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SeaFall» Forums » Reviews

Subject: [SPOILERS] End of the Prologue rss

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O.Shane Balloun
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Having been fortunate enough to acquire a copy of Seafall in August, friends and I finally started our campaign last night. After working through the rules together, we played the Prologue. Although it was a bit halting at times because of some latent ambiguity in some of the language in the rule book and the Captain's Booke, none of it was difficult to overcome as we made reasonable interpretations and decisions in context. The Prologue did an excellent job of (1) helping us get acquainted with SeaFall's mechanics and
Spoiler (click to reveal)
(2) causing us to set up a unique board state before the first game began as entries from the Captain's Booke based on our explorations led us to set permanent resource locations.


Overall, the Prologue was enjoyable and we are all very much looking forward to the rest of the campaign. As experienced gamers, we are all enjoying the interplay of resource management as well as the ability to strategize tempered by the need to make tactical decisions by what comes out of the Captain's Booke and the other decisions our opponents make. We very much enjoyed the choose-your-own-adventure nature of some of the Captain's Booke entries. It brought all of us back to reading those types of novels when we were younger.

My group is looking forward to the direct conflict and we are also looking forward to
Spoiler (click to reveal)
the asymmetry arising between the players after we complete the first game given that our achievements in the Prologue were wiped out to reset us afresh before the game began in earnest.


One thing that I especially enjoyed was the opportunity to name everything—our provinces, the four islands (obviously), the advisors, and our leaders. Personally, when I play video games where there is an opportunity to name and customize my character (or lands or other features of the game), I almost invariably take a great deal of time to get the name and feel of my character and world just right. It's a very personal and fulfilling experience for me.

In fact, during the Prologue, I had the opportunity to buy the Library, which allows a player to buy as many advisors (instead of one) as he wants at the beginning of his turn. By the time that happened, all of the advisors had been purchased. Although I had the opportunity to end the game by naming the fourth island in my last turn before our second winter, because I enjoy customization and naming so much, I held off and let the winter phase occur again, knowing that I (as Baron) would get the first chance at buying all of the advisors simultaneously in the market.

I knew from the rules that I would only get to keep one advisor at maximum, but I wanted to (1) prevent my opponents from taking them and (2) have the chance of naming all of them while they were under my control! Although not per se meaningful in terms of the game's function, it's this type of flavor that really helped me to emotionally invest in SeaFall from game zero (the Prologue).

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Even though the Prologue's end caused us to not to take any end-game bonuses or to keep one of our advisors, it was still quite a bit of fun to engage in the creative process of naming and personalizing.


The Punch Line
Like I said, I am very much looking forward to the next game and the rest of the campaign.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
After the Prologue was finished, however, I found myself possibly more infuriated than I have been with a board game in my life. As players of the Prologue know, the game (seemingly*) directs all the players to tear up "all of the Leaders."

*This was an ambiguity insofar as the entry in the Booke did say "all Leaders" without further qualification. The narrative itself, while written with the mysterious tone that often accompanies the beginning of novels, wasn't especially clear on who was lost when they went out to sea. My first read-through of all the related entries made me think that this was a set of events happening in the distant past that our leaders were reading about now.

I thought to myself, "Surely after the Prologue they don't mean we should destroy (literally) all 10 Leader cards. Why would they have us destroy all the cards in the box and in our hands? Maybe Rob and JR and friends meant that we should destroy all the remaining cards in the box for some reason. Or, did they mean to destroy the leaders we're playing with? No, that's too strange. That makes no sense this early in the game."

I admit that I peeked ahead to the Booke entry for the First Game milestone (gray card), assuming the next entry relevant to the game would make it clear.

It did make things clear, and to my utter dismay, I realized that, no, what we were directed to do was to literally kill off the leaders we had just chosen and named a few hours ago from a limited group of ten portraits.

