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BGG.CON My Way: Incompetence! Exhaustion! Cranky Bowels! kuhrusty!
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A person with the ability to be shamed--or at least with some sense of propriety--might leave well enough alone and be content with vivid memories of a highly entertaining convention. But fortunately for you, I am not that kind of person!

My first BGG.CON was, for lack of a better word, outstagnificellent. I know that's not really a word, but I couldn't pick just one. And it makes about as much sense as any of my game strategies, so it seemed appropriate.

But this list is not about me. Okay, it is about me. But it's not about what a great batch of games I played. Okay, it is about that, too. And it's certainly not about what a great bunch of people I met. Okay, it is about that, as well.

It's mostly about how I turned a peaceful, four-day stroll through the gaming woods into a death march of shattered illusions, foolish decisions, pathetic aimlessness, gruesome incompetence and Admin abuse.

Everyone who put up with me deserves a medal. A big medal. A Medal of Double Super Awesomeness with Oak Leaf Cluster and Silver Thingamaswirl of Even More Awesomeness.

So let's just consider this whole thing to be an unnecessarily graphic and long-winded apology for my very existence. Read on, if you dare!
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1. Board Game: EastFront [Average Rating:7.68 Overall Rank:771]
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When I half-jokingly asked my non-gamer wife if I could go to BGG.CON, I expected a maniacal laugh and a poke in the eye. Instead, she suggested that we both go: I could game, she could shop. About 20 minutes later, we had reservations--and I had a bad case of convention fever.

After months of anticipation, it was time to pack the car with a little luggage and a lot of flea market goodies. Due to a miscommunication about vacation time (sorry!), we had to drive all night to get in early Thursday morning.

My first impression of Texans, based on the near instantaneous change in driving behavior upon crossing the state line--and I'm sorry for not finding a nice way to say this--was that you are all homicidal lunatics.

I would like to apologize to the person in the white sports car who changed lanes, accelerated furiously and attempted to insert said car into the anus of mine (thoughtfully honking the whole time to make sure I noticed). You were probably confused by the fact that I drove at a reasonable speed, clearly signaled and changed lanes at an appropriate speed while maintaining proper following distance. It was entirely my fault, and I'm sorry.

So despite the natives' best efforts, we arrived safely. It was far too early to check in, so I scoped out the prize tables after a quick breakfast at Denny's. I know it's ungentlemanly to drool in public, but I couldn't help it. Sorry.

I had my eye on Last Night on Earth and Memoir '44. Or possibly Mutant Chronicles Collectible Miniatures. So--and stop me if you've heard this one before--of course I had no chance of getting them.

Standing in line rating just above projectile vomiting on my personal pleasantness scale, I decided that 40 minutes was about all I could tolerate. It crawled by, and I could see before I got close that my top choices were gone. But I saw a lonely copy of EuroFront sitting there, and I grabbed it happily.

Other than complete exhaustion, a near-death experience, unsightly drool marks and 40 minutes of excruciating boredom in line, everything was just peachy!
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2. Board Game: Crokinole [Average Rating:7.81 Overall Rank:39]
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Having completed the standing in line portion of my day, I proceeded to the standing around like an idiot portion. Not knowing anyone but kuhrusty by sight, I decided to do one of the things I do best: put on my lost puppy expression and watch other people have fun.

I observed people playing Crokinole for a few minutes and liked it. At this point, someone turned to me--this is where looking like a lost puppy can come in handy--and asked if I wanted to play.

We had been playing for several minutes before I noticed that my opponent was from one state north of me, someone who I had corresponded with about a trade, a fellow wargamer and a GeekBuddy! None other than Lord_Prussian.

I managed to compound my obliviousness (sorry) by not only beating him (sorry) but by inexplicably failing to hook up with him for a wargame at the CON (sorry).

I think that I wandered over to the game library afterward. I'm not sure, but there may have been some more drooling. Sorry.
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3. Board Game: Napoleon's Triumph [Average Rating:7.98 Overall Rank:189]
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Eager to play a wargame and meet some wargamers, I agreed to try this with three others who had never played before. With kuhrusty as our teacher, we plunged into an epic battle between the Allies and the French.

By "epic" I mean a horrific and unconscionable march of meat to the slaughter due to incompetent generalship by yours truly. By "incompetent" I mean that in a real battle the men of both sides would likely have agreed to a temporary truce so that I could be summarily executed in some imaginative way. And by "imaginative" I mean slow and painful.

