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Subject: L.I.B.O. (Long Island Boardgaming Organization) rss

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Andrew DiGregorio
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Designer Nicolas Normandon and publisher Asmodee Editions have certainly broken new ground with their latest game offering, Mall of Horror, a game dripping with theme where the players unite (as well as betray each other), in their efforts to survive a never-ending wave of Zombie attacks within the confines of a shopping mall.

Does the theme remind anyone of George Romero’s classic film, “Dawn of the Dead”?. Well, it should. Asmodee makes no qualms about referring to the genre-setting film, and takes pains to do so in a very complimentary fashion.

Upon opening the box and examining the rulebook, the first thing that one will notice (and perhaps my biggest gripe with the game) is the rulebook. Asmodee, a French game company, took little care in their efforts to re-write the rulebook for the English version. It appears as though they ran the French rulebook through a “French to English” word processor and printed it as is. Literally every paragraph has a structurally incorrect sentence, as well as numerous spelling mistakes (ex, beer spelled as bier, etc). It’s a shame Asmodee didn’t take more care with the production of the rules, as it is one of the few complaints that can be made about this game.

The concept of Mall of Horror is remarkably simple. In a nutshell, one could think of the game as a horror-laden “musical chairs”, except in this version, when you are “out”, you get eaten alive by a rampaging horde of undead!

At game start, players decide which group of survivors they wish to play. The can play as either the Homeboyz, Survivalists, the Cops, Rednecks, Men in Black, or the Monroeville Maulers (as an aside, the game claims to take place in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, which horror-junkies will recall is the mall that Dawn of the Dead was actually filmed in). Each player begins the game with 3 survivors; A Blond Pin-Up Girl who is worth the most points if alive at game end, but her constant screaming (in pure B-movie fashion) tends to attract more zombies, a Tough Guy who excels in keeping zombies barricaded out of areas, and a sharpshooter who’s many guns can “persuade” people to vote his way.

After picking a team, players then take turns by placing their characters inside different rooms in the mall. Available rooms are; the Restroom, Cachou (a clothing store), Megatoys, Parking Lot, Security Headquarters, and a Supermarket. Once all players have placed their survivors within each location (which can be tricky since each location can only hold a certain number of people), and some starting zombies have been placed on the board, the game can begin.

The game is played in six phases, searching the truck in the parking lot for helpful items, electing a Chief of Security, determining new zombie placement, planning of movement, movement/zombie arrival, and zombie attack.

Mall of Horror is, at it’s core, a voting game. Votes are used regularly throughout the game to decide on the outcome of almost all actions. As such, the social dynamic of the game is all-important, as players try to broker deals and backstab each other in an effort to keep their survivors alive from the zombie menace. Voting happens when players decide who gets to search the truck in the parking lot for items, who will get elected the new Security Chief, and which player’s survivor will get eaten by any zombies that break into a location. The method by which players vote is cleverly done. Each player gets a voting wheel, where they can make their secret selections. Votes are turned over simultaneously. It is this concept of voting that is the core of Mall of Horror.

In the first phase of a turn, all players currently in the Parking Lot get to vote on which one of them will search the truck. The truck contains some helpful items, like weapons, ways to hide your characters, extra voting power, etc. It is these items that will keep a player’s survivors alive, so getting them regularly is very important. Whoever is elected to search the truck receives 3 item cards from the deck. They may keep one for themselves, give another to a second player, and discard the third. Players should take note of who favors them with items, since burning bridges in this game is NOT a smart idea!

In the next phase, all players residing at the security office vote to determine who will be the new Chief of Security. The chief is an important role, since the player who is the chief goes first for every phase of the turn, with others players playing clockwise after him. More importantly, the Security Chief gets to know where new zombies will be placed on the board, before they are known to the rest of the players. With that knowledge, the Chief can plan where best to move his characters.

Next, all players, using the voting wheel, secretly decide where they will move one of their characters this turn. Once voting is concluded, the new zombies are placed on the board, and players, regardless of whether the new zombie population makes their original choice a poor one, must move a character to where they had chosen. Finally, each location is checked to see if the number of zombies outside the location is enough to break down the doors and enter that location. If the zombies break in, all players in that room must again vote on who will be eaten.

