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Subject: Let's all be civilized, shall we? rss

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Arne Thomi
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I’m not sure if this is a review or rather a session-report on my one 2-player game I’ve got in. I’ll just post it as a review in hope to get more thumbs. The review is structured just like the one by BGGuser “ilgoga”. However I’ve got my own thoughts I wanted to share. If your eyes get sore from all the reading, scroll down to the bottom! There’s picture relief there.

Now Civbuilding – probably the best way to catch my interest. Nothing like building up your civilization from a meager nomadic tribe into the next Roman or – speaking in modern terms – US or China Empire. Another recent effort did all that almost perfectly for me. FFGs Sid Meier’s Civilization (later referred to as SMC) set the benchmark in that category of games. At least for me it did. How will Christian Marcussens Clash of Cultures (referred to as CoC following) compare? Is it a puny tribe still bellowing in joy and raving over madly at the sight of fire or is it the next superpower of the Civbuilding games?

Rulebook
I don’t see a winner here at all. Both rules have a very good structure. The rulebook of SMC is a bit longer, but that’s because it’s got more in-depth rules. The rule structure for CoC is very lean and absolutely coherent. Take note of the use of the words “lean” and “in-depth”. I think for a new gamer or gamers new to either of these games it will be easier to explain the rules for Clash of Cultures. They are held really simple, as the games mechanisms are surprisingly and delightfully simple. The reason I’m not giving the benefit of the doubt to CoC here is because I like in-depth-mechanisms and rules. Also there are two things that bother me in the rules for Clash of Cultures.
1. I like how game mechanisms are thematically explained or justified. However, giving VP to a culture for a destroyed city as a result of a natural disaster doesn’t make sense at all. Even with the explanation or especially not with the explanation given. There’s a flaw in saying that your culture profits from the cultural effects the archeological exploration has. I’m pretty sure the downfall of pompeji didn’t help the roman culture much. The archeological explorations were done ages/centuries later and it wasn’t the romans doing the research by that time ;-)
2. How do you imagine a naval battle in the ancient world? I knew they had ballistas, but gunpowder was still a pretty far way from being invented. So there are no canons shooting back and forth. Now please tell me why in a sea fight I would only get to roll for each faction’s ships and not for the armies on board and have them sink with a ship without having their chance to fight back? I have an answer: this would require a further in-depth rule, which doesn’t fit into a game that clearly tries to manoeuvre its way around in-depth rules
Like I said before, I call a Tie. (0:0)

Set-up
Let’s make this as short as the game does. I could play a game of CoC during SMC setup. Well, almost ;-) Winner: CoC (1:0)

The time it plays
I’m not talking about the game length. I’m talking about the time period it covers. Like I stated in the beginning, you want to lead your culture all the way. But Clash of Cultures doesn’t go all the way in these terms. You lead your civilization only to its (hopefully) first period of prosperity. No tanks, no flight, no atomic fission. Unfortunately in CoC your reign ends in the ancient world.First-time win for SMC (1:1)

Technology tree vs. Technology board
Here I thought prior to having played the game, CoC would emerge victorious. Based on pictures, the technology board of Clash of Cultures seemed so much superior in displaying your possibilities in terms of technology advances, but there are crosslinks. Lots of them! It wasn't until I finished the science line that I saw that having philosophy grants you a bonus for every science technology you discover. In contrast to FFG Civ also the wonders have (all different) prerequisites in order to be built.
Again, we’re facing a Tie! No matter what, a Civbuilding needs a technology tree/line/pyramid as a foundation. To get acquainted with this foundation always takes time and you should take the time. None of us likes to be the reason for downtime, but I can’t think of an alternative. Well,playing intuitively was what I’ve done, but you can see what this results to in my description above. Let’s face it. Civbuilding games are nonintuitive – unless you boil them in water that’s at 50 degrees Celsius … and eat Tempus! Take your time reading into the “tech lines”. Don’t hassle newbies or new players to make their move, neither aggressive or non-aggressive. You know there are polite ways to hassle people. (1:1)

