Archive for Show/Convention Report
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Welcome...to my Shed!
Click [Play] and...
It hardly seems like three years since I crossed the magic 1000 posts line only, now, to find myself - chest thrust out against the shiny tape - pressing home the 2000! Only one other BGG blog has been this way before me and that's Eric's BGG News which had a head start, to be fair (but I'm catching him albeit very slowly).
Qn. Is there anyone who's been with me since the beginning*
I've laughed, cried, ranted, travelogued, designed (and designer diary-ed), japed, "session reported", surreal-ed, rumoured and generally muscled my way in to your mornings (or your last thing at nights) since 2011 and yet I still can't get any love from The Geek Weekly! I get (much) love from you folks, though, and that's the (second) best kind of Love of all.
Qn. Why don't people thumb humorous posts with Polls/Quizzes in?
Just like when its one's birthday on a work day, it is I who have brought along some treats!
First up, for those of you who are still having - or who just got the game and are about to have - problems with Guilds of London's iconography, I've done a couple of helpful markup sheets. Simply print on to A4 sized labels, cut out and then affix to the bottom of each card before sheathing in the branded sleeve of your choice:
(If my GoL expansion ever sees the light of day, I'll be sure and get these done on transparent, sticky plastic)
Qn. What is your favourite post evva?
Secondly, I have been awfully selfish in my persistent banging on about "having a shed" (and the need thereof/therein/wheretofore), so I've made some up for Snowdonia and they come in a variety of first-come first-served flavours:
Costs are varying (there is no defined order, just choose the one you want). Your 3rd worker costs 1 coal, but if you pay an extra coal you get your 3rd worker AND you may take a contract card from the selection - if you do take a card, replace it immediately from the top of the deck. During train maintenance you must discard a contract card you possess or lose the train Shed.
Finally, here's a special edition from Boydell's FLGS:
(we are in a FLGS; you can tell because it smells of stale farts and pizza dough even though you’re just reading a description of it on-screen. There are a variety of new releases in the display window along with a sign that says: “Don’t ask because we don’t have: Gloomhaven, any 7 Wonders Dual promos, that game with the ‘tits’ in).”. The cashier is stood behind the counter trying to release his hand from the counter-top, to which it has been stapled)
Doorbell: Ding-dong-dong-ding. Dong-ding-ding-dong.
Customer: (brushing dry leaves from his shoulders) Good afternoon.
Cashier: (looking up; covers stuck hand with a tea-towel) Ah, yes. Good afternoon, Sir! Can I help at all?
Customer: (chuckling, he takes a piece of folded paper from his breast pocket and opens it) Yes, indeed; I very much hope so! Do you have...Whorer Et Labora?
Cashier: Do you mean Ora Et Labora...by Uwe Rosenberg?
Customer: No, I mean Whorer Et Labora by Duvet Rosenbonk. It's about building and running a place of ill-repute.
Cashier: We haven't got any games by Duvet Rosenbonk
Customer: It's about placing your workers in to empty action slots...mostly.
Cashier: That's as may be, sir, but we don't have it.
Customer: You must have heard of Fields of Arse?
Cashier: No, sir.
Customer: A Fist for Odin? (the cashier glares at the customer) - I see. How about games by Richard Breese?
Cashier: Why, yes, we DO have games by him.
Cashier: Key-flower, sir.
Customer: No, Deflower. Or Inhabit My Berth?
Cashier: (confused) How are you spelling "Breese", sir?
Customer: B - R - I - E - F - S. The 'F' is silent.
Cashier: (annoyed) Of course it is.
Customer: (looks at list again) I'll try another des-
Cashier: (catching on) Before you ask, "sir", we don't have any games by "Stiff 'un" Feld or Anal R. Moon or Ign-arse-y Trevijerk or Reiner Ker-tits-ia or Alexander Fister or Phil Wanker-Harding or -
Customer: (interrupting) Eric Wang?
Cashier: (fed up) No, sir; and now I am going to have to ask you to leave -
(the cashier tries to walk around the counter but his hand his still stuck to the countertop; he tugs extra hard and the hand is freed - the staple pings off and hits the doorbell)
Customer: Wait! Wait, I want to buy -
Cashier: (hustling the customer toward the door) Out!
Customer: Tony Boydell?
