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Subject: Here I Stand at BGG Con 2008 rss

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Andy Linman
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Here I Stand at BGG Con 2008: 11-22-2008

Several of us had scheduled HIS for 12:00 noon on Saturday of the convention. When we began we had 6 players, ranging in experience from veteran to novice. This ended up being a wild and wooly game. This AAR will not be so detailed as to include each card play and movement, but will capture the broad strokes and major events.

I will add some personal observations from my perspective as the Protestant player in italics throughout this AAR.

The players:
Ottomans: Greg Schmittgens
Hapsburgs: Martin Burke
English: Moritz Eggert
French: Chris Montgomery
Papacy: Jeff Dieterle
Protestants: Andy Linman

Turn 1:

The 95 Theses phase began well for the Protestants, with 5 spaces converted. The Protestants also managed to win the Diet of Worms with two extra successes. By the end of the Diet there were 3 electorates in Protestant hands.

[I also got brownie points from Mortiz, a real German, for pronouncing “Worms” correctly. At this point the Reformation looked like a powerful tide.]

Diplomacy saw the Hapsburgs ally with England. Spring deployments made it appear as though the Hapsburg-French war was going to be fought primarily in the Pyrenees, while the English menaced Scotland, and the Ottomans menaced Hungary.

After the Ottomans took Belgrade they attacked Buda and eliminated enough Hungarians to end the Hungarian war and activate the Hapsburgs. However, the Hapsburg riposte managed to retake Belgrade. The Hapsburgs also used the Holy Roman Emperor card to put Charles in the Low Countries and launch a successful assault on Metz. England used the Six Wives of Henry VIII to DoW Scotland and took Edinburgh. Finally, a final Leipzig debate lost the Protestants all 3 electorates.

[Jeff, the Papal player, used Eck very effectively throughout the game.]

The Hapsburgs successfully explored the Mississippi River and got their conquistador killed. The French explored the Great Lakes.

VP’s at the end of Turn 1:

Ottomans: 10
Hapsburgs: 14
England: 11
France: 14
Papacy: 16
Protestants: 3

It is worth noting that at this point the Hapsburgs were 2 keys from a military victory.

[In fact, based on Martin’s military performance, and the fact that he had driven south in the Balkans, I was very concerned with his ability to take two more keys. I shouldn’t have been. The last two proved very difficult.]

Turn 2:

Diplomacy saw the Hapsburgs declare a white peace with France and the French fail to confirm it. The French and the Papacy did declare a white peace.

The only significant spring deployments had the Hapsburgs and Ottomans squaring off against one another.

The Hapsburgs hit the Ottomans with a Persian War. Luther finished the German New Testament and got the 3 electorates back. The Ottomans won a large field battle with the Hapsburgs at Belgrade, and eventually took the key back. England played Defender of the Faith, but the Papacy only recovered 1 space as a result. The Hapsburgs used Threat to Power on France and permanently removed Montmorency from the game. The Papacy took Florence. England used Six Wives to ask for the divorce. The Hapsburgs played Charles Bourbon and used him to besiege Paris, a siege which ended with Paris in their hands. In the meantime the Protestants used Frederick the Wise to convert Vienna itself to the new faith. The mandatory Clement VII event had to be taken after all card plays.

In exploration, the Hapsburgs took the St. Lawrence. The English got the Pacific Strait and chose the safe Amazon alternative to the risky circumnavigation attempt.

[I was a bit surprised that none of the Western powers emphasized the New World more than they did. Greg (the Ottoman player and one of the most experienced) expressed a similar surprise.]

VP’s at the end of Turn 2:

Ottomans: 12
Hapsburgs: 14
England: 13
France: 13
Papacy: 15
Protestants: 6

Turn 3:

Diplomacy began to get more complex. England allied with the Ottomans, gave 2 mercenaries to the Papacy, allied with France and took one French fleet as a loan. France and the Hapsburgs agreed to a white peace (no SFP) with all French territory returned, in exchange for one card draw from France to the Hapsburgs. The Pope, in a position of power with respect to the Emperor, granted Henry his divorce, and Henry rolled a 5, getting a sickly Edward.

[Anne Boleyn stayed Henry’s wife through the rest of the game, although had it run longer Moritz might have made an attempt to get Edward to the healthy level. He no doubt figured that since he had all the VP’s he was going to get from marriage it was no longer a priority. Events were to prove him right.]

In spring deployment the Ottomans and Hapsburgs appeared to be facing each other at Buda. The English deployed to Calais.

