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Some days ago, user JGGarrido, posted some of his personal feedback in a spanish boardgame forums after playing the game. During the last days, some of his opponents have chimed in with their own thoughts.

Since JGGarrido is affiliated with the Spanish publisher for the second edition of A Study in Emerald, he built a print and play version of the game using files sent to the publisher for translation purposes, and tested the game with his own gaming group.

He included several pictures to illustrate the thread and I will try to post them here but please, remember this is a print and play edition using what seems to be release-ready graphic assets. That means we can't judge component quality issues such as cardboard thickness or card/board size, but I doubt the art direction would change significantly at this stage of publication. None of these components are final, however. The rules used are those being translated for the spanish localization of the game. Nevertheless, remember some late tweaks could be introduced at a latter date.

Again, please note the following are first impressions after playing the game, not a propper, well structured review. It's the best thing we have at this time, however, since these comments come from people who have actually played the game in a 'very close to release' state. It will probably undergo little changes, since I guess printing should start pretty soon, as the spanish version of the game is scheduled to be arriving to stores in october.

The following is a translation of JJGarrido and friends' posts

JJGarrido wrote:


This weekend I got some spare time and crafted a quick Print&Play of this second edition of A Study in Emerald. (I had to write some things with a pen, because they were left blank)

Here I think it will be worth it to analize two games we had this very evening. I have to admit the game has greatly surprised me. I was very doubtful before reading the rules, and I had some doubts left after reading them, but now I must say I found the end result to be really good.

The first thing I will say, as I always do when I do these things, is to warn you: I'm showing you a P&P, played with the current version of the rules I have access to (I'd say they are 95% finished) and my opinion is absolutely sincere (and I understand there will be people who don't believe me, but it's the truth)

FIRST GAME

We were 4 players. One of them had never played the first edition. The other three had, no less than 5 games each.

Explaining the rules took me about 25 minutes, since I also explained the differences among both editions so we could get into the context and be able to reach more solid conclussions. The explanation could easily be reduced to 15-20 minutes without missing any details, which is almost half of what would take you to propperly explain the first edition of the game.

The setup: As you can see, the Old One in Berlin appeared first, when revealing the first card of its deck, so it was a valid assasination objective from the get go.



Everything quiet after two rounds. Each one going at his leisure trying to find valuable cards for their decks. Red and green start blocking each other to get the Berlin city card (5 points)



As the game goes on, more Old Ones appear and tensions rise when trying to get certain cards. By now there are not many clues about each other's loyalty (Loyalist or Restorationist). I must say here that having Old Ones appearing from decks and not being present in the board since setup really encourages agent mobility and usage, since as the Old One is not guaranteed to be there for a long time (as someone could try kill or hide it before you can) it's standard to see constant movement from one city to the next trying to block other players.



The sides start to take shape, and the Loyalist starts advancing his score track. Now, Loyalist/Restorationist trackers are much more important, as score is calculated according to the difference between both trackers. Allowing the enemy to move his marker along his track without moving yours does not seem an option, since there are so many points at stake.



Fights continue, being more agressive each time, and so does marker movement. A pair of Old Ones have already dead and you can really feel the scarcity of influence cubes. Agents are, again, key to break or keep majorities. Two of them have been killed along the way.



The endgame draws near and tracks and score start rising rapidly every round. Old Ones and cities still are appearing in the decks at a steady pace.



There are fewer and fewer agents on the board and I (Red) get a hand of cards that allows me to end the game. I had counted my points wrong, thinking Green would have a lower score, but I forgot I had loyalist victory points that would not add anything to my score. As I finished the game pushing the restorationist track forward, we counted score and I lost. Yellow was the only Loyalist. He scored very few points and had 5 points substracted from him because he was the last one in his side, so he had a very low endgame score. The Green restorationist won the game.



My impressions after two games. (I will follow up as we play more games)

It's a very good game. Its agile, fast, tense and very very streamlined game. It's only flaw is having arrived after his big brother. I'm sure it will be liked by both people who have never played the first edition and people who have. It's true that the tactical component drops in favour of a faster game. Majorities are much more important and cards are much more balanced. You will almost always have a plan B to block another player, get majority in one city, use the turn to get back lots of cubes or get many cards at the same time (that's a change I love) Assasinations now can be done in several areas with one single action, too. A festival of death.

Changing the sanity tokens for the die was a great decission. It's now faster. Variety in cards is huge, since there is only one repeated card in the deck: Hired assassin (2 copies). Having Old Ones and cities come from decks increasesinteraction and, from one turn to the next, you can find your quiet city has turned into a rave party. Deckbuilding is also emphasized, although the starting deck is good, it's not enough for most interesting actions (assassinations, special actions, free actions, massive agent movement...)

