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Subject: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly! (Further Reflection) rss

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Michael Sweazey
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After seeing the buzz about Eaten by Zombies! on BGG, including from Drakkenstrike and Tom Vasel, I couldn't wait to get my hands on the game. My wife and I played three 2-player games tonight, and I wanted to give our first impressions of the game. I should state at the top that my opinions are not meant to be gospel, nor do I claim to be an expert on game theory. So, disclaimers aside...

THE GOOD

The game is very thematic. Unlike many deck building games (actually, most in my opinion) where you never feel like you are questing through dungeons or expanding a kingdom because it just turns into a greater-than or lesser-than math game, you feel as if you are going up against zombies. The artwork lends much to this, and the items (Swag) that you are picking up give you advantages that would fit that item.

Another feature that I am putting in the good category is the playtime. (It will also be in the bad category...I never claimed that I wasn't schizophrenic!) When we were playing, we were trying to figure out a way out of the "sudden death syndrome", but after play I noticed that the estimated time of play was listed at twenty minutes. Therefore, we were trying to make the game more than it was. As such, it makes a fine game to throw down when you know some more people will be joining the party after they make their way through traffic after work.


THE BAD

This is definitely a game in which, when your time comes to die, no strategy or actions will save you. You will be plugging along, and then your turn will come up, the other player will place a ton of zombies in the horde, and you will lose all your cards. This works given that it is listed as a twenty-minute game. However, it also eliminates strategy in favor of timing. After three plays, it feels like it's almost like you are playing a competitive version of "she loves me, she loves me not" - no matter what you do, it comes down to when the petals run out to determine a winner.

In the third play, we were trying to tweak this in some way, for instance by placing a limit of one zombie you can play into the horde on your opponent's turn. However, that loads your deck up with zombies quickly by not giving you that chance to dump them.

Another mechanic that we were discussing was the possibility of fighting the first zombies in the horde then having the ability to flee the rest. Thematically this would work, but I don't have a clue what it would do to the mechanics of the game.

I don't want to criticize a game for not being what it doesn't intend to be, but you just have the feeling that adding ten to twenty minutes to the game would give you much more control over your fate, make it more satisfyingly competitive, and add much more strategy. At least at this point (three plays), the strategy seems pretty one-dimensional.

THE UGLY

The rule book! The rule book could not have been proofread from the time of the first draft through the printing process! The fourth line of the rules states, "In the end, the odds are extremely good that you're all going to die; no that you will all become zombies." Fourth line in...no proofreader has become tired yet...and given that the rules are not long at all, they shouldn't have been tired by the end. There are small issues like in the course of two sentences, there are references to the "Draw deck", the "draw deck", and the "Draw Deck". Picky? Absolutely! But it is like the preacher showing up in church with his zipper down - he just isn't taken quite as seriously. Larger matters involve wording that make players interpret rules that should be very straight-forward. In a number of places the terms "losing" and "discarding" are used interchangeably even though they have quite different meanings in the game.

On a related note, I ordered the Eaten by Zombies!: We Have the Bomb! Promo, and an image of the card on its BGG site shows five or six misspellings and incorrect punctuation just on the card! Now, this might have been edited by the time I receive mine, but somebody got shipped a card with those errors on it!

I don't expect perfect grammar or Shakespeare in a rulebook, but a little time and effort goes a long way. It is almost like the only people who edited the rules were people who had designed the game or knew how to play it when they read them. Oh, and their first language was Japanese with two semesters of English in high school ten years ago.

OVERALL

I realize that the bulk of my review seems to be negative. However, I enjoy the actual gameplay in Eaten by Zombies! In fact, it leaves me wanting more...just a little more ability to strategize, a bit more time to do it, and a bit less "Oh hey, we have been playing equally well, but I just happen to have four zombies in my hand that I can put into the horde and deplete you of cards! Oh gee, I won!"

As I mentioned, I ordered the Atomic Bomb promo because I thought the idea of having somebody capable of nuking the game seemed like a fun concept. However, after playing the game I'm not sure it is necessary because the same effect seems to come up already. (Oh, another "ugly"...Mayday charging $6.50 minimum shipping on the promo.)

