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Subject: Thoughts on the Underpinnings of Attack Wing rss

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Joseph van der Jagt
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There is a lot to balance when choosing a ship and crew as well as assembling an entire fleet. A lot of it has to do with specific nuances that don’t extrapolate well to larger principles. However, I think some do. These are the four central concepts I believe are worth considering:

Rate of Attack

Obviously, this game doesn’t currently have ships that fire multiple times in a round beyond the odd corner case (Secondary Torpedo Launcher, as an example). These don’t amount to a category of their own. What falls under this umbrella term, I believe, is maneuvering, captain skill, and firing arc. None of these contribute to truly increasing the rate of fire of a ship, but in a de facto sense they do. With each ship essentially getting a chance to make one attack per round, a ship that maneuvers itself into a position where it can fire on the other ship while not being fired upon has for all intents and purposes increased its rate of fire. This is linked with the firing arcs on ships and the same things applies: if a ship’s firing arc allows it to fire on another ship while that ship cannot fire on it, it has a greater Rate of Attack. A high captain skill can also increase the rate of a ship’s fire if the ship it is attacking is destroyed. When this occurs, the ship essentially has a 2:1 attack frequency ratio. Attacks with limited range—Fighters range 2 attack, for example—would also fall under this category as a ship with range 3 can potentially get an extra—or potentially more—attack.

Attack Capacity

Attack Capacity covers the number of dice rolled in an attack as well as the quality of the dice modification. The higher the better and the greater percentage of hits that can generated from the dice the better. This is completely straightforward but probably the most important of the four concepts.

Defense Capacity and Rate of Defense

Defense Capacity covers the same ideas as Attack Capacity but for defense dice. There is also the idea of a Rate of Defense, but it is rarer, a subcategory rather than its own concept. Sulu, Captured Intelligence, and Tetryon Emissions are all examples of things that increased the Defense Capacity and ALSO the Rate of Defense; they each give you more defense dice, but they also produce that effect each time you defend in the round. Peculiarly, a high Rate of Defense is determined by the opponent’s choices.

Squadron Point Efficiency

This concept is tied directly to the other four. The general rule is that the fewer Squadron Points required to field the ship the better it is. There are quite a few exceptions to this. However, in the broadest possible terms using 50 Squadron Points to build a fleet with 2 ships instead of a fleet with 1 ship is almost always superior. The Rate of Attack for the two ship fleet will be superior, its Defense Capacity will almost always be superior (especially when considered on a fleet level. The 2 ship fleet requires a minimum of two attacks to defeat it. The 1 ship fleet can conceivably be destroyed in one attack) and often its Attack Capacity will often be greater, as well, though more seldom than with the other two categories.

Action Efficiency is also very important in the game. However, every action in the game contributes to one of the first three concepts. The Romulan Commander’s skill creates a greater Rate of Attack, Scotty a greater Capacity of Attack, and Sulu a better Defense Capacity and a better Rate of Defense. Often, the fleet with the better Action Efficiency wins, but this is because those actions were leveraged into increasing one of the first three concepts.

When each of these concepts factor into a game at a roughly equal measure, Attack Capacity seems to be the most important. After all, there are few if any ships that can always avoid an opponent’s firing arc. Some attacks are going to get through and it simply stands to reason that when that happens the bigger the attack the better.

When any one of the four concepts is represented in an extreme measure, it tends to take over the game. As a simplistic example, even with the low Capacity of Attack of 1 attack dice, if a player were able to gain 100 attacks for every one of the opponent’s they would almost certainly win. The ability to attack with a large number of dice can also take over a game. Again assuming a ship with an extreme Defense Capacity and Rate of Defense has a Capacity of Attack that can at least damage the opponent, that will win the game as well. The lesson from this seems to be to maximize a ship’s or fleet’s ability to initiate one of these concepts in a game, while—ideally—preventing your opponent from initiating any of these concepts to an extreme degree.
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Noah Sager
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Lots of good thoughts in there!

I disagree a bit with the idea of 2 ships being better than 1.

The meta of the game now requires a large number of attack dice in order to do a single point of damage. In general, you need to score at minimum 5 hits per attack for your ship to be anything but phaser fodder. One 6-die attack is so much better than two 4-die attacks.

And in order to pull this off, you're generally using card combos which will eat up your SP. That's why most players either do 2-ship card combo builds or 3-ship Klingon builds.

