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Subject: [Official] Tournament Agricola rss

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Grzegorz Kobiela
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On a student's platform Uwe currently discusses which E deck cards to use for Agricola tournaments. Someone suggested to create a poll on BGG and ask people all over the world about their thoughts on this matter. So, here it is: the official poll on which cards you think should be included and which ones not.

Please feel free to add comments on certain cards, especially on those which you voted "no" for.

Poll: Which of these cards are suitable for tournaments?
There are four options for each card:
definitely yes: select this option if you think this card is a must-have
rather yes: select this option if you think it's OK to have this card included
rather no: select this option if you think the card is too weak to be included
definitely no: select this option if you think this card is broken or unsuitable
The cards are ordered by number. It's helpful to open the Unofficial Compendium and read the card texts there and then come back and vote.
1. Minor Improvements
  definitely yes rather yes rather no definitely no
E11 Field
E12 Fishing Rod
E13 Axe
E14 Baker's Oven
E15 Baking Tray
E16 Building Material
E17 Windmill
E18 Bean Field
E19 Gypsy's Crock
E20 Simple Fireplace
E21 Half-timbered House
E22 Raft
E23 Manger
E24 Animal Pen
E25 Spices
E26 Plane
E27 Wood-fired Oven
E28 Clogs
E29 Shepherd's Pipe
E30 Canoe
E31 Carp Pond
E32 Potato Dibber
E33 Ceramics
E34 Basket
E35 Corn Scoop
E36 Clay Roof
E37 Clay Supports
E38 Madonna Statue
E39 Market Stall
E40 Mini Pasture
E41 Millstone
E42 Helpful Neighbours
E43 Fruit Tree
E44 Outhouse
E45 Private Forest
E46 Sack Cart
E47 Lettuce Patch
E48 Reed Pond
E49 Writing Desk
E50 Builder's Trowel
E51 Spindle
E52 Stable
E53 Butter Churn
E54 Quarry
E55 Stone House Extension
E56 Stone Tongs
E57 Dovecote
E58 Animal Yard
E59 Drinking Trough
E60 Cattle Market
E61 Riding Plough
E62 Turnwrest Plough
E338 Feed Pellets
2. Occupations
  definitely yes rather yes rather no definitely no
E147 Land Agent
E148 Academic
E149 Master Baker
E150 Baker
E151 Master Builder
E152 Berry Picker
E153 Mendicant
E154 Master Brewer
E155 Bread Seller
E156 Brush Maker
E157 Thatcher
E158 Turner
E159 Head of the Family
E160 Farmer
E161 Fisherman
E162 Meat Seller
E163 Field Warden
E164 Master Forester
E165 Yeoman Farmer
E166 Undergardener
E167 Conjurer
E168 Greengrocer
E169 Storyteller
E170 Estate Manager
E171 Dock Worker
E172 Chief
E173 Chief's Daughter
E174 Tutor
E175 Hedge Keeper
E176 Woodcutter
E177 Wooden Hut Builder
E178 Hut Builder
E179 Merchant
E180 Hobby Farmer
E181 Cook
E182 Charcoal Burner
E183 Basketmaker
E184 Grocer
E185 Clay Firer
E186 Clay Seller
E187 Clay Deliveryman
E188 Clay Mixer
E189 Lord of the Manor
E190 Maid
E191 Mason
E192 Patron
E193 Pastor
E194 Plough Driver
E195 Plough Maker
E196 Mushroom Collector
E197 Braggart
E198 Ratcatcher
E199 Renovator
E200 Conservator
E201 Cattle Whisperer
E202 Seasonal Worker
E203 Shepherd
E204 Master Shepherd
E205 Reed Collector
E206 Swineherd
E207 Stablehand
E208 Stablemaster
E209 Quarryman
E210 Stone Carrier
E211 Stonecutter
E212 Dancer
E213 Stickman
E214 Potter
E215 Tenant Farmer
E216 Animal Keeper
E217 Reeve
E218 Carpenter
E341 Guildmaster
      19 answers
Poll created by Ponton
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Bryann Turner
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Quote:
rather no: select this option if you think the card is too weak to be included


I have a problem with this option. There are many many cards (IMO) that I consider weak and probably wouldn't use if dealt in a tournament, but I still think they should be in the mix.

