Gex's Game Mechanic Hall of Fame
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So BGG has their collection of games ranked and listed in a few different ways, based on user average, based on the geek rating (some weird black magic formula used to calculate for all I know), and a combination of both for games in categories. Helpful, but I want my own.

There are some games that become forgotten about, others that will always be remembered. This is my list of games that I will always cherish, always want to play, because I believe they are the best games the board game world has to offer, whether the games are still in print or not.

I should mention my thought process for these games. It is my goal to try and find, and own, a copy of what I consider to be the "perfect" game in every game mechanic category. This includes just about everything in the Board Game Mechanics list.

The list will probably never be perfect, as I doubt I'm ever going to play every game in every category, plus I'm picky about the games I play (it's a protective instinct that keeps me from buying them), so this list will most likely be updated occasionally. So yeah, this list is more of a personal list than anything else, though that won't stop me from throwing out recommendations to others out there, especially since I believe these are games that are worth playing.

Plus, I'd like to here other recommendations, such as, "If you think that game is good, wait until you try this one..."

My list will be organized by Game Mechanic category. I will list the game I have played that I feel does this particular game mechanic justice, and delivers it better than any other game out there (again, I'd like to hear about any that does it better if they exist).

So to rephrase, each game I list will have a Main Category on it that lists a specific game mechanic. This means I enjoy this game enough to consider it one of the best games of all time specifically because of the way it uses this mechanic. The Sub Categories are other mechanics that I like in the game, but aren't the main reason why I added the game to the list.

Some games may have more than one main category, and that only happens if the game has 2 mechanics that I believe it does equally well, and I love the game because it does them so well.


Currently haven't played any games that I consider to be good enough to put on this list for the following categories:
*Chit-Pull System (would like to try Dread Curse; even though Fury of Dracula by FFG claims to have this mechanic, I disagree, considering the description of this mechanic on the mechanic page).
*Crayon Rail System (not very interested).
*Line Drawing (Only time I do this is in a wargame to see if a soldier is in another soldier's LOS).
*Pencil-and-Paper (kinda hoping to find one for this that's not an RPG where the only pencil&paper element used is to keep track of stats; maybe if I get a chance to play Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space)
*Pattern Building (maybe if I play Ora et Labora)
*Pattern Recognition (eh, that sums up a lot of abstract strategy games)
*Route/Network Building (need to play Ticket to Ride and Power Grid again).
*Stock Holding (I can't believe this is a category, but I do need to try out Acquire, Imperial, and Imperial 2030).
*Time Track
*Trick Taking (need to play Tichu and Bridge)


Note: Well, I decided to place Cash n Guns on this list because, well, its an Acting game that I kinda enjoy. I wouldn't say I enjoy it enough to want to own it, or consider it a Hall of Famer, but I would consider it a recommendation for those who don't dig Time's Up, or other games like that. So the first item on the list is the one exception to everything I've stated above.
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1. Board Game: Ca$h 'n Gun$ [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:984]
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Main Category: Acting
Sub Category: Player Elimination


To be honest, this isn't one of my favorite games. Probably because this is one of my least favorite categories when it comes to board gaming. Isn't "bluffing" good enough to be considered acting? Apparently not, and it's debatable as to whether or not this game qualifies for the Acting category. But screw it, this is the only non-party game (as opposed to Cranium, Time's Up, etc.) that I enjoy that has this mechanic, and I tend to despise most party games, because if you've played one you've played them all (almost like a Euro-game *ducks and runs from incoming flying objects*).

Plus you get to aim guns at each other. Assuming that doesn't put you off from it, considering all the shooting incidents that tend to happen around schools and such (which for the record have been happening since before the 1900s, so all those people who claim games/moves/music influence people with issues to go on a shooting spree can suck it), this game is kinda fun, and that's saying a lot coming from someone like me. Being an American and a Tarantino fan increases the enjoyment factor of this a bit. Get the Yakuza expansion, and then the Japanese who are Tarantino fans can have their enjoyment factor increase a bit too.
 