It fulfills what it promises: 60 minutes per game.

Among the four people who played, I would give the game a high rating. The one player who didn't play the previous edition agrees on this second edition being a great game, which makes you desire to play again right after finishing a game. The other two people, who had played the previous edition, agree on this game being much easier to get to the table, in spite of the changes when compared to the previous edition.

Both miss the coins and other details, but they agree agent movement changes and getting rid of blocking disks was a great decision.

As in every issue, if you have the first edition and manage to get it to the table often, and you prefer a longer game with all it's bells and whistles, I don't think it makes too much sense to but a copy of this second edition. I sold my first edition and I'm sure between paying more than 60€ for the first edition (supposing you can find it for that price) or 40€ for the second one, given the ammount of spare time I have, I would pick the second edition without a doubt.

Maybe after some more games, my opinion will fluctuate, but in any case I will be back here when I can.

One of the other players jumps into the discussion:

Elessar3019 wrote:


I am the player who hadn't played the first edition of the game, so I won't be able to compare to it's predecessor. I have to admit watching the images of the first game has already made me eager to play again, and that's exactly what happened after finishing it. We were getting ready the game to play again without notice.

The explanation was fast, with no boredom nor doubt during the game. Everything is pretty intuitive, including card iconography. (I don't know if the previous edition used the same iconography)

Regarding the first game, it was rare to find yourself without something to do with your turn because you always felt like you had a great plan, something that doesn't happen in most games, where the first game is pretty disorienting. Blocking that damned Loyalist or Restorationist (guessing his loyalty) either with agents or influencing cities. Or gathering influence for future plans anticipating yourself to the rest. Or getting a certain character (Sherlock, is it you?) to work for you and your interests. 9 cities seem enough, but there will be fighting in more than one area.

Maybe I was the one with more analisis paralisys during the first two rounds. Maybe I took a few seconds too many, which is something that did not happen on the second game but for certain key moments. Turns felt fast, and we finished in 45 minutes.

Something JGGarrido did not comment on are the 3 ways the game can end:

-Restorationist or Loyalist trackers reach 10.

-A player gets 22 points.

-Someone belonging to the restorationists lose 3 sanity points (explained in the loyalty card)

In the first two games, we had the first two conditions. ¿Why is that important? It means in addition to keeping the other players in check, any of these three conditions can happen. Yes, most games have different end conditions... but most games end in the same way (in Battlestar Galactica, how many times have cylons won because a Centurion reaches the ending of the track? How many times have they won because the ship had 5 damaged parts? not many) That is, for me, a great point about this game.

I therefore think this is a great game, and it's already in my wishlist because of how it flows, how tense it feels, and because I love to watch the other players on their turn to guess their loyalties and plans: Are they going to get that card? Are they planning to kill or hide an Old One? ¿Are they trying to kill one of my agents?!

In addition, card variability is really interesting (in a single game you won't see all of them) There are no "filler" cards and you will be able to take advantage of all of them without exception, since actions are fairly well distributed among them. In one hour, with people who know how to play, you can get the game to the table, set it up, play, and put the game back on its shelf. The set up is fast and easy.

I like the art of the game, but that is a matter of taste. The atmosphere is good, and if you have a bit of imagination, you can weave great stories during the game. Beware, a vampire could be waiting for you in a dark alley...

Another player chimes in:

hechigenio wrote:


I'm the Green player, who won on that game.

I'll start with those things I didn't like. The new art is good (for those who like it) but I find it infinitely worse. Both the board and the cards. I'm sorry but I find them ugly. On the other hand, the print & play we played was good because it used small cards and I feel it would be great to use small cards instead of the final cards, which will be bigger. I find the first edition used too much table space, and I would have liked the second edition to be less demanding size-wise, as it is supposed to be the more streamlined edition. Anyway, I think most people will disagree with me and will love big cards.

Now, let's go with things I liked. Having JGGarrido join those selling his first edition hurt a lot, since I couldn't afford it. When I heard about a second edition I loved the news, but when I learned about it being streamlined and changed I was completely against it, as I was sure they were going to change the rules to increase sales among casual players and turn this into an introductory game.

Finally, the game we played yesterday was a revelation. It was a surprise to find playability improved in this new edition. I loved the lack of blocking disks the most. While explaining the game I disliked having cities inside the decks (the Old Ones being hidden seemed thematic for me, having read the short story) Again, it was humbling to find out it works great, although it makes no sense thematically.