As the Baron in a 4-player game, I had my pick of the litter for my favorite portrait. And I spent an hour thinking of the right name for the leader who was to be my embodiment for the remainder of 15 or more games. In fact, I had given him a name formulated from names in my real life family's past.

Meanwhile, my friends chose their relative favorites, too—the Count from the 9 remaining, then the Duke from the 8 remaining thereafter, then the Prince from the final 7 remaining portraits. In a four-player game, this represented the one of 5,040 different permutations of choices most pleasing to the group of players at the table.

And in one fell swoop, the game directed us to kill them off with no functional explanation or apparent reason. The leaders themselves are mechanistically identical because they have no functional asymmetry. From a game play perspective, all leaders appear to be equivalent.

Now, we were directed to choose four more leaders from the remaining portraits, i.e., from the portraits we as a group had the least affinity toward, and then to go through the creative process of customization again. It all seemed a bit much, and it left me frustrated.

I ended the Prologue feeling as though SeaFall stole joy from me—far too early in the process of getting to know it. It literally felt as something in my creative identity was snatched from me without a counterbalancing reason.

In the moment, we didn't actually kill off the leader cards, because I started arguing these points immediately and we decided to the Booke entry in abeyance until our next campaign.

I am strongly considering just tearing up a leader card from the box and keeping the character I started with—if only because the destruction of the card I chose from the beginning makes no sense at all. It appears to serve no gameplay purpose.

If my leader had already garnered improvements (better reputation or fortune, or an appellation), I could understand the Captain's Booke entry—because then it would serve both functional/mechanistic and narrative purposes. Or, of course, if I had made a decision to raid that resulted in a catastrophic failure, observing my leader after he had (perhaps) been upgraded would also serve similar purposes. I might be annoyed that my prized upgraded leader was gone, but at least it would serve a purpose—maybe to create a catch-up mechanism, or to be instructive to the other players to be more careful in raids, or some such.

But here it felt as though our choices were being culled perhaps either only to inoculate us to the idea of tearing cards up or otherwise getting used to the paradigm shift represented by legacy games in making permanent changes or merely for narrative purposes.

Candidly, if I wanted to experience the rise and fall of emotion with a narrative experience unmoored to game mechanics, I would be playing an RPG instead and rolling D20s.

This was also in sharp contrast to the fact that none of our other choices at the end of the Prologue were made permanent. All of them were wiped away except for the gratuitous and functionally needless assassination of our leaders. It's as if Rob consulted with George R.R. Martin on the Prologue.

I am left unsettled and resentful.

In fact, so unsettled that unless someone can give me an earnest assertion that, "No, the killing off of your leader bears on the play of the game later," the only reason I won't ignore the directive is if I get the sense that my gaming group will haze me or give me enough crap to "follow the game's rules as intended by the designers" for the "sake of the story" that I decide it's not worth the hassle for the next 15–20 games to take crap from them.

And yet,


I still can't wait to play again!
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Benj Davis
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I agree that getting you to destroy your leaders is dumb. I'm sure the IDEA is that it gives you the feeling that there are real consequences to things, but what it did for us was about us that we'd wasted the good pictures.
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Thomas Robb
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I have not played the game as yet, but I agree with Becq.

This early feature, I think, is to let you know that this world is harsh, sometimes unforgiving, and definitely surprising!

You must always be thinking about loss, loss, loss.
You must be cautious in your decisions, but bold concerning your actions
You must anticipate - what might happen when I do .......
Learn to handle adversity and turn bad fortune into good, if possible
No one is safe

17th century - tough times

angry



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David desJardins
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grammatoncleric wrote:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
I am strongly considering just tearing up a leader card from the box and keeping the character I started with—if only because the destruction of the card I chose from the beginning makes no sense at all. It appears to serve no gameplay purpose.


It's your game, of course! You paid for it. If you and the people you're playing with enjoy that more, then of course you should just do it. It makes no sense to get infuriated or agitated about.

