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Every Man Needs A Shed

Life and games (but mostly games) from Tony Boydell: Independent UK games designer, self-confessed Agricola-holic and Carl Chudyk fan-boy. www.surprisedstaregames.co.uk What was that beardy bloke going on about?

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The Best Things In Life Are Free...

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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What with sponsoring the Geek, and plenty o'kind people around the Parish, I find the coffers overflowing with GeekGold. I got all the microbadges I could ever want, have filled in my User ID with 'as much stuff as possible' and now find myself at a loss with what to do with the rest! Does anyone have games they want to sell in return for this shiniest and most auspicious of fictional currencies? It's weighing down my pretend pockets and spoiling the shape of my non-existent suit: maybe I should call a fictional tailor? To be honest, I'm getting quite worried about having this much make-believe moolah in the house - there have been reports of figmental felons in the area.



So, goodly folk of the congregation, what am I to do with it?
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Today 6:20 am
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a mildew'd ear

Anthony Boydell
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Sun Jan 22, 2017 10:01 am
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Watch The Skies!

Anthony Boydell
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Friday dawned crisp and bright; the sort of cold that hugs your face and makes it feel like glaciers are scraping your lungs clean when you breathe deeply. Aaah, the glorious midwinter!

Work -> Dentist Appt -> Lunch with Mrs B -> Work; before I knew it, the blazing sphere was setting and the pre-gaming ritual of supper and teen-ferrying had begun. With the promise of a rare six at the club, I figured I'd have an excellent chance of another Terraforming Mars as a three-way, most excitingly buttressed-in-solidity by a stray email from Smudge who - after a shaky start last time - was evidently quite keen to play again! And let me tell you that Smudge emails, by-passing the staunch Boffonian Gatehouse, are a rare and beautiful thing!

At the car park: Jobbers, recovered from his viral incapacity, could be seen in vague silhouette through the frosted windows of his BMW; heavy, 1970s rock baselines rumbled across the gravel; Garibaldi, intermittent but keen, emerged as a small bear from long hibernation when he saw me Touran ex emersit; Boffo fell out of the Batesonmobile in a swift drop-off, Smudge not feeling up to tonight's session; and of Byll there was no sign yet. Five, then, not six; arse-biscuits! However, when I posited TM, Boffo announced he and Byll would play something 'for two' which I took to mean Jobbers, Gary and me would be left to ourselves for the rest of the night - not so! Boffo simply wanted to avoid my rules explanation and fifteen minutes later (when they had breezed through something light-and-airy and, seemingly, not much fun from the grumbling) they dragged themselves - and another table - to join us.


A Water Table, Garçon; and tectonic plates for five!


Now, yes, before knickers are twisted and beloved toys launched skyward from the parambulator, I _know_ we may have made a couple of mistakes re: cities. In my defense, Noctis (mine - I had the Corp that started with 20 steel) always builds in the same space regardless of adjacent tiles AND another had to be built next to two extant cities. Who cares? It was all a complete blast! In Byll's case this was particularly true given he dropped at least five pieces of space debris on us all - including Diemos! - which stymied any Plant (and consequent Forest) growth for the first half of the game! It was getting so bad that I referred to Byll as 'the Klendathu Corporation' at one point:


(c) Austin James


Jobbers settled quickly in to proceedings and confidently ploughed his way to victory chased, enthusiastically, by Boffo. We eschewed drafting again, this only being our second game, but I think we felt the frustrations of 'the luck of the draw' a little bit; Boffo (quite correctly IMO) pointing out that he did as well as he could with the cards that he got. The flavour and flow was excellent, however, and we enjoyed how differently it all played out to the first game.

I always underestimate how long it takes to play Citadels and, after 35 minutes, I had to leave to pick-up peeps in Gloucester; we called it with Jobbers and I tied for the win on 16 points (both having 5 buildings out). I'm pretty sure TM won't get to be a three-weeks-in-a-row event (sad face; though that would be an occurrence of Biblical proportions anyway) UNLESS anyone out there fancies turning up to Ross-on-Wye? Come on, people; you know you want to!
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Sat Jan 21, 2017 9:36 am
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If proof were needed...

Anthony Boydell
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Over the last week, a couple of "Could you just..?" requests have plopped in to the email Inbox from my very great friends at Lookout Games. Recently, in the warm bosom of a UK Facebook group, I was expounding my great love for this company on the basis of the sheer quality of their output which is so great thanks to their astonishing 'nose' for sniffing them out! I also love them because they ask me to help out AND they listen to my responses - sometimes, even, acting upon them!