Cashier: What? (he pauses his pushing)
Customer: Tony Boydell - do you have any games by Tony Boydell?
Cashier: Not "Boney Toydell"? Not "Tony Bordello"?
Cashier: (dusts himself off; notices there is a huge hole in the middle of his staple-less hand) Er...well I've got a copy of (reaches down to pick something up and shows it to the customer) this?
Question: What game did he show the customer?**
So, there you have it: two bloody thousand posts***.
Can I stop yet?
*excluding anyone who has died or been imprisoned, naturally.
**there shall be a prize for the best answer
***Of course, I'm expecting peeps to thumb the 'flip' out of this post!
Welcome...to my Shed!
Welcome...to my Shed!
Welcome...to my Shed!
(with Spiel now a faint garlic-like burp-tang in the back of the throat, the gaming world turns it's slavish attention to Nuremburg. Quite a few Brit designers have been tweeting their little hearts out with tales of early starts and prototype-related hernias. Me? Well, I'm staying resolutely at home: once bitten, twice shy...as this re-printed remembrance recalls)
When we first started out as Surprised Stare Games Ltd, we’d heard it was important for networking and the hawking of designs for us to attend said Festival of Trade-Only Toy Temptations. Our first year was 2003 with Mr and Mrs Alan Paull and myself. Nurnberg is a wholly different affair from the Spiel – and this giant magnet to business is reflected by the astonishing charges for everything. At Spiel, you can pick up a room for 30 or 40 euros a night if you book a few months before – at Nurnberg expect to slap a 1 in front of those number...and you won’t be near the Messe, either – both times we went found us holed up in Erlangen: 10 miles, and a grey express train journey, from the venue.
The 2003 show holds a particular place in my memory due to the astonishing experience of just getting there in the first place (flying in from Stansted)! Sit back, pull up a mug of hot chocolate (and perhaps a rug for the knees) and hear my sad story: very cold weather, probably snow, had been forecast in and around London...
Taken from my diary of the time:
Thursday 30th Jan, 2003
(To Alans’ after work – drive to Stevenage/Hotel)
Rode over to Stroud (on my motorbike) in the early A.M and parked up by the station – heavy rain from Gloucester and fat snowflakes on the hill-top too. Quiet and dull day at work (in Swindon) – left in plenty of time for the train. Arrived at Alan & Charlie’s place circa 5PM. Parked the bike in their garage and we (me and Charlie) set off tootie-sweetie; Alan is working in London today and will meet us at the Hotel in Stevenage. Good progress along the M4 and stopped at Reading, in a reasonable volume of traffic, for supper.
If only we’d known then what we know now, eh?
Got to the M25 7PM-ish and that’s where everything went pear-shaped! Two inches of snow had fallen during the P.M in, and to the North of, London – local councils had decided to gamble and NOT GRIT the roads – consequently, sheet ice was forming on every road in a VERY large radius.
There was absolutely no hope of us making Stevenage by 9.30PM (though Alan had already arrived there by then)…it took us SIX HOURS to get from M25 Jn 16 (the M40 junction) to Jn 21A (on to the A1M). In flumes (!) of snow and white, crispy roads we made 20MPH progress for 5 miles until we hit Hatfield at 2AM – when the gridlock continued. Lorries were jack-knifing or unable to get up hills on the frozen road, cars were being abandoned / running out fuel and stranding the occupants. At one point, I took a walk on to the deserted ‘other carriageway’ – trudging through knee-deep drifts to see what was holding us up in the distance. It was ghostly and silent.
Friday 31st January, 2003
We finally got the IBIS hotel, via a 24HR Tesco for breakfast, at 6.30AM – thirteen and a half hours after we set out on what should have been a 4 hour journey tops! People were checking OUT as Charlie and I arrived! I managed two hours of sleep until Alan woke me at 9ish and we had to make our way across the Christmas Card landscape to the airport. The normal roads were closed, so we had to navigate an alternative route in an area we’d never visited before. Luckily, we checked the status of our flight (8.30AM) on the journey – it had been CANCELLED – and we were able to re-book on a later, ‘more-likely-to-make-it’ flight (8.30PM). That mid-drive phone-call proved incredibly important – when we arrived at Stanstead Airport it was HEAVING and all Nurnberg flights were now full! With many hours to wait, we spent the day holed up Ponti’s café (massive all-day breakfast ahoy!) playing games – we had bags full of prototypes!
