My top 191 games of all time... (And again with the polls!)
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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Every 2 years ago now, I've been looking to answer the question of what my favorite games of all time are. The 2005 edition, 2007 edition, 2009 edition, and 2011 edition are still around, for those who want to see how the words for the games have changed. (I've tried not to recycle comments about the games from previous lists, so the comparison might even be vaguely interesting.)

I've played 2265 published games (at least that I've recorded), so 191 games represents the top 8.4% of games I've played.

As always, I have included every game I rate 8 or higher. This does not represent the addition of 9 games to the 2011 list, but in fact 21 new games and the removal of 12 games from the 2009 list. While usually the additions are games that are new to me, again as in 2011 there are a number (that number being 6, specifically) of games which I played before, which have moved up to an 8 rating for me. The games which have dropped off (position in 2011 in parenthesis):

Pantheon (94)
Founding Fathers (164)
Eden (165)
Nodwick: The Card Game (166)
Stich-Meister (170)
Rat Hot (171)
Steel Driver (172)
The Prestel New York Architecture Game (173)
Anno 1503 (175)
Aton (178)
Gloria Picktoria (180)
Was sticht? (181)

As always, I wouldn't necessarily recommend all these games to everyone. They're my favorites; while some might be your favorites, I wouldn't count on it following that you'll enjoy others on the list.

I have repeated the information from last year of the number of times I've played each game 2006-present. In addition, I've played all of these games at least once since I put together the last list; most of them I've played more than that.

Note that, as always, I've developed this list independently; I didn't look over the previous year's list at all until I'd set the ordering for this year. As a result, there's a lot of variance, especially among the lower portions of this list. Just for the fun of it, I've added an average position field; for games which has moved up and down it's probably more reliable than the specific position this year; for those following a trend, it should likely be ignored. (Of course, I'd also argue that the list as a whole can be safely ignored, but that's a different matter.)

Finally, the polls seemed to be popular last year, so I've created a number of polls again this year.

Note: the order was completed and data locked down approximately October 12th. I've been slowly but surely working on this geeklist since then; rather than trying to keep the data all up-to-date, or having data from different dates, I've used my play data from that point.
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1. Board Game: Hamstern [Average Rating:5.77 Unranked]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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Position in 2013: 191
Position in 2011: 160
Position in 2009: 109
Position in 2007: 99
Position in 2005: 91
Change: Down 31
Average position: 130
Times played 2006-present: 5

Back when I first discovered German games, I made a lot of trades with Manu Soeding; a few of the games on this list today, the better part of 20 years later, were acquired through those trades. Ah, for the days when international shipping was reasonably priced, and you could actually send a package by _boat_.

In any event, some years later Manu came across this, and figured it would interest me. And so he sent it - and he was right; I do enjoy it.

Poll
Which of the following would be your favorite to receive as a gift?
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
A game you've played and know you enjoy.
10.1% 23
A game you've never played, but really want.
54.2% 123
A game you're mildly interested in, but would never have picked up for yourself.
11.5% 26
A game you've never heard of.
24.2% 55
Voters 227
This poll is now closed.   227 answers
Poll created by huber
Closes: Tue Dec 31, 2013 6:00 am
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2. Board Game: Bounce It-In Game [Average Rating:6.23 Overall Rank:7604]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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Position in 2013: 190
Position in 2011: 168
Position in 2009: 150
Position in 2007: 148
Position in 2005: 137
Change: Down 22
Average position: 159
Times played 2006-present: 29

How do you find interesting games? There are lots of ways I've found them, but one is definitely to watch what _others_ are playing at conventions. Bounce-It-In is one I discovered that way.
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3. Board Game: Indus [Average Rating:5.55 Overall Rank:13153]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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Position in 2013: 189
Position in 2011: 158
Position in 2009: 133
Position in 2007: 113
Position in 2005: 100
Change: Down 31
Average position: 139
Times played 2006-present: 6

