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Losing friends from the tournament circuit due to "NPEs"

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19 hours ago, Malritch said:

Everyone should play Brewers, after downing at least a 6-pack or an equal amount of adult beverages, ... that'll put the fun right back into the mix! :P 

My reaction to that idea mirrors your icon.

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On 1/24/2018 at 12:13 PM, el009 said:

Since I played GB for the first time (like 1,5 y ago)  I basically quit Infinity.  Its mechanic is so random that it makes me sick. Is it more balanced? I think not. Tried playing French or Shasvastii? They sucked quite hard when I left that game.

I won the U.S. championship at Gencon with French 2 years ago.

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1 minute ago, Plebian said:

I won the U.S. championship at Gencon with French 2 years ago.

I think that arguing about which game is more balanced is a bit futile due to many factors but this answer just made me laugh seriously hard :D 

Talk about a burn :P 

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I'm interested in  the discussion about attracting new players here. As a new player myself, I was really lucky to fall into a group of experienced players who are very patient and happy to invest time in teaching me. If I'm stuck on what to do they might throw out a few move suggestions and see what I pick. I'll then choose a move, explain my reasoning and we might discuss it and weigh it up over the other options I had. My approach is to say "I'd really appreciate it you tell when I do something stupid, I don't want to reverse any of my moves but I'd like to know when I've made a mistake or missed an opportunity". This seems to go down pretty favourably and I'm learning a hell of a lot. I even managed to win my first game this week (if you ignore the fact that my timer ran out... haha), admittedly with a couple of big slices of luck and one major gamble that payed off!

One thing that irks me a bit is that it's not that straightforward to be aware of releases etc. My only other heavily invested game is 40k, and GW are very much on point with keeping you in the loop, the marketing is a lot better (though I can understand it's not to everyone's tastes). I actually started GB because I'm a bit sick of 40ks ridiculous power creep and the fact it has barely any tactics now, it's just list optimisation for damage output. GB feels far, far more tactical and is a lot more interesting IMO (with the added benefit of being a lot cheaper!). I've never faced 'smiths or farmers, so for me GB has felt pretty balanced - I almost always get thrashed of course, but at least I can understand why when we discuss what happened in the game.

More beginners resources, or at least some well curated resources would be a godsend. While I've found great videos on basic gameplay on Youtube, there isn't much easily available that builds on the basic mechanics to help you understand the more subtle interactions in GB. I'm lucky that I found a group to help me negotiate the steep learning curve, but I would guess that if I didn't have that I might lose interest simply from not appreciating the depth it can have.

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13 hours ago, DanB said:

More beginners resources, or at least some well curated resources would be a godsend. While I've found great videos on basic gameplay on Youtube, there isn't much easily available that builds on the basic mechanics to help you understand the more subtle interactions in GB. I'm lucky that I found a group to help me negotiate the steep learning curve, but I would guess that if I didn't have that I might lose interest simply from not appreciating the depth it can have.

SFG's own tournament match videos are pretty great. The production values are high and there's two commentators who discuss optimal plays and things like that. Good stuff!

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On 1/24/2018 at 3:13 PM, Malritch said:

Everyone should play Brewers, after downing at least a 6-pack or an equal amount of adult beverages, ... that'll put the fun right back into the mix! :P 

Not a Brewer player but I do believe that is how most of my games go anyway.  I find it almost a must to have the adult beverages at the game table.

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18 hours ago, Lemminkäinen said:

SFG's own tournament match videos are pretty great. The production values are high and there's two commentators who discuss optimal plays and things like that. Good stuff!

Sounds great, where can I find them?

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I've been part of guild ball since retail release and have been playing x-wing since wave 2, so I've been a fairly early adopter of both games. I'm not going to try to draw any conclusions or comparisons between the games mechanically, only to say that at times x-wing has been horrendously badly balanced and the solution to the imbalance is always power-not even creep, but bloody great big leaps in power.

