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Subject: To Tier or not to Tier rss

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Trent Y.
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It's obvious to anybody who follows along here that there are a lot of 'solutions' to tiering the equipment deck. I remember at least one person stating not to do it.

I will chime in on my thoughts and advise to err on the side of not truly tiering.

It is obvious from a playthrough that if you don't get the right gear draws, you will have little to no chance to beat the mini-bosses let alone the bosses. If the equipment drawn doesn't match your stats, then it's of little to no value.

The second 'problem' that my group encountered was that we drew a string of armor and no weapons for quite a few pulls. Eventually the weapons did show up though.

On that note 'king-making' doesn't work here --> You can't make one player the greatest while everybody else sucks. That player doesn't get enough activations in order to carry to the game for the other players.

The solution that most people seem to have jumped onto is having 3 tiers of equipment. I'm going to have to say that I don't care for this idea.

Part of the struggle for this game is to reach for the equipment that you do draw. Not getting exactly what you want makes the game what it is. Figuring out how best to use the equipment that is drawn IS part of the game, and it's not mean to be circumvented.

If you tier the equipment deck, then you'll be potentially playing the game on easy mode. You will draw appropriately low level equipment on your starting run, being able to immediately/quickly equip it and make further runs trivial. If instead you suffer through the gear deck as intended, then you will have to work for your supper. It's a struggle but that is the point of this game, is it not?

My counter suggestion to tiering your equipment deck is, if you feel you must, to break the decks down into Armor/Shields, Weapons and everything else (or just Armor/Shields and Weapons and then split the upgrades in half and shuffle them both in). When you go to buy, you can select a deck or you can choose that you have to pick one deck first, then the next and so forth.

Anyway, I don't feel that tiering the equipment deck is necessary. It makes the game too accommodating and too easy. Just my opinion, of course.
 
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Jamie
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I don't agree that making tier decks turns the game into easy mode. It is simply a way to speed the game up. Without tiered decks you grind longer, and you don't have to grind as long with them.

With tiered decks you still have to adjust your play style and upgrade paths depending on what you draw, you can generally just equip what you draw faster.
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Tony Graham
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We have played two full campaigns so I can't comment on how tiering effects one shot games. We do use one treasure deck (not tiered) but have a 3 card shop. Plus in the campaign you can sell a card back for one soul. So the beginning is slow going and brutal but that is what makes it Dark Souls. By the end of the campaign you are such a bad ass that the beginning does not need to be easy. Most people are playing one shots so I know this doesnt help. But I would only think about tiering if I was playing with first timers and we had a time constraint. Otherwise I would employ the shop method first. Just my opinion and observations.
 
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Wyndam22 wrote:
I don't agree that making tier decks turns the game into easy mode. It is simply a way to speed the game up. Without tiered decks you grind longer, and you don't have to grind as long with them.

With tiered decks you still have to adjust your play style and upgrade paths depending on what you draw, you can generally just equip what you draw faster.


I would disagree. If you are leveling up faster your chance of dying decreases faster. Making it easier. The less encounters you have to play with basic gear the easier it is. I understand it will play faster and that is fine if time is an issue or you dont want to "grind" but i would think it would make it a little easier as well.
 
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Trent Y.
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JavaGammer wrote:
We have played two full campaigns so I can't comment on how tiering effects one shot games. We do use one treasure deck (not tiered) but have a 3 card shop. Plus in the campaign you can sell a card back for one soul. So the beginning is slow going and brutal but that is what makes it Dark Souls. By the end of the campaign you are such a bad ass that the beginning does not need to be easy. Most people are playing one shots so I know this doesnt help. But I would only think about tiering if I was playing with first timers and we had a time constraint. Otherwise I would employ the shop method first. Just my opinion and observations.


What is your shop method? Much like my Weapons/Armor/Other Stuff idea?
 
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Trent Y.
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JavaGammer wrote:
Wyndam22 wrote:
I don't agree that making tier decks turns the game into easy mode. It is simply a way to speed the game up. Without tiered decks you grind longer, and you don't have to grind as long with them.

With tiered decks you still have to adjust your play style and upgrade paths depending on what you draw, you can generally just equip what you draw faster.


I would disagree. If you are leveling up faster your chance of dying decreases faster. Making it easier. The less encounters you have to play with basic gear the easier it is. I understand it will play faster and that is fine if time is an issue or you dont want to "grind" but i would think it would make it a little easier as well.