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2. Board Game: Space Hulk [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:475]
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Main Category: Action Point Allowance System
Sub Categories: Dice Rolling, Grid Movement


Both players know how much AP each marine/genestealer has, but the genestealer player doesn't know how much CP the Marine player has. The marine needs to use this to his advantage, for bluffing, and to get his marines moving faster and shooting more often. On top of that, the CPs need to be used wisely. Should he use them all during the marine player turn, or save some as a surprise during the genestealer turn. Or is the genestealer not going to make a move, letting those extra CPs go to waste? Or is the marine player bluffing about having extra CPs, and the genestealer calls his bluff?

Add that with the tactical intelligence needed for each scenario, and this becomes a pretty fun and intense game, with a time limit on the marine player.

I do need to play Level 7: Omega Protocol though, I hear that game is about as good as this one with a similar play-style.

Edit: I've played Level 7: Omega Protocol, and it's awesome. But it's debatable if the action point allowance system it has is better than Space Hulk, or even Conflict of Heroes, mainly because there's no hidden information about how many action point each player has.

Honorable Mentions:
*Conflict of Heroes
 
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3. Board Game: Ad Astra [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:1007]
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Main Category: Action/Movement Programming

It kills me that this game has not only flown under the radar and is unappreciated, but has become altogether forgotten, practically.

With the exception of Space Alert, this is the go-to game, imho, for this category of gaming. You not only play cards on a track hoping your plan works out well, but you can also play them with the mindset of what cards you believe your opponent's will play, thus "piggybacking" off of their actions. You really have to get into the heads of your opponents to get good at this game, and it's one of the few Eurogames that pulls off this mechanic brilliantly. All the more reason to be pissed about it being one of those forgotten games.

Honorable Mentions:
*Space Alert
*Starcraft
 
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4. Board Game: Dominant Species [Average Rating:7.85 Overall Rank:49]
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Main Category: Area Control/Area Influence, Worker Placement
Sub Categories: Modular Board


Well, I just like this game. I consider it more of a worker placement game than an area control game (even if the pawns you place aren't technically considered to be workers). Still, every action your pawn does is done for the sake of getting more area control on the board. And there are plenty of ways to not just affect the number of species on the board, but affect how likely you and your opponent is able to score off of an area. Can't think of very many area control games there are that affect the units and areas to score more points like this one does, though there are probably others.

Honorable Mentions in Area Control/Area Influence:
*Nexus Ops
*Chaos in the Old World
 
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5. Board Game: Go [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:134]
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Main category: Area Enclosure
Sub Categories: Pattern Building, Patter Recognition


Also because this is my favorite Abstract Strategy board game. This needs no explanation.
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6. Board Game: Horus Heresy (2010) [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:1241]
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Main Category: Campaign/Battle Card Driven
Sub Category: Area Control


I never thought I would find a game that put so much emphasis on Area Movement as this one does. To be honest, I never thought I would find a game where area movement would be a Main Mechanic period.

But this game does it. Your troops move SLOOOOOOWWWWWLY in this game, which means every move you make with every card you play matters immensely. Make one wrong move, and your guys may not be able to be able to make a difference ever again throughout the rest of the game. Plus, you also have to consider where your enemy will strike next, where is their week point, and should you even move at all?

If there is any game out there that puts a major emphasis on area movement with so much to consider and with so much at stake with a single play, this game is it.

Edit: This game focuses more on the Battle Card Driven aspect than anything else. Everything relies on cards. You can't move to or attack areas without cards. It's debatable as to what makes a game primarily area control, because normally a vassal is used for area control (moving units ala Risk, playing cards, placing workers, etc.). We'll see about that with a game that I define as the go-to area control game. This game, Horus Heresy, I play for the card-driven aspect.