The main comparison I want to make is how the tournament scene for both games has grown and matured over the years, and the challenges it creates for new player's getting into the game.

As both of these games have grown in number of active tournament players over the years, the amount of effort it takes to become a "top player" increases. As a result you get more players who play the game more and more seriously and competitively. This then creates a barrier for entry for new players as it means the likelihood of them playing someone who is a much better player also increases.

I actually think on this score the balance of GB is potentially a hindrance. If the balance if a game is such that you will always lose to a better player, the outcome of any particular tournament can become a fairly foregone conclusion if you're not one of those people playing practice games in every spare moment. In x-wing I have been able to beat much better players simply because, by chance, I have taken a list that is a hard counter to theirs. That said I'm not arguing this point to say we need that sort of situation in GB, but hopefully it puts a bit of perspective to all the balance arguments going around at the minute. I don't think balance is actually the problem here.

The problem, I believe, is in how the tournament-going community responds to this growth and maturity of the game - does the "top end" embrace the bottom and help and support their growth in the game, or do they ignore and the their noses up at them? I am starting to feel that, in the UK at least, the tournament scene is starting to feel a little like the latter.

In x-wing there are several notable top players who run either podcasts or write regular and detailed blogs to help other players. Other than Strictly, there are very few podcasts that give detailed tactical advice, and those guys get a lot of stick for doing so. WCWW did a decent job, too, but sadly that cast, and Steve as a tournament player, is no more. Maybe I'm missing some out and being unfair, but I dont think the advice given nowadays is the no helpful to newer players. Quite often the advice given by some players on these casts is effectively "ignore everything you hear online and make your own mistakes." This is not helpful to people new to the game. Knowing which models are below par and which synergise well with each other is actually really helpful advice for new players. New and casual players aren't getting the time or games in to learn it all for themselves, so "shortcut" advice from better players is really useful to have.

Not only is there a lack of proactive support in terms of such items appearing on blogs or podcasts, but comments by newer or more casual players are often dismissed without explanation. I was told so often I was wrong about Shank being bad, but only when Greg did his tacticia Interview did anyone actually help me find a role for him. Now I am happily using him in most matchups. If people had actually shown me how to use him effectively rather than just shut down the argument with "you're wrong, get good" it would have been really helpful.

The second aspect I how you get treated by the top players when you play against them. In x-wing I have played against some regional and national event winning players and have always felt they have treated me courtiously, been forgiving of my mistakes and given me really helpful tactical advice after the game. In GB I have instead found players finickety and critical about honest mistakes, ready to jump on you with gotcha, and then after the game rub my nose in it, not by telling me how I could have done better, but out all the mistakes that they made, or how their dice let them down and the should have smashed me by more. Maybe because I talk (whinge?) about th game a lot people expect me to be better than I am (but I'm only ever going to be casual as I typically get to play 2-3 games a month). Let me be clear, though, its not that I get all of these things from every player, and one or two of these at a time will often go unregistered as a specific problem, but over a tournament a few such games can add up to a negative overall experience. And I'm not day in I am not without fault. I have myself done several of thevthings I am criticising here.

The real telling factor here I that xwing continues to grow despite Ffg's dubious business model and horrendous imbalance, yet GB is starting to lose players. I think we all need to have a look in the mirror and think "what am I doing to support newer or more casual players?"

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Each and every single one of us who plays needs to always look inwards to see if we are creating a positive experience, win or lose, to our opponent. People respond to warmth and kindess, laughter and good nature.

I try and bring that in abundance, 'cause I probably will never be more than a mediocre player... and I have been treated in kind from those I have met. I hope my lack of negative player experience continues for a long time... and I am sorry to hear that some have had more than their fair share of it.

It absolute does not have to be a part of the game.

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@malladin.ben I played a well known "Top Player" not so long ago, and it was easily the worst game of GB I've played, despite the result being 8-12 (TWO salt goals!)