Yep, pretty much my thought.

We had some Silver Knights on the first room and last room and they were a huge pain on our first run through. Until we got a poison spell and then they were trivial.

It just seems like it's a more interesting game to have to deal with the hand you are dealt, rather than skewing the deck to give you what you think you should have.
 
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Mike White
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I've not played yet but I've been following much of the discussion.

I would agree that tiering seems against the idea of the game, but equally I don't like the idea of bad draws making a game overly long and therefore dull.

I think I'll go for a 5 face up card 'market', take a card or discard and redraw any number of cards. Gives you an out on a poor draw but maintains some of the difficulty as restocking costs but doesn't in itself provide a card. Also its a meaningful decision so it adds to gameplay rather than dilutes.
 
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Paul Liolio
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If the 'idea of the game' is a 5-8 hour random lottery, I'm all for tiers and other solutions.
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Trent Y.
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Polioliolio wrote:
If the 'idea of the game' is a 5-8 hour random lottery, I'm all for tiers and other solutions.


I feel that it isn't the equipment deck that adds to the length of the game.

It is primarily the fact that you have to fully replay a room to get the rewards (even if that room lacks challenge). Under other variants, there is a suggestion to be able to set a room to 'grind' status through various conditions (my current favourite is being able to clear a room at least once after the initial time, without using any Estus, Luck or Skills). I feel that is a better way to cut out the time.

Tiering your deck will not necessarily reduce the play time as you may still grind through easily passable rooms to get more souls. But I expect it to make the game easier.

In our first 4 player game, it took us 3 hours to defeat the mini-boss (plus teaching how to play). I would expect time would decrease as you got more familiar with the game and even more familiar with the enemies that you face. I don't feel that a tiered deck would have saved time, because all you do is get appropriate gear faster, but would likely just grind anyway to get more souls because...moar souls! Instead, if you had a 'grind' status, then you could just grind those souls faster and shave time off that way.




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Mike White
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Polioliolio wrote:
If the 'idea of the game' is a 5-8 hour random lottery, I'm all for tiers and other solutions.


That's some great value add right there. Thanks for your input.

There's loads of threads on Dark Souls and some of them have input from people that have played it and like it. Go and stand under those 'bridges'.


 
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Paul Liolio
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Well I'm disagreeing that tiering is against the spirit of the game.

The spirit of the game should be anything but that grindy slog through the item deck.

Another direction toward solving the grind issue is to remove the need to grind at all. Right now, it's grind grind grind grind, lowering the difficulty until you feel you can challenge the miniboss, and win.. then you do it again.

This all takes about 5-10 hours.

This is of course more easily said than done, but why focus on that grind, where the only reward for taking risks is making the game end sooner?

Why not ditch that element completely?

I know a lot of the Dark souls community plays the game by trying to stay as low a level possible throughout the entire game as they can. That way, the game continues to be challenging, and they can stay within the level range of the largest number of people playing, so plenty of summon/invading opportunities.
Sure, the first time anyone plays Dark Souls, they level up as much as they can, as quickly as they can, and with just about every stat they can.. Successive plays usually result in a very refined character who, once you have leveled up to say, 30, or 50, you rarely change your build and instead are simply playing the game, embracing the challenge, learning how to win with the character you've made.

I almost feel like you should roll your characters at the beginning of the game, as if you're already starting the game with one of your 'builds'. After all, the real meat of a multiplayer Dark Souls experience, isn't in the menus solo at firelink, it's in a given session, where players already at certain soul levels are entering each others' games, starting at the beginning of a level, and working their way to the end of that level, facing challenging enemies, invasions, and attempting to take out the boss, with the limited resources they brought with them into that instance.

I'd prefer to see an experience that is pretty much the same length every play, and goes through the same steps. Cut the fat and get this game down to that sheer experience of "You have been summoned into Spooky Jesus's World". You find loot as you kill enemies, in chests, etc. All the shop keepers are back at firelink waiting for solo downtime, which maybe you could do for all of 5 minutes, each in their own little firelink player tile or something between boss fights.

You know how you have to beat the first level of Demon's Souls without leveling up? How in the entirety of that level, there's no leveling, there's treasure, but the focus is simply on beating the level.