Archaeology is a theme that tends to work well for me. It's done much better than in Indus - you'll see other archaeology games _much_ further up this list - but the theme definitely drew me to try Indus. What keeps me coming back is the fascinating method for bringing in pieces. The board is pretty, but more difficulty to sort out as a result, but the dice movement - which, though in no way related, reminds me of Backgammon - is clever enough to make up for it.
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4. Board Game: Light Speed [Average Rating:6.36 Overall Rank:2618]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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Position in 2013: 188
Position in 2011: 157
Position in 2009: 159
Position in 2007: 112
Position in 2005: 95
Change: Down 31
Average position: 142
Times played 2006-present: 4

You know, I'm far too old-fashioned and straight-laced for my own good, but I'm still bothered by the name of the publisher of this game. Not bothered that such a publisher exists - but bothered because I don't care to type, say, or write the name of the publisher, which makes for some stilted discussions.

Poll
Are you bothered by writing / typing / saying the name of the publisher of Light Speed?
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
Yes
16.3% 25
No
83.7% 128
Voters 153
This poll is now closed.   153 answers
Poll created by huber
Closes: Tue Dec 31, 2013 6:00 am
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5. Board Game: Älpler-Stafette [Average Rating:5.67 Unranked]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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Position in 2013: 187
Position in 2011: 179
Position in 2009: 151
Position in 2007: 160
Position in 2005: 147
Change: Down 8
Average position: 165
Times played 2006-present: 4

One of the key ways I discover new games is by looking through lots of lists of games for sale, and finding odd ones. I'm often just looking for one piece of information - the publisher, the designer, a theme of interest - and that will prompt me to look for more information.

On the rare occasion there _is_ no more information - this was rare on BGG a decade ago, and almost unheard of now - my temptation level will jump; while many might figure that no news means no one plays the game, I figure it means that it might be a hidden gem. Most aren't, of course; but sometimes, as with Älpler-Stafette, a game proves to be of real interest.
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6. Board Game: Frank's Zoo [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:1341]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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Position in 2013: 186
Position in 2011: 174
Position in 2009: 167
Position in 2007: 167
Position in 2005: 151
Change: Down 12
Average position: 169
Times played 2006-present: 8

I should note that we don't play by the rules. Not only do we not use partnerships - I don't find the mechanism well suited to partnerships - but we ignore the lion and hedgehog rules as well. Yet another example of why I prefer to play games the way I most enjoy them, regardless of the published rules.

Poll
Which is the better idiom?
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
Making an elephant out of a mosquito (from Frank's Zoo)
44.8% 47
An elephant in a china shop (from Der Elefant im Porzellanladen)
55.2% 58
Voters 105
This poll is now closed.   105 answers
Poll created by huber
Closes: Tue Dec 31, 2013 6:00 am
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7. Board Game: Banditos [Average Rating:5.06 Unranked]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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Position in 2013: 185
Position in 2011: 169
Position in 2009: 155
Position in 2007: 149
Position in 2005: 120
Change: Down 16
Average position: 156
Times played 2006-present: 4

For a while, Michael Schacht was releasing a fascinating series of "some assembly required" games via Spiele aus Timbuktu. But with the way print-and-play has taken off, these types of releases seem to have faded.

Poll
Would you rather print and play a game for "free", or pay a small amount for a game you have to assemble yourself?
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
Free print-and-play
21.3% 27
Low cost assemble-and-play
78.7% 100
Voters 127
This poll is now closed.   127 answers
Poll created by huber
Closes: Tue Dec 31, 2013 6:00 am


Poll
How many games in your collection which you purchased required cutting out cards and/or other components?
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
0
55.0% 66
1
15.8% 19
2
5.8% 7
3
5.8% 7
4
1.7% 2
5-9
8.3% 10
10-19
4.2% 5
20 or more
3.3% 4
Voters 120
This poll is now closed.   120 answers
Poll created by huber
Closes: Tue Dec 31, 2013 6:00 am
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8. Board Game: Maestro [Average Rating:5.81 Overall Rank:9826]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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Position in 2013: 184
Position in 2011: 109
Position in 2009: 124
Position in 2007: 162
Position in 2005: 149
Change: Down 75
Average position: 146
Times played 2006-present: 6

Did you know that Larua Branigan passed away nearly a decade ago?