It started badly with this person laughing at my line up (HA HAA! LOOK EVERYONE HE'S BROUGHT KRAKEN!) and went down hill from there. I was very clear that I was looking to learn and improve my game, but he just saw it as another easy win. I will pretty much only play against mates now. It's just easier and far more fun.  

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29 minutes ago, Lee said:

@malladin.ben I played a well known "Top Player" not so long ago, and it was easily the worst game of GB I've played, despite the result being 8-12 (TWO salt goals!)

It started badly with this person laughing at my line up (HA HAA! LOOK EVERYONE HE'S BROUGHT KRAKEN!) and went down hill from there. I was very clear that I was looking to learn and improve my game, but he just saw it as another easy win. I will pretty much only play against mates now. It's just easier and far more fun.  

This sucks to hear, when people make a game more then anything then something to just kick back, roll some dice and relax it makes me sad. 

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I suppose some people just can't switch off. That's fair enough. I don't enjoy Tournament play, and others live for it. 

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My view, as a relative noob, is that (in any system) there's a trade off between clocks making games fast and exciting vs the time pressure meaning noobs get less help and there's less opportunity just to laugh at stupid stuff like missed 5 dice tap ins, the monkey throwing poo etc.

Guildball is (in many ways) attractive because there's lots of funny ad amusing mechanics but clock pressure removes the ability to take pleasure in them. Thus can make tournament games rather serious.

I don't think this is something that needs a fix (as clock free games can really drag) , it's just something inherent in a clock based tournament system. 

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42 minutes ago, Lee said:

I suppose some people just can't switch off. 

I stopped playing a different game system years back, because of that very issue - someone offered to give me some learning games with the one set of models I had, then custom built a list against it and stomped me aggressively without ever explaining anything. After two of those I stopped playing, because if that was how I was going to be treated trying to casually learn, I’d rather spend my social time having fun ;) 

As a different example, take MtG (yup, I played it a little once!). I went to a launch event and faced a bunch of competitive and experienced players. One of them said nothing to me all game, simply glared, pointed at things, and after beating me picked up his stuff and stomped off to report the game. Utterly miserable experience. The next game was against someone at the top of the local ranks (I got told later). He tore through me like I was nothing, but was friendly, polite, explained when I’d made a mistake, and I really enjoyed the game (well, thrashing :P ). 

NPEs are far more made by the player than the game, in my experience. There’s nothing wrong with being tournament, casual, or whatever kind of player. As long as you can be nice to people and adjust your game to suit your opponent (or, in extremis, admit that you can’t play the type of game they like and be honest about it. Better to help them find an opponent they’ll enjoy playing than both of you have a miserable game!).

Goes both ways too - I can’t give a tournament-training player a game they’ll enjoy, so I should own up to that!

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We rarely chime in to the forums, but this is an area that we are particularly passionate about and focus on (the preservation and encouragement of new players).

I would agree with @Mako that so called 'NPEs' are caused by players rather than the game. Yes things are OP (hello Thresher) but on the whole SF do an excellent job of levelling once they've extracted suitable data on balance. Does Chisel's playbook need to be shorter? Yes. Could Vet Graves do with something more exciting on the back of his card? You bet.

However, your community can cover these minor issues if they are strong enough. Hey you're taking Granite? Sounds great, I'll put Ploughman out then so we can both see some lesser seen plays. If you're playing a less experienced player, ask them if they're trying the models out still or if they're confident with the lineup and tailor your choices in response to minimise the strain on their enjoyment.

That being said, there is a disconnect between the 'competitive' scene and 'casual' gamers, which can be attributed to many things (the OP being filtered 'top down', many SF staff being former/current tournament players, the prevalence of 'competitive' social media resources etc.) However, one thing I'd also add is the role of the internet - and the somewhat negative 'hivemind' of closed consensus the game has. People are more definitive in their statements online, which can then trickle down to those players who read the comments and share views at local clubs/games. 