The map
Let’s build this the other way around. Clear winner in this category is CoC. It’s not for reasons of SMC having square tiles (I don’t see a problem in that) but - and I consider this a stroke of genius – this game creates a board off the board. And this off-board represents the world’s oceans. Finally: A Civbuilding game taking into consideration that actually 71% of our planet are wet. Without the players getting all edgy they’re finding sea fields when exploring only. Thank you! I really like how the water fields are treated and that you can sail “around the world”. By the way: the world of CoC is much smaller. Starting settlements are just five spaces away. That’s only two movement actions for an army or a grouped army if there are no obstacles in the way. (2:1)

City/Population growth and its effect on the game
In SMC the number of cities determines the number of actions you can take. The sheer number of your cities in CoC is not related to the number of actions. You always have a fixed set of 3 actions per turn. The growth of your population is represented in a different way. It shows how many resources a city can collect or how many units it can build. I like the rules you have to follow when it comes to increasing your city size for its linear simplicity. And I totally dig that you can make your population happy or angry, that you can exploit them. A Civbuilder should enable its “leaders” to take unpopular actions every now and then. Also, it has these great city components. While I appreciate SMC efforts to integrate the surroundings in a better (once again more in-depth) way, CoC takes the win here. (3:1)

Movement
Now this is a point where no game really wins or loses. I’m just pointing this out because it’s one of the games mechanisms in which the two contenders completely differ. In SMC you get to move your armies every turn, in CoC moving armies costs an action. And that’s possibly one of the reasons … (3:1)

Conflict
… we had no conflict in our 2-player-game of CoC. I know, that 2-player games tend to move into a sort of a gameplay where you see conflict as the lesser of two goods when compared to constructive gameplay resulting in a mutual peace agreement. But the feeling of war angst is bigger in SMC, even in 2-player games. Even with the military objective cards of CoC. And once again we have the difference between lean rules and in-depth rules. CoC uses a combat-system based on dice, whereas SMC relies on a card-driven combat, in which the otherwise tedious rock-paper-scissors-mechanic shines. And that’s a great accomplishment. Getting something terrible to make it shine! This is a battle, SMC decides in its favor.(3:2)

Government
To be fair, I cannot really make a judgment on this one. I just have the impression the governmental type has a bigger impact in SMC. Why do I think so? Once again I have to state that it’s just a 2-p-session of CoC I have in, but in that game neither of us cared for the governmental “advances”. It wasn’t until late in the game that I had Nationalism. Let’s call it a Tie for now! (3:2)

Wonders
The Wonders and their benefits in SMC play a big role right from the start whereas in CoC they are rather victory point machines. Also, the artwork of SMC is better in that case. SMC! (3:3)

Events
Ouch, it’s been addressed, but the randomness in COC’s event deck is not something for the ones faint at heart. We didn’t draw any of the so feared barbarian attacks, but we drew other things that were quite drastic. Having only 2 actions in a turn all of a sudden or reducing your biggest city from happy to angry out of nowhere with no mood tokens left makes for a very bad surprise. Or cards that affect you in a negative way but not other players, because they’re happy enough to have a specific technology advance… I think that this really harms the strategical nature Civbuilding games usually take, these cards make for a very tactical impact. Now if at least they would have been sorted into different periods.Maybe we’ll get a designer update on that topic? Winner: SMC (3-4)

Victory conditions
It’s been raved about the greatness of SMC’s different victory conditions. And deservedly so! With people pursuing different strategies, you minimize the risks of your typical “bash-the-leader”-symptom. Who would you bash if everyone is leading in one way or the other? Once again CoC keeps it simple and I like the cultural influence you can take on your coplayers, even though it’s quite costly. Personally, I don’t like the rule that you can play as many objective cards as you like during one status phase. Sure, if you don’t play them you’re taking the risk you might not be able to play it later on, but I dislike when all of a sudden, my opponents reveal victory points galore at the very end. SMC scores. (3:5)

Game length
It took us about 3 hours to play including rules explanation. My first game of SMC took me 7 hours (but with 4 players) There’s nodenying that CoC plays faster. Even though it doesn’t quite fit into SMC setup-time. I exaggerated a little, I guess. This one goes to CoC. (4:5)