You could say the same thing for the Undead Asylum of Dark Souls, the intro Cemetery Stage in Dark Souls 3.. The first area in Yarnam in Bloodborne (up until you meet the boss anyway). Gaining souls, leveling, getting loot, should be supplementary to a combat system that stays challenging, but allows you to win on skill.

I don't have the answers right now, but I'm liking what people are doing to fix this game. Certainly, the massive random lotto deck isn't in the spirit of the game. In any given area, you might find a handful of weapons or armor, and usually you're already at a decent level to equip them, unlike in the board game. I'd like to see a basic shop with some low tier items, at firelink. In the levels, you'll find some exclusive items from enemies and chests, and then perhaps, enemies can drop Ash, like in Dark Souls 3, that increase the wares of the shop keepers. Alternatively, like in the other games, shops grow as you make progress, say, beat a boss or find items related to those merchants.

Before I start compiling my direction for the game ultimately I'm looking for more solutions. I know some people like the game as is, but as an enormous fanf of the games, I'm not there yet.


 
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Trent Y.
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Honest question to Paul: Have you played the board game and if so, has it actually taken you 5-10 hours? This is an earnest question here.

I find that some people tend to read stuff and jump on the bandwagon. One person writes that they don't like the gear system and creates a tier system and suddenly everybody joins in and creates their variation. Yet, so far, I've not heard one report back that it actually saves time and reduces the grind.

The grind is fighting through the trash mobs. The game is highly balanced for 2 black dice to deal with those starting trash mobs, giving you better than average odds to defeat Hollows and lower than average odds to defeat Silver Knights. The moment your weapons are stronger than 2 black dice, the odds shift dramatically in your favour to defeat those encounters and those encounters become easy and academic.

I know one group reported taking 5 hours to get to the mini-boss.


I've reported that it took us 3 hours to defeat the mini-boss and that was our first game, so I would expect to shave some time off that in future plays. (There is time lost to looking up rules, for people to get familiar with the game, etc).

As I've stated, I'm not convinced that a tiered deck would reduce the time because you would get gear faster, but you would still, RAW, have to fight your way through each room to get to the boss, which is what takes the time. All you're doing with that tiered deck is making each room easier. Your rolls are guaranteed to win but you're still rolling all those dice.

The only true time saving house rule would be the 'cleared' status or the double souls/half sparks idea.

I am all for shaving time off the game. However, I want ideas that are proven to reduce time and so far, people's ideas seem unplaytested. There are many variant threads where the OP states that they didn't play test their ideas and want others to do so.

Anyway, again, has it taken you/your group 5-10 hours to play the game and how far do you get?

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Paul Liolio
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I'll admit, I have only had the time to play it once with two others.

That said, we were playing the game correctly, (except the taunt value mechanic), not wasting much time in the rulebook during play, and while I'm sure we could probably shave at least an hour off, it honestly took us 5 hours to get to the miniboss.. We only died twice, and may have rested once. That's where I called it quits, as it was past 3am and I needed to get home.

I think 5-10 hours is a fair estimate, though if you've played the game several times already and have developed consistent combat strategies it could be shorter yet I'm sure.


Before I bring it to the table again, I'm looking to gather the best variants and fixes to not only streamline the game, but make it more entertaining. Not everything I'd like to add would necessarily be in the interest of shortening the game, though that certainly needs done too.
 
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IMO the best timesaver is setting the boss tile as one of the two bonfire adjacent tiles. Then you can choose to grind as little or as much as you like before having a go at the boss.

I also don't like the idea of tiering, so I use the shop system. Five cards are available for purchase, you can buy one for 2 souls or discard and refresh the shop for 1 soul. The class cards (and later transposed) are in a separate deck that can be randomly bought from for 4 souls. Equipment can be sold back for half the cost. I halve the sparks, but rather than doubling the souls I have defeated enemies drop souls equal to their threat level. This works well for 2 player.

When I playtested these rules 2 player, we were able to beat the mini boss (gargoyle) and main boss (dancer) in around 2 and a half hours. The previous game without house rules took us 5 hours to beat just the mini boss.
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Paul Liolio
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kdc629 wrote:
IMO the best timesaver is setting the boss tile as one of the two bonfire adjacent tiles. Then you can choose to grind as little or as much as you like before having a go at the boss.