Unfortunately I can offer no solutions but instead encouragement, I'm a guy who plays games on the youtubes with his best mate for his own entertainment. I've heard every tactical analysis of my every move, despite doing everything to reinforce the casual nature of games at that I pay once a month, despite that I've found people that I love playing with, and they come on the channel, and people enjoy us having a laugh together (looking at you @Lee) The best thing you can do is to (politely) challenge behaviour you see as inappropriate or disconcerting, you'd be amazed how many keyboard warriors barely utter a wimper face to face - likewise, players that I have had unpleasant experiences playing have been absolutely lovely after a post-game chat/beer. 

I could chat all day... :)

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41 minutes ago, tandgproductions said:

However, one thing I'd also add is the role of the internet - and the somewhat negative 'hivemind' of closed consensus the game has. People are more definitive in their statements online, which can then trickle down to those players who read the comments and share views at local clubs/games. 

I can kind of see this, but I also think that there's something about this that does actually help. When the "hivemind" tells you a certain 6 players makes a decent team because of X, Y and Z, that is a helpful shortcut that can get a new player into the game. Where the hivemind says "team X is terrible and you'll just lose with them, what? you just bought them? well that sucks?" then that is clearly not being helpful. I think it's important to encourage people at whatever level to post useful tactical advice and worry that dissuading people from trusting what they read on the internet might be a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater (albeit it does seems that there's a very tiny baby in an olympic-sized swimming pool at times). To continue the metaphor hopefully not to the point of absurdium, I think we need more babies in that pool splashing about in the water and disrupting things (i.e. more people writing and discussing tactical things rather than just "X is broken/terrible/OP" throw away comments we get a lot of currently).

I think you're spot on with the point that people can be more definitive with their statements when operating online, whenever I try to make a point about balance I always try and point out that whenever we're talking about balance in this game it's always about a small variance from the mean. There are very few teams you can put together in this game that are just plain bad (apart from farmers, that 6 reaper team is actually unplayable). I think we should always keep that at the forefront of any of our discussions about balance.

Cheerio,

Ben

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1 hour ago, malladin.ben said:

There are very few teams you can put together in this game that are just plain bad (apart from farmers, that 6 reaper team is actually unplayable). I think we should always keep that at the forefront of any of our discussions about balance.

Cheerio,

Ben

I think this is actually one of the issues with guild ball, in a weird way. It's very easy to give advice to someone in MTG, for example, because a lot of the game is in deckbuilding, and that's done in downtime. You can give someone your list and ask 'how can I make this better' and get a concrete response of choices to make, replacements and upgrades to consider.

In guild ball, almost every 'bad at the game' mistake is something that happens on the pitch, rather than off it. You can give someone an optimal lineup and a 'counter' matchup and they will likely still lose to a player with a reasonable amount more experience than them. This means that coaching people at GB is hard. The only really good way of doing so is to play a lot of games and talk them through things. Giving advice on choices to make in-game is nice, but a lot of the time the common things you need to learn (threat ranges, expected damage outputs, when to engage, how to avoid wasting influence, when the ball is safe and when it isn't) are not very easily learned and they are not questions with hard and fast rules which can be used to answer them.

GB is a game which involves a lot of decisions all the time. Significantly more than a card game, at least. Usually in MTG, in a game I might make a few pregame decisions (mulligan choices) and then what land to play, what of my 2-3 options on what to do with mana, and that's about it. Over an 8 turn (so quite long) game I might make 25 or so 'decisions' where I have an opportunity to misplay in total. In deck construction, I have 75 decisions to make, and lots of options in all of them, but deck construction decisions are very easy to get advice and input on. In guild ball, I only have 11 pregame decisions to make (guild choice, roster choice) from a relatively small number of options, but then just the draft (6), kick/receive, positioning in deployment (6), kicker if relevant, how to position kicker, where to place the ball, how to distribute each point of influence, who to activate each activation (6), where to go with each model (6), how to spend each point of influence (12)... I make more decisions in just the first turn of a GB game than I do in an entire game of Magic. The number of opportunities for a new player to mess up in GB are extensive - there are a lot of choices to be made and they are usually not ones that can be easily advised on, because they are made ingame, and depends heavily on what the opponent is doing / the terrain / what team you are against and so on.