To my opponents, NeonElephant and deckhand teaming up as the French, I would like to apologize for not catching on to the rules as quickly as you did, thus not presenting much of a challenge.

To my teammate, DaMilli, I would like to apologize for not living up to the title of Supreme Commander. It seemed like such a good idea to charge in immediately and draw first blood like that.

I'd like to say that it's your own fault for foolishly choosing me as commander, but...no, wait, I'll just go with that. Sorry.
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4. Board Game: Rommel in the Desert [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:624]
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I already knew that kuhrusty was a wargamer, a most hilarious dude and 10-feet tall. But only one of those things was going to help me identify him so we could play Rommel in the Desert on Thursday night.

I had spotted him right away near the back of the registration line, towering over his fellow gamers, trying not to crush them underfoot. After I grabbed my prize, I went back and introduced myself.

I immediately liked him and knew I was going to enjoy our game. And not just because his unlucky dice rolling and impressive losing streak were legendary! I was tempted to apologize up front for the beating I was going to administer, but it turns out there is a force more powerful than kuhrusty's bad luck: my own incompetence.

At the appointed time, we selected the Crusader scenario, with me as the Axis. When kuhrusty dealt the supply cards, I got 10 real and zero dummy cards. That's a ridiculously unlikely and unfair distribution, so I handed them back. He dealt them again: nine real and one dummy. I handed them back. He laughed and said to just go with the next one, no matter what. He dealt again: nine real and one dummy. I tried to protest again, but he waved it off. He was proving to be a magnanimous guy, and I vowed to make him pay.

After he passed, I decided to be aggressive. Which is a little like a dog deciding to sniff a butt, or a snail deciding to take it slow. I can't help myself--the aggressiveness, I mean, not the sniffing, I can totally control that--and as usual it cost me.

Oh, it went well enough at first. I rolled two dice and got two sixes for two hits. My next few rolls were nearly as good, and my gamble was paying off. But then kuhrusty made one of those inspired moves that changes the course of history: He made me swap dice with him. From that moment, it was curtains for the Axis.

Sure, in hindsight my attack was foolish. And I may have miscalculated how many units he could bring to bear in a counterattack. But clearly the dice were the key. That's my story, okay?

Even on the verge of overwhelming victory, kuhrusty was still stressed. He kept mumbling things like "It's a trap, isn't it?", "Where's that elite armor?" and "Can I still lose this?" It was all quite charming, really, but not even his second-guessing could derail the Allied onslaught.

Congratulations and well played, sir. My record drops to 0-3 in RitD, and it looks like I'm the go-to guy now if you need a win.
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5. Board Game: Kraków 1325 AD [Average Rating:6.45 Overall Rank:2189]
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I was 107 percent sure I wouldn't like this game. So, I suppose I owe myself an apology for agreeing to play.

But I was enjoying the company of kuhrusty, sshawmd and DaMilli (who had inexplicably forgiven me for the Napoleon's Triumph incident), so I decided to try.

I thought it was dry, luck-driven and generally lacking in appeal, but I said nothing, not wanting to detract from their enjoyment. When someone (sshawmd, I think) said he'd seen enough, my heart did a little hippity hoppity dance of joy. We all agreed to quit before even finishing the first game year.

It was late, I was exhausted and a wiser old person would have just gone to bed. But, as I think I've established fairly well (if not in this list, then in my other idiotic posts on this site), I'm, uh, a bit "challenged" in this department. Which left me vulnerable. And sure enough, along came a spider....
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6. Board Game: Wasabi! [Average Rating:6.58 Overall Rank:873]
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By "spider" I mean simonh. Because, when I think of spiders, that's who I think of. Obviously. Don't you? No? You think of icky, crawly things? Not a super nice guy and excellent game teacher who offered to 'splain this to us? Well, then I stand corrected.

See how incoherent I am when I'm wide awake? Now, imagine me playing Wasabi in a state of near total exhaustion.

It was (and I'm being kind) shockingly brutal. Good ol' kuhrusty dashed out to a big lead. Newcomer baychang (who took DaMilli's place) and Krakow holdover sshawmd steadily gained ground. And I stared at the board and tried not to injure myself by falling out of my chair.

I lined up a great four-ingredient recipe--and then used the egg somewhere else. I tried to go back to my original idea--and then noticed that there was no more egg available. I may even have blacked out a couple times. Anyway, that's my excuse for finishing with two or three completed recipes when the board was full.