The real problem with the option is that it doesn't also say "or too strong." In my opinion cards like the Reed Collector, Braggart, and Head of the Family should be removed from tournament play because these cards, especially the latter two, significantly boost your chances to win. While I do not want to vote for outright removal, I would like the option of "I'd rather not because they are too strong."

Just my 2 cents.
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Grzegorz Kobiela
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These comments were meant to give you a hint on how to understand the options. Too weak or too strong (yet, not broken) can be considered the same and so vote "rather no" if you feel like this. In the end, the options themselves are pretty clear on what you vote. "Too strong" is usually an indicator to outright removal, thus, I added it to the description of "definitely no". In fact, "no" is "no", regardless of the adverb - it's there to give some information on tendencies.
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Geoff Burkman
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I can't say I could ever get too excited about an E-deck only tournament. Not to say I wouldn't happily play in one, but I just think there are too many interesting and/or useful cards in the other decks to justify excluding them from tournament play.
 
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Grzegorz Kobiela
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For now, Uwe wants to focus on the E deck only.
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Lewis Wagner
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If you're playing with hidden cards, Uwe is right to start with the E deck only. Some cards in I and K are vastly more powerful than anything in E.

I'd suggest a different approach. Deal all cards face up with a set for each player. For example, a 3 player game would have 3 sets (A, B, and C) each containing 7 occupations and 7 minor improvements. It does not matter how you arrive at the sets.

Before the start of the game, have players bid victory points for each set, continuing until every set has a bid. So, if Joe bid 4 on set A, Bill has bid 2 on set B, then Sally overbids 5 on set A, if Joe then bids 0 on set C, we will start the game with Sally holding A and down 5 VP's, Bill holding B and down 2 VP's, and Joe holding C with no VP penalty. In this example, luck of the draw doesn't hurt anyone because all have paid up front in VP's what they think each set of cards is worth.
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Tim Condit
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The Rat Catcher is the only one of the E deck cards that should be banned.

With that said I believe that the following list of 9 cards from all decks should be banned. This list was compiled and voted on by most of the regular players on the online Agricola website, some of whom have played Agricola 300+ times. The cards are as follows:

E occ, Ratcatcher
I occ, Taster
I occ, Chamberlain
K minor, Broom
K minor, Reedhut
K occ, Lover
K occ, Wetnurse
Z occ, Mail Coach Driver
O minor, Guest Worker
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Chris Ferejohn
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lewis wrote:
If you're playing with hidden cards, Uwe is right to start with the E deck only. Some cards in I and K are vastly more powerful than anything in E.

I'd suggest a different approach. Deal all cards face up with a set for each player. For example, a 3 player game would have 3 sets (A, B, and C) each containing 7 occupations and 7 minor improvements. It does not matter how you arrive at the sets.

Before the start of the game, have players bid victory points for each set, continuing until every set has a bid. So, if Joe bid 4 on set A, Bill has bid 2 on set B, then Sally overbids 5 on set A, if Joe then bids 0 on set C, we will start the game with Sally holding A and down 5 VP's, Bill holding B and down 2 VP's, and Joe holding C with no VP penalty. In this example, luck of the draw doesn't hurt anyone because all have paid up front in VP's what they think each set of cards is worth.


I like the idea, but boy I could see that taking a long time.
 
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Geoff Burkman
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So, where and when is this tournament?
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Marcel Van Assen
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I propose to organize the tournament similar to a bridge tournament. That is, all players play a number of games, such that players have played with the same initial hand of cards as much as possible.

The easiest way to accomplish this is if all players start the game with exactly the same cards, and know this.

In this way luck is more or less eliminated, with the exception of who starts the game. Although that can be equalized by letting all players be in each starting position across games, such as in chess.
 
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Grzegorz Kobiela
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assen wrote:
I propose to organize the tournament similar to a bridge tournament. That is, all players play a number of games, such that players have played with the same initial hand of cards as much as possible.

The easiest way to accomplish this is if all players start the game with exactly the same cards, and know this.