Conclusion
Overall, I have to say that Kevin Wilsons Sid Meiers Civilization ;-) still sits on my throne for Civbuilding games. But that’s because it tickles my itch for games in that category better. And – as Clash of cultures is a very good game on its own(I’d rate it as an 8/10) – I am sure it will tickle other people’s itch better. It is a very basic or simple game (take elegant if the other adjectives have a negative touch for you). And it's like a former employers maxim used to be: "Achieving simplicity is the hardest thing to do" (Trust me: it's better in German )

End game score - Red 36 : Green 34 (it’s not important though. All you need to know is Arne won – that’s BGG user fourmyle in one of the pictures btw)








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Carsten Jorgensen
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As for naval battles in ancient times. I'm not an expert, but history does interest me and from what I remember early naval battles were primaryly a question of getting your own ships in a position to ram the enemy ships - not to have boarding battles (though that must have happened too at least with piracy). If not the ramming tactic, then there was "Greek fire" to burn enemy ships, or the use of small catapults/balistas with or without fire.

Actually having armies on board ships in that age might have made the ships less effective in battle, since they were already packed with oarsmen. So armies would make them slower and since speed was their primary weapon (early sails were not that usefull in battle - in fact I think they were not used at all), this disadvantage might well cancel out the benifit of having more men to fight if a boarding battle did happen.
Also there really only is SMC, that I can think of, that lets your armies fight on water (though here there are really no ships - civ 5 has it too in a special case). Otherwise all other computer civ-games have transport ships for armies, where those armies are simply lost if the transport is sunk.


About the VP for losing a city. I think, the idea behind the whole VP system, is to simulate the different things, that will make people remember a culture long after it is gone. Which is not always what might benifit a civilization at a given time. So in that way it makes sence to me, that you get points for losing a city to a vulcano or using cultural influence on an enemy city (which only benifits the "attacking" player by giving him points in the end - there is no in-game advantage, besides that this city now cannot use cultural influence).
Though I do suspect, that the explanation for giving VP for a vulcano, is an afterthought .
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Thanee
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the bored gamer wrote:
Starting settlements are just five spaces away. That’s only two movement actions for an army or a grouped army if there are no obstacles in the way.


http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/877101/units-can-only-move-o...



Quote:
With people pursuing different strategies, you minimize the risks of your typical “bash-the-eader”-symptom. Who would you bash if everyone is leading in one way or the other?


The one who is the fewest turns away from victory!

Bye
Thanee
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Carsten Jorgensen
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Didn't you forget to give "The map"-win to CoC? Before that it is 1:1, then nothing at "The map" and the category after CoC wins making it 2:1.

(also a funny typo with "bash-the-eader" - make it "bash-the-eater" and see who will next eat food near your boardgames ).

Great comparison .
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Arne Thomi
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Thank you guys so far for

- giving me some more background information about naval warfare (I was aware of the ramming,still I thought boarding fights were the usual)
- showing me my rule misinterpretations
- pointing out some of my typos. Yeah, no chips & salsa and touching cards round here, you hear? I was thinking about letting it the way it is but then decided to correct it.
- and of course for reminding me of my inability to count

Cheers
Arne
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Christian Marcussen
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Thanks for taking the time to write a review. Very well written. I look forward to hearing about your future plays and if that changes your perspective for good or bad. Like M&M I suspect people will appretiate some of the design choices and subtle interactions on multiple plays... perhaps

Taste is a funny thing. Some of the things you mention I regard as strong points of CoC - especially the victory conditions and the flexibility it allows. cool

Randor20 wrote:
Though I do suspect, that the explanation for giving VP for a vulcano, is an afterthought .


I guess you arent familiar with my whole design philosophy and relationship with theme

But you are quite right - as I explain the BGG Essen video presentation: Cultural Infuence, Wonders, Event scoring etc, is all about who gets remembered in the end. Thats really what the VP system is centered around.

Thanks again Arne - I look forward to hearing more and perhaps having you visit again in the future. We had a great time last you visited.