The first request was a sanity check of the English rules for Bear Park (coming very soon from the family-friendly, Award-nominated powerhouse that is Phil Walker-Harding). The second was a 120 page PDF containing initial drafts of the new WizKids Agricola Game Expansion: Blue, Agricola Game Expansion: Red, Agricola Game Expansion: Green, Agricola Game Expansion: Tan, Agricola Game Expansion: Purple and Agricola Game Expansion: Yellow expansions (!). When I'd reset my dropped jaw and boiled up a goodly urn of tea, I set to the task: to check for spelling, naming* and grammatical errors and to - as is my wont - chip in with general comments about the card powers.

So, to give you some idea of the way MY mind works during this process, here are a selection of the roughs (none of the final art or costs is/are sorted) and my feedback:


The pre-requisite seems to make this card fairly poor: it's a really great Round 1 play but the wood is drip-fed to you (max is, of course, 7 wood).
PLEEEEEAASE change it back to the way it was! Thanks! Love, Tony x.



FIVE occupations? Wow! The most, before, as a pre-requisite is 4...any reason why this isn't 4 (the Nurse Maid is more powerful than this anyway!)



Change name to "Turnip Barrow" ('Ravenous Hunger" is not a thing you can build (edited for nonsense); picture of a wheelbarrow, instead, with the new name?)



Are you missing a chance to put in a 'Wood for Sheep' card here? Quite funny given Mayfair have sold Catan on?!
ANYWAY (sorry!): do you need the italics note, really? These are cards for experienced players so it should be clear that paying two sheep OUT is doing this exchange!



This sounds like a massive penalty for the sake of 6 Food - I certainly wouldn't want to give up those last 3 awesome actions for this!
Perhaps a discount on Harvest feeding (every harvest you need to feed 3 food less) instead - THEN giving up the actions would be a longer term strategy!



This should say "up to 2 Sheep on the border between each pair of orthoganally-adjacent rooms." (not 'in each gap..")



Fine!



Reword last bit "food paid to put the occupation in to play" (note: does this mean that 'Lover' will get you 4+ Wood back?
By the way, the new version rulebook shows 'Lover' as a 'C' occupation - has that been moved to a different expansion?



(A simple) Reword: "After playing this card, when you build your 2nd/3rd/4th Stable you immediately get 1 Cattle/1 Wild Boar/1 Sheep (if you build multiple Stables at once you will get multiple animals)"



Reword last bit: "and you may buy 1 Stone for 1 Food". Can you use the Food you gained from Day Labourer to pay for the Stone
ie. does this REALLY mean 'get 1 Food, 1 Clay, 1 Wood and 1 Stone'?


Two hours, and 60 comments later, Tony's Excel spreadsheet (how romantic, eh?) wings it's way to Lookout HQ for consideration; there are worse ways to spend one's time and no mistake! #luckybugger #savesomeforme

*The occupation card 'Cottager' crept through the 2016 reissue without me having seen it; as a dirty-minded Brit, I would've immediately pointed out it's alternative meaning...
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Fri Jan 20, 2017 5:46 pm
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FLGS 36 (Die)

Anthony Boydell
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(we are in a Friendly LG Store; the shelves are blah blah rhubarb rhubarb, blither and blather. The cashier is behind the counter and holding a tall house plant in front of his chest and face. He is sniggering)

Doorbell: *My ding a ling, my ding a ling. I want to play with my ding a ling*

Customer: (looking around, confused) Hello?

(the Cashier continues to snigger)

Customer: (wandering about, lifting the occasional box) Hello? Hellooooooooooo?

Cashier: (still behind the Chlorophytum comosum) Good morning, Sir!

Customer: (jumps in surprise then looks about, panicked) Who said that?!

(the cashier lowers the plant and smiles)

Cashier: I’m over here. (he waves) Just my little joke, Sir!

Customer: (holds hand to chest and breathes deeply) Gosh! You really had me worried for a moment!

Cashier: (contritely) I’m so sorry, Sir; I didn’t mean to startle you quite so much. Now, how can I help?

Customer: (reaching in to his pocket, he retrieves a regular d6) Well, I’ve been recently having problems with this (puts the d6 on to the counter and points to it)

Cashier: (lowers his face so that his nose is almost touching it) What's the issue, Sir?

Customer: Well, I was playing a game of Eclipse with several of my gaming associates and, during the combat resolution for control of a key ‘1’ sector – it was a crossroads for multiple potential enemy player incursions - I needed to roll greater than or equal to a ‘4’ to destroy his Star Base but, instead, rolled a ‘2’

Cashier: (sympathetically) I see. That must’ve been quite distressing for you, Sir?