In this way luck is more or less eliminated, with the exception of who starts the game. Although that can be equalized by letting all players be in each starting position across games, such as in chess.


This isn't a good way either. In the second game, each player knows what cards were played in the first game. Assuming all sets of cards were inequal (and they never can be equal unless all players get identical cards), the player with the better deck can now improve on this deck with the knowledge he got from previous games.
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Dan The Man
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assen wrote:
I propose to organize the tournament similar to a bridge tournament. That is, all players play a number of games, such that players have played with the same initial hand of cards as much as possible.

The easiest way to accomplish this is if all players start the game with exactly the same cards, and know this.

In this way luck is more or less eliminated, with the exception of who starts the game. Although that can be equalized by letting all players be in each starting position across games, such as in chess.


Read up on duplicate bridge. The cards do not get played again, but only people who do better than the others with the same set of cards gain points.

So, even with a bad set of cards, if you lose less badly than others, that is a good result; conversely, if you do not win as well with the 'good' set of cards, that is a bad result.

Details in any good duplicate bridge book.

Just a suggestion for a mature idea in a mature game.
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Matt Shields
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Ponton wrote:
This isn't a good way either. In the second game, each player knows what cards were played in the first game. Assuming all sets of cards were inequal (and they never can be equal unless all players get identical cards), the player with the better deck can now improve on this deck with the knowledge he got from previous games.


You are correct that that would not work.

However, that's not how bridge tournaments work either.

You don't play the same set of hands from a different seat position. It's just you only get scored (for a given game) by being compared to other players sitting in the seat and holding the hand you had.

For example in Round one players A, B, C, and D play a game with a given sent of hands. Suppose the scores are A=48, B=44, C=40, D=36.

In a later round, four different players sit a the same table and play with the same cards dealt out to the four seats. Player E sits in A's seat, Player F sits in B's seat, etc. At the end of the game the final score is E=47, F=40, G=40, H=39.

If you're going with raw points, Player A gets positive points because he did better than player E did with the same hand, but only slightly. Player E gets a comparatively bad (negative) score. Player B gets the best score, because he did much better than player F, who gets a very poor score for underperforming . Players C and G both get an average score (probably zero), because they scored the same. Player H gets a very good score even though he came in last in his game, he did well compared to others in his position. Player D scores poorly.

It works extremely well in principle. However, it's much more complicated in agricola because there are more than two players, and it's not a zero sum game. (bridge has 4 players of course, but it's two partnerships, so it's scored as 2 players). A better method than what I describe above might be to rather than compare your actual score, compare your score relitive to other players. For example player B could be defined as -4, +4, +8 relative to the other players, where as player F, who was in his chair is -7, +0, +1 which is clearly worse.

How you turn that into a tournament score is another kettle of fish. For example it's debatable which of player A or E did better. Player A had one more point, but Player E won by 7 instead of winning by 4. Personally I'd say player E did better, but it's debatable.

This is, in essence, the problem we have with Diplomacy tournaments. (Gratuitous Plug.) You have to define which of two winners did better than the other. The rules for the game are of no use because the game is intended as a complete entity, not one small part of a whole.

You'll never get it right, but fortunately that means you can't really be wrong either.
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Grzegorz Kobiela
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Hey, thanks, now I understand it a little better!
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Ryan Keane
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I don't think the actual scores (absolute or relative) should be important for an Agricola tournament. In a multiplayer game, there are too many complex dynamics that can affect a player's resulting score. All that really matters should be winning or not winning.

Here's an example of how you could run a 4 player tournament. Each seat is dealt a 7occ/7mi hand that stays static. Players circulate, playing one game at each seat until 4 games have been played with each player having sat in each seat, having a chance playing each set hand. Starting player could still be chosen randomly each game, and the rounds randomized.

If a player wins a game, they get 1 point. Losing, whether 2nd, 3rd, or 4th place, gets 0 points. The player with the most points after 4 games wins.