I mention this because from the first time I played Maestro, I noticed that one of the songs - along with offerings by Schubert, Gershwin, Debussy, and Bach - is Take Me, by Branigan. So, while writing this up, I did a search for her - only to discover that she was deceased.

FWIW, I just listened to Take Me, and - it's definitely not my favorite song of Branigan's.
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9. Board Game: Web of Power [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:584]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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Position in 2013: 183
Position in 2011: 97
Position in 2009: 90
Position in 2007: 103
Position in 2005: 102
Change: Down 86
Average position: 115
Times played 2006-present: 10

Hmmm... I'm not sure just what happened here. Well, to some extent I am; Schacht's games really just don't last forever for me. But I still do enjoy Web of Power; it dropped, but I'm really not close to lowering my rating.

Once I rated this and the card game nearly equal. That's no longer close to true.
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10. Board Game: Alhambra: The Card Game [Average Rating:6.44 Overall Rank:2849]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
msg tools
Position in 2013: 182
Position in 2011: 161
Position in 2009: 153
Position in 2007: 147
Position in 2005: 126
Change: Down 21
Average position: 154
Times played 2006-present: 3

I actually played Alhambra again early this year - and hated it.

It seems that most of the time, when a game is changed and re-released, I prefer the original. But over time, I grow to _really_ dislike the changed version; they annoy me more and more.
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11. Board Game: To Court the King [Average Rating:6.47 Overall Rank:1513]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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Position in 2013: 181
Position in 2011: 121
Position in 2009: 123
Position in 2007: 81
Position in 2005: N/A
Change: Down 60
Average position: 127
Times played 2006-present: 22

I actually had a miraculous game of this recently. I not only failed once - I failed _four_ times. But somehow I stayed in the game, and while I lost in the end, I was able to take over the king before that happened.
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12. Board Game: Airships [Average Rating:6.39 Overall Rank:1830]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
msg tools
Position in 2013: 180
Position in 2011: 155
Position in 2009: 113
Position in 2007: N/A
Position in 2005: N/A
Change: Down 25
Average position: 149
Times played 2006-present: 14

The last couple of times I've been in Northern California, I've driven by Moffet Field, the airdock has been torn down to the structure - and it just looks wrong. Having grown up with an airdock - the one in Akron - I was immediately taken to the one in California when I started travelling there on business. I'll miss it.

Poll
What's your closest encounter with a blimp?
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
I've seen a picture of one (on the box above, if nowhere else)
6.3% 9
I've seen one on video (movie/television/etc.)
26.6% 38
I've seen one live
65.0% 93
I've flown on one
1.4% 2
I've flown one
0.7% 1
Voters 143
This poll is now closed.   143 answers
Poll created by huber
Closes: Tue Dec 31, 2013 6:00 am
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13. Board Game: Schwarzarbeit [Average Rating:5.67 Overall Rank:12824]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
msg tools
Position in 2013: 179
Position in 2011: 159
Position in 2009: 154
Position in 2007: 126
Position in 2005: 107
Change: Down 20
Average position: 145
Times played 2006-present: 3

This game really struck home with me when I first played it, and as a result has been able to stick in my collection despite infrequent play. It's an interesting deduction game, in that you often have to make a tradeoff between a safe, 1-point play and a more risky play - which on average will be worth 1 point, but with much greater variance.