Cheers
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Marc Mistiaen
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Randor20 wrote:
As for naval battles in ancient times. I'm not an expert, but history does interest me and from what I remember early naval battles were primaryly a question of getting your own ships in a position to ram the enemy ships - not to have boarding battles


I don't know what you call early, but the Romans developed the corvus during the First Punic war to lock their ships with the enemy's and be able to board them, because they couldn't challenge Carthage's naval supremacy otherwise. This way, they would wage war on sea like they did on land, if you will.
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Joseph Cochran
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the bored gamer wrote:
Conflict
… we had no conflict in our 2-player-game of CoC. I know, that 2-player games tend to move into a sort of a gameplay where you see conflict as the lesser of two goods when compared to constructive gameplay resulting in a mutual peace agreement. But the feeling of war angst is bigger in SMC, even in 2-player games. Even with the military objective cards of CoC. And once again we have the difference between lean rules and in-depth rules. CoC uses a combat-system based on dice, whereas SMC relies on a card-driven combat, in which the otherwise tedious rock-paper-scissors-mechanic shines. And that’s a great accomplishment. Getting something terrible to make it shine! This is a battle, SMC decides in its favor.


SMC's overly complex and confusing battle system is why it rarely makes it to our table. In fact, at Essen when I had the chance I asked Christian specifically about the combat, because I knew that with everything else that would make or break this game getting repeated visits to the table. For me, CoC is a clear win here, FWIW.
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Carsten Jorgensen
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Corwin1980 wrote:
Randor20 wrote:
As for naval battles in ancient times. I'm not an expert, but history does interest me and from what I remember early naval battles were primaryly a question of getting your own ships in a position to ram the enemy ships - not to have boarding battles


I don't know what you call early, but the Romans developed the corvus during the First Punic war to lock their ships with the enemy's and be able to board them, because they couldn't challenge Carthage's naval supremacy otherwise. This way, they would wage war on sea like they did on land, if you will.


Didn't know about that. And now you got me interested, so I had to look it up (though at wiki, which is not always 100% right, but most of the time it is okay). And it sounds like boarding was much more common, than what I had learned. Maybe the programmes/magasines I've seen/read has been about the Peloponnesian War, where ramming was the favorite tactic (as it sounds like different navies had different tactics they favored).

Still speed would have been essential to manuver in for boarding, so more crew to fight would probably not have been a big enough advantage, for it to give a bonus in the game (they had to be light ships, for oarsmen to move them at sufficient speeds). Though it could be part of a national advantage for the people who like variants (something like +1 die for each 2 armies on a ship, since they are not used to fighting at sea).
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Arne Thomi
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jsciv wrote:


SMC's overly complex and confusing battle system is why it rarely makes it to our table. In fact, at Essen when I had the chance I asked Christian specifically about the combat, because I knew that with everything else that would make or break this game getting repeated visits to the table. For me, CoC is a clear win here, FWIW.


And that's perfectly fine. It shows that each gamer puts a different emphasis on what he expects in a game.I can see why you prefer the dice-driven combat of CoC, even if I think SMC's combat system is not overly complex but something very refreshing and new.
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Joseph Cochran
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Abyad wrote:
jsciv wrote:
SMC's overly complex and confusing battle system is why it rarely makes it to our table.






I can also add "slow and tablespace-consuming" to that description if you'd like.
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Adam Hoffman
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Yes, shrubberies are my trade. I am a shrubber. My name is Roger the Shrubber. I arrange, design, and sell shrubberies.
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Oh, what sad times are these when passing ruffians can say Ni at will to old ladies. There is a pestilence upon this land; nothing is sacred. Even those who arrange & design shrubberies are under considerable economic stress in this period in history
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the bored gamer wrote:
Technology tree vs. Technology board
Here I thought prior to having played the game, CoC would emerge victorious. Based on pictures, the technology board of Clash of Cultures seemed so much superior in displaying your possibilities in terms of technology advances, but there are crosslinks. Lots of them! It wasn't until I finished the science line that I saw that having philosophy grants you a bonus for every science technology you discover. In contrast to FFG Civ also the wonders have (all different) prerequisites in order to be built.


I really appreciate that players can see all of the technologies at once, whereas in SMC you have to flip through a deck of cards. I don't think that the interconnectedness is a big deal because it will mostly be an issue in the first game, and I don't think a Civ game CAN have a tech tree that is fully grasped in the first game.