I would actually go so far as saying ST:AW is more of a card game compared to X-Wing, which is more of a minis game.
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Larry DeStefano
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RequiemX wrote:
Lots of good thoughts in there!

I disagree a bit with the idea of 2 ships being better than 1.

The meta of the game now requires a large number of attack dice in order to do a single point of damage. In general, you need to score at minimum 5 hits per attack for your ship to be anything but phaser fodder. One 6-die attack is so much better than two 4-die attacks.

And in order to pull this off, you're generally using card combos which will eat up your SP. That's why most players either do 2-ship card combo builds or 3-ship Klingon builds.

I would actually go so far as saying ST:AW is more of a card game compared to X-Wing, which is more of a minis game.


I would agree as well, which is why I think this game is falling off in my group because they are more mini/wargamer/boardgame group and they hardly play card games. Not a complaint just an observation.
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Will Sanchez
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I'm personally glad for it, customization in games is one of my favorite things, and STAW has it in spades with no sign of slowing down.
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Andrew Lepperd
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RequiemX wrote:
The meta of the game now requires a large number of attack dice in order to do a single point of damage. In general, you need to score at minimum 5 hits per attack for your ship to be anything but phaser fodder. One 6-die attack is so much better than two 4-die attacks.


I can see the Borg shifting that somewhat. They have a number of potent features that will make them widely played, I expect, and at least 2 of their ships will rock 0 agility (I'll eat a hat if the tac cube has any green dice). Against a ship like that, low attack values can actually start to add up in aggregate. I've mentioned a few times how the last time I ran a super-sphere build the final,fatal hit to it came from a Donotra-chariot Apnex and there was nothing I could do about it.

Also, dice-fixing is [/i]incredibly[/i] important, you don't want to sacrifice quality for quantity. A 4 die attack with target lock or battlestation conversion is as good as a 6 die attack. A 4 die attack with both is better.
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Joseph van der Jagt
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Noah,

I agree with you. Obviously people have a lot of success with fleets containing less ships than their opponent. This is why I think that is:

The four concepts are only roughly even when they are appearing in some normative range I don't have the math skills to map out perfectly. When one or some of the concepts start to stretch toward the extremes weird things happen.

Basically, with Attack Capacity (or with any of the first three concepts) they have to meet a minimum threshold of effectiveness. So to examples: a ship with 1 attack and a Weyoun/Conditional Surrender combo will beat a Borg Sphere that doesn't have Assimilation Tubules. Since Borg Spheres don't have evade the 1 attack dice is enough to do damage some of the time. The Conditional Surrender puts the ships Efficacy of Defense into such an extreme range (it outright cancels each attack) that the Sphere can never damage it. With cloaked ships who are also able to modify their defense dice, the minimum threshold of needed attack dice gets a lot higher. I think a 5 attack meets it. That's perhaps why the Klingons did so well initially. They had an extreme Defense Capacity and an Attack Capacity that was over (maybe well over) the minimum threshold for attacking other cloakers.
 
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HMS Iron Duke
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There are some really great ideas in the OP, in particular the section on rate of fire. As usual, I go looking for analogs in wet navy combat to try and distill strategies for Attack Wing. Historically, doubling the fire on a ship (2:1 fire ratio) was a bad thing because it meant, fleets being of equal or near equal numbers, that someone on the opposing side was not getting hit during a period of time. It represented a lack of fire control on the squadron or fleet level.

In Attack Wing we have gone the other way and have, in general, tried to swamp a single ship under a weight of fire while ignoring the others for the most part until the first target is destroyed. Honestly, this bothers me. It doesn't seem right from a tactical point of view. The only ways I can think of to fix it is to turn attack and defense dice into a pool that are spent during a turn as a player wishes or creating a bonus for ships that aren't attacked in one turn to be used in the following turn. Both of those change the fundamental structure of the game though.

I think you have to be careful with your fewer point argument. Given X points, Y Quantity of ships may be better than Z quantity but there is a point of equilibrium point where, if you exceed Y Quantity your ships are actually less useful. I may be able to get more R.I.S. Science or Scout ships for a point build but are those ships actually better than a single ship that can crush them, one per turn? That equilbrium point is somewhat variable depending on your tolerances as a player and the particular build but it does exist. There was a session report just today that had an 82 pt Sphere defeating a 102 pt Ent-D/Voyager build. Quantity may have a quality all its own, but quality does matter.
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Evan
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Mike Sisson wrote:
There are some really great ideas in the OP, in particular the section on rate of fire. As usual, I go looking for analogs in wet navy combat to try and distill strategies for Attack Wing. Historically, doubling the fire on a ship (2:1 fire ratio) was a bad thing because it meant, fleets being of equal or near equal numbers, that someone on the opposing side was not getting hit during a period of time. It represented a lack of fire control on the squadron or fleet level.

