controller to choose one or more targets for them. The targets are object(s), player(s), and/or zone(s) the spell or ability will affect.[...]

to

114.1. Some spells and abilities require their controller to choose one or more targets for them. The targets are object(s) and/or player(s) the spell or ability will affect. [...]

According to the forum post, only one card ever targeted a zone; Circu, Dimir Lobotomist, which received errata to change it from "Target library" to "Target player's library".

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