Poll
Which is your favorite Andrea Meyer game?
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
Ad Acta
2.6% 3
Freeze
2.6% 3
Frigiti
0.0% 0
Hossa
2.6% 3
Mall World
1.7% 2
Schwarzarbeit
1.7% 2
Whiskey in the Jar
0.0% 0
A game not listed
2.6% 3
I've never played any games from Andrea
86.3% 101
Voters 117
This poll is now closed.   117 answers
Poll created by huber
Closes: Tue Dec 31, 2013 6:00 am
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14. Board Game: Tante Tarantel [Average Rating:6.16 Overall Rank:7956]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
msg tools
Position in 2013: 178
Position in 2011: 150
Position in 2009: 99
Position in 2007: 121
Position in 2005: 103
Change: Down 28
Average position: 130
Times played 2006-present: 4

Escape games aren't usually my thing - but this one is charming enough to have caught me. I particularly appreciate how the game speeds up as it moves along.
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15. Board Game: MarraCash [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:1927]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
msg tools
Position in 2013: 179
Position in 2011: 139
Position in 2009: 84
Position in 2007: 133
Position in 2005: 115
Change: Down 40
Average position: 130
Times played 2006-present: 4

I mentioned last time, but to again note I played this at least once a year every year I recorded my plays, for more than a decade, before I missed it in 2007. Once, I had 8 games I'd played at least once every yet, but over time most of those holdouts have disappeared; there are only three games left which I have played every year 1996-present. (All three appear on this list, not surprisingly.)

Poll
How many games would you estimate you've played at least once a year every year, 1996-present?
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
0
50.9% 58
1
11.4% 13
2
7.9% 9
3
7.0% 8
4
4.4% 5
5
5.3% 6
6
0.0% 0
7
0.0% 0
8
0.0% 0
9
0.0% 0
10 or more
13.2% 15
Voters 114
This poll is now closed.   114 answers
Poll created by huber
Closes: Tue Dec 31, 2013 6:00 am
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16. Board Game: Kreta [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:1532]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
msg tools
Position in 2013: 176
Position in 2011: 182
Position in 2009: 136
Position in 2007: 117
Position in 2005: 72
Change: Up 6
Average position: 137
Times played 2006-present: 4

I suppose it's no shock that the game on the bottom of my list last time would be the first one to find to have moved up this time; there wasn't much room to move down. Though, of course, there was plenty of room to move off; I think it's interesting to see how heavily the 12 games that dropped below an 8 rating for me were at the bottom of my previous list; 11 of the 12 were in my bottom 19.
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17. Board Game: Gnadenlos! [Average Rating:5.95 Overall Rank:6584]
 
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
msg tools
Position in 2013: 175
Position in 2011: 108
Position in 2009: 142
Position in 2007: 77
Position in 2005: 84
Change: Down 67
Average position: 117
Times played 2006-present: 6

One of the dangers of creating a fully fresh ordering each time I do this is that there are often wide swings - particularly on the lower portion of the list. But Gnadenlos! seems an appropriate game to have a wild swing on, since the paydays seem to have their own wild swings. Fortunately, this fits in with the game, and therefore isn't an issue.
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18. Board Game: Chinagold [Average Rating:5.90 Overall Rank:8336]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
msg tools
Position in 2013: 174
Position in 2011: 145
Position in 2009: 121
Position in 2007: 98
Position in 2005: 78
Change: Down 29
Average position: 124
Times played 2006-present: 6

I've always had too many two player games given the time I find for them, but this just seems to be emphasized as my sons grow older and have less time for a game with Dad. I do enjoy two player games - always have - but I've also always preferred multiplayer games, which makes it difficult to set aside time for two player gaming.
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19. Board Game: Der Prestel Kunstmarkt [Average Rating:6.43 Overall Rank:9851]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
msg tools
Position in 2013: 173
Position in 2011: 156
Position in 2009: N/A
Position in 2007: N/A
Position in 2005: N/A
Change: Down 17
Average position: 165
Times played 2006-present: 8

To answer the question I'm most asked about this game - I don't know where to find a copy. I believe I ordered mine through Adam Spielt, which gives an idea of how long ago I picked it up.