I'm sorry I sucked. I'm grateful that no one said anything. Then again, I wouldn't have said anything in your place, either. It's just not nice to make fun of the drooling idiot.
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7. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:23]
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After a reasonably good night's sleep and with a reasonably high energy level (by my standards), I began trawling for a game in the main room. I bumped into sshawmd, who asked if I wanted to learn Race for the Galaxy. It really wasn't on my radar, but it does have a space theme and he's an enjoyable opponent.

It's probably an exaggeration to say that I was overwhelmed by the iconography. But not that much of one. Despite his excellent and very patient teaching, I mostly floundered.

About mid-game, I got a few military cards and developed a half-assed strategy of sorts. Something like--try to keep up with me here--colonize a bunch of military worlds. It worked, if by "worked" you mean it prevented me from finishing in the low double digits of victory points. Maybe 23 is okay for a first game, but it seemed paltry to me.

When I asked him how he was doing, he chuckled and said it looked like it was going to be his best score ever. Way to rub it in there, new GeekBuddy!

Embarassing beatdown aside, I enjoyed this game a lot. So much so that it was one of three games I bought on Sunday.

We've already got a rematch scheduled for next year. So look out: I swear upon all that is holy that I will come within 20 points of you or die trying!

Note to wife: Don't worry, the insurance is paid up.
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8. Board Game: The Battle for Hill 218 [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:1047]
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Fresh off my crushing defeat in Race for the Galaxy, I decided on a three-pronged strategy of shopping, drooling and the puppy expression.

It must have worked, because I stumbled upon RSP regular Chad_Ellis, and he didn't immediately punch me in the face. I say "immediately" not to imply that he punched me later but because I definitely love adverbs too much.

We chatted a little, and he told me with a straight face that my RSP posts don't annoy him. Which was obviously a lie, because it's not so much a question of whether I annoy but rather how much. But I appreciated the effort.

He had seen me looking at Battle for Hill 218 and offered to teach me. When he unceremoniously defeated me in short order, I got the distinct impression that could have done so on about the second turn if he had so desired. The old school wargamer in me had trouble remembering that you needed a supply arrow pointing to the card you're attacking.

I later read a comment from him that he has played Battle for Hill 218 400+ times. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that my comparative performance ranked, on a scale of 1-400, in the single digits. I'm tempted to say "1", but in all of those plays he's surely gone up against a drooling idiot at some point. Wait, never mind.

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9. Board Game: Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game [Average Rating:7.10 Overall Rank:342] [Average Rating:7.10 Unranked]
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At this point I reverted to my old standby of wandering around and hoping that someone would take pity on me.

Instead, I had an amazing stroke of luck. I strolled by a table where someone was looking at Last Night on Earth and moved on with considerable regret. My wife and I were planning an early dinner, and I was hoping to find a couple other people who replied to my post about some Friday night Arkham Horror. But after looping around the main game room, I realized that what I really wanted to do was take a look at LNOE.

I went back over and discovered to my incredible good fortune that it was jim.brooks10. Not only was he looking at a game on my radar, but we had corresponded prior to the CON about getting together for some games!

Even after I told him I probably wouldn't be able to play a full game (sorry!), he agreed to run through a few turns with me. He is an excellent teacher, and I thoroughly enjoyed those few turns.

But the very best part of our meetup was that it led to the next game of the night--the most awesomest game I played at the whole CON.
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10. Board Game: Arkham Horror [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:135] [Average Rating:7.42 Unranked]
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I'm sorry I wasn't able to find all the folks who responded to my pre-CON thread about playing some Friday night Arkham Horror.

But I was able to set up a game with my new GeekBuddy jim.brooks10, joined by joebelanger, bncconry, Godeke and gbwarren in a brutal battle against SomethingBigAndUnpronounceableThatBeginsWithTheLetterT.

With jim.brooks10 and joebelanger as our very capable game explainers, we seemed to be doing well. I played the private eye and specialized in whacking monsters. I had four or five monster trophies and was one turn away from getting the gate trophy I needed to avoid being immediately devoured upon Big Daddy's awakening. You can probably guess what happened. Yep. I was an appetizer on the big human buffet, followed shortly by the rest of the team.

It. Was. Awesome.