It took two-and-a-half hours to check-in (so many people in the building – so many!) and the 8.30PM flight was delayed by a further 2 hours (the airport was having real trouble dealing with the cold and the snow) – though, in keeping with the disaster this scenario was turning into, we didn’t sit in a plane seat until 1AM.
Arrived in Nurnberg at 3.30AM and at the hotel 4.30AM after finding the most dangerous and blasé taxi driver in the region to take us there (one hand on the Sat Nav, one on his mobile – driving the car at 70MPH in snow with his knees FFS). Had to wake up the manager to let us in, though – lots of Deutsche muttering.
Saturday 1st February, 2003
Slept in until 8.30AM (hey...another 3 hours – that’ll be 5 hours total in two days, then). Made our 10AM appointment with Kosmos – he didn’t show much interest in Mind Meld (TB: Now a co-operative, circus-themed prototype called Allez Oops), re-themed Starship Tycoons or City of Sorcerers but DID show interest in my Haunted House prototype – that’s the one test vehicle I nearly left at home!
Had the Devil’s own job of locating Adlungspiele (late PM by the time we discovered their cosy nook) and left Coppertwaddle with them. Also left copies of Autumn Leaves and Ecology with Ravensburger. So, in the end, quite a positive and productive day (if a little disappointing from Alan’s PoV).
Had the most delicious Arabian meal for supper in a restaurant next door to our Erlangen hotel and to bed circa 8.30PM for what turned out to be 12 hours of sleep!
Sunday 2nd February, 2003
Quick meeting with Amigo but they weren’t taken by anything. Me and the Paulls parted company at times – I needed to escape into my head for a while, it’s the tiredness catching up.
END OF DIARY
The journey home was straight-forward and uneventful – the snowy capital had thawed and recovered (mostly) and was beginning the usual round of blame and recrimination.
Alan and I returned the year later for a much more low-key day and a half and, thankfully, a totally routine journey. I've not been back since – work, real life and – to be honest – the quite ridiculous expense puts me off.
Welcome...to my Shed!
I mentioned, a short while back, that I'd been invited to the preview of a new exhibit at the Victoria & Albert Museum of Childhood (http://www.vam.ac.uk/moc/):
Game Plan: Board Games Rediscovered
This seemed like the perfect opportunity for Mrs B and myself to get some well-earned R&R given that the kids would be at College/School for most of the day anyway. Thus, Grandparent-ly babysitting was secured and Thursday the 6th of October, 2016 was ours to do with as we would! First up was the cross-country drive, over the Oxford plain and under a clear, hot Autumn sky, to High Wycombe - an old haunt from my working-in-London days and one that offered us the simplest, most flexible access to 'the big smoke'. It was lunchtime as the two-carriage 'local service' beetled in to Marylebone Station so we broke up the underground jaunt directly to Bethnal Green (and a good job too as it's quite "informal") by getting off the Central Line at St Pauls. Our repast was buritos - purchased from an inaudible-above-the-atmospheric-shop-music staff - and consumed within the grounds of St Pauls Cathedral. We strolled down Cheapside, cut across in to Gresham Street (paying my respects to the defunct Red Herring pub - see blog posts from 2011 and 2012) then along to a rather splendid piece of architecture...you might recognise it:
(clockwise, from top-left) Mrs B is exasperated by my preoccupation with the Guildhall; the V&A Museum of Childhood (it looks like a Victorian Tram-shed but, apparently, it was purpose built a few years back); St Pauls - splendidly massive - watches, implacably, as my soggy burito disintegrates over my chin and chest; and a black - BLACK?! - telephone box?