Oh, and my rant about the rules? I find it easier to understand the mechanics of a game not being perfect or not to my liking than the rules being sloppily written or unclear (especially in a relatively simple game). Not having somebody proofread the text and not handing the rules to somebody who's never heard of the game and changing the text anytime they say, "Wait a minute...what was that again?" or when they need to interpret the rules for themselves during their first play-through is inexcusable.

I am looking forward to trying the game with three or four players to see how that effects the gameplay. Having players become zombies and continue playing might relieve my discontent with the sudden-death of the two-player game. The twists that are put on the traditional deck-building game are great ideas. I just wish you had more cards to access in your hand, draw deck, and discard pile and more time to implement the mechanics before the game ended.

EDIT: I played another game with two players and one with four players in which two of us became zombies. The four-player game does open the game up quite a bit - which I was hoping for. My one piece of advice is to convince the other players to let you take your time with introducing the rules. My group tends to be a "give me the overview, and we'll work it out as the situation comes up" type. This game does not lend itself to that style. Because of the number of things introduced during the game, there were a number of comments of "clunky". I understand this impression, and I would say that it is a fairly accurate description just because of the number of caveats - disbursement rules, attrition rating needing to be higher than the number of cards in the horde to place a zombie, discard and lost card rules, etc. But introducing the rules as the situation arises certainly highlights it. This certainly isn't a fatal flaw - once these provisos become ingrained, the game flows along nicely.

One of my problems in my initial review was mitigated by learning from videos that you can play over and above the number needed to flee or beat a zombie, increasing the draw into your hand. This relieves you of some of the sudden death syndrome, though when your time comes, it still comes very suddenly. Back to the rules, the only reference to being able to do this is the statement that "you can keep killing zombies as long as your current Fight value is at least equal to the zombies...you may scavenge up to your total fight..." All it would have taken was a statement saying that you can play any value of fight or flee cards over and above the required amount and can scavenge for that amount. While some experienced in deck-building may assume this, rules should not be written for those already familiar with the mechanics. This did extend the games, and the 20-minute description on the BGG page is probably not accurate. Our two-player game tonight in which we got to a threat-level of four lasted about an hour.

As I was hoping, we are enjoying this game more now. I would describe the rule-set as a bit clunky, and there are some cards that everyone will probably have to agree on the interpretation of (or BGG will come to the rescue). Again, sometimes one more short sentence on the reference dividers would have solved these issues.

I would highly suggest having a reference sheet (There are some available on BGG.) to give to each player you are teaching and to point the sections out as you describe them. That will keep you from doing the "I forgots" and them from doing the "I didn't knows", and it will give them an idea where the rules are that they will inevitably be looking up when they succeed/fail at fleeing, etc.

As I said, this is a highly thematic game in which you feel like you are fighting zombies. Add to that enough "screwage" to open up the trash talk, and you have the recipe for an enjoyable game. It certainly isn't perfect, but I enjoy many of my imperfect games. I hope the designer puts much thought and care into developing some quality expansions. I think this is one of those games that can be much improved with thoughtful expansions and there can be a number of different directions in which the game can be taken. Just do the game and the players a favor and pay more attention to the rulebook when they are released.


Cheers!
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Gavin Dollman
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Re: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly!
Good review, I totally agree.

Sadly after five or six games we just lost interest on this one. You either backstab as mentioned above or coop for a win (very easy). We kick-started it so are very dissapointed. That said maybe it is just not for us. We'll geek auction it or something...

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Cameron Chien
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Re: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly!
Unless you get a lot of firepower as swag cards, you should not find cooperative wins to be easy at all, unless you're playing something wrong.

Cameron
 
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Richard Ham
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CLICK THIS BEAGLE if you're looking for in-depth gameplay video run-throughs! :)
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Re: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly!
msweazey wrote:

In the third play, we were trying to tweak this in some way, for instance by placing a limit of one zombie you can play into the horde on your opponent's turn. However, that loads your deck up with zombies quickly by not giving you that chance to dump them.