The deckbuilding mechanic gains more weight. there are some more combos and the majoriy mechanic makes confrontation much more direct. There are no cubes you can buy during the game, in this edition the influence is all yours from the very beginning, divided between your reserve and limbo.

In short, It's a much more playable edition, faster, funier, more interactive, and uglier.

JGGarrido explains the second playthrough with this group:

JJGarrido wrote:


SECOND GAME:

It took us about 5 minutes to set everything up to the initial position in order to play again. We started playing inmediately, and now by round 3 we were pretty distributed on the map. As in the previous game, there was a lot of fighting, but we kept waiting some turns before we started fighting for the spaces. Green (hechigenio) showed his intentions pretty fast as he jumped straight to get te vampire card



I spent my turns going around the map looking for city cards and I exposed myself too much. Yellow started hiring lots of agents and killing mine. I'm not sure if he already knew I was a Restorationist (and being a Loyalist, killing my agents will give him points at the endgame), or he just was mad at me, but by round 5, he had already killed two of my agents.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/110425056/study.JPG

When a player kills a rival agent now, what you do is to remove from the game the card that triggered the assasination (usually an agent card marked with an A, as a reminder of that card being suitable to be played to start an assassination) and you put the assasinated agent and put it on the card you used to kill it. At the end of the game, if the agent belonged to a Restorationist player and you were Loyalist, you score as many points as shown in the cards. (Usually 3 points, but there are cards that give you 4 or 5 points if you burn them for an assasination, but they have lots of different symbols)

The fact is, as you can see in the picture, I knew the Loyalist would win (Yellow and Green were Loyalists) because I was a Restorationist and when the loss of those 2 agents he already scored 9 points. So I focused on getting the "change of heart" card to change my loyalty and make sure Yellow would not get any point for assasinating my agents. (A Loyalist killing Loyalist agents doesn't score any points at the end)

But as score is virtual until the end of the game, Yellow pushed his track forward and activated endgame at 22 victory points. Game ended and the lone restorationist (Blue) won.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/110425056/IMG_20150602_1...

That pic was taken before taking into account 9 more points for Blue because of having killed 2 Old Ones. He clearly won.

In this second game, the Loyalist-Restorationist tracks did not move. We took about 45 minutes because analysis paralysis went down considerably and turns were fast. I think we played about 12-15 rounds in each game, so it felt tense and quick. The game can end without warning, so you have to play knowing the next turn could be the last. You must take advantage of your actions.

I had my doubts about the new rules when claiming cards and assassinations. Now, to claim a card it's not enough to do an action, but you need to have a certain symbol on a card to do so. Now, however, you can claim many cards at the same time with that single action if you have the most influence there (and at least one influence cube). Losing agents in this game hurts more than before. Now they are much more important since influence cubes are rare and losing turns in retrieving them or placing them can be expensive.

I hope I can get more and better pictures (in these I was more keen on learning the way the game works and remembering my feelings about the previous edition) I might even get a recorder and record a video of a game, since I feel it will allow those who know te game to completely understand the second edition.

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Sergio Macias
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Cue people saying how lucky they are they got the vastly superior 1st edition and how they are never parting with it in 3, 2, 1...
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MC Crispy
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Victor Mancha wrote:
Cue people saying how lucky they are they got the vastly superior 1st edition and how they are never parting with it in 3, 2, 1...
[SmugMode]I have the first edition and am never going to part with it [/SmugMode]
Spoiler (click to reveal)
unless a very enticing financial offer is made
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Hesy
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I´m so lucky I got the vastly superior 1st edition and I´m never parting with it.

Edit: anyway...still going to buy 2nd edition.
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Thanks a bunch for the detailed write up and variety of opinions. I own the 1st but I see a lot of things to like about the 2nd. Makes you wonder... must...resist
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The Dave
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I'm so lucky I got the [possibly] vastly superior 1st edition, and if you want it you'll have to pry it from my cold dead hands.

On the other hand, I am so lucky that I got a back-up copy that can be yours if the price is right...devil
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failtech wrote:
Edit: anyway...still going to buy 2nd edition.
I won't meeple
I'm so lucky I got the vastly superior 1st edition and I'm never parting with it ... cool
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I also have the wonderful 1st edition (wish I had bought more than 1), and I plan to buy the 2nd as well.

The first is hands down my (and my play group's) favorite game, but the second sounds like it has some promise.