This strikes me as like the people who complain about the rulebook that says, "Put the game board in the center of the table," because it's more convenient to them to have it a bit to one side. Some things you can just do the way you prefer.
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Tim Stack
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grammatoncleric wrote:

Spoiler (click to reveal)

I am strongly considering just tearing up a leader card from the box and keeping the character I started with—if only because the destruction of the card I chose from the beginning makes no sense at all. It appears to serve no gameplay purpose.





This is what we did. We just decided that the others were the ones after the fact and kept our originals. This has had no impact on the game mechanically.
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Becq Starforged
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I'm planning to suggest to my group the following:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
1) Everyone choose a character card.
2) Everyone shove that character card into the bottom of their province chest.
3) Everyone choose a second character card. This is your leader! Name him/her!
4) Play the prologue! Stuff happens!
5) Once stuff has happened, look in your province box to find your new leader...

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O.Shane Balloun
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tjstack wrote:
grammatoncleric wrote:

Spoiler (click to reveal)

I am strongly considering just tearing up a leader card from the box and keeping the character I started with—if only because the destruction of the card I chose from the beginning makes no sense at all. It appears to serve no gameplay purpose.




Spoiler (click to reveal)
This is what we did. We just decided that the others were the ones after the fact and kept our originals. This has had no impact on the game mechanically.


Tim (tjstack), I think you should edit and spoiler-tag your post. Thanks!
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Tim Stack
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I did originally, then undid it and reworded what I had originally put to make it non-spoilery.
 
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David desJardins
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tjstack wrote:
I did originally, then undid it and reworded what I had originally put to make it non-spoilery.


I think what you posted is much too explicit to be a non-spoiler.
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O.Shane Balloun
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I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
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DaviddesJ wrote:

It's your game, of course! You paid for it. If you and the people you're playing with enjoy that more, then of course you should just do it. It makes no sense to get infuriated or agitated about.


You are right, David. I overstated my emotion possibly for dramatic effect, which was more frustration or perturbation.

Quote:
This strikes me as like the people who complain about the rulebook that says, "Put the game board in the center of the table," because it's more convenient to them to have it a bit to one side. Some things you can just do the way you prefer.


Yes. And that was my first inclination, "I'm not doing this. This makes no sense."
Spoiler (click to reveal)
And then two in my gaming group began to suggest that we should go along with the Captain's Booke's directive because… …it said so. We've had enough conversations over the years that you would know that this type of position doesn't actually convince me. (Same for you.) Of course, the fact that this even became a point of contention added to my perturbation that the game design would engender peer pressure within a social group to do something that is entirely gratuitous and nonsensical (outside the context of an RPG or a party game where that's part of the fun).
 
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David desJardins
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grammatoncleric wrote:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Of course, the fact that this even became a point of contention added to my perturbation that the game design would engender peer pressure within a social group to do something that is entirely gratuitous and nonsensical (outside the context of an RPG or a party game where that's part of the fun).


Spoiler (click to reveal)
Clearly it's not "gratuitous and nonsensical", since (1) if it were no one would ever have put it into the game, and (2) some of your other players were fine or even enthusiastic about following the rules. It's clear that you don't like it. But other people do like it, and you could reflect on the fact that they enjoy what you don't, and that's why it was put into the game.
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O.Shane Balloun
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I will play as the Atreides, Bene Gesserit, Emperor, Fremen, Guild, or Harkonnen.
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I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
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DaviddesJ wrote:
grammatoncleric wrote:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Of course, the fact that this even became a point of contention added to my perturbation that the game design would engender peer pressure within a social group to do something that is entirely gratuitous and nonsensical (outside the context of an RPG or a party game where that's part of the fun).


Spoiler (click to reveal)
Clearly it's not "gratuitous and nonsensical", since (1) if it were no one would ever have put it into the game, and (2) some of your other players were fine or even enthusiastic about following the rules. It's clear that you don't like it. But other people do like it, and you could reflect on the fact that they enjoy what you don't, and that's why it was put into the game.