You were bearing in mind that you can't play zombies on the other player if their speed is too low, right?
Quote:

Another mechanic that we were discussing was the possibility of fighting the first zombies in the horde then having the ability to flee the rest. Thematically this would work, but I don't have a clue what it would do to the mechanics of the game.

Stick on Fire does exactly this
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Gavin Dollman
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Re: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly!
Zeede wrote:
Unless you get a lot of firepower as swag cards, you should not find cooperative wins to be easy at all, unless you're playing something wrong.

Cameron


Yup agreed. If you have lots of firepower go for coop (and maybe backstab) or if not enough firepower just backstab. As I said, its a either/or kind of thing. We found RFTG to be ideal for us so I think that is more our kind of game.

[I see you have Mage Knight, lucky dog ]
 
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Michael Sweazey
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Re: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly!
rahdo wrote:

You were bearing in mind that you can't play zombies on the other player if their speed is too low, right?


Yes, we were playing that rule correctly. But it seemed that once a player has needed to give up cards once and has a few zombies in their deck, all it takes is about four zombies in the horde to wipe them out. Maybe if there was a way to accumulate more cards in your collection it would balance it out. Or, like I said, if you are playing it as a twenty-minute game, it works. I guess I like the designer's ideas enough that I wish it was a more substantial game. It is a strange backward compliment, but I like the game enough that I wish it was better! If anyone has any feedback concerning more than two players and how it effects the issues I have mentioned, I would love to see it!

Quote:

Stick on Fire does exactly this


We'll make sure to include that in our group of swag piles in the next game.
 
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Michael Sweazey
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Re: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly!
lexxparadox wrote:

[I see you have Mage Knight, lucky dog ]


Har! Har! Har! Mine is an evil laugh!devil
 
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Mark Mitchell
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Re: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly!
Well written review. I don't agree with most of it, but nicely done.

The make up the SWAG piles has a great influence on the game. Lot's of weapons means lot's of dead zombies. And, the reverse is true. And, you don't have to choose SWAG randomly, no one will come to your house and punish you for playing any dang way you choose.

I don't know where the 20 minutes comes from, we've never had a game go that quick. A few times we've gotten to drawing 6 zombies.

This review suffers from Geek syndrome. It is written with two faulty base assumptions. The first is the very typical assumption that everyone reading the review has the exact same tastes and expectations of the reviewer. The second is that the review has to list every possible flaw with the game, real or imagined. Flaws are easy to list, and attract more attention. The tendency is to gloss over goodness a game. And, isn't that why we play these games to begin with?

I've yet to see a review that highlights what makes this game a winner. It's fun. It's fast, it's easy, it has lot's of choices, it has lot's of random calamity, it can be quite tense. And, I play it primarily with my elementary school kids and their friends. It can be learned in the first two rounds of the first game (Unlike every other DBG I've suffered through), so no one is playing one or two games as the patsy, while the experienced players are the only ones competing.

Those are my expectations, a game that is fun from the start, and that everyone can enjoy, including Newbs. The flaws? Yes, the rulebook sucks. The revised rulebook available for download here is better. The FAQ here is also good.
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Christopher Howard
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Re: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly!
I am very interested in this game(being a zombie fan), but I have yet to find the answer to the single question that has prevented me from buying it already...

Does each player need their starter box, or can one starter box be used for multiple players?
 
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Ian Luxmoore
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Re: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly!
I think the OP misses the fundamental nature of the game which is spending the first "day" setting up your safehouse for the carnage to come. This setting up is contested, and requires finding a niche role to play given the limited swag available. In 3 and 4 player the game comes even more alive as the contest for the best cards becomes quite crucial and usually one person gets forced into a hybrid role of sorts which can either work very well or quickly set you on a deliberate path to early zombiehood. Playing badly/non-strategically at this point will definitely cost you the game later on. Once you hit day two you basically just hold on for the ride, although you can still make bad decisions that can cost you dearly.