Customer: Indeed it was; I ended up failing to take the sector as a result.

Cashier: And did you lose the game, Sir?

Customer: That’s not yet clear because as soon as I failed to roll the ‘four or more’, I resolved to get it checked over and came here immediately.

Cashier: So the game is still “in progress”?

Customer: Yes.

Cashier: I see (scratches his head) Well, before I book the die in for evaluation I just need to take a few details –

Customer: Go ahead.

Cashier: Name?

Customer: The same one I’ve had since Birth -

Cashier: Great. Address?

Customer: Yes, thank you.

Cashier: Approximate date of purchase?

Customer: Of my address?

Cashier: No, Sir; of the die.

Customer: (chuckles) Actually, there’s a very amusing story behind that!

(there is a long pause)

Cashier: (moving along) Well…that all seems to be in order. If you could just go to the Service Desk over there (points to a pile of charred copies of The Big Book of Madness)

(the customer picks up the die and walks over to the service desk)

Service Operative: Good morning, Sir. (a paper aeroplane thrown by the cashier hits him in the face; he unravels the plane and reads) Ah, I see you’re having trouble with one of your dice?

Customer: (putting it on to the counter, which is still smoking slightly) Here it is.

Service Operative: (inspects it) Ok...let’s try a few things out: please name an integer between 1 and 5.

Customer: A three.

(the Service Operative rolls the die and it comes up ‘6’)

Service Operative: And again, Sir?

Customer: A two.

(the Service Operative rolls the die and it comes up ‘4’; this is repeated eight times more – on each roll, the number is greater than or equal to the number suggested by the customer)

Service Operative: Well, that all seems to be in order, Sir -

Customer: How odd.

Service Operative: - and with it being out of Warranty, it would be quite a bit more expensive to take a more detailed look, Sir.

Customer: So what do you recommend?

Service Operative: Well, you could go back and finish the game and keep an eye on it; or -

Customer: Or...?

Service Operative: - or: we could roll it a few times here, make notes and you could take them back and use those predetermined numbers instead?

Customer: I think I’ll go for that last option…

(the Operative takes out a clean piece of paper and rolls the die repeatedly, writing the value down each time; when done, he hands the die and the paper to the customer)


Service Operative: There you are, Sir; that will be £25 plus VAT

(the customer pays and leaves)

CAPTION:
TWO HOURS LATER


Doorbell: *My ding a ling, my ding a ling. I want to play with my ding a ling*

(the same customer from before enters and scurries over to the Service Desk)

Service Operative: (recognising him) O! Hello, Sir! Is everything alright?

Customer: Yes, except -

Service Operative: Except what, Sir?

Customer: (confused, he holds out the paper) Do I use the numbers starting from the ‘top’, or just pick them from the list at random?

Service Operative: Oh, for Fu -

FIN
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Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:01 am
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They know me so well

Anthony Boydell
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Every Boydell child, on every birthday, has had a homemade (and, until their teens, hand-decorated) cake and a homemade card; it's what we do and we love it. Ah, those late nights/early mornings trying to realize 'Mufasa' in icing (this was one of my absolute triumphs) OR 'A Fairy Tale Princess Castle' OR a severed Dragon's Head for the party the next day!

However, being children and on low incomes, they - reciprocally - couldn't afford proper presents for their old Pa (a train set, a cruise to the Norwegian Fjords, a trip on the Orient Express etc) but they did (and still do) make me cards; in recent years, somewhat of a theme has emerged:







If you make it yourself it shows the most love, after all!
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Wed Jan 18, 2017 6:25 am
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For Adults Only

Anthony Boydell
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"Adult Party Games" are where it's at for 2017, baby! Oh yeah!


In the past, we've had the (ribbed for your) pleasure of The TitsFinder General (aka Busen Memo), then came (*snigger*) Codenames: Deep In My Pants (aka Codenames: Deep Undercover) and now:



Dry Hump: Das Kartenspiel (aka Kamasutra)


As was pointed out in a geeklist over there somewhere (points), this is nothing new and goes right back to Twister, which everyone young assumed would end in a pulsating orgy (hence the plasticness of the game's sheeting). I, myself, back in my dim-and-distant, vaseline-lensed (*snicker*) Sixth Form days remember playing 'Strip Trivial Pursuit': there were three lads and three lasses, a goodly-quantity of Malibu & Coke imbibed and a household bereft of parentals. I'm sure you will be disappointed to hear that no sexual congress(es) resulted from this fusion of semi-nudity, chemical mixers and questions about Science & Nature...no, indeed! Us (pityingly hopeful) lads all ended up in our Y-fronts while the girls - wrapped in duvets - teasingly removed one-bead-at-a-time from their necklaces whenever they got an answer wrong: we may have scored more points but they were very much smarter than us!