In Attack Wing we have gone the other way and have, in general, tried to swamp a single ship under a weight of fire while ignoring the others for the most part until the first target is destroyed. Honestly, this bothers me. It doesn't seem right from a tactical point of view.


This is an interesting perspective. I've never considered it before because (not being a wargamer) most of the games I've played encourage knocking out units by focusing on them individually; being under fire rarely seems to incur a cost outside of the damage that will count towards your eventual destruction.

Of course, it's hard to tell whether the Star Trek universe itself is realistic in that regard. My intuition is that a fleet's shields will collectively be better at ignoring evenly distributed fire than concentrated attacks, so this may just be the result of a different techno-military paradigm. (Though one that I'm sure the shows' writers never intended; they probably just played the same games I do )
 
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Mike Sisson wrote:

In Attack Wing we have gone the other way and have, in general, tried to swamp a single ship under a weight of fire while ignoring the others for the most part until the first target is destroyed. Honestly, this bothers me. It doesn't seem right from a tactical point of view.


Part of it has to do with the damage/combat model for this type of tabletop gaming, and part of it do to the type of battle being fought.

1. A ship at full shields and hull has the same combat effectiveness as a ship with no shield and 1 hull. And baring crits still has use of all it's upgrades and captains. Along with the fact that we fire at a initiative point means that by focusing my fire I can stop you from getting as many attacks, either this turn or next turn.

Crits are added to try to model loss of combat effectiveness due to damage, but they only do limited things and aren't a larger scale model.

2. The fact that there is no really reason to withdraw damaged ships in most games means that I can't drive you out of combat by damaging you but not killing you, so I focus fire to be sure to knock you out.

While the 1st point I think is just a limit of the base system of attack wing and if you want more detail there is always star fleet battles which I believe has a much more detailed model.

However I have a feeling if you setup a multiple game battles and gave people a real penalty for losing a ship/crew i.e. you don't have them for the next one. You would see more spreading of attacks as you could damage a fleet enough that they would breakoff the attack. It would still make sense to focus fire because of combat model, but I think it might be less.
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Thomas wilson
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Quote:
1. A ship at full shields and hull has the same combat effectiveness as a ship with no shield and 1 hull. And baring crits still has use of all it's upgrades and captains. Along with the fact that we fire at a initiative point means that by focusing my fire I can stop you from getting as many attacks, either this turn or next turn.


I love attack wing as a game and i love that fleet building is about 90% of the time i spend in this hobby. But this is the one of the biggest issues with the game i have.


The crit damage cards aren't potent enough and with everyone converting battlestations to hits and shields ignoring crits you really don't get to see critical damage play much of a part in this game.
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The Jigsaw Man
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zraktor wrote:
Quote:
1. A ship at full shields and hull has the same combat effectiveness as a ship with no shield and 1 hull. And baring crits still has use of all it's upgrades and captains. Along with the fact that we fire at a initiative point means that by focusing my fire I can stop you from getting as many attacks, either this turn or next turn.


I love attack wing as a game and i love that fleet building is about 90% of the time i spend in this hobby. But this is the one of the biggest issues with the game i have.


I have this same objection, but it's the price paid for a game with limited paperwork.

If you really want to blow the other guy up one little piece at a time, look up Saganami Island Tactical Simulator. The forum on BGG is pretty dead, but I love the game.
 
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zraktor wrote:
Quote:
1. A ship at full shields and hull has the same combat effectiveness as a ship with no shield and 1 hull. And baring crits still has use of all it's upgrades and captains. Along with the fact that we fire at a initiative point means that by focusing my fire I can stop you from getting as many attacks, either this turn or next turn.


I love attack wing as a game and i love that fleet building is about 90% of the time i spend in this hobby. But this is the one of the biggest issues with the game i have.


The crit damage cards aren't potent enough and with everyone converting battlestations to hits and shields ignoring crits you really don't get to see critical damage play much of a part in this game.