As the game continues, it is inevitable that some rooms will be overrun by zombies, forcing no one to dare to venture there for the remainder of the game. In the event that any location contains 8 or more zombies, that area becomes condemned, and can no longer be visited during the game. With this mechanic in place, players are assured of being herded together over time as the zombies slowly take over the mall.

Play continues in this fashion until either all survivors remaining are held up within the same building, or there are a total of 6 survivors left among all players. At that time, the player who’s survivor values add to the highest total is the winner.

Mall Of Horror gets a lot of credit for taking a theme and running with it, and doing it well. Any fans of the horror genre will get a kick out of this game, and the social interaction should keep any gamer coming back for more.
 
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Tim K.
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Ummmm...and how does the game play? What do you think of it? What works? What doesn't?

etc snore
 
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Andrew DiGregorio
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EvilTimmy wrote:
Ummmm...and how does the game play? What do you think of it? What works? What doesn't?

etc snore


ummm...

i clearly tell you what i think of it in the final paragraph...
 
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Tim K.
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You're right. I missed those 46 words after the 1,036 spent describing the rules.

From Peter Sarrett's excellent Review Manifesto:
Quote:
The most common mistake reviewers make is to spend most of their words explaining how to play the game. It's not a review's job to teach-- that's what the rules are for. Readers don't need to know how much money everyone starts with, how many points things are worth, or all of the special event cards that are in the game. Such information is vital when learning to play, but is extraneous and distracting in a review. My eyes glaze over when I read such reviews-- at that point, the author has lost me. A review should touch on only those rules most vital to creating a sensation of the game for the reader. It shouldn't concern itself with the minutiae of a game's rules so much as with an overview of the game's systems. Focus on what gives the game its distinctive character, generates tension, or produces interesting challenges.

Don't merely describe these systems, either-- analyze them. Talk about why they're important and how they influence strategy. Discuss their impact on the player and the game. The best movie reviews don't merely summarize the plot and give a thumbs-up or -down recommendation-- they discuss what works and what doesn't, analyzing the reasons why in multiple contexts. Most importantly, they offer an opinion and back it up with reasoning and examples in support of that opinion. Game reviews have a similar mandate. A review is an opinion piece and as such is subjective. Reviewers should revel in that subjectivity, because that's why readers come to them-- not for a sterile numeric evaluation or abstract letter grade, but for a critical evaluation of a game's merits from the author's personal viewpoint. Ideally the reviewer's opinion is threaded throughout the review, always raising questions and offering insights. When an author offers only a cursory opinion (as in a brief summary paragraph) he fails his reader, whose taste might differ from his own. Long-time readers of a particular reviewer will come to know how their tastes compare and extrapolate their own likely opinion based on that accumulated knowledge. New readers don't have that advantage. A reviewer should therefore be careful to explain his opinions, to provide the background a reader needs to decide whether he'd share the reviewer's problem or enthusiasm.


Read it. Live it. kiss
http://www.gamereport.com/tgr24/randomdraw.shtml
 
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Brad Engels
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Talk about petty.

Thanks for taking some of your time to post info about this game, Andrew. It wasn't a boring read for me; and since I'm not your editor I won't critisize.
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Richard Reilly
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I appreciated this review as well. I've been wondering about Mall of Horror: specifically, whether or not it might be a good game for our group. So I was happy to have some detail about how the game plays.

One concern I have now is about the possibility that the game will be perceived as sexist by some of our members. I know the screaming blonde is a horror film stereotype, and the game is a "celebration"--as it were--of the genre. But I fear that some players might be bothered by a character who is useless but still considered most valuable just because she's hot.

Any thoughts?
 
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Russell Gifford
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slyde wrote:
Any fans of the horror genre will get a kick out of this game, and the social interaction should keep any gamer coming back for more.


Well, I'm not a fan of horror games or movies - but reading your review, I feel like I bought the game, opened the box and spent a little time playing it. That's a pretty good review in my book.

It is also sems clear that you played it, and really gave it a good look. So thanks for that. (I HATED the old reviews I used to read in Fire & Movement, where the person was so busy writing their CRITICAL review they FORGOT to PLAY the GAME - or played it ONLY to criticize it.) So thanks for that, too.

Thanks for the peek inside the box - I might actually give this a try if someone is playing it at the game days next time I drop in.