 

They also aren't ones where it is easy to statistically analyse the correct answer, either. Nobody has stats for 'games where Shark gets taken out in exchange for a turn one goal, Fish win 54.2% of the time' or whatever. That means that a lot of the time, the right answer to all of these decisions is pretty much based on gut feeling rather than actual numbers.

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A series of really interesting points being made here, both in terms of game characteristics and player interaction. I hadn't thought about balance in that way, @malladin.ben ...

 

Another good point is on players – we often talk about the bad losers (ragequitting, throwing dice, we've seen it all). But when you face a bad loser, you've at least won the game. Facing a bad winner is worse, that when the (winning) player really needs to step forward and be at their best. Encouraging this in the local community should be in the best interest of us all. In my (small) community, where I'm the worst (and most irregular) player, we always take the time to talk through the game afterwards which is not only good for learning, but also a way of sharing both the joy of successful moves (or dice rolls ...) and the frustrations of, well, not so good ones. (Something like this could actually be incorporated into official documents for tournament play by encouraging tournament organizers to have a 10 minute "chit and chat" session scheduled after each game, in order to stress things down a bit. OTOH, forcing people to do something like this may come out awkward or even counter productive, I guess.)

 

When it comes to advice for new players, I think the mechanics of GB makes it difficult. Not only the abundance of choices and the clock (which I like, you learn to go by intuition and feeling rather than outright calculations .. or at least I do ... did I mention I'm really really bad at this game?) but also the fact that even the best laid schemes of mice and ratcatchers  often go awry. Comparing to Warmachine, there you can have a fairly well prepared strategy, or several tactics, in terms of order of activation and triggering interactions. In GB you can rest assured that a good opponent will disrupt these things. From this, I think something I (I did mention I am rather quite bad at this game, right?) would appreciate is games, or even tacticas, where the flow is interrupted and the rationale behind moves is briefly explained. Or games with a voice-over if you want the game flow to be more like a "real" game. Advanced Maneuvers do some stuff like this for Warmachine; some of the @tandgproductions stuff also have the players explain their reasons. I really like podcasts (great audio backdrop when painting!) but at least I feel like I need the visuals to really appreciate tactics.

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20 hours ago, tandgproductions said:

I've heard every tactical analysis of my every move, despite doing everything to reinforce the casual nature of games at that I pay once a month, despite that I've found people that I love playing with, and they come on the channel, and people enjoy us having a laugh together (looking at you @Lee)

Cheers my dude! Here's to more unsolicited Comments Coaching in 2018 :D

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I've run a kickabout league recently that has successfully gotten a fair number of people into the game, and one of the things we've found helpful is to play "clock light"- we play on the clock, because we don't want the games to take forever, but if it's not in a tourney, we often just note if the clock runs out and try to wrap things up, rather than viewing it as a straightjacket.

I want to echo what I've seen in this thread: in my experience, 100% of the time players make the NPE, not the game.  The two major games I play regularly (and the only two I've really played in tourneys of any size) are Lord of the Rings and Guild Ball.  In both cases, whether I'm playing against a "broken" list or not has a lot less to do with the game than whom I'm playing against.  I've played against lists full of terrifying Ringwraiths and Trolls I had absolutely no way to deal with, but had a great time fighting a heroic "last stand" with my models because my opponent was great fun.  I've played against Thresher in all his glory and season two Obulous and had a blast- if the person captaining those teams was a good sort.  I've also played much more balanced matchups and even against some poorly chosen lists/lineups that were absolutely miserable, all because my opponent was a nightmare to play against.