So awesome, in fact, that I stuck around to play another game with Nuts! and Arkham newbies SwedishChef and Amy Darke. I'm really glad that they stuck around to play with us: They had checked the game out but were headed out to dinner when we first showed up. We ended up starting without them (sorry!) and were too far into it for them to hop in (sorry!), and they spent an hour and a half or so playing another game but looking somewhat perturbed with us (sorry!).

Nuts!, with several plays under his belt, helped with the rules, and I pitched in where I could, in a slugfest against Yig. He (She? It?) came out fast, and we were forced to duke it out. We emerged bloody but victorious!

Nothing like punching out an Ancient One to cap off a beautiful Friday night. It was twelve kinds of awesome (cool, hot, fun, sweet, sexy, smart, loud, fast, funny, engaging, green and prickly, if you must know.)

Guess what's first on my post-CON to-buy list? Assuming my own Ancient One doesn't object. Please don't tell her I called her that, or I'll be devoured again, and not in a good way.
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11. Board Game: The Flea Market Game [Average Rating:6.80 Unranked]
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I set my alarm so I could get up in time to set up at the flea market by 9 a.m. sharp. If you've been following along with the general theme of my personal incompetence, you've probably already guessed that I woke up at 9:15.

So if you saw a grumpy, disheveled guy clear at the back, without enough room to display all his stuff, that might have been me. Possibly you met me and didn't even know it. I know, I know, it wasn't all that thrilling for you, was it? Sorry.

I didn't make as much money as I hoped. But I made enough for my wife to buy some shoes and alcohol. And in the end, isn't that what it's all about? Comfortable footwear and liquid nirvana?

It isn't, you say? Well, I dare you to say that to my wife! She'll chase you down and gut you when she sobers up.
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12. Board Game: Star Wars: The Queen's Gambit [Average Rating:7.53 Overall Rank:341]
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You might wonder, as I did, at what point in a game called Beowulf: The Legend will the gnarly-toothed monster, drenched in blood, wearing a necklace of severed heads, show up and try to administer a beatdown. I am sad to report that the answer is "never."

The group that had asked me to join (dr glaze et al and a couple administrators, including dakarp) was very gracious when I begged off and slinked away after hearing dakarp's most excellent rules explanation. I could feel my already minimal wargamer/AT street cred spontaneously sloughing off like so much dead skin.

Fortunately, I had other administrators to abuse. Namely Octavian, who was ready to teach me Queen's Gambit.

Now, Octavian and I have been known to *ahem* exchange a little football smack. It's gotten a little heated at times. Our differences are complex but can be summarized as follows: I am a Dolphins fan and an anti-Belichick zealot; He is a Bills fan and not an anti-Belichick zealot. As a self-evident corollary to the above, I am right and he is wrong.

So it was with some glee that I administered what even he described as an "epic ass whooping" on the forces of evil. Obi-Wan killed Darth Maul with barely a scratch and proceeded to single-handedly annihilate a horde of battle droids in one dramatic sequence in which I played two regular Obi-Wan cards followed by an Obi-Wan's Fury card.

Despite Octavian's football wrongheadedness and his obvious impotence in the face of my Jedi-like awesomeness, he is a good guy and also a good gaming opponent.

The rematch is already scheduled. You've got a year to steel yourself for another ass whooping. You can start crying now!
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13. Board Game: Hammer of the Scots [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:174]
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After cmontgo2 gave me a rules rundown and rounded up an opponent (daehtloeht), I was ready to break out my kilt and blue face paint and win freeeeeeedooooom! for the Scots.

I feel bad for daehtloeht, and not just because his username is nigh unpronounceable. He thoroughly outplayed me and had me on the ropes, yet I inexplicably came from behind to win.

I'm happy to take credit when I do someting clever (and will provide an address where you can send gifts in my honor). But this was just flat out good fortune (although you are still welcome to send gifts).

I did roll poorly the first couple game years. But I was foolishly aggressive, made too many mistakes and got William Wallace killed right away.

I was down to (I think) four nobles in the highlands, and both of us concentrated forces for a major battle. I rolled very well, daehtloeht rolled poorly, and in the end I rolled massive casualties on the last of his forces before they could retreat. Presto! Four nobles flipped in one turn, and I suddenly took the lead.

With the highlands under my control, I was able to defend the rest of the way, aided by a couple of very timely Truce cards and a Victuals card that allowed me to steal steps from units before a crucial battle.