Last question - I am on LI for a week or so at a time. Where is the LIBO located, and when do you meet?

---Russ

 
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Noel
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Would this be the Smithhaven Mall of Horror?
 
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Mike Hollihan
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I'll just say that I've heard about this game and been curious. Having read this review, gotten an idea of the game and the strong group dynamic of it, I've now decided I'll buy it when I can.

So in that regard -- helping me make a decision one way or another -- I'd say this review was a success. Thanks for posting!
 
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Dwayne Hendrickson
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RDReilly wrote:
One concern I have now is about the possibility that the game will be perceived as sexist by some of our members. I know the screaming blonde is a horror film stereotype, and the game is a "celebration"--as it were--of the genre. But I fear that some players might be bothered by a character who is useless but still considered most valuable just because she's hot.

Any thoughts?


The reason that she is the most valuable, point-wise, is that she is the hardest to keep alive. The guy with the gun (3 pts) gets an extra vote and the guy with the baseball bat (5 pts) can hold back 2 zombies.. The pin-up (7 pts) gets only 1 vote, can hold back 1 zombie & ATTRACTS them. Keeping her alive definately deserves the point bonus.

But notice, that keeping the two guys alive (8 pts) will win over a player just keeping the pinup alive. The way to win? The pinup PLUS one other.

So, all in all, not sexism, just strategy.
 
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Bill
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Hey Evil Tim,

This is an excellent review of the game. There is plenty of content on this site that is worthy of criticism, this review is clearly worthwhile to people interested in purchasing the game and is quite well written.

I also think your word count is more than a bit off. The beginning and end of Andrew's review make critical judgements on the game and he also makes critical comments about the gameplay while explaining the rules. About two-thirds of the review is used to explain how the game is played and one-third gives his explicit reasons for enjoying it. This is a pretty reasonable amount of space to devote to the two goals of the review (Sarret's helpful advice nonwithstanding). In fact, it is more or less the same ratio of explanation of gameplay to critical statements that you employed in your (in my opinion, very good) review of the game Odin's Ravens.

People devoting their time to post helpful content don't need to see their efforts slighted by those who are apparently easily bored by a thorough review. Lighten up.

Bill
 
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Tim K.
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latindog wrote:
Hey Evil Tim,

This is an excellent review of the game. There is plenty of content on this site that is worthy of criticism, this review is clearly worthwhile to people interested in purchasing the game and is quite well written.

I also think your word count is more than a bit off. The beginning and end of Andrew's review make critical judgements on the game and he also makes critical comments about the gameplay while explaining the rules. About two-thirds of the review is used to explain how the game is played and one-third gives his explicit reasons for enjoying it. This is a pretty reasonable amount of space to devote to the two goals of the review (Sarret's helpful advice nonwithstanding). In fact, it is more or less the same ratio of explanation of gameplay to critical statements that you employed in your (in my opinion, very good) review of the game Odin's Ravens.

People devoting their time to post helpful content don't need to see their efforts slighted by those who are apparently easily bored by a thorough review. Lighten up.

Bill

Trying.....to....lighten......rrrrrrrrrrrrrgh

DANG! It's not working!

What can I say? I was in a mood devil

And if I'm not mean every six months I lose the 'evil' moniker

Anyway, I re-read the article and I take it all back. I'm sure it's useful for someone who knows nothing about the game. But for me, I've already read the rules and know how the mechanics work. I wanted to hear more about what works for the reviewer, what doesn't, and why.

So there ya go Slyde. I apologize kiss

Can we all hold hands and sing now?

And someone please remind me not to login to BGG when I'm PMSing angry
 
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John Reiners
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Kumba ya my lord, kumba ya....

(just gettin the sing along started).

 
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Russell Gifford
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Evil Tim wrote:
And if I'm not mean every six months I lose the 'evil' moniker


Dang! Wish I'd thought that one up! Nice comeback!

---Russ
 
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Andrew DiGregorio
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EvilTimmy wrote:
You're right. I missed those 46 words after the 1,036 spent describing the rules.