The Hapsburgs raised some mercenaries in their German territories to inhibit the spread of the Reformation. The English used Six Wives to DoW the Hapsburgs. The English then launched a port attack against the Hapsburg fleet at Corunna. The Hapsburgs hit the Protestants with the Anabaptists. England launched a successful invasion of Seville, whereupon their French allies hit them with an unsanitary camp. The Ottomans successfully took Buda. The Pope called a Leipzig debate in the English language zone and successfully burned Tyndale, giving him 5 free conversions. As there were no Protestant spaces in the English zone, he took them in the electorates plus Zurich, leaving both reformers in Catholic spaces. The Protestants were unable to retake an electorate prior to the next Papal play, which was the Schmalkaldic League. (There were still 15 Protestant spaces on the board, so it did take effect.) This caused the Protestants to lose all their troops. Finally, the Ottomans assaulted Vienna successfully, capturing Ferdinand.

[Disaster! I had been primarily concerned with spreading the Reformation, so the Hapsburg mercenaries put a serious crimp in my ability to do so, and when I was unable to retake even Wittenberg before the League came out it put me into a hole I would take at least a couple of turns to climb out of. At this point I absolutely had to take at least one electorate. I congratulated Jeff on his brilliant sequencing of those events. At this point in the game the Pope looked like the most dangerous player on the board.]

As in Turn 2, the Barbary Pirates card had not come out, so it was removed and the effect took place.

Turn 3 VP’s:

Ottomans: 18
Hapsburgs: 17
England: 18
France: 16
Papacy: 20
Protestants: 4

Turn 4:

Diplomacy on turn 4 saw a complex 3-way alliance formed between the Hapsburgs, English, and French. (This deal was so complex the three players involved had to write down all the provisions on a sheet of paper, which they passed around to one another while confirming their agreements.) Each of the three powers allied with the other two. The Hapsburgs gave Cagliari to the English. The French and Hapsburgs each loaned the English one fleet in the Mediterranean. The English gave the French 2 mercenaries. Finally, because the Hapsburgs had some 11 mercenaries on the map, some guarding key locations, they agreed to give the Protestants a card draw in exchange for the Protestants not making the mercenaries go home. The Hapsburgs also sued for peace with the Ottomans, giving up VP’s instead of card draws. However, they continued to allow captured Ferdinand to rot in a Turkish prison. The English declared war on the Ottomans (their erstwhile allies) and the French declared war on the Papacy.

[Throughout diplomacy for this turn I was walking around with my had in my hand (sometimes literally) begging for anyone to help me. The English promised me two mercenaries in exchange for a treatise in England, but I hadn’t realized that I had to take them in a controlled electorate, so that deal was null and void. I also told Martin that while I don’t like to be an extortionist, my situation was so dire that I had to threaten him. (For that matter, I had offered first to play the card for the French or Ottomans in exchange for the card draw, but they didn’t agree. It only occurred to me a moment later to use a threat. As I explained to Martin, I could either force him to surrender a high value card to keep his forces, or surrender a random card to me, and if I was to renege and play it anyway I realized that not only would he never trust me again, but he would make sure no one else did either. For all that it was a threat, the discussions and agreement were amicable enough.) I even had a tentative deal with the Ottomans that they could try to take Wittenberg from the Hapsburgs and then cede it to me, but that never happened.

Due to their continuing control of a significant part of Germany, the Hapsburgs were able to spring deploy from Spain, through allied French territory and controlled German territory, to Vienna, which had been returned to them as a result of the peace.

The Anglo-Turkish war began with a large naval battle in the Barbary Coast. The English had used their alliance with the Hapsburgs to move fleets past Gibraltar. Although the Ottomans committed their Janissaries in the naval battle the English prevailed. The Pope activated Venice as his ally via the Venetian Alliance event, and the Hapsburgs countered with Andrea Doria. The English hit all electorates besides Wittenberg with the Peasants’ War, putting unrest on them. The Pope excommunicated the French for declaring war. The Protestants managed to build an army sufficient to take back Wittenberg, and pulled the Printing Press from the discard deck. Then England played the Sack of Rome (both the Hapsburgs and France, knowing the English had the card, had been filling Italy with mercenaries.) The Hapsburgs ended up sacking Rome successfully, then using Machiavelli to DoW the Papacy. The Papacy succeeded in burning Coverdale at the stake in England.

I wasn’t certain it was legal for the English to move fleets past Gibraltar even with an alliance with the Hapsburgs, but Greg was studying the rules the entire time and was the principle victim of the maneuver and said nothing about it. I made the comment that since the Hapsburgs were at war with both Protestants and Papacy at this time they must not be Christians at all. The Pope was threatening to excommunicate them the following turn.