Or rather than an all or nothing scoring system, to create more point spread, you can add value to coming in 2nd:
2 points for 1st place, 1 for 2nd, 0 for 3rd and 4th
or value to coming in 3rd:
3 points for 1st place, 2 for 2nd, 1 for 3rd, 0 for 4th
or weight 1st more:
4 points for 1st place, 2 for 2nd, 1 for 3rd, 0 for 4th

For tournaments with more than 5 players, you can set up multiple identical tables (i.e. seat 1 at each table has the same hand), and shuffle the players after each game, so that they're not playing against the same people each game, until each player has played each hand. Although tournies with 7, 11, 14, etc. would not work with this method.
 
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Lewis Wagner
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cferejohn wrote:
lewis wrote:
Deal all cards face up with a set for each player. ... Before the start of the game, have players bid victory points for each set, continuing until every set has a bid.


I like the idea, but boy I could see that taking a long time.


I feared this at one time. As a practical matter, it has never taken more than 10 minutes total and rarely more than 5. Every card choice or drafting mechanic I've seen has taken longer in practice (e.g. give everyone 7 of each and discard 2).

Another interesting note is that there has never been a wide VP bid differential. Whining about unbalanced hands is much more common than actual unbalanced hands looked at objectively, up front. Of course, I haven't had grotesquely powerful cards, e.g. Taster, come up with this VP bid mechanic, yet. I intend to play sometime where people can pick what they consider killer sets and cruddy sets, and then we all bid VP's for the sets up front.
 
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Carl Olson
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TwitchBot wrote:

This is, in essence, the problem we have with Diplomacy tournaments. (Gratuitous Plug.) You have to define which of two winners did better than the other. The rules for the game are of no use because the game is intended as a complete entity, not one small part of a whole.


Agricola has an advantage over Diplomacy - you could play a 3-round tournament and the Dippy game might still be going.

Just run a second round, putting the top two players from each game into the finals. There is no valid tournament format where #1 and #2 don't meet head-to-head at some point.
 
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James Caddick
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Surely the way to do it is just to play lots of games to even out the luck? Each player plays 5-10 games in a league format. You then select the 4/8/16/32 best players (determined by their positions in each game) to play a knockout tournament (the winner progresses through to the next round). Obviously this needs tweaking if you're playing 3,4 or 5 player games instead of 2ers, but you get the idea.
 
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Matt Shields
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Ryan Keane wrote:
I don't think the actual scores (absolute or relative) should be important for an Agricola tournament. In a multiplayer game, there are too many complex dynamics that can affect a player's resulting score. All that really matters should be winning or not winning.

Here's an example of how you could run a 4 player tournament. Each seat is dealt a 7occ/7mi hand that stays static. Players circulate, playing one game at each seat...


I'm not sure I agree with this. Depending on the cards that are dealt out, there are situations where you really "should" win, and even if you do you may not have really achieved much. The guy who wins a particular game may not the the one who played the best. Losing by a small amount from a bad position may be a better performance than than wining my a small amount from good position.

Rotating seats is certainly one way to deal with this problem. It could work, but I can't help but kind of feel like Agricola loses something if I know what cards everyone is holding. There are certainly some cards that are very easy to defend against if you know they are out there.

I don't know. I still feel like if the point of a tournament is to actually determine the "best" player, you have to look at a lot more than who wins. Yes, there are tons of complex variables involved in the details of scores, but almost all of them are within the players' control. The only random factor skewing the results is the cards, and who goes first. Other than that, the numerical score is quite meaningful, even if we can't always explain why someone scored as much as they did.

If one guy wins by 5 and another by 10 when they were both holding the same cards against the same opponents, it definitely means *something*. It might be that she played well, it might be that her opponents played poorly. That we can't always say. But I still think it's useful information.
 
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david landes
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I liked the duplicate bridge club model. It did not matter what your actual score was for the hand you were dealt, it mattered how you did with those cards compared to others who had the exact same cards. Additionally, for further comparability, start player could be fixed for that table. And the actual score is irrelevant, only the ranking of how you did versus how every other person who played exactly the same cards from the same starting position.

The only 'random' factor would be the % of the people in the tournament you played at table with. If it was quite low, then you might randomly wind up at tables with mostly better players, which would make it proportionally harder than people 'in your seat' who were at tables with worse players. In duplicate, this is often controlled by playing a significant % of the room.