Spoiler (click to reveal)

Your conclusion (1) doesn't logically follow. Designers may be exceptionally circumspect and still miss the results of incentives or make missteps. That said, I don't that that applies here.

JR told me directly yesterday when I pinged him that, "It's supposed to make you feel things," so clearly Rob et al. intended something by the directive.

At this point, I don't think it produces anything useful. It left me feeling hollow.

Like I said above, it is functionally gratuitous vis-à-vis the mechanics of the game. If the leaders were asymmetric in function, I might still be disappointed, but I could see a functional purpose—to get rid of the leaders with the special abilities that each of the players like most and force them to play with the ones they have lesser affinity for. But with no mechanical difference between the leaders, it is by definition gratuitous.

One of my fellow players likes the notion of going along with the narrative and experiencing the ups and downs of what happens. I've known him long enough to understand that he derives joy out of surfing the story. (In other contexts, I'm usually with him on experiencing the ups and downs of the thematic narrative.) I'm pretty sure he also likes the idea of watching me squirm a little bit.

To that end, the second player in support was backing the first player with a wry smile merely to mess with me because he knows it bugged me. (We've been close friends a long time).
 
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David desJardins
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grammatoncleric wrote:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Like I said above, it is functionally gratuitous vis-à-vis the mechanics of the game. If the leaders were asymmetric in function, I might still be disappointed, but I could see a functional purpose—to get rid of the leaders with the special abilities that each of the players like most and force them to play with the ones they have lesser affinity for. But with no mechanical difference between the leaders, it is by definition gratuitous.


Spoiler (click to reveal)
Since some people enjoy it and it increases their enjoyment of the game, it is not by definition gratuitous. Whether more people like it than dislike it, I have no idea, and neither do you. But clearly some people will find that it increases their enjoyment of the game (that's its purpose), while others will find it decreases their enjoyment (undesired result). In that respect, it's just like almost every decision game designers have to make.

Note that I'm personally completely indifferent to it and it doesn't affect me either way.
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Josh Hoornbeek
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grammatoncleric wrote:

In fact, during the Prologue, I had the opportunity to buy the Library, which allows a player to buy as many advisors (instead of one) as he wants at the beginning of his turn. By the time that happened, all of the advisors had been purchased. Although I had the opportunity to end the game by naming the fourth island in my last turn before our second winter, because I enjoy customization and naming so much, I held off and let the winter phase occur again, knowing that I (as Baron) would get the first chance at buying all of the advisors simultaneously in the market.

I knew from the rules that I would only get to keep one advisor at maximum, but I wanted to (1) prevent my opponents from taking them and (2) have the chance of naming all of them while they were under my control! Although not per se meaningful in terms of the game's function, it's this type of flavor that really helped me to emotionally invest in SeaFall from game zero (the Prologue).


I know the main intent of your post is to highlight implications from the Prologue, so I don't want to detract from that. However, you may wish to check the rules on page 13. The forum of advisors gets refilled after each player has purchased an advisor (or more), so the only way there could be none to choose from is if all 20 (at least in the Prologue and game 1) have been purchased.

As a playtester who has been eagerly looking forward to this game for more than 2 years, I agree with your sentiments regarding the naming of people, places, etc. in your Seafall world. I have not read all of your spoiler comments because I hope to be surprised by some new twists that may be different from playtest versions. It is definitely a wild ride, and I hope you enjoy the many high-points of that ride as well as those "grit your teeth and wonder what in the world the designer was planning" moments.

May the wind be at your back and fortune smile upon your dice rolls!
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David desJardins
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crotalusman wrote:
I know the main intent of your post is to highlight implications from the Prologue, so I don't want to detract from that. However, you may wish to check the rules on page 13. The forum of advisors gets refilled after each player has purchased an advisor (or more), so the only way there could be none to choose from is if all 20 (at least in the Prologue and game 1) have been purchased.