Anyway, what happens if we extrapolate this saucy direction-of-travel?*
- 'Fruity' Fables?
- Great Western 'Tail'?
- A Veritable Feast for the Eyes of Odin?
- Cottaging Gardeners?
- The Colon-Ists?
- Lorenzo Il Magnificamente Dotato?
- Key to my 'City'?
- The Nutworks?
- Clwank!

Over to you...

*(Yes, this was just an excuse to set off a 'run of dirty puns')
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Tue Jan 17, 2017 6:15 am
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Chapeau, monsieur

Anthony Boydell
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Messing about on the Internets at the weekend always gets my (creative) juices flowing (this came from a lottery I ran for a couple of spare Snods and referred to putting names in an appropriate hat):



The rubble that comes with it goes in to your personal stock of rubble; you can use any of your rubble to power this.

Warning: You must remember to say "Good day to you, Sir(s)!" otherwise you lose the rubble anyway and do NOT get to use the third worker: manners maketh man, after all!

Oh, and WHY the choice of resources for the effect? Well, it is a rubbley hat, isn't it?! #speedimpedimentsFTW
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Mon Jan 16, 2017 6:25 am
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Signature Moves

Anthony Boydell
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I've never really been one for autograph hunting per se BUT I do like to round off an nice (preferrably First) edition of a favourite book with a famous signature. Below are some of the scribbles I've managed to accumulate over the years and the stories behind them.


The mid-1980s line up of Irish punksters Stiff Little Fingers as gathered by ME at the Stage Door of the Liverpool Royal Court theatre. It was a cracking gig (I spent a LOT of my leisure time, whilst at Polytechnic, going to concerts e.g. I have a scar over my right eyebrow from a Ramones appearance at the University around the same time!)



After I'd met him for the first time with my Ivor the Engine prototype, the family was blessed with this awesome Christmas card from co-creator Peter Firmin.



(Left) Jellyfish, at the low-ceiling-ed Bierkeller, were promoting their debut album Bellybutton; me and my girlfriend (now Mrs B!) stayed behind after to chat to the Band as they packed away their own gear. (Right) Orchestral Manouvres In The Dark popped in to the Service Station at about 2AM on their way from Cardiff to Birmingham after a gig; I was working as the overnight cashier while waiting to get a proper job; I gave them free chocolate bars when they paid for the fuel in their little, white van.



Shop purchases BUT the middle item, a letter signed by Sir Fred Hoyle (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Hoyle), was tucked inside the science reference book (99 pence the lot) - evidently the original buyer had a question and decided to ask the best person in the Country at the time!



An unusual find: an iconic 20th century image explored - signed by the explorer and the exploree!



Again, didn't manage to get these myself: an Actor and a Legend.



Joining eBay in 2000 was both a Blessing and a Curse - two very scarce volumes from two favourite authors.



Something proper gamey for the Parish: just need to get Mr Breese to supplement this the next time I manage to meet him (probably Spiel, 2017 TBH)!


Do any of you have inked proof of celebrity encounters or, at least, inked proof that someone else did the encountering and you managed to pick up the evidence afterwards? I know, for a fact, that North Wales-based pal 'Lee' (let's call him 'Lee') has a very, VERY cool Iain M. Banks story...(waits)

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Sun Jan 15, 2017 6:40 am
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Work, Rest and Play

Anthony Boydell
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After a couple of months of looking around, complaining, pleading, indignant rage and contemplative Prayer, I have finally got my hands on a copy of Terraforming Mars:


Proof!


I read the rulebook in the bath, I took it to work on Friday and read it whilst having lunch just so that it was all - at it's basic level - in my head. When it comes to explaining new games at the Ross-on-Wye club, we are often caught between Boffo's Ramones-esque "1-2-3 Let's Go!" approach (usually very effective because he's actually played most stuff through before hand and/or they're no too heavy to start with) and Jobbers' Jackanory-ish "Page 1, paragraph one: 'You are merchants in the medieval city of..." (it doesn't matter if he's played it before or not TBH - qv. recent Stephenson's Rocket debacle*). My approach oscillates somewhere in the middle: sometimes clear-and-confident (thanks to prior actual experience), sometimes hesitant.