The English put the unrest into the electorates to deny the VP’s to the Hapsburgs; Martin made the observation that neither of us would want the other one to remove the unrest. While Greg (Ottomans) was pushing me to take back electorates the unrest made it significantly more difficult, as the only high-CP cards I had in turns 4 and 5 were important Reformation events. This English action may have actually been influenced by a game of The Napoleonic Wars three of us had been in the previous night, during which the French proved impossible to defeat by all four other players. Since the Hapsburgs are the 500 pound gorilla of HIS, the same kind of thinking may have been applied to them.

Turn 4 VP’s:

Ottomans: 18
Hapsburgs: 15
England: 18
France: 17
Papacy: 20
Protestants: 7

Turn 5:

Diplomacy saw the Papacy agree to lift its excommunication on France in exchange for a white peace; the Papacy also made a white peace with the Hapsburgs. England and France allied. The Ottomans declared war on the Hapsburgs. The Hapsburgs gave Antwerp to England, and used the required evacuation to move their full garrison across Hapsburg-held territory in Germany to Vienna.

In keeping with my policy in diplomatic games of being willing to talk to anybody, even my enemies, I actually negotiated a bit with the Pope, who offered not to have any debates that turn if I made no more Reformation attempts. If I was going to push after the electorates I would have made that deal in a heartbeat, but I was holding Printing Press, A Mighty Fortress, and Calvin’s Institutes, plus was within 3 CP’s of finishing the German full Bible, so this had to be a turn of Reformation attempts. My other 3 cards were only worth 2 CP’s each.

The Ottomans launched a major assault on Vienna. The Hapsburgs played Dissolution of the Monasteries, which ended up converting 3 English spaces. The French explored. The Hapsburgs hit the Ottomans with a revolt in Egypt. The Pope excommunicated Cranmer, the first reformer he had excommunicated in the game. The Pope then began a series of debates in England, which ended up with him burning Latimer. The Hapsburgs relieved the siege of Vienna. In the meantime, the English, using Cagliari as their Mediterranean base and still at war with the Ottomans, landed at Coron and over the next several rounds besieged both Athens and Salonika, taking Salonika. The Protestants played the Printing Press, and while it was active finished the German Bible, played A Mighty Fortress, and Calvin’s Institutes. This sequence successfully converted a large number of spaces. The Protestants also took political control of Brandenburg. The Hapsburgs countered after their successful defense of Vienna by taking both Buda and Suleiman. However, they lost Pizarro when he attempted a conquest.

I had dug the Printing Press and A Mighty Fortress out of the discards in two previous turns using Here I Stand, and when I drew Calvin’s Institutes I saw an irresistible combination. It actually worked to double my score and dig me out of the worst of the hole I was in, but the problem was that all my other cards were only worth 2 CP’s each, which meant that taking any other electorates after Brandenburg could only be achieved if I were to forego the powerful Reformation events, which I was loath to do. I was hoping that in Turn 6 I would be able to do it, but it would have been a challenging turn due to the onslaught of Papal events. In any case it proved moot as the game ended at this point.

Turn 5 VP’s:

Ottomans: 16
Hapsburgs: 14
England: 23
France: 18
Papacy: 18
Protestants: 14

Game ends in an English domination victory.

After congratulating Moritz on an excellent victory, achieved by his luck on the pregnancy table, his own successful conversion of 4 English spaces (and using one of my events to have me do some of the work for him) and the completely unexpected invasion of Greece – Gallipoli a few centuries early as some of us observed – I analyzed my own errors. The primary one, I believe, lay in not calling any debates of my own. Jeff told me he was a little surprised by that, but of course it’s always risky. However, since I could have used Here I Stand to insert Luther into a German language debate I believe I should have done so. I was succumbing to the temptation of always using it to take a discard. I didn’t see any way over the long term to protect Tyndale from the stake so I had used him once to begin an English translation, which was probably really a waste of CP’s. It actually occurs to me now that as soon as is practicable the Protestants should convert several English spaces to protect the more important German ones from what happened to me, but until you have Cranmer on the map that is extremely difficult. I also should have followed Greg’s advice and pushed harder for all the electorates in the first 2 turns; as it turned out I never took Trier, and Cologne was only converted after the League came out, so I got no points for it.

It was a strange game in other ways. Apart from the totally bizarre English invasion of Greece, Moritz’ Mediterranean adventure prevented the Ottomans from making even one piracy attempt, as every time he would build any ships at all a large English fleet with loaned ships would sail into Algiers and destroy them. No conquests were made in the New World, and the world remained uncircumnavigated until the end. In the early stages, even before Loyola and Paul III the Pope was a major threat to win. By getting healthy Edward early the English home card was freed to use for DoW and CP’s; this also helped Moritz to victory.