I also don't like the idea of tiering, so I use the shop system. Five cards are available for purchase, you can buy one for 2 souls or discard and refresh the shop for 1 soul. The class cards (and later transposed) are in a separate deck that can be randomly bought from for 4 souls. Equipment can be sold back for half the cost. I halve the sparks, but rather than doubling the souls I have defeated enemies drop souls equal to their threat level. This works well for 2 player.

When I playtested these rules 2 player, we were able to beat the mini boss (gargoyle) and main boss (dancer) in around 2 and a half hours. The previous game without house rules took us 5 hours to beat just the mini boss.


Brilliant. Would you say you felt challenged still?
 
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Some of the encounters were pretty close calls, but we did only die once in the whole game. I think that was mainly due to the ranged spells that we equipped being overpowered (which is a whole other issue). We did earn a ton of souls, but we also spent a ton levelling up stats to be able to equip what we'd bought, so it seemed balanced.

I didn't mention it before, but had our own soul pools and we split the soul reward for each kill (with the extra from odd threat numbers going to the killer). Items bought that couldn't be equipped yet went to the player's hand (but we could trade with each other for free). Not sharing souls made buying from the shop faster, as you didn't need to discuss with the other player. Plus it was easier to look at your own equipment than having to constantly search through a pile of junk (as in the official rules).

When I next play I'm going to try putting a high level encounter between the boss and bonfire, so there's more of a penalty for dying in a boss fight. I'll probably put the soul arrow and fireball in the class treasure deck too. I'm also going to try being able to refresh heroic actions at the bonfire (probably for 2 souls) so they get used more often.

The game was definitely easier house ruled like this. But the main difference was that it was much more fun. Playing by the official rules was a crushing slog. It felt dark souls like, but it wasn't a good game. The house rules cut out the item deck frustration and boring encounter grind and let us speed toward the boss fights (i.e. the best bit). I'll never play the official rules again.
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Trent Y.
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kdc629 wrote:
IMO the best timesaver is setting the boss tile as one of the two bonfire adjacent tiles. Then you can choose to grind as little or as much as you like before having a go at the boss.

I also don't like the idea of tiering, so I use the shop system. Five cards are available for purchase, you can buy one for 2 souls or discard and refresh the shop for 1 soul. The class cards (and later transposed) are in a separate deck that can be randomly bought from for 4 souls. Equipment can be sold back for half the cost. I halve the sparks, but rather than doubling the souls I have defeated enemies drop souls equal to their threat level. This works well for 2 player.

When I playtested these rules 2 player, we were able to beat the mini boss (gargoyle) and main boss (dancer) in around 2 and a half hours. The previous game without house rules took us 5 hours to beat just the mini boss.



*slow clap*

I like this and will give it a try. I did set up the boss fight 2 rooms away from the bonfire (the book even shows the setup that way). Bringing it one room closer might work as well. Heck I don't see a problem with putting it adjacent to the bonfire tile. You would still need to go through some rooms to get souls and upgrade your gear.

 
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Glen Rudis
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I have been using two markets. One weapons and one armor, then split the non weapons and armor items equally into each deck.

I have been playing solo or with 2 players. I have been going with player count plus one for each market. So two available cards when soloing or three available with 2 heroes, and so on.

No refreshes of the market allowed though, if you buy a card it gets replaced. I feel like a one soul cost refresh is negating too much randomness of the treasure deck. We have also been doing 3 souls from the market or one soul for the random draw from either deck.

I am still trying to figure out how to work in the transposed and legendary. I feel like those should always be a random draw and never available for market purchase. They haven't come up yet, but I think if they get drawn for the market I might just reshuffle them back into the deck.

I am still considering a loot table for trash mobs to incorporate random mob drops, but they will be at an extremely low rate. Maybe something like a 5% chance for a drop.
 
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Glen Rudis
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The more I think about it. I think I'm going to leave everything that's not basic treasure cards in the random treasure draw deck.

The weapon and armor merchant decks composed of just basic treasure cards. Each composed of 30 cards. With 3 cards available at a cost of 3 souls.

All other treasure cards in the random treasure deck at the normal cost of 1 soul per draw, limit of one draw per bonfire trip.

This is forever evolving though, because even while I'm typing this I feel the costs need adjusting. The random draw deck is going to most likely net a good reward, so one soul cost is probably too low. Same thing for merchant deck 3 souls is probably too costly.