So let me close with yet another heartfelt apology, not only to daehtloeht but to the descendants of William Wallace who will never get to see Braveheart in parallel universes spawned by my careless, history-altering blunder.
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14. Board Game: Kragmortha [Average Rating:5.88 Overall Rank:3977]
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If I were a man of few words, I would probably just say that you should not play this game unless you are completely comfortable with the idea of shouting "My anus is bleeding!" in a crowded room.

But somehow that doesn't do justice to my mental images of our late-night play: kuhrusty with his tongue hanging out of his mouth, forbidden to use three words (I can't remember which ones); Ryno8 with a card clenched in his elbow; dr glaze et al not allowed to sit down or use the words "yes", "no" or "maybe"; and me with my hands clenched into fists, trying to draw a card from the top of the deck. Eggo, RDolata, SabreRedleg and daehtloeht were given equally ridiculous things to do, but I can't remember exactly what.

I'm pretty sure that somebody won. I think the game ended when Eggo asked dr glaze if his turn was over and dr glaze responded with the forbidden word, "yes".

The only thing I'm certain of is that I'm glad it wasn't me shouting about my anus. That's a big win as far as I'm concerned.
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15. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:41]
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I promised you a tale of incompetence, exhaustion, cranky bowels and kuhrusty. I have delivered on three of those. I am about to deliver the bowels. Probably I should rephrase that (sorry!), but I warned you that this was going to be unnecessarily graphic.

It turns out that three days of inadequate sleep and a diet of Pop-Tarts, Coca Cola, barbeque sandwiches, Denny's, jalapeno/onion/guacamole burgers and bad Italian food are not necessarily good on your digestive system. Who could have predicted such a thing?

It was nothing I couldn't handle, but Saturday night and Sunday morning included a certain undesirable level of intestinal crankiness. It seemed appropriate that this episode concluded on the same day I finally got to play Pandemic. If Blue Disease has ever done a number on your bowels, then you know exactly what I mean.

Now, Pandemic wasn't high on my priority play list. But Fury of Dracula and Battlestar Galactica with jim.brooks10 fell through, and Close Action with kuhrusty and the gang didn't strike my fancy. I happened to wander by a table where fracguru was just busting Pandemic out of the shrink wrap. He invited me to play, I accepted and we were joined by gamerswife, who unlike us had played once before.

Predictably, humanity was exterminated in short order by the colorful disease cube menace. Sorry about that, gave it my best shot. We elected not to play again, as fracguru had to depart.

And that was that. The last game of my first BGG.CON. It was time to say my goodbyes.

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16. Board Game: Memoir '44 [Average Rating:7.53 Overall Rank:88] [Average Rating:7.53 Unranked]
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If I looked hopelessly and inconsolably sad the last two hours of the CON, it's only because I truly was.

I got in last words with kuhrusty, Octavian, jim.brooks10, cmontgo2, joe belanger and a couple others I had gamed with. A couple games and rematches for next year were discussed. Lord_Prussian and I vowed to play an actual wargame next time. SabreRedleg and I got a chance to talk about some wargames--Combat Commander next year, perhaps? And dr glaze et al, put me down for C&C: Ancients, please!

I had about an hour to kill before my wife got back from her last shopping excursion (more shoes and alcohol, as it turned out--what is it with that woman?) I found myself staring at the Buy 3 Get One Free rack at Desert Fox Games.

I was dead tired, and I couldn't decide, but I wanted to buy something. I know I could have saved a little ordering online, but I had such an amazing time that I wanted to support at least one vendor. And there's something about being able to rip the shrink wrap off immediately and pop out that new gaming goodness.

So I pulled up a chair and just sat there staring at the rack. The proprietors probably thought I had died or fallen asleep, I sat there so long. Possibly I did black out for a bit, I can't say for sure. But I just couldn't find a fourth game.

I dejectedly put Race for the Galaxy on the counter and mumbled something about my dilemma. So the guy asked me what I wanted and said he'd make me a deal. I pulled down three, he offered me an extra $10 off and he made a sale with my gratitude.

I got RftG (to try and hook my wife), Memoir '44 (to play with my son) and Fast Action Bulge (just for me). And right on cue, my wife showed up. I drove for the first hour but was so tired that I willingly gave the wheel to my wife. Cold sober she is the most terrifying driver I've ever ridden with, and I gave it up with nary a whimper.

Thank you to Aldie and everyone who made this event possible. Thank you to all my new friends. Thank you everyone who made it so memorable.

I LOVED every minute of it, and as long as somebody keeps hosting it I will keep coming!!!

I will even stop talking about my bowels, if the people will it.
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