Rhox functional change?

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Reading the printings of Rhox, it seems like it's ability shouldn't function if it's attacking a planeswalker. Obviously this is a mechanic from a time before planeswalkers, but that hasn't allowed other things to receive such changes. So why Rhox and its ilk? My assumption is that it wouldn't function properly otherwise and I'm just missing the big picture.
Obviously this is a mechanic from a time before planeswalkers.



This is why it got changed. They were specifically aware that its old wording wouldn't allow it to hit planeswalkers and changed it.
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Of the cards with this ability, Pride of Lions and Tornado Elemental have been reprinted with the new wording, and Spinebiter has always had it. This still leaves eight cards which at some point magically gained the ability to ignore blockers while attacking planeswalkers.

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Obviously this is a mechanic from a time before planeswalkers.



This is why it got changed. They were specifically aware that its old wording wouldn't allow it to hit planeswalkers and changed it.



Well, what I said here, plus the fact that with the old wording, they could attack a planeswalker, then choose to let the damage hit the player anyway.
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Obviously this is a mechanic from a time before planeswalkers.



This is why it got changed. They were specifically aware that its old wording wouldn't allow it to hit planeswalkers and changed it.



Well, what I said here, plus the fact that with the old wording, they could attack a planeswalker, then choose to let the damage hit the player anyway.

Except there is no defending player if you're attacking a planeswalker.1

1. citation needed 
The planeswalker's controller is still the defending player in that case. See ruling on Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs. (Kazuul has that weird wording specifically because they hadn't decided it was okay to put the word "planeswalker" on cards yet.)

They were changed because R&D thought players would expect them to work this way, I think.

Edit: Here's the change. Reasoning was different than I remembered.
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Obviously this is a mechanic from a time before planeswalkers.



This is why it got changed. They were specifically aware that its old wording wouldn't allow it to hit planeswalkers and changed it.



Well, what I said here, plus the fact that with the old wording, they could attack a planeswalker, then choose to let the damage hit the player anyway.

Except there is no defending player if you're attacking a planeswalker.1

1. citation needed 



Yes, there is. The defending player is the one who controls the planeswalker being attacked. 
MTG Rules Advisor Mirrodin_Loyalty.png

Obviously this is a mechanic from a time before planeswalkers.



This is why it got changed. They were specifically aware that its old wording wouldn't allow it to hit planeswalkers and changed it.



Well, what I said here, plus the fact that with the old wording, they could attack a planeswalker, then choose to let the damage hit the player anyway.

Except there is no defending player if you're attacking a planeswalker.1

1. citation needed 



Here's the citation for two player game.  There are similar rules for multiplayer that you can look up if you're interested.

EDIT: to be clearer: there is always a defending player, even if it is the planeswalker only that is attacked.


506.2. During the combat phase, the active player is the attacking player; creatures that player controls may attack. During the combat phase of a two-player game, the nonactive player is the defending player; that player and planeswalkers he or she controls may be attacked. 


 
There's some misunderstanding about how these cards worked pre-errata.

If a creature is attacking a planeswalker and isn't blocked, then it can't deal any damage to the defending player. Therefore, when a pre-errata Rhox was attacking a planeswalker and was blocked, its controller had two options:
1. Don't use the ability, and deal damage to the blocking creatures.
2. Use the ability, and don't deal any damage at all.

This clearly isn't how a card should work.

See also the Update Bulletin announcing the change.
There's some misunderstanding about how these cards worked pre-errata.

If a creature is attacking a planeswalker and isn't blocked, then it can't deal any damage to the defending player. Therefore, when a pre-errata Rhox was attacking a planeswalker and was blocked, its controller had two options:
1. Don't use the ability, and deal damage to the blocking creatures.
2. Use the ability, and don't deal any damage at all.

This clearly isn't how a card should work.

See also the Update Bulletin announcing the change.



Right, I remember that now. I knew it was something like that, but I forgot that 'as though it weren't blocked' would make it not deal damage at all.
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I remember that fondly. It was one of my first [O] rulings as NetRep. Effectively, we came up with that ruling, then told Mark that he should probably fix that, and thus, the updating wording.

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I remember that fondly. It was one of my first [O] rulings as NetRep. Effectively, we came up with that ruling, then told Mark that he should probably fix that, and thus, the updating wording.


I remember it fondly too, because I believe I was the first, at least on this board, to get the ruling right, at a time when the majority seemed to think you could damage a player while attacking a planeswalker. I pointed out that the card only allowed you to damage a player as though Rhox weren't blocked, which when attacking a planeswalker, is not at all.

Despite this, it's just as well it got changed.
Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011