Here I Stand remains my current favorite game and probably will keep that position for some time – at least until Virgin Queen is completed. This was a truly excellent group to play it with; everyone played as hard as he could, and everyone (except maybe yours truly) played very well and was a threat to pull ahead. For all the tension that sort of thing can cause it was constant laughter and groans, and we had a number of spectators. This was my first face to face game and I hope to do it again at the first opportunity. It took us about 8 hours to finish the 5 turns it took. For me that was 8 hours very well spent.
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Steve
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I love this game. Sounds like fun. The Pope really had you over a barrel if the League fired and you held no electorates... also, I hate to say it but I don't think the English moves were legal, though IIRC the Haps can give Gibraltar to the English. England and France can't move through other powers ports, even if they are allied.
 
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Varus wrote:
uncircumnavigated


...And another vocable I learned through the Geek!
 
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Ed Beach
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Great AAR, Andy! Very nicely done.

You had a great group of HIS players there. Sounds like a blast.

Steve is correct that the English would have to control Gibraltar for the English fleets to move through there (you can't normally move through other powers' ports, even if allied), but it sounds like the Hapsburg would have made that deal since the whole plan seemed to be to get the English engaged with the Ottoman.

Interestingly enough, in the only other game I've been in where the Hapsburgs have given up Gibraltar, it was the other way around. My son, playing the Ottoman, used Gibraltar to get a fleet into the English Channel. He ended up pirating all three sea zones around England for the win. That was an amazing finish too.

 
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Chris Montgomery
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I played France and was a novice at this game. I had read some of the rules prior to playing, but that was it. Since we picked our nations much earlier than the date we played, others had suggested that France was a good power to play.

My general impressions of the game follow:

ERRORS

My biggest errors in play were (1) failing to seige (and win) the Metz with Francis on the first turn and (2) allying with England on the last turn of the game, and (3) forgetting about the domination victory conditions. This allowed England to march across France with his army, which allowed him to get to Turkey, which allowed him to win the game. Kudos to England (Moritz) for even dreaming up such a crazy scheme! Granted, England was 7 points from a 25 point victory, but I failed to notice that they were only 5 points from a domination victory. I had assumed I'd be declaring war on them on Turn 6 (especially with Calais and now Antwerp, so close). While I did not expect to win such a war, I thought I could fight to a White Peace and hold England in check to buy time for myself). Unfortunately, my alliance in that last turn was purely to fulfill a small favor. I didn't want England to attempt colonization on Turn 5 so that I would have less competition. I was trying to get more New World stuff that turn and rebuild the French army's position, since conquest had proved very fruitless in two failed wars.

On the other hand, the grant of Antwerp to England in Turn 5 caught me completely by surprise, which, if you view it another way, is what gave England the victory. That being said, I am sure the Hapsburgs also thought that England was quite a ways away from winning, and I had an opportunity to change my mind about the alliance, but I didn't.

THINGS I DID RIGHT

Things that, in retrospect, I felt I did right were: (1) I chose not to aid the Scots (which proved propitious, both by building some rapport with England (Moritz), and because England had the Treachery! card), and (2) I didn't allow formal alliances get in the way of doing what was necessary to maintain VP balance and keep France in the running.

MY NEGOTIATION STRATEGY

Unlike the Protestants (Andy), I was pretty ruthless in negotiations. Not to say I was mean-spirited or anything, just firm in my offers, demands, and answers. I was still polite.

For instance, in my war against the Pope (Jeff), I had pretty much spent every card in my hand getting into Italy to seige Florence. I didn't want to do it again--the war had served its purpose by drawing the Pope's attention away from burning Protestants (and getting VPs), and instead on fighting France and getting nothing. I also needed Excommunication lifted so that I could get my full complement of cards before Henry showed up. The Pope was allied to Venice (with the Venice Key for VPs). I showed him a 5 CP card in my hand (can't remember the name) which would end a minor power alliance. I told him that if he didn't agree to a peace and lift the excommunication, I'd end his alliance. The Pope, ever the clever player, said he wanted a card draw. Unfortunately, the Pope already received 5 cards (plus 2 Home Cards, for 7), and I refused. He said he could continue the war, and I bluffed and said that I could, too--that I only had 4 cards, but they were all high-value, and though I didn't want to, I'd continue the war and come at him again. He went and talked to some other players, and came back, and agreed to a white peace and the lifting of the excommunication in exchange for me not playing the card for an event against him.