Personally I am a huge fan of this game - it is the perfect length for what it is, almost always produces interesting games, and has a fantastic theme. I suppose I should write a review one day

MadPig wrote:
I am very interested in this game(being a zombie fan), but I have yet to find the answer to the single question that has prevented me from buying it already...

Does each player need their starter box, or can one starter box be used for multiple players?


A box of Eaten by Zombies is essentially the same as a box of Dominion - complete for 2-4 players. As far as I know you can't really combine 2+ boxes as the zombies would be guaranteed to win with 5+ players. I am curious to see how this gets solved in the expansion
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Michael Sweazey
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Re: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly!
I too am looking forward to expansions; it seems like one of those games that can branch off into different areas and add many varied types of game depending on how you mixed the expansions. I am hoping the play will improve with better strategy on our parts...it just seemed like there wasn't time for that in the game.

Though I had some issues with the game, I certainly haven't given up on it...like I said, I love the actual gameplay. We are definitely going to try playing with specifically picked Swag decks. I'm glad to hear that the game really opens up with three and four players. I suspected this, but as I said at the beginning of my review, these were early impressions after three plays with two people.

I'm sorry that Mark felt that I was picking on the negative points of my first experiences, but as I emphasized numerous times, I actually want to like the game, but those were my observations from my experience so far. Also, I never assumed that everybody shared my outlook or opinions. (Hence the disclaimer at the beginning.) However, those were my observations and anyone is free to disagree. I am hoping that more plays with more players will improve the experience. I really want to love this game!

Cheers!
 
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Cameron Chien
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Re: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly!
MadPig wrote:
I am very interested in this game(being a zombie fan), but I have yet to find the answer to the single question that has prevented me from buying it already...

Does each player need their starter box, or can one starter box be used for multiple players?

One copy of the game plays up to four players. Each player has their own starting deck.

Cameron
 
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Mark Mitchell
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Re: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly!
Micheal, I was not trying to get you to change your mind and write something positive. Just remind you of the things that you/I like about the the game. Maybe I should have said that many BGG reviews seem so dang serious, that sometimes it seems the fun of the game is overlooked. I can't take a game with Barney Fife and zombies serious, it's all for fun. But, this game does offer challenges, too.

I should have said thanks for taking the time to write an entertaining review. And, there, I just said it.cool
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Michael Sweazey
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Re: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly!
ZombieMark wrote:
Micheal, I was not trying to get you to change you mind and write something positive. Just remind you of the things that you/I like about the the game. Maybe I should have said that many BGG reviews seem so dang serious, that sometimes it seems the fun of the game is overlooked. I can't take a game with Barney Fife and zombies serious, it's all for fun. But, this game does offer challenges, too.

I should have said thanks for taking the time to write an entertaining review. And, there, I just said it.cool


Mark,

No worries! Don't worry, I'm too stubborn to let anything change my mind but the game! However, I am still hoping that this game will. I will probably play the game tomorrow night with my local group to see if it works better - or if my strategy can make a difference.

I also don't need games to rock the world to be considered good. One of my best friends is a very successful game designer (There is a very good chance you have played some of his games.), and while he also believes games are all about fun, sometimes we look at games from two different perspectives. He sees the mechanics of them. He not only sees the fun of it, but he also sees through the theory to the ways the game can be broken. (He often has issues with many of the Euro games because he can win the games the first time by consistently playing one strategy.) I like my "outsider's" naive take on games. In a sense, I like not being "smart" enough to see through the game. (This must be why I lose so much...that and my wife's unholy alliance with the dice devil!)

On the other hand, the rule book still sucks.

Oh, and you're welcome!

Cheers!
 
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Melissa
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I was so excited to get this.....and now I wish I'd saved my money. It definitely has potential but man.

The biggest flaw is the rule book. Seems like a lot of poorly chosen words (dissipate, attrition; why not just say "clear zombies from the table/combined amount of zombie cards"), and we had to do a lot of flipping back and forth between sectioins.