Poll
Did you ever order games from Adam Spielt?
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
Yes
17.8% 18
No
82.2% 83
Voters 101
This poll is now closed.   101 answers
Poll created by huber
Closes: Tue Dec 31, 2013 6:00 am
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20. Board Game: Tyranno Ex [Average Rating:6.49 Overall Rank:3818]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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Position in 2013: 172
Position in 2011: 133
Position in 2009: 131
Position in 2007: 110
Position in 2005: 117
Change: Down 39
Average position: 133
Times played 2006-present: 4

It's hard to beat dinosaurs rolling dice. Die Schlacht der Dinosaurier is a classic in the genre, but there's more game to Tyranno Ex, which helps it to rate higher with me.
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21. Board Game: Big City [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:1108]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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Position in 2013: 171
Position in 2011: 117
Position in 2009: 60
Position in 2007: 48
Position in 2005: 45
Change: Down 54
Average position: 88
Times played 2006-present: 6

This is a good example of where the average position probably isn't reflective of my current view of the game. I still enjoy Big City - every time I do this, I review all of my 7, 8, 9, and 10 ratings, and Big City clearly survived the cut. But it is a game I somewhat burned out on; I played it 24 times prior to 2006. And there are things I don't like about the game; I'm particularly not fond of how placing city hall doesn't come with sufficient advantages for the person who does it.

But there's a lot I really enjoy about Big City as well. I enjoy the tradeoff between just focusing on regular points and giving up turns (essentially) for a big score. I love the pieces, and how the impression of a city rising is given by them. And I really like the logic behind the game; all of the bonuses and penalties work well, thematically.
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22. Board Game: Curling Table Game [Average Rating:6.74 Overall Rank:6021]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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Position in 2013: 170
Position in 2011: 152
Position in 2009: N/A
Position in 2007: N/A
Position in 2005: N/A
Change: Down 18
Average position: 161
Times played 2006-present: 9

One of the items of greatest interest to me coming out at Essen this year is Mini Curling Game, though I'm by no means certain it won't replace - or fail to replace - Curling Table Game for me.

Poll
What percentage of the games you own are dexterity games?
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
0% - I own no dexterity games
21.9% 25
1%
37.7% 43
2%
17.5% 20
3%
5.3% 6
4%
4.4% 5
5%
7.9% 9
6%
0.9% 1
7%
0.9% 1
8%
1.8% 2
9%
0.0% 0
10-14%
1.8% 2
15-19%
0.0% 0
20% or more
0.0% 0
Voters 114
This poll is now closed.   114 answers
Poll created by huber
Closes: Tue Dec 31, 2013 6:00 am
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23. Board Game: 6-Tage Rennen [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:4156]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
msg tools
Position in 2013: 169
Position in 2011: 149
Position in 2009: 93
Position in 2007: 130
Position in 2005: 113
Change: Down 20
Average position: 131
Times played 2006-present: 3

It's interesting that there's a genre of mathematical bicycling games - all different, and all interesting. But over time, 6-Tage Rennen really grew to be my favorite; it's unfortunately a little too long (but - more fun played over a full six races), but the way that the game models the pack, the breakaway, and falling off the pace is really uncanny - and a lot of fun.
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24. Board Game: Oltre Mare [Average Rating:6.67 Overall Rank:1359]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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Position in 2013: 168
Position in 2011: 112
Position in 2009: 110
Position in 2007: 89
Position in 2005: 80
Change: Down 56
Average position: 112
Times played 2006-present: 7

I am - and always have been, really - a sucker for a clever card game. And Oltre Mare delivers that in spades. While the big boxed edition might be nicer, the small edition fits the _size_ of the game much better - and it fits much better in my collection, this way.
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25. Board Game: Hammer of the Scots [Average Rating:7.55 Overall Rank:352]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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Position in 2013: 167
Position in 2011: 114
Position in 2009: 149
Position in 2007: N/A
Position in 2005: N/A
Change: Down 53
Average position: 143
Times played 2006-present: 6

Like many gamers, I've got interest in wargames - but with my limited time for two player games, I don't find there's sufficient opportunity to play most of them enough to really get the most out of them. Hammer of the Scots is no exception, but is a game I still really enjoy every time I do get it to the table.
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