This model is also, for better or worse, a little closer to the initial rules structure of not knowing what cards your opponent has. The quality of the adjustment to those unpleasant surprises is a significant part of the game. It also removes a 'memory' element from past games which players may or may not want to be part of the quality of play experience.
 
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Carl Olson
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dklx3 wrote:
I liked the duplicate bridge club model. It did not matter what your actual score was for the hand you were dealt, it mattered how you did with those cards compared to others who had the exact same cards. Additionally, for further comparability, start player could be fixed for that table. And the actual score is irrelevant, only the ranking of how you did versus how every other person who played exactly the same cards from the same starting position.

The only 'random' factor would be the % of the people in the tournament you played at table with. If it was quite low, then you might randomly wind up at tables with mostly better players, which would make it proportionally harder than people 'in your seat' who were at tables with worse players. In duplicate, this is often controlled by playing a significant % of the room.



I agree. However, a "hand" of Agricola takes far longer than a hand of bridge, so you probably cannot play a high percentage of other players unless the tournament is very small - in which case it isn't really a "tournament". And if the tables are of different sizes, you have an added complication for seating players.

You could just run a modified Swiss-style tournament, where 1st or 2nd counts as a win, and 3rd-5th is a loss. When all of the top-scoring players are in the same game, that's the championship round - winner-takes-all.
 
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Ryan Keane
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TwitchBot wrote:
Ryan Keane wrote:
I don't think the actual scores (absolute or relative) should be important for an Agricola tournament. In a multiplayer game, there are too many complex dynamics that can affect a player's resulting score. All that really matters should be winning or not winning.

Here's an example of how you could run a 4 player tournament. Each seat is dealt a 7occ/7mi hand that stays static. Players circulate, playing one game at each seat...


I'm not sure I agree with this. Depending on the cards that are dealt out, there are situations where you really "should" win, and even if you do you may not have really achieved much. The guy who wins a particular game may not the the one who played the best. Losing by a small amount from a bad position may be a better performance than than wining my a small amount from good position.

Rotating seats is certainly one way to deal with this problem. It could work, but I can't help but kind of feel like Agricola loses something if I know what cards everyone is holding. There are certainly some cards that are very easy to defend against if you know they are out there.

I don't know. I still feel like if the point of a tournament is to actually determine the "best" player, you have to look at a lot more than who wins. Yes, there are tons of complex variables involved in the details of scores, but almost all of them are within the players' control. The only random factor skewing the results is the cards, and who goes first. Other than that, the numerical score is quite meaningful, even if we can't always explain why someone scored as much as they did.

If one guy wins by 5 and another by 10 when they were both holding the same cards against the same opponents, it definitely means *something*. It might be that she played well, it might be that her opponents played poorly. That we can't always say. But I still think it's useful information.


I don't fully agree, but point taken - the player's actual score, apart from just relative order, does provide useful information about their relative performance. If you ran a tournament like my example, where each player played every hand, you could simply sum up a player's overall score across all games and based the tournament victory on that.
 
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Geoff Burkman
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Only five responses to this poll so far? And here I thought this was the #1 game on the Geek. Little did I know.
 
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Darren Dew
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MisterG wrote:
Only five responses to this poll so far? And here I thought this was the #1 game on the Geek. Little did I know.



I've been too busy overhyping Space Hulk 3rd.
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Marcel Van Assen
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One tournament option that is not that difficult to implement and in which hardly any luck involved is this...

ALL players have the same cards, on all boards. And points are counted as difference scores. Difference scores need to be counted instead of total scores since it is NOT a zero-sum game. That is, players can cooperate to obtain higher scores.

The first round of the tournament can have three or four rounds of play, with time limits for each play. In each round players are dealt exactly the same cards, however, in each round the cards are different from other rounds. The players with the highest scores proceed to round two (day two? - great tournament! ). Then, two additional rounds determine who will be in the final, and two rounds in the final. Eight games of Agricola is perhaps too much, perhaps 3+2+1 is ok as well

Many, many players can participate in the tournament. I would suggest to accept a smaller proportion to the second round, and a larger proportion from second to final round. For instance, 100 players in round 1, 12 players in round 2, and 4 players in the final round.

In this way only a very good player can win the tournament, I am certain of it.

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