Riding perhaps the city's squeakiest/squealing-est tube train the remainder of the way from Bank to Bethnal Green, we emerged next to a scruffy intersection and walked the last 200 yards to the museum itself. It's FREE to enter and, at this time of day (about 3PM), remarkably free of visitors; there was plenty of room (and time) to amble about, hands clasped behind one's back, admiring the many nostalgic treasures. In particular - and I hope you'll forgive me for going on about it all over again - was the Smallfilms installation; a shipping container-sized space filled with pictures, paintings, models, equipment, puppets and other ephemera related to my most favourite memories of childhood EVER: Peter Firmin, Oliver Postgate, Ivor the Engine, Noggin the Nog, Poggle's Wood, The Clangers and Bagpuss. Mrs B is still somewhat-miffed that she was unable to come with me on my two 'special trips' whilst developing Ivor the Engine but I think seeing these priceless artifacts 'in the flesh' has gone some way to de-miffing:
(clockwise, from top-left) Noggin the Nog - note the splendid 'Ice Dragon' and the tiny, richly-coloured animation parts; Poggle's Wood puppets (the Witch, also there, is not shown to prevent nightmares); the Bagpuss tableau replete with the old moggy himself and the LEGENDARY marvellous, mechanical mouse organ
; and Clangers (and froglets...and a soup dragon)
It is impossible to convey in words, no matter how many times I try, the absolute crushing wonderfulness of the Smallfilms ouevre; it is sublime and utterly perfect.
Men at work plus a couple of 'grand views' of the Museum
Time oozed slowly in the echoing chamber and the odd, dusky light of the museum; the two of us meandered amongst the glass cabinets and the interactive areas ("Watch out! flying wooden blocks ahoy!") examining almost everything in detail...BECAUSE WE COULD! By the good Lord, it's been twenty years since we have been allowed to go at our own pace rather than be chivvied along by restless offspring: "Is it time to go yet?", "I'm hungry!" and "I'm bored now" being the usual, predictable, refrains. Not so today, huzzah! So, with the 'upstairs' still unseen, we broke for a cup of tea and some delicious cakes:
The afternoon gave way to the evening and I do believe we'd managed to see almost EVERY exhibit. Other friends and gaming world colleagues would be gathering imminently, so Mrs B and I went for a quick once around the park before bumping in to Efka from the No Pun Included YouTubes channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/NoPunIncluded) and the United Kingdom's Tallest & Most Gentlemanly Game Designer Mr James Wallis. The Museum staff asked us all to come back inside, as we were making the forecourt look untidy, so we spent the remaining 45 minutes before the Game Plan preview chinnywagging in the cafeteria.
Game Plan: Board Games Rediscovered
Amongst the friends and benefactors of the museum, a number of other familiar people appeared including Matt Leacock (he gets EVERYWHERE, F.F.S), David Parlett, the UK Games Expo's terrible trio (Richard, Tony and Pat) and Dávid Turczi (Days of Ire). We grabbed ourselves complimentary booze items, a handful of savoury nibbles and drank in the day's raison d'être:
You want to see the original Pandemic
prototype, you say?
, yet fun,
It was great! "Game-Plan" is a colourful, thoughtfully-curated and always-interesting pitched-to-the-masses timeline of our hobby from Senet through to Pandemic. So, while the 'modern games' section might have been lacking in anything beyond "Carc" and "TtR", I was stunned by the beauty of the vintage games on display; even a moralistic 'Snakes & Ladders' provided some wicked chuckles!
Ultimately, though, I got to spend 12 exclusive hours in the company of my best friend
Welcome...to my Shed!
For the first time in - well - ever, Boffo has a house big enough to host an actual, bone fide 'convention'; in fact, the living room itself is almost as big as the footprint of his & Smudge's previous (literal) bolt-hole! With a signed chitty from Regimental HQ (Mrs B) in my top pocket, I was out-and-about-and-down-the-A449 between Ross-on-Wye and Monmouth with the prospect of a Leo (Sayer - 'all dayer') and a Barry (White - 'all night') ahead. I'd packed some clean underwear, a toothbrush and my pyjamas along with Pitchcar, Scythe, Wallenstein and Railroad Tycoon.
Already parked up, as I reversed the Touran on to the precipitous vertical surface masquerading as 'the drive', was long lost Cap'n Byll replete with his usual Gladstone Bag of Games We Will Not Elect To Play; the rumour was that Jobbers and Daffers were 'en route' though Dan - surely our only hope of seeing Agricola this weekend - had cancelled at the last minute due to a "skirting board emergency".
While waiting, something small was desirable and we settled on Patronize because Boffo was unwilling to break Scandaroon out of it's shrink: like a deeply-buried, but recently-excavated alien artifact, it's unclear whether the aforesaid shrink is protecting Scandaroon or us:
2 x Patronize
- Both were ably won by myself, though a missed (by me) game-end scoring card was ruled inadmissable by Boffo who thought he'd nipped me by a point before it was discovered.