Crispy
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Sergio Macias
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PzVIE wrote:
failtech wrote:
Edit: anyway...still going to buy 2nd edition.
I won't meeple
Of course you won't
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J M
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Thank you for these write-ups. I do own the 1st ed, but this new 45-60 minute version looks great to me also.
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Ganybyte wrote:
I'm so lucky that I didn't get tempted into spending so much money on the beta version of the game.

From all appearances this really looks like a more solid, more stable game, one I am much more likely to get to the table.

Collectors win by getting their special edition, gamers win by getting a "second edition" that has actually gone through a full development cycle.

This is a perfect example of the beta issue kickstarter has. Even the best and most successful games that are produced through kickstarter tend to come out looking like the beta version. Almost done, but not quite. So many of them need, at the least, some significant tweaks afterwards. It's still interesting and valuable in some way to be a first adopter of kickstarters, but it makes sense that a lot of people may want to wait the extra year or two for the second edition for a lot of these games.

Prepare to be torn to shreds, mate.
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Ganybyte wrote:
I'm so lucky that I didn't get tempted into spending so much money on the beta version of the game.

From all appearances this really looks like a more solid, more stable game, one I am much more likely to get to the table.

Collectors win by getting their special edition, gamers win by getting a "second edition" that has actually gone through a full development cycle.

This is a perfect example of the beta issue kickstarter has. Even the best and most successful games that are produced through kickstarter tend to come out looking like the beta version. Almost done, but not quite. So many of them need, at the least, some significant tweaks afterwards. It's still interesting and valuable in some way to be a first adopter of kickstarters, but it makes sense that a lot of people may want to wait the extra year or two for the second edition for a lot of these games.

No use playing pretend tea party. Maybe you and Sergio should pool your funds and buy the real, COMPLETE, version.
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The new edition doesn't look bad, but yeah, I'm happy with my first edition. Different gamers like different things, and obvious trolling aside in this thread, everyone is welcome to their opinion and hopefully gets the version which fits their needs.

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Ganybyte wrote:


Collectors win by getting their special edition, gamers win by getting a "second edition" that has actually gone through a full development cycle.

Gamers would truly win if they were able to play either version of the game with the second edition. They cannot in this case.
 
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Jorren wrote:
Ganybyte wrote:


Collectors win by getting their special edition, gamers win by getting a "second edition" that has actually gone through a full development cycle.

Gamers would truly win if they were able to play either version of the game with the second edition. They cannot in this case.
Gamers would win by getting free cupcakes from the heavens too, but some things just aren't going to happen.
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Ganybyte wrote:
This is a perfect example of the beta issue kickstarter has. Even the best and most successful games that are produced through kickstarter tend to come out looking like the beta version. Almost done, but not quite. So many of them need, at the least, some significant tweaks afterwards. It's still interesting and valuable in some way to be a first adopter of kickstarters, but it makes sense that a lot of people may want to wait the extra year or two for the second edition for a lot of these games.
It's not a perfect example of Kickstarter but a perfect example of Martin Wallace. It's common for him to release a game then pare it down for a second edition. This would have happened no matter how he released the game.

I'm not sure how I "win" with this second edition, though. I like the first edition because of the game's merits, not the collectability of it.
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I'll go next: I cannot believe how lucky I am that I have the first edition of this game and I am probably never parting with it.

I would like to chime in that the new board layout looks simpler and more streamlined but the new "cartoony" artwork on the cards is terrible. The dark, black-and-white artwork from the first edition added more theme and feel, in my opinion. But I will probably buy the second edition, too, because it will see more table time.
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I do think rolling for sanity is an improvement over drawing a tile and I think I'd like to adopt that. What are the odds of rolling sanity/insanity?
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The original has 2 "Mad" tokens for every 1 "Sane" token, IIRC.
 
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Ganybyte wrote:
bamonson wrote:
Ganybyte wrote:
I'm so lucky that I didn't get tempted into spending so much money on the beta version of the game.

From all appearances this really looks like a more solid, more stable game, one I am much more likely to get to the table.

Collectors win by getting their special edition, gamers win by getting a "second edition" that has actually gone through a full development cycle.

This is a perfect example of the beta issue kickstarter has. Even the best and most successful games that are produced through kickstarter tend to come out looking like the beta version. Almost done, but not quite. So many of them need, at the least, some significant tweaks afterwards. It's still interesting and valuable in some way to be a first adopter of kickstarters, but it makes sense that a lot of people may want to wait the extra year or two for the second edition for a lot of these games.