For most people, I think, winning and losing aren't what create the NPE- it's how the other player acts at the table.  I try to remember that every time I sit down to play.  We might not have fun this game, but it's not going to be my fault! =)

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There are some fantastic points here, that I just feel I want to put some anecdotes to (weird, right?). I've certainly found the worst games of Guild Ball are the games where it very much seem as if my opponent feels the game is a waste of their time, something they have to get through to get to the final, that I'm a player they just have to beat quick so they can go and chat to their friends and check out the real competition. My worst game of 40k ever was at a store, against a tournament player who stated at the beginning of the game "Well, this is going to be easy" and who chatted to his mate and essentially ignored me the entire game. I like to see my opponents enjoying the game, and with very competitive players they just don't seem to enjoy playing, as a loss means they can't win the event/damages their rankings, and they're trying really hard to get the best score they can. They often seem more stressed and anxious during a game of Guild Ball, maybe focusing on the clock (I'm known for clocking out, so good efficiency on your own clock is a very good back up plan against me ;)), or just bored.

Parker from the Battlehammer has several times mentioned a game against Maria Wieland he lost 12-8, but he credits Maria with scoring every single point, as she was clearly much better than him and going to win, but she went out of her way to make sure he scored some points and enjoyed the game. That's the ideal competitive player I'd want to see more of in the game. I experienced the classic Shark 'NPE' of Gut & String + Legendary with my Hammer team, which effectively wiped out my Turn 2 as I could do nothing, but my opponent was  friendly, pointed out things that I could do that turn or set up for the next turn, almost apologised for the play. I have no bad feelings about that game at all, and that comes down to how the other player interacted with me, not what happened on the pitch.

Some of my best games of MTG were against those exact same types. My first event win, the last game was against an opponent who saw what I was playing and told me "You're screwed, my deck shits on yours". Arrogant prick didn't account for the fact I knew that and had a different take on my deck, will a control version of the archetype and sideboard cards that were hard counters to his major threats. Best moment, when he played a board sweeper, several people watching from over my shoulder stifled a laugh as they saw I had a card that would return everything of mine to the board at the end of the turn. I love that game - his look of confusion as they laughed at his 'killer move' and then the crestfallen dismay as I played mine make me smile and feel warm inside even 10+ years later, and that's because he was such a dick. I might have felt bad if he was a nice guy, but he was not.

It'd be nice to have some models in teams as 'hard counters' to specific other teams, but I imagine it would be very hard to balance in a game like Guild Ball.

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X Wing was my first post-GW game and I stopped because of a). the power creep which is insane to keep up with and b). because my local players were shits who would just pour scorn on whatever I bought each week.

The GB community was a breath of fresh air, not just my local players - @TwoBands, @kestershero, @orange, @Lumpyseven, @bn42 and @Monolith-Swats - but the tournament scene as well.

Now I have had the odd rubbish tournament game against someone, but they are far outweighed by the positive experiences. It probably helps that I'm not that good and consequently rarely experience a stressful upper tier game. The one time I fluked my way to a final was against someone who I knew outclassed me, so I just let myself be steamrollered. However, he was really nice about it, so I enjoyed that one too.

TLDR - 95% of GB players are a good crowd to hang with. Don't let the odd gitoid ruin your GB fun ;)

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On 1/24/2018 at 1:17 PM, Wynter said:

Farmers guilt is definitely a thing. None of us are using them at the moment (except with certain line ups) for this reason and it's a shame.

Are farmers really that problematic then? Cause I was considering starting with them...

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1 hour ago, Lena said:

Are farmers really that problematic then? Cause I was considering starting with them...

Sure they'll be sorted soon.

In the meantime, if you impose a rule on yourself of not selecting any more than one of the troika of doom (Thresher, Tater and Millstone), then they are not too over the top. 

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