With the full five ready, there was a little dance around the first 'proper' game to play (Puerto Rico and Princes of Florence were nix-ed on account of having been played recently) but no objections whatsoever to my suggestion of the always-brilliant El Grande.
: Jobbers and I got off to a flyer but ended up being reined in by persistent shenanigans from the others (we ended up joint LAST!). Daffers fought off a late charge from Boffo and - see above - the final round's CASTILLE initiated a monstrous avalanche of cubes!
Patting ourselves on the back for being so fantastic at area control, it was time to get a little fresh air and exercise...so we repaired to the springy-lawned front garden for some log-lobbing larks:
The added jeopardy of a plinth spiced up the proceedings, as did the Paint Your Wagon-esque, ankle-twisting mole tunnel collapses! You can also see (above) that the '4' pin found itself buried neck-deep in a divot providing the singular terror of scoring '46' and never being able to knock the bastard down! Four games whistled by in an eye-blink and we repaired to the dining room once more...but not before we'd assigned ourselves professional Molkky pseudonyms:
Tony 'The Flying Vee' Boydell (2 wins)
'Muttering' Byll (0 wins)
John 'The Skulker' Plant (1 win)
Dave 'Richochet' Daffin (1 win), and
Boffo 'Backhand' Bateson (0 wins)
Jobbers has a bit of a sour history with Cuba but, thankfully, he'd forgotten all of it and happily agreed to us giving it a go. With the full compliment of 5, there was a pleasing parting-of-the-ways with Daffers and Jobbers working Rum and Tobacco, Byll heavily in to the 'Water Strategy', Boffo a little bit of everything (Rum, mainly) and me just manipulating the docks and shipping crops. Byll didn't really get the combo working properly and Daffers/Jobbers sort of bounced off eachother, which left me and Boffo to steadily rack up packets of veeps and tie for the win on all the tie-breakers! Jobbers enjoyed it too which means we're likely to play it again before the decade is out: woot!
Daffers and Byll had just enough time for a last five-lap Pitchcar before departing; Jobbers was originally going back with Daffers which would've left me and Boffo the only attendees left. I convinced Jobbers to stay until late, when _I_ would take him home: this meant, of course, the all-nighter was now a thing of dreams:
Five laps of rowdy, back-and-forth flickery: Byll, almost lapped in the early stages, pulled away for a tense victory!
And then there were three...
Tired of ignoring Boffo's cous-cous and tomato salad buffet, Jobbers and Boffo and myself ordered a curry supper and played a couple of short ones while we waited (for 90 minutes, as it turned out); firstly:
: Jobbers is a demon at this; we - er, rather, _I_ being roundly-CRUSHED.
: Pfister's Pfun Pfiller - another gold medal for Boydell!
There was some thought that we could learn the rules to something new while Boffo beetled in to nearby-Monmouth for the scran so, tentatively, we took First Train to Nuremberg from it's shelf. Sweet Holy Christ but the rulebook is a massive pigs-fucking-ear: densely-typed, game information mixed with thematic history, overlapping diagrams with a hundred 'This is...' arrows and all sorts of incomprehensible garbage like "In a 2 or 3 player game use ALL the Influence cubes; in a 3 or 4 player game use the following cubes only...". Two intelligent men and twenty five minutes couldn't decipher any semblance of enjoyment potential from this microfiche of waffle and confusion so we dropped down a mental gear and plumped for:
In summary: travel around Europe spending TIME collecting books/information of varying colours that will, when combined with further TIME in 'excavations' - around the Mediterrranean - allow you to draw a particular number of chits from a site's coloured bag; chits are blank (just sand) or contain relics for points. Add up everything at the end.
Indiana Jones-esque fun was to be had by all in this neat little treat from 2007; of particular note was (a) Boffo's 21 VP haul from a lecture tour which was 80% in place before he'd found his first relic and (b) me pulling 10 chits from a bag and finding two '1 point' so-called treasures!