Honorable Mentions:
*Twilight Struggle
*Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage
 
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7. Board Game: Cyclades [Average Rating:7.53 Overall Rank:148]
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Main Category: Auction/Bidding

Never have I played a game where the result of a bid had so much impact on the game. Winning the bid for a god can cause quite a bit to happen, from adding more ships (ability to move guys on board), to adding more troops (reinforcements, and actually moving guys on board), making it cheaper to bid, and getting the ability to win faster by getting one of 4 cards needed. I'd rather not get into the rules, but this game is worth playing if you haven't done so already.

Honorable Mentions:
*Ra
 
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8. Board Game: Core Worlds [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:593]
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Main Category: Deck/Pool Building
Sub Categories: Card Drafting


While this game may technically be a deck-builder, it's the drafting part that makes up the core element of the game (pun intended). All of the thinking the players do comes from which card they want to draft into their deck or play area. The deck building is important, but secondary to the drafting, because if you don't draft the card you want, someone else will, which can screw up your plans. Add that with the fact that you could just draft a card you know your opponent wants just for spite, so that their deck won't turn out as good, then you can see the strategy of it all. That said, this is also my go-to game for deck-building.

Though the expansion does add more to the deck-building category, as now the cards you play become more important than ever due to the bonuses they give. However, I still believe that the drafting element to be slightly more important than the deck-building element in this game, and I have yet to see a game that does it better than this.

Edit: ok, I'll admit it, I play this game because I consider it the best deck building game ever made. 7 Wonders and Greed are games better suited for the card-drafting category.

Honorable Mentions:
*Ascension: Storm of Souls
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9. Board Game: Space Alert [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:177]
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Main Category: Co-operative Play
Sub Categories: Action/Movement Programming


Yep. This is the only fully cooperative game I know of that I actually like. Mainly because it's real-time. You have to communicate with other team-members in order to win, that's not an optional thing. Sure it could have the whole Leader takeover thing going on, where 1 person tends to call the shots for everyone, but that would be more of a flaw with the group rather than the game. Every co-op game has that problem, it's inevitable, so it's a matter of how good the game is regardless of that.

Also, the randomness is never out of control unless you want to go all out and go on a mission with the red threat cards, and that's only if your team is experienced enough and feels that they have the balls to take it on.
 
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10. Board Game: Qwixx [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:694]
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King of Tokyo
Main Category: Dice Rolling
Sub Category: Player Elimination


I hate dice games. But I like this game. Mainly because it's short, but also because it's a bit like Yahtzee. Plus I like the theme. And the expansion is fun too.

Plus it's the only game I like that has a major Player Elimination factor going on. Most other good games have a way to manage that.


Main Category: Dice Rolling

This game fired King of Tokyo for me. It does dice rolling better. Why? Because King of Tokyo can drag at times, and player elimination can cause problems if it happens early on in a 30 minute game (it is possible for games to run that long). With Quixx, this doesn't happen. The game is very short, it's very light, you still have to think a bit about which dice combinations to use, and if you should use more than one, and you may actually want to play more than one game of it in a single setting. Players also have to make decisions on every player's turn, so there's virtually no downtime whatsoever.
 
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11. Board Game: Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game [Average Rating:6.94 Overall Rank:1013]
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Main Category: Hand Management

This should be a mandatory goal for every LCG or CCG, hand management. The stress of building the deck, and then playing with it, and trying to play it the best you can depending on what other deck you're up against. This card game has some of the most difficult decision-making situations come up that put other LCGs and CCGs to shame, especially when building up resources. Get rid of a card for the sake of possibly purchasing better cards later, or no? But all the cards are good!

Honorable Mentions:
*Netrunner
*Twilight Struggle
*Yomi
 
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12. Board Game: Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear! (second edition) [Average Rating:8.01 Overall Rank:526]
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Main Category: Hex-and-Counter
Sub Category: Action Point Allowance System


This game is mainly on the list because I needed a good Wargame in my collection. This and Combat Commander: Europe are the only wargames I ever really enjoyed. Though to be fair, they're basically the only ones I've ever played. Wargames usually aren't my thing because they are too detailed, too rule intensive, to the point where it sucks the fun out of the game, and becomes more mechanical and lifeless. Conflict of Heroes is one game where this doesn't happen.