So maybe flipping the costs, 3 souls for the random draw, and one soul for the merchant.
 
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Michael Calhoun
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You could always meet in the middle and do 2 with each.
 
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Glen Rudis
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Ya my thinking is the basic treasure cards are your slow upgrade, sure you get your choice of card, but I think the one soul normal cost is fair. Sure you will get some quick weapon/armor upgrades, but most likely you will still need to level stats. So it gives you a quick character direction and progression.

I think all of these ideas are best for campaign play too. I'm going to start a new campaign with this set up now. I think the challenge will remain the same, but allow you to feel like you are in control of your character and there progress and development
 
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Polioliolio wrote:
Well I'm disagreeing that tiering is against the spirit of the game.

The spirit of the game should be anything but that grindy slog through the item deck.

Another direction toward solving the grind issue is to remove the need to grind at all. Right now, it's grind grind grind grind, lowering the difficulty until you feel you can challenge the miniboss, and win.. then you do it again.

This all takes about 5-10 hours.

This is of course more easily said than done, but why focus on that grind, where the only reward for taking risks is making the game end sooner?

Why not ditch that element completely?

I know a lot of the Dark souls community plays the game by trying to stay as low a level possible throughout the entire game as they can. That way, the game continues to be challenging, and they can stay within the level range of the largest number of people playing, so plenty of summon/invading opportunities.
Sure, the first time anyone plays Dark Souls, they level up as much as they can, as quickly as they can, and with just about every stat they can.. Successive plays usually result in a very refined character who, once you have leveled up to say, 30, or 50, you rarely change your build and instead are simply playing the game, embracing the challenge, learning how to win with the character you've made.

I almost feel like you should roll your characters at the beginning of the game, as if you're already starting the game with one of your 'builds'. After all, the real meat of a multiplayer Dark Souls experience, isn't in the menus solo at firelink, it's in a given session, where players already at certain soul levels are entering each others' games, starting at the beginning of a level, and working their way to the end of that level, facing challenging enemies, invasions, and attempting to take out the boss, with the limited resources they brought with them into that instance.

I'd prefer to see an experience that is pretty much the same length every play, and goes through the same steps. Cut the fat and get this game down to that sheer experience of "You have been summoned into Spooky Jesus's World". You find loot as you kill enemies, in chests, etc. All the shop keepers are back at firelink waiting for solo downtime, which maybe you could do for all of 5 minutes, each in their own little firelink player tile or something between boss fights.

You know how you have to beat the first level of Demon's Souls without leveling up? How in the entirety of that level, there's no leveling, there's treasure, but the focus is simply on beating the level.

You could say the same thing for the Undead Asylum of Dark Souls, the intro Cemetery Stage in Dark Souls 3.. The first area in Yarnam in Bloodborne (up until you meet the boss anyway). Gaining souls, leveling, getting loot, should be supplementary to a combat system that stays challenging, but allows you to win on skill.

I don't have the answers right now, but I'm liking what people are doing to fix this game. Certainly, the massive random lotto deck isn't in the spirit of the game. In any given area, you might find a handful of weapons or armor, and usually you're already at a decent level to equip them, unlike in the board game. I'd like to see a basic shop with some low tier items, at firelink. In the levels, you'll find some exclusive items from enemies and chests, and then perhaps, enemies can drop Ash, like in Dark Souls 3, that increase the wares of the shop keepers. Alternatively, like in the other games, shops grow as you make progress, say, beat a boss or find items related to those merchants.

Before I start compiling my direction for the game ultimately I'm looking for more solutions. I know some people like the game as is, but as an enormous fanf of the games, I'm not there yet.


Take a look at my PvP rules for a way to draft items at a set soul level. Follow my fight club setup, and instead of playing PvP, just play the normal game. Just an idea that your talk about builds and whatnot made me think of. I haven't tested it because I just thought of it...
 
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Drew Olds
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Wyndam22 wrote:
I don't agree that making tier decks turns the game into easy mode. It is simply a way to speed the game up. Without tiered decks you grind longer, and you don't have to grind as long with them.

With tiered decks you still have to adjust your play style and upgrade paths depending on what you draw, you can generally just equip what you draw faster.


This is a good idea.

Do you also lower the number of Sparks that you get? Because being able to get more useful gear sooner seems like it should make grinding for loot overpowered.
 
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