It was 10PM already and just enough time for a train game; no, NOT Snowdonia but Queen Games' lavish first-foray in to the World of Winsome with:
It was all about 'the blue company' which I managed to hold on to sole share ownership of (dividends = all mine); not even my massive brainfart of winning, but bidding one fewer than the monies needed to run straight in to Chicago, the newly-launched Wabbash Cannonball could stop me from a comfortable victory. It was now DEFINITELY time to leave Boffo for the night; Byll and Daffers would be returning tomorrow (yesterday) but that was it for the J-Dog and me. It's a shame young Dan had cried off because there would've certainly been a couple more hours of Uwe Rosenberg fun awaiting us; however, with the venue proven more than able of sustaining a goodly attendance I don't think it will be too long before we're all doing it again.
Finally, to our host, a hearty "Thank You!":
Welcome...to my Shed!
* * * Shameless Plug * * *
Surprised Stare will only have 300 copies at Essen Spiel so if you want one then it's probably best to pre-order (no pre-payment is required).
The price on pickup is 45 Euros, which includes special Essen promos (watch the What's New page on our website – www.surprisedstaregames.co.uk - for details). Pre-orders must be collected by 12 noon on Sunday 16th October from Hall 2, Stand 2-E119.
All you need to do to pre-order is enter your name and email on the form below:
Thu Aug 11, 2016 10:48 pm
Welcome...to my Shed!
So Gencon 2016 has (finally) finished and for the first time ever I've been feeling envious of those who went. This is, of course, down to Guilds of London being something people are interested in and being interested in it through the endeavors of Tasty Minstrel Games.
The queue for Guilds! (...and Orleans and Thief's Market, of course)
I have already experienced the thrill of a new game launch at the UK Games Expo and will do again in October at Essen Spiel when we'll have 300 copies to sell: 75% of all the copies that will be available at the show* (and in Europe too given that other language editions are going to be 2017 at the earliest). It is those two shows - and my extensive experience of them - that are fuelling my Gencon jealousy because I know what it's like to be on a Stand and I bloody love it! I adore the setting up, the sweat and the dust, the early starts and late finishes, the noise and the overwhelming love of people who are in their element! It's such a massive adrenalin rush as vouched-safe by the enormous crash that hits you when it's all over.
I eagerly followed the Twittered exploits of peeps like Ignacy Trzewiczek, Seth Jaffee and Paul Grogan and I understand the fixation that keeps them ploughing on without sustenance, without breaks and without rest, in to the early hours: it's an experience you don't want to miss anything of and it's relentlessly exhausting! So, I tip my hat to you, the Exhibitors of Gencon: the designers, the publishers, the BGG crew, the demo staff, the builders and the taker-downers and the volunteers; I know how much work goes in to an event like this and I'm insanely envious:
*details of how you can pre-order your Guilds copy for Spiel pickup will be posted up very soon! I suppose it will be our version of the Fragor mayhem?
Welcome...to my Shed!
This makes me feel sad because:
a) they aren't actually interested in playing it;
b) they have deprived two other people who really wanted to play it from playing it (although they may also have deprived two other people who really wanted to sell it on quickly for a profit from selling it on quickly for a profit); and,
c) the cynical predetermination hints at a less-than-optimal regard for the hobby.
Still, that's supply-and-demand for you.
Fri Jun 17, 2016 11:45 am
Welcome...to my Shed!
A Sore-Throated Saturday Seminar Snippet
Last Saturday morning, pre-opening, I bumped in to Mr Tom Vasel who asked me if I'd like to be a guest on The Dice Tower live podcast that afternoon. It was a 'Designers Panel' and I was to be the meat in the sandwich between Dr Reiner Knizia and, arguably, the coolest game designer in the World today Mr Eric M. Lang:
Reiner and Eric are both like, uh, like poets you know like Shelley or Byron, or people like that. The two totally distinct types of visionaries, it's like fire and ice, basically, you see and I feel my role in the podcast, is to be kind of in the middle of that, kind of like lukewarm water, in a sense.
Jokingly, because I like a joke, I asked young Tom if I was allowed to swear. He looked me straight in the eyes, stony-faced, and said, softly: "No, Sir". Right. That's clear then.
Now, while I am perfectly used to standing up in front of large rooms of people and banging on about stuff (I shall be doing a lot of that this coming week for 'work', as it happens), I admit to suffering a touch of the squeaky sphincter at the prospect. To further compound this apprehension, I was chatting with the Playtest UK guys about 20 minutes before the 'cast started and my voice cracked!
So, enjoy we three amigos in conversion (or 'Tom-versation', if you will?):
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