I love the AP and CAP tracks and how they work with the units. If you play the recommended way where you roll 2 dice and that's how much AP your unit gets, then a whole new element of play comes in that involves bluffing, second guessing, and having to adapt to make the most out of a good/bad situation. Only other game I've played that uses something similar to this is Space Hulk.

Honorable Mentions:
*Combat Commander: Europe
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13. Board Game: Hanabi & Ikebana [Average Rating:7.47 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.47 Unranked]
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Main Category: Memory
Sub Categories: Hand Management, Set Collection


Needing to remember what player's say is in your hand, plus what you and the other players say to the other players for hints, that will test your memory skills a bit. Arguably you could say the Trivial Pursuit type of games are memory games, but piss on those is what I say.
 
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14. Board Game: Earth Reborn [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:334]
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Main Category: Modular Board

Let's face it, there's no other game out there that comes even remotely close to the customization and modularity of Earth Reborn's SAGS mode. Thanks to this mode, you will never play the same game twice. Each player will try to set up the board differently, and past plays will influence what they want placed and where. And many of the tiles serve a unique function, and a natural maze is created, and the strategies each player uses will have to be different every game. All thanks to the board being modular (plus some random scenario cards and some choices on weapons).
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15. Board Game: StarCraft: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.34 Overall Rank:370]
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Main Category: N/A
Sub Categories: Action/Movement Programming, Area Movement, Card Drafting, Deck/Pool Building, Hand Management, Variable Player Powers


Was torn between this game and Ad Astra for the Action/Movement Programming mechanic, and to be honest, I believe Ad Astra is the game that does more with that mechanic than this one, but I like this game a lot better. I was also torn between Hand Management for this and Twilight Struggle, but again, I liked this game better even though the mechanic is better implemented in TS.

It's not just that it has the A/MP and HM mechanics, but it has several others that are implemented so well to make an incredible well-rounded game. To decide which of these mechanics on their own makes this game so good is pretty much futile for me.

So I decided that I can't currently classify this game under one general mechanic that stands out for me in this game. It has several mechanics that work well on equal levels, with each being just as important as the other.

Hope there won't be too many exceptions like this game for me, as it would then be too difficult to choose single favourite board games from then on, though it's great to know games like this exist.
 
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16. Board Game: Dune [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:246]
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Main Category: Partnerships, Variable Player Powers
Sub Categories: Area Movement, Betting/Wagering


As much as I just wanted to give CitOW the respect it deserves for the Variable Power Players implementation it gives, that mechanic is very fun in this game too.

That said, it's the alliances also make this game really interesting, even though it's possible to play a game where an alliance doesn't happen. Allying with someone gives you a bit of their special ability, which gives a little more incentive than, "I'll ally with you so that we can stop him/her/them."

In this game, the Partnerships and VPPs work hand in hand together. Those are the two main mechanics that make this game as good as it is, though you can't forget about the sub-categories either. Almost as good as Starcraft when it comes to have several mechanics work equally good with each other to make a fantastic game.
 
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17. Board Game: Merchant of Venus [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:789]
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Main Category: Pick Up and Deliver, Roll/Spin and Move
Sub Categories: Commodity Speculation


I debated whether I should put this game on the list or not. I like this game, but not enough to consider it a fantastic board game. But then I realized that this game has the Roll and Move mechanic, and I enjoy it in this game. That is an accomplishment in of itself. So I decided, what the hell, I'll put it on the list, for now, until I find something better.
 
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18. Board Game: Liar's Dice [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:611]
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Main Category: Player Elimination
Sub Categories: Dice Rolling


I actually like this a bit more than poker, mainly because I lose less money playing this. The thing that makes player elimination work in this game is that, when bluffing is involved and money is on the line, player both eliminated and still in pay attention to the others, trying to catch a pattern in their acting, so they can tell when to call BS on their plays.