It was similar with the early game against the Hapsburgs--even though they sat on Paris and I had little-to-no army to speak of, I obtained a white peace with a card draw to the Hapsburgs. I gave up the card in exchange for NOT having to give the Hapsburgs any VPs--at least 2, and probably 3. Again, I threatened the Hapsburgs with continued war despite my weak position, knowing that they sorely needed Charles and every available CP to fight the Ottomans (at the time). Even better, the random card draw gave him a 1 CP card.

I even played cards AGAINST allies where I felt it necessary. For instance, England attempted an amphibious landing in Spain against the Hapsburgs, and I played a card that gave them some type of attrition (I think 1/3 of their army, but I don't remember), just to prohibit them from winning the seige--if the siege had been successful, Spain would lay wide-open for England's taking. I did what I could to stop them from disrupting the VP balance in that way. It was a small thing, but crucial to the game-balance (and for giving France an opportunity to stay in the running to win!).

WHAT I'D PROBABLY HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY

In a do-over, I'd probably have made the Metz priority #1 on Turn 1, and would look at the VPs even more closely in future games. For my first game, though, I am not disappointed in myself at all. I loved the players and the spirit of the game--no hostile or angry players, lots of "ah, craps!" and "Oooooohhhhss!" when a roll went good for bad. Many of the reformation attempts were dice fests (as usual), but it had its own cheering section.

GENERAL IMPRESSIONS

It was probably my single best experience at the Con. And I can fairly say that, as for right now, even though I didn't win, I love this game. Cheers, Ed, for designing a great game. I did always feel that if I could just hold out long enough, I had a shot at winning. I don't think any player felt like he was out of the running entirely--though the Prots (Andy) did take a pretty good lashing.

Cheers. And to all the other players--I had a GREAT time! Let's do it again next year.

Chris

PS--Andy, thanks for the write up. We played several games together at the Con, and I'm glad I had you as an opponent. You were polite, considerate, and never unpleasant, even when losing. Here's to you. Let's do it again next year.

Edits: Grammar, spelling, clarification.
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Greg Forster
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Hey! Institute THIS!
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Quote:
The Hapsburgs successfully explored the Mississippi River and got their conquistador killed.


Intentionally getting your conquistador killed is not a very smart strategic approach, but at least they were successful!

Quote:
The Pope called a Leipzig debate in the English language zone and successfully burned Tyndale, giving him 5 free conversions. As there were no Protestant spaces in the English zone, he took them in the electorates plus Zurich, leaving both reformers in Catholic spaces. The Protestants were unable to retake an electorate prior to the next Papal play, which was the Schmalkaldic League. (There were still 15 Protestant spaces on the board, so it did take effect.) This caused the Protestants to lose all their troops.


Zoinks! And to think we all dismissed the possibility of this really happening when somebody asked about it recently . . .

Rule one for the Protestant: never have 12 spaces converted on turn 2 or later unless you have your electorates squared away - but of course that 5-0 debate was close to a six-sigma occurence.
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Andy Linman
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I'm pretty sure that, had we been certain of that rule, Martin (Hapsburgs) would have ceded Gibraltar to the English either instead of or in addition to Cagliari. After all, the whole point was to get the English navy into the Mediterranean to fight the Ottomans, and he wouldn't have been giving up a key.
 
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Chris Montgomery
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I'd have to agree with that. Especially since, being in Spain already, it would not have been difficult for the Hapsburgs to take Gibraltar back if they chose to later in the game.

I don't think it would have changed the outcome.
 
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Moritz Eggert
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thanks for the excellent report - it was a blast playing you guys! Anytime again, I had lots of fun!
And yes, Gibraltar could have easily been ceded, as it is not a key but only a fortress. And the idea of English fleets at the time in the Mediterranean is actually not extremely outrageous, but of course the conquest of Turkey was!
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Jeff
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Thanks for the excellent write-up. This was one of the highlights of an already excitement-filled con. Thanks to everybody!
 
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Andy Linman
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It says something about HIS in general and our game in particular that on my way to work this morning I was STILL trying to figure out what I should have done better. I'll be a better Protestant next time I play them....I think.
 
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Martin
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This report sums up everything that's fun about Here I Stand and BGG con. What a great game, with great people! I hope we can have a rematch this year....
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Chris Montgomery
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itsmarty wrote:
This report sums up everything that's fun about Here I Stand and BGG con. What a great game, with great people! I hope we can have a rematch this year....


Ditto.

Chris
 
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This is a very interesting session report. How exactly did the English manage to get the land units to Greece? Did they have the Spring Preparations card to allow them to cross multiple seazones to Cagliari?
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