I posted a variant ages ago... I forget the details, but it was something along the lines of:
- Get two damage decks.
- Double your hull value.
- Shields can only absorb 1/2 of their max value in any one attack (rounded up). If you lose all hull and still have shields you still go boom.

Never tried this (or whatever I wrote originally), but I hope to someday because I think just stacking a few more crits on ships will make it feel more "authentically naval".
 
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Penguin Bonaparte
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zraktor wrote:
Quote:
1. A ship at full shields and hull has the same combat effectiveness as a ship with no shield and 1 hull. And baring crits still has use of all it's upgrades and captains. Along with the fact that we fire at a initiative point means that by focusing my fire I can stop you from getting as many attacks, either this turn or next turn.


I love attack wing as a game and i love that fleet building is about 90% of the time i spend in this hobby. But this is the one of the biggest issues with the game i have.


The crit damage cards aren't potent enough and with everyone converting battlestations to hits and shields ignoring crits you really don't get to see critical damage play much of a part in this game.


Implicit in this is acknowledgement of this mostly being a deck builder. What actually happens when you sit down to play is so often completely over-determined. Bit by bit I've given up on flying winning me the day in this game and feeling like I'm actually having anything resembling a fleet battle. Just attack dice and gotcha cards.
 
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PenguinBonaparte wrote:

Implicit in this is acknowledgement of this mostly being a deck builder. What actually happens when you sit down to play is so often completely over-determined. Bit by bit I've given up on flying winning me the day in this game and feeling like I'm actually having anything resembling a fleet battle. Just attack dice and gotcha cards.


I'm not sure how "lack of big steel ships attirtional damage model" = "deck builder with no maneuver"?

I still find that maneuver beats everything except the Borg... and well that seems kinda thematic too.
 
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Penguin Bonaparte
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Not the lack of a big ship damage system, just the way all the mechanics are working out. I played in a thing recently in which I won 2 of my 3 games without doing anything really. It was pretty much determined by the cards we had, not that I did anything skillful. In the one I lost I was outplayed and there it was a maneuver, although mostly because I couldn't keep straight the 3 card cloaked sphere synon movement combo he had and forgot just how far he could go. It's just seeming like the abilities and outsized attack values are making for short RPS games that aren't even fun. I posted more in the Borg range thread, how it's more like playing against the meta in selecting a squad. I've seen fewer and fewer matches turn around too, as one little mistake creates such a hard swing that you can't really recover. In and of itself that's fine, but combined with the way so many builds interact, it's killed the fun for me.
 
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The Jigsaw Man
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PenguinBonaparte wrote:

Implicit in this is acknowledgement of this mostly being a deck builder. What actually happens when you sit down to play is so often completely over-determined. Bit by bit I've given up on flying winning me the day in this game and feeling like I'm actually having anything resembling a fleet battle. Just attack dice and gotcha cards.


Sounds like you might prefer X-Wing. It's closer to a mini game, and good flying is the real winner. The things I can do with my T/I are most amusing.

Of course, they don't have Warbirds. That is a major, major black mark against them. Also, no scenarios. Death-match is my least favorite form of play.
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PenguinBonaparte wrote:
[...] It's just seeming like the abilities and outsized attack values are making for short RPS games that aren't even fun. I posted more in the Borg range thread, how it's more like playing against the meta in selecting a squad. [...]


That's a shame.

It's different than my experience though... even though (or perhaps because ) my toughest opponents regularly bring awesome card combos to the table, I've found that my wins/losses are pretty much completely decided by how well I fly and how well I can out guess them.

My Borg fighting Tholian web build nearly eked out a win against the brutal two sphere two drone build - I had the initial advantage due to maneuver choices I made and he made poorly, then I ended up swapping that advantage being too clever for my own good in my maneuver choices.

Perhaps YMMV depending on your opponents and meta.

One thing that might help is playing scenarios like Mutare Nebula, or playing with fleet restrictions. 40 point builds, TOS or TMP era pure builds, or no ship costing more than 22 or 24 pts builds, all serve to mitigate the brutal consequences of poor maneuver when facing massive attack combos.
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Penguin Bonaparte
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Yeah, there is fun to be had and I wish I had more scenario play, but it's just been OPs for the most part. And the prizes kind of undermine the sense of community. See the people using shroud and conditional surrender against new players. There have been some clever combos from a few, and it is kind of fun trying to build against them, but they just swing it way too much. They're all so out of left field at this point that it kind of overwhelms the theme of the game, and you win or lose depending on who can remember the longest what the 12 different cards your opponent has out are. And don't get me wrong, I'm usually quite happy to lose if it's a fun game, but I don't really feel like I"m even earning my wins.