Maybe if the rules could be re-written/dumbed down/we were playing with more players, I/we might enjoy it more? I'm willing to give it a 2nd chance if someone can dumb it down for me.
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Mark Mitchell
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The re-written rules in the files section here help. It really is a simple game, once you get the hang of it. The only twists are where to discard zombies (the original rules as written are wrong), and remembering that discarding due to successful Fleeing is slightly different, and a bit more forgiving than all other discarding.

It's worth the effort to learn it. Ironically, teaching it, and learning from an experienced player is very quick and easy. This is a DBG where a first time player can "get it" in a couple of turns, and can win the first game they play.
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Cameron Chien
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It's fairly easy to teach. Tom Vasel and Jeremy Salinas both have good videos for it, and I'm always happy to help with rules questions on the forums.

Cameron
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Melissa
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Thanks guys.

I think we have the basics down but maybe just the annoying flipping back and forth in the manual was the real killer. I didn't mean to sound like I was giving up on it, but its rare that I have a hard time "getting" a game, and this just fluxed me for some reason.

Off to video land for round 2.
 
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Cameron Chien
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Step 1: Zombies are added to the horde.
Step 2: Check and see if anyone is adding zombies to the horde.
Step 3: Look at your hand and declare if you are trying to Fight or Flee.
Step 4: Play cards from hand. If successful, the value of Fight or Flee (whichever action you're doing this turn) is now how much "money" you have to scavenge with.
Step 5: Scavenge, keeping the hand limit in mind.
Step 6: Refill hand to hand limit.

That's it in a nutshell. There are different things if you Fight or Flee and are successful, but the gameflow is basically just that.

Cameron
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Mark Mitchell
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Step 5.1: Only calculate Scavenge values based on those shown on the cards played. DO NOT increase Scavenge because of multiplying effects of cards.
 
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Cameron Chien
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ZombieMark wrote:
Step 5.1: Only calculate Scavenge values based on those shown on the cards played.

Isn't this sort of implied? In every card game that comes readily to my mind, you only can claim values on cards you have chosen to reveal/play/etc from your hand. Also, since nothing in the rules prevents you from overkilling things, we commonly allow people to play more cards, in order to buy something they wanted.

ZombieMark wrote:
DO NOT increase Scavenge because of multiplying effects of cards.

It's been awhile since I've played this, and I do not recall any multiplier cards except Up A Tree, which halves your Scavenge values. Is there another card that doubles a value? And if so, is this a new rule, regarding doubling and scavenge?

Cameron
 
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Mark Mitchell
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Play as many cards are desired (i.e. overkill). That's all good.

The trouble we've seen is when cards have "multiplier effect" such as Fist Full of Lead that adds +1 Fight for each gun in play. When those additional effects are counted for Scavenge, it gets too unbalanced. It's not unusual to have 12 Scavenge points, or more (unless I am missing a restrictive rule). It gets too easy to kill all zombies. Now, this is my opinion, but I often agree with myself whole hardheartedly (well, maybe not often, but more often than not). zombie
 
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David
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May the Great Spirit Bless all who read this.
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ZombieMark wrote:
Step 5.1: Only calculate Scavenge values based on those shown on the cards played. DO NOT increase Scavenge because of multiplying effects of cards.


is there an official rulling on this on?
 
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Mark Mitchell
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I dunno, just my opinion. Try it both ways and see which you prefer.
 
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Max Holliday
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Snowman wrote:
ZombieMark wrote:
Step 5.1: Only calculate Scavenge values based on those shown on the cards played. DO NOT increase Scavenge because of multiplying effects of cards.


is there an official rulling on this on?


As it is in the rules you do include any multiplying effects, because it is "your TOTAL Fight/Flee plus or mines an Scavenges bonuses"... but please try it both ways.

You may only buy 6 or less cards on any turn and most high cost cards really aren't the best if that is all you have (except a few like Hunting Rifle...)

If you don't include the multipliers then it can be a lot harder to get to the higher cost cards and can help stiffen run away leaders... but in this game that doesn't matter as much.

This is a really common question. I think folks think that this is in some way to powerful so they don't want it to work that way. Sorry I didn't see this before tonight.
 
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