No use playing pretend tea party. Maybe you and Sergio should pool your funds and buy the real, COMPLETE, version.
Hahahaha.
While I do prefer real tea parties, it's true (how did you know?); I don't knock any collector who loves their old COMPLETE version of A Study in Emerald, any more than the people who perfer their COMPLETE Matrix trilogy.
I guess we're in agreement. The Matrix should have stopped after one.

Ganybyte wrote:

I guess I'm just one of those fake tea party people who perfer my movies and games without 4 hours of deleted scenes kept in.
I agree. Except eliminating a key element like Double-Agents is a bit like leaving The Two Towers out of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Ganybyte wrote:

Sorry if I'm not up to your gamer standards,
I keep reading over the short comment I made and nowhere do I see where I mentioned anything about your "gamer standards" let alone [my] opinion of such.

Ganybyte wrote:

but I'm still glad Wallace, et all (sic) has deigned to make something of this for us lesser people who like things streamlined and edited.
I keep reading over the short comment I made and nowhere do I see where I mentioned anything about your "lesser people" invective. If you wish to play the victim, at least don't put words in the mouths of your would-be antagonists.

Interestingly, your comment is actually a slam to Wallace, suggesting as you do that he is somehow catering to "lesser people" by doing the second edition.

Ganybyte wrote:

And yeah I'm happy that I'm not looking to replace the longer, bigger version that would never hit my table.
Yeah, there's the rub. From this statement (and those of your original post) you give the distinct impression that you have never even played the original game. And since you obviously didn't buy the original (as most of us Wallace fans do with all of his games, btw), then it's not surprising that it's so difficult to "hit [your] table." whistle

And since when is the end-all quality or completeness of a game adjudged by how often it gets on the table? War of the Ring is one of the most amazing games I have ever encountered, but I only get it "to the table" about twice per year. Likewise for gems like Titan, Imperial and Merchants of Venus, which all run pretty long and aren't games likely to be seen in your Big Box stores (which is Wallace's intent, btw), but that in no way suggests they need to be revamped in some radical way in terms of game play.

A Study in Emerald, in my opinion, is of the same ilk. It was a stroke of Genius from Wallace. Contrary to some commentary I've seen, the mechanics are actually quite simple and easy to grasp. Anyone who has played at least one full game will already know this. Even teaching it is not difficult. There are really only a couple of asymmetrical aspects you have to emphasize--and re-emphasize--to get people to grasp (and appreciate for what it means). I'm speaking primarily of the last place faction losing mechanic which some people hate initially (and stop playing...) but later have that 'aha' moment of understanding.

Ganybyte wrote:

I'm a realist and I apparently don't have the same game group you have. Sorry that bothers you so much.
I keep reading over the short comment I made and nowhere do I see where I mentioned anything about "[my] game group," let alone being "bother[ed] so much" by it being different than yours. I guess you have to be a realist to fathom that.

But since you brought it up...

In general my game group is not big on Wallace games, which is too bad. For example, it's nearly impossible to get Brass or even the 'streamlined' version, Age of Industry to the table. Mythtopia and Onward to Venus haven't even got a nibble. soblue But it's interesting that A Study in Emerald is surprisingly well-received, mainly because it is among only a few deep games that are actually better with more players. It also helps that I geeked-out my copy with painted Spy vs. Spy minis to represent the main agents (eye candy never hurts).



Have a great day!
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I LOVE THE LOOK AND STREAMLINED GAME PLAY - I'm in for sure laugh

Now here's to hoping that it gets to the USA before Christmas 2015
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Victor Mancha wrote:
Cue people saying how lucky they are they got the vastly superior 1st edition and how they are never parting with it in 3, 2, 1...
I'm lucky I got the 1st edition and will never part with it.

I'll probably get the 2nd edition too. It looks like fun.
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Quote:
Having Old Ones and cities come from decks increasesinteraction and, from one turn to the next, you can find your quiet city has turned into a rave party.
Curious about this bit. In the 1st edition, with baddies printed on the board and cities up for grabs right away, you could go that route turn 1 or at least plan ahead. If they are in the decks (is there even a chance they won't be in the setup, 1st edition you didn't use all the cards, what about the 2nd?), doesn't that reduce the potential to plan ahead?
 
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Shane Larsen
United States
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I'm such a lucky person, because I have the 1st Edition. It's vastly superior to this silly, new edition.

In fact, I would even go so far as to say that the people who own the 1st edition are better people in general than those who don't.
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birchbeer
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thedacker wrote:
I'm such a lucky person, because I have the 1st Edition. It's vastly superior to this silly, new edition.

In fact, I would even go so far as to say that the people who own the 1st edition are better people in general than those who don't.
devilishly good humor!
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