I started in X-wing but Star Trek's my favorite universe by far. I've even enjoyed trying to paint up these minis to look better. But the way the game's being played is just killing the fun. I haven't gotten a DS9 even though I think on the whole I've outflown people quite a bit. Mostly because I moved, but then I got locked out of the OP event that started late because of a missed email. SO then when someone who wasn't even aware last time that his Klingons didn't have battlestations copied a shroud build, went against new players, and took the one-time DS9 tourney I was frustrated. I don't like that I was upset by this and that with a couple exceptions, it's kind of par for the course behavior. I really can't put my finger on it, but even these forums are a lot more acrimonious than the FFG ones. It also kind of revealed how much the prizes are motivating playing a game that just isn't working nearly so well. So I guess I will just focus on X-wing, where at least I've found people to be much more willing to fly casual. Maybe someday I'll have a kid, force him or her to watch Star Trek, and we can play through all the missions then.
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Rob Tsuk
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adorablerocket wrote:

My Borg fighting Tholian web build nearly eked out a win against the brutal two sphere two drone build - I had the initial advantage due to maneuver choices I made and he made poorly, then I ended up swapping that advantage being too clever for my own good in my maneuver choices.


You thought splitting up the Borg was a bad idea? I kinda like it, since so long as they both stay in range of the targets it makes it more likely they won't both be in arc.

Or did I make some other poor maneuver choice that went unobserved at the time?

Of course the fact that I almost lost a sphere to the web on turn 2 was pretty moronic.
 
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Rob Tsuk
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PenguinBonaparte wrote:
Yeah, there is fun to be had and I wish I had more scenario play, but it's just been OPs for the most part. And the prizes kind of undermine the sense of community. See the people using shroud and conditional surrender against new players. There have been some clever combos from a few, and it is kind of fun trying to build against them, but they just swing it way too much. They're all so out of left field at this point that it kind of overwhelms the theme of the game, and you win or lose depending on who can remember the longest what the 12 different cards your opponent has out are. And don't get me wrong, I'm usually quite happy to lose if it's a fun game, but I don't really feel like I"m even earning my wins.


It's interesting how the different geographic areas are so different in organized play. Here in the San Jose, CA area the play has been uniformly cordial. There are a few folks who could try to be better sports but on the whole its a very pleasant experience. And we see a large variety of builds every month.
 
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It's usually been cordial, but not quite fun. Tempers have really flared a few times too, and I myself was responsible for it once. I've been desperately busy and moved to the middle of nowhere for a job, so had been looking forward to some of these events and had to really strain to get time to play. There was supposed to be a DS9 event at one store but people had their weird little feuds and disliked that owner enough not to go at all. I don't understand what's behind it, since from what I've seen he was bending over backwards to try to make some events happen. So I drove an hour and a half to go to that, it didn't happen, and it was because they'd cross scheduled with a different thing and neither group was willing to compromise. So I'd already spent a lot of time just getting there and I'd be out 3 hours and gas with nothing to show for it if I just went home, so I went to the other store. There I was then given a bye so that it was 6 hours of driving and waiting before I even got to play. I was really frustrated at that point since I've been so busy and it was the one time I had to try to have fun that I played badly. As for how those games went, let's just say that this game made me feel like a total sucker for pointing out to people that they forgot they had another hull point as they took the last ship off the table or reminding them they can shoot me. I've felt myself starting to assimilate to that environment and it's very much not the person I want to be.

So I guess it's two different thing, one directly related to the game, one less so, driving me out of this. Also, a couple people have been nice, but it's not enough to quite set the tone. And damn it I really want to have some Star Trek themed fun.
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rtsuk wrote:
adorablerocket wrote:

My Borg fighting Tholian web build nearly eked out a win against the brutal two sphere two drone build - I had the initial advantage due to maneuver choices I made and he made poorly, then I ended up swapping that advantage being too clever for my own good in my maneuver choices.


You thought splitting up the Borg was a bad idea? I kinda like it, since so long as they both stay in range of the targets it makes it more likely they won't both be in arc.


Yes, because IIRC they both weren't in range for one turn which helped me survive.
 
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