He didn't say there were none to choose from. Maybe you misread something.
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O.Shane Balloun
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DaviddesJ wrote:
crotalusman wrote:
I know the main intent of your post is to highlight implications from the Prologue, so I don't want to detract from that. However, you may wish to check the rules on page 13. The forum of advisors gets refilled after each player has purchased an advisor (or more), so the only way there could be none to choose from is if all 20 (at least in the Prologue and game 1) have been purchased.


He didn't say there were none to choose from. Maybe you misread something.


David, thanks for the benefit of the doubt…

Josh, you were right, though. We screwed up the rule. We cleared the advisors for the entire year, and I'm glad to be correct for the first game of the campaign.
 
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David desJardins
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Oh! If you weren't replacing the purchased advisors in the display, that would be a BIG problem, not just with the naming but with the substance of the play of the game.
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Becq Starforged
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Luckily, you discovered that mistake in the prologue, where it doesn't cause long-term problems. (I imagine it may have made the game considerably longer, though!)

One other thing I think I noticed: it sounded as though you might have been keeping an advisor from the prologue into game 1. You shouldn't be. In fact, you don't do any of the post-game sequence (so no faction improvement, no enmity stickers, etc) except for assigning the rank cards based on the results of the prologue.

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O.Shane Balloun
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DaviddesJ wrote:
Oh! If you weren't replacing the purchased advisors in the display, that would be a BIG problem, not just with the naming but with the substance of the play of the game.


Yes, completely.

Becq wrote:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Luckily, you discovered that mistake in the prologue, where it doesn't cause long-term problems. (I imagine it may have made the game considerably longer, though!)

One other thing I think I noticed: it sounded as though you might have been keeping an advisor from the prologue into game 1. You shouldn't be. In fact, you don't do any of the post-game sequence (so no faction improvement, no enmity stickers, etc) except for assigning the rank cards based on the results of the prologue.



Becq, 0) you should spoiler-tag your post; 1) I agree with your first paragraph; 2) as to your second paragraph, we did not do that, so no problem there.
 
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Becq Starforged
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Which part do you believe to be spoilers? Unless I'm missing something, everything in my post is based on the SeaFall rules or welcome sheet, which are public information.
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O.Shane Balloun
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I will play as the Atreides, Bene Gesserit, Emperor, Fremen, Guild, or Harkonnen.
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I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
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Becq,

Spoiler (click to reveal)
It's not public information that the advisors are returned to the deck after the Prologue. By all accounts, new players will believe they are going to keep one advisor from the Prologue to the 1st game, just as the rules state is the default. But the Captain's Booke post-Prologue belays that rule.
 
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Becq Starforged
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Per the starting rules:
Quote:
Do not put out the target glory marker. The prologue ends after all prologue milestones have been reached. You will not do any end game upgrades.

(My emphasis.) Rob Daviau has clarified this (as a non-spoiler) as follows:
Quote:
The permanent changes from the prologue are:

The islands get named
Any explored sites on the islands get marked with the appropriate sticker
Title cards are assigned

What is NOT done
No enmity is permanent
No ships are upgraded
No advisors are kept
No bonus for the winner
No advisors are trained
No glory is recorded
Reference: Rob Daviau

He did not consider this information to be spoilers, so why should we? It's just a clarification of what was meant by "You will not do any end game upgrades".
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O.Shane Balloun
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I will play as the Atreides, Bene Gesserit, Emperor, Fremen, Guild, or Harkonnen.
badge
I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
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Oh nice. You're right. My apologies.
 
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Becq Starforged
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Hey, no problem! Glad you're having fun with the game. (And I look forward to doing the same ... if they ever ship it.)
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D Clevenger
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Spoiler (click to reveal)
Additional questions here. When the prologue end says "reset the game" does that mean discard all improvements to your ships and all buildings too?
 
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