From Peter Sarrett's excellent Review Manifesto:
Quote:
The most common mistake reviewers make is to spend most of their words explaining how to play the game. It's not a review's job to teach-- that's what the rules are for. Readers don't need to know how much money everyone starts with, how many points things are worth, or all of the special event cards that are in the game. Such information is vital when learning to play, but is extraneous and distracting in a review. My eyes glaze over when I read such reviews-- at that point, the author has lost me. A review should touch on only those rules most vital to creating a sensation of the game for the reader. It shouldn't concern itself with the minutiae of a game's rules so much as with an overview of the game's systems. Focus on what gives the game its distinctive character, generates tension, or produces interesting challenges.

Don't merely describe these systems, either-- analyze them. Talk about why they're important and how they influence strategy. Discuss their impact on the player and the game. The best movie reviews don't merely summarize the plot and give a thumbs-up or -down recommendation-- they discuss what works and what doesn't, analyzing the reasons why in multiple contexts. Most importantly, they offer an opinion and back it up with reasoning and examples in support of that opinion. Game reviews have a similar mandate. A review is an opinion piece and as such is subjective. Reviewers should revel in that subjectivity, because that's why readers come to them-- not for a sterile numeric evaluation or abstract letter grade, but for a critical evaluation of a game's merits from the author's personal viewpoint. Ideally the reviewer's opinion is threaded throughout the review, always raising questions and offering insights. When an author offers only a cursory opinion (as in a brief summary paragraph) he fails his reader, whose taste might differ from his own. Long-time readers of a particular reviewer will come to know how their tastes compare and extrapolate their own likely opinion based on that accumulated knowledge. New readers don't have that advantage. A reviewer should therefore be careful to explain his opinions, to provide the background a reader needs to decide whether he'd share the reviewer's problem or enthusiasm.


Read it. Live it. kiss
http://www.gamereport.com/tgr24/randomdraw.shtml


wow. Good thing i just read ALL the replies to this thread since yesterday. If i had stopped and replied after reading just this one things were probably going to get nasty.
 
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Andrew DiGregorio
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Severian596 wrote:
Talk about petty.

Thanks for taking some of your time to post info about this game, Andrew. It wasn't a boring read for me; and since I'm not your editor I won't critisize.


thanks man.. much appreciated. Was beginning to think this was BoardGameCritique instead of BoardGameGeek.
 
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Andrew DiGregorio
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RDReilly wrote:
I appreciated this review as well. I've been wondering about Mall of Horror: specifically, whether or not it might be a good game for our group. So I was happy to have some detail about how the game plays.

One concern I have now is about the possibility that the game will be perceived as sexist by some of our members. I know the screaming blonde is a horror film stereotype, and the game is a "celebration"--as it were--of the genre. But I fear that some players might be bothered by a character who is useless but still considered most valuable just because she's hot.

Any thoughts?


to answer your question (which someone pretty much answered already as well), no i dont think anyone would really take the blong pin-up as a sexist character. In my mind, she is just playing the part of the screaming co-ed who is bound to appear in just about every one of these B-Slasher type movies. It's all in good fun, like you say.

And i dont consider her useless... she's worth ALOT of points. It's just damn hard to keep her alive!
 
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Russ G. wrote:

Last question - I am on LI for a week or so at a time. Where is the LIBO located, and when do you meet?

---Russ



Hi Russ,

LIBO meets typically once a month, but we also throw in some gamenights and impromptu gamesessions here or there throughout the month as well (not to mention our current Heroscape League).

We meet in the homes of our members, which varies but typically we will play in the ronkonkoma or sayvile area. We have had people play with us who visit Long Island in the past, so if you think you might like to meet up with us, PM me and i can give you some more info.
 
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Andrew DiGregorio
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n815e wrote:
Would this be the Smithhaven Mall of Horror?


hah! Another Long Islander, i take it?
 
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EvilTimmy wrote:
Trying.....to....lighten......rrrrrrrrrrrrrgh

DANG! It's not working!

What can I say? I was in a mood devil

And if I'm not mean every six months I lose the 'evil' moniker

Anyway, I re-read the article and I take it all back. I'm sure it's useful for someone who knows nothing about the game. But for me, I've already read the rules and know how the mechanics work. I wanted to hear more about what works for the reviewer, what doesn't, and why.

So there ya go Slyde. I apologize kiss

Can we all hold hands and sing now?