Tonight, the buffet of players presented before me comprised:

Boffo - Club patriarch with a default distrust of 'the new hotness'; delights in heckling rules explanations - sometimes because it genuinely is fun and appropriate, sometimes because he doesn't want to play the game and is attempting to undermine it to the point of abandonment (this is what _I_ do, too).

Smudge - Doesn't like War or Space themed games and would happily spend the night with a (preferrably-known) tasty Euro bookended by some classic fillers.

Byll - Itinerant Club member wont to disappear for long periods; has often already played 'new stuff' but, generally, can't help because he can't remember most of the details.

Jobbers - Keen deep-thinker prone to self-induced processing deadlocks, Jobbers likes to start thinking about the strategy pathways before you've finished unpacking the box.

Me.

Jobbers was late arriving so, with the components now arrayed across the generously-circular table, I was unsure of how much to actually say at this point: it's no good delving in to the detail only have to rewind etc. Boffo made excellent progress through his first drink and gleefully-declared that this was going "to be a two-pinter explanation". Eventually we had to call Jobbers' absence as 'full' for the night and got on with it. Additionally, it was clear that Smudge was very trepidacious about the whole idea and - having resolved to 'at least play it once' - wore a furrowed brow throughout. Byll wandered off to get a torch - that he didn't have - from his car. Twenty minutes later, we managed to start the first round (generation) which stumbled along as we clarified cards and icons.



In summary: you are attempting to gain the most VPs from 'building' on Mars (forests, cities, oceans) and by pushing up the three Factors (Oxygen level, oceans and temperature) for planetary habitation: you do this by spending money, taking actions and playing cards. Every round starts with the acquisition of more cards where you must pay a small fee to keep a card(s) in your hand for subsequent use (we were dealing them as random sets but you can opt to draft) THEN an actions phase that loops until everyone 'Pass'-es THEN income and production. Repeat until the three Factors are completed and the game ends with a VP tally.

The action phase has you taking 1 or 2 actions from a fixed set (pay to play a card, convert accumulated resources on your board to progress a Factor, use a 'Standard Action' that's printed on the board, use a card-based action, claim a VP spot and others), so there's no 'action blocking'; the interaction comes from doing stuff first - building a tile on Mars where someone else would like to (some placements give little rewards, printed on the board) OR affecting a Factor before another player (progression on the temperature track, for example, gives little bonuses to the person who pushes it to that level) OR using card effects to steal/discard stuff from others' tableaus.



After the nervous start, the four of us quickly settled in to a pleasingly-efficient rhythm; even the initially-reticent Smudge was getting quite the floral engine going and seemed to be enjoying herself! Card effects - it's all about the cards - are fun and powerful and, in some cases, a little 'Take That!' BUT it didn't feel unjust or swing-y when it happened. I focused on mainly temperature hikes and cultivating my Pets and Ant colonies (fed by some happily-helpful microbes); Smudge was all about the forests; Byll had a couple of surrounded Cities (each worth 1 VP per forest adjacent to it); and Boffo belching greenhouse gases in a direct Ludic parallel to his actual fizzy ale consumption!


Smudge and I were neck-and-neck until my Fauna carried me over the line to sweet, sweet Victory!


Some have protested that the only way to play this game properly is to DRAFT one's cards at the start of each Generation (round). Personally, I didn't have a problem with just being dealt four randoms - sometimes I'd buy just one, sometimes three or four; a couple of cards that I played in the last phases had been part of my opening 10 card selection at setup and were just sleeping until the right moment. Also, aside from slowing everything down, drafting - to our minds - would mean 'Hate Drafting' which soured the idea even more! After all that, I loved Terraforming Mars; the wait was, definitely, worth it!

TM had taken up two-and-a-half hours in total, so Boffo pulled out Tales & Games: The Hare & the Tortoise - a daft, clever and addictive little race game where you're secretly-betting on two animals (from 6) to 'place' in a the race:





In summary: play a card(s) of one animal type in to the middle - when the number of cards in the middle hits 8 (it cannot go over) OR one animal type has 4 cards in the middle (it cannot go over) then all played animal types MOVE along a track. How far they move depends on how many cards of their type were played; each animal has it's own special rules for this movement.

It was an absolute blast despite me being utterly inept; this is not really my style of game, though - the traditional feel much better suits the Batesons and, if he'd been there, the redoubtable Jobbers. A small, but perfectly-formed, session once again.

*https://www.boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/57972/bloody-l
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Sat Jan 14, 2017 9:32 am
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