The dice rolling is secondary. The main goal is to call BS on a player and try to get them eliminated.

Honorable Mentions:
*Poker (there are variations, but I prefer Texas Hold 'Em).
*Coup (the best alternative when you want to play a player elimination game when no money is on the line.
 
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19. Board Game: Fury of Dracula (Second Edition) [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:444]
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Main Category: Point to Point Movement

Also because this is a Deduction game.

I'm convinced that a better cat-and-mouse game can be made. I still need to try out Whitechapel. Until then, this is probably the best game in that category. Dracula has to make intelligent decisions when it comes to movement, plus it's cool to have a game where the mouse can fight back when cornered. The Hunters, obviously, need to be smart about cornering Dracula to, and about whether or not they should go after those traps he laid for them, as allowing some of those traps to mature can have devastating effects.

Makes full use of the PtP movement system by having players deduce the best path to take, and guess where other players will likely move to, in the short and long term. Because it's point to point and not area movement, it's possible to sneak past an opponent. Deduction games like this were made for PtP, or is it the other way around?
 
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20. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:143]
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Main Category: Press Your Luck
Sub Category: Auction/Bidding, Set Collection


It may be an auction game, but it's the press your luck factor that I truly admire about it. Is it worth bidding on this item, or should I let him/her get it, lose one of their bidding tokens, and try to get more later before it's too late? It always becomes nail-biting with the tension for the last player in a round, to see how much he/she want to draw out of the bad before taking it all, and praying they don't draw that one Ra tile (or catastrophe) that completely ruins their chances of getting anything, big or small, as the last player of the round.
 
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21. Board Game: Yomi [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:894] [Average Rating:7.04 Unranked]
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Main Category: Rock-Paper-Scissors, Simultaneous Action Selection

Honestly, in this game, Simultaneous Action Selection is the equivalent to Rock-Paper-Scissors. But it's a good form of it. It's more like a Poker game, counting cards, considering the statistics in tournament wins. Reading your opponent, anticipating what they will play next, and learning how to play your deck against theirs effectively, without being a CCG or LCG, it's good fun, though a little pricey (yet fair) to get the whole set.
 
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22. Board Game: Magic Realm [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:1025]
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Main Category: Role Playing
Sub Categories: Modular Board, Variable Phase Order


If you want a board game version of an RPG, forget about Descent, forget about DungeonQuest, forget about HeroQuest (unless you prefer RPGs that are strictly dungeon-crawlers). This is it. This is the grand-daddy of them all. There is so much you can do in this game that it's ridiculous. And the replay value is insane. This is a game you may never get bored with, especially if you have a few other players that you play with. And if you all can learn the rules.
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23. Board Game: Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:288]
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Main Category: Secret Unit Deployment

Like Stratego, only better in every way. Plays faster, less set-up time, just as much thinking on every play, gets better the more you play it (provided it's against the same opponent), and has bluffing elements.

I should probably try Espionage at some point though.
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24. Board Game: American Megafauna [Average Rating:6.94 Overall Rank:3244]
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Main Category: Simulation

Like Merchant of Venus, I think this game is just ok, and I'm still not sure if I like this version better than Bios Megafauna. But then again, simulation games usually aren't my thing. So the fact that there is a simulation game that I like at all says something to me about this game. The theme helps, otherwise what would be the point of trying a game that is a simulation of something you don't care for? I do need to try High Frontier some day though.

Honorable Mentions:
*Bios Megafauna
 
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25. Board Game: Warrior Knights [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:938]
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Main Category: Simultaneous Action Selection

Oh man, the action selection consequences this game can bring about. It can get crazy at times. Each turn, each player must choose 6 cards and add them to 3 separate piles (2 cards per pile). Throw in a couple random neutral cards, shuffle up those decks, and then we see not only who gets to do stuff first, but what exactly that player had in mind. We also get to see if a player's plans fall apart due to some risky maneuvers with the action selection, or as a result of things happening on the board they didn't account for.

You need the expansion for this game.
 
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