And someone please remind me not to login to BGG when I'm PMSing angry


sure.. it's all good
 
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Richard Reilly
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Quote:
to answer your question (which someone pretty much answered already as well), no i dont think anyone would really take the blong pin-up as a sexist character. In my mind, she is just playing the part of the screaming co-ed who is bound to appear in just about every one of these B-Slasher type movies. It's all in good fun, like you say.

And i dont consider her useless... she's worth ALOT of points. It's just damn hard to keep her alive!
[/q]
Right! Still, I have a suspicion that the women in our group might be happy to have her die.

Second question: just how nasty IS this game? I've seen a lot of comments about negotiation and betrayal. That's really my main concern about this game. I myself am strongly attracted to it, but our group tends to like games that aren't too mean. Will most/all players be likely to stay in the game, and have a chance of winning, until the end? Or is there a potential to be knocked out early?
 
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Andrew DiGregorio
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well, in the few games i have played of it, there have definitly been some backstabs, but things never got TOO nasty.

For the most part, players are too busy just trying to run for their lives to the safest spot in the mall, to be concerned overly much about planning some kind of betrayal. Plus, if you DO betray someone, chances are you will get it back worse later on.

But i DO have to warn you about your other concern: dont expect all players to make it to the end of the game. As the mall becomes more and more overun, players WILL be eliminated. The game isnt too long (maybe alittle over an hour), so if people get killed off towards the endgame it shouldnt be too big of a deal.

But this is comming from someone who has yet to still have anyone alive at the end of the game!
 
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Quote:
slyde wrote:
well, in the few games i have played of it, there have definitly been some backstabs, but things never got TOO nasty.

For the most part, players are too busy just trying to run for their lives to the safest spot in the mall, to be concerned overly much about planning some kind of betrayal. Plus, if you DO betray someone, chances are you will get it back worse later on.

But i DO have to warn you about your other concern: dont expect all players to make it to the end of the game. As the mall becomes more and more overun, players WILL be eliminated. The game isnt too long (maybe alittle over an hour), so if people get killed off towards the endgame it shouldnt be too big of a deal.

But this is comming from someone who has yet to still have anyone alive at the end of the game!


Thanks, Andrew! That's helpful to know.
 
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Phil Gomez
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Sexism?
okiedokie wrote:
RDReilly wrote:
One concern I have now is about the possibility that the game will be perceived as sexist by some of our members. I know the screaming blonde is a horror film stereotype, and the game is a "celebration"--as it were--of the genre. But I fear that some players might be bothered by a character who is useless but still considered most valuable just because she's hot.

Any thoughts?


The reason that she is the most valuable, point-wise, is that she is the hardest to keep alive. The guy with the gun (3 pts) gets an extra vote and the guy with the baseball bat (5 pts) can hold back 2 zombies.. The pin-up (7 pts) gets only 1 vote, can hold back 1 zombie & ATTRACTS them. Keeping her alive definately deserves the point bonus.

But notice, that keeping the two guys alive (8 pts) will win over a player just keeping the pinup alive. The way to win? The pinup PLUS one other.

So, all in all, not sexism, just strategy.


No offense intended, but that was not really a defense of the game against claims of sexism.

From a feminist point of view (I am male, but I do consider myself a feminist), the lady in the game still is pretty "useless" except as a sort of object to be protected. She's the maiden in distress, and she is only valuable because the manly knights win points (for chivalry) when they protect her. She is, just as you described her, nothing more than points.

However, just because we may be concerned with feminist issues here, we must also realize that this game not only celebrates b-movie zombie flicks, but pokes fun of them at the same time. Is it not laughable to think that at the end of the world, the only womyn left in the world will be bimbos? Of course that's not a realistic scenario.

And neither is it a realistic scenario that a handful of survivors will be locked up in a mall while the world outside is teeming with the hungry undead, signalling the end of the world as we know it.

My sister, my mother, and the gal I'm married to are all feminists as well, but we all love the completely hilarious "big-breasted bimbo at the end of the world" theme that a lot of b-movies have. That's what makes these movies cheesy AND lovable.

Doesn't that also make the game cheesy and lovable?

(As an aside, we might also consider that NONE of the survivors are really that intelligent and sensible. We got a gun wielding maniac and a thug as representatives of the other gender...)
 
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