Also, SMC and COC both have effective prerequisites for Wonders; what were you trying to point out here?

the bored gamer wrote:
Victory conditions
It’s been raved about the greatness of SMC’s different victory conditions. And deservedly so! With people pursuing different strategies, you minimize the risks of your typical “bash-the-leader”-symptom. Who would you bash if everyone is leading in one way or the other? Once again CoC keeps it simple and I like the cultural influence you can take on your coplayers, even though it’s quite costly. Personally, I don’t like the rule that you can play as many objective cards as you like during one status phase. Sure, if you don’t play them you’re taking the risk you might not be able to play it later on, but I dislike when all of a sudden, my opponents reveal victory points galore at the very end. SMC scores. (3:5)


I have two big issues with SMC's victory conditions: (1) It strongly encourages focused play strategies, effectively limiting the viability of mixed play styles and making the game strategies become rote, and (2) the victory types are not well balanced, at least prior to the expansion. I also don't think the different play strategies reduces the "bash the leader" syndrome: each player is assessed by how close they are to being able to fulfill their victory condition. Add in the fact that your civilization in SMC strongly encourages a narrow range of victory types and the result is a game that is needlessly constraining.

I also don't like the idea that players can wait until the last turn to cash in a lot of objective cards: I think limiting the number of objective cards that can be scored each status phase OR requiring the cards to be scored when it is possible would be a reasonable variant.
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Arne Thomi
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r0gershrubber wrote:


I really appreciate that players can see all of the technologies at once, whereas in SMC you have to flip through a deck of cards. I don't think that the interconnectedness is a big deal because it will mostly be an issue in the first game, and I don't think a Civ game CAN have a tech tree that is fully grasped in the first game.

Also, SMC and COC both have effective prerequisites for Wonders; what were you trying to point out here?


Which prerequisites do you mean in SMC? The quite large amount of production it takes? Other than that the Wonders in SMC don't require you to have anything, you just get "discount" if you have specific technologies. In CoC you flip the Wonder Cards and then see what resources you'll need PLUS which technologies you are required to have before you are able to build that wonder.

r0gershrubber wrote:

I have two big issues with SMC's victory conditions: (1) It strongly encourages focused play strategies, effectively limiting the viability of mixed play styles and making the game strategies become rote, and (2) the victory types are not well balanced, at least prior to the expansion. I also don't think the different play strategies reduces the "bash the leader" syndrome: each player is assessed by how close they are to being able to fulfill their victory condition. Add in the fact that your civilization in SMC strongly encourages a narrow range of victory types and the result is a game that is needlessly constraining.

I also don't like the idea that players can wait until the last turn to cash in a lot of objective cards: I think limiting the number of objective cards that can be scored each status phase OR requiring the cards to be scored when it is possible would be a reasonable variant.


I think that any but the culture victory condition in the base game has a fair share of winning. If you want to succeed by going for the cultural victory, I'd agree that you need the expansion. (I've seen all types of victory happen) I wouldn't even say that pursuing one victory trail narrows down your gameplay. It'd be deadly to focus on a single trail, but as with most games it sets you in the position which paths to choose, among these which one to pull for most strongly and which one(s) to neglect. Because usually if you want to do everything, it's not going to work. For me, it's hard to bash the leader in SMC because in most cases it was really hard to see who the leader is since in most sessions so far it was more than one player in a promising position.

Considering your suggestion, I don't know where to go yet. If I'd change anything I'd probably go for the mandatory scoring since we only had 3 respectively 4 goals achieved anyhow.But for our next session I'll still go with the rules as intended by the designer. It was such a tight game and after rereading over the tech tree, I'm itching to play it again and maybe go for a completely different approach.
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Arne
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the bored gamer wrote:


oh, that's me taking this photo:

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With all due respect, after reading the major comparisons you draw between COC and SMC, i was a little suprised as you only have one COC game under your belt.

First impressions are IMHO not enough to draw a comparison between these two wonderfull games. I played both and think both have enough variation to be two CIV games that need both a different approach. A black and white break down of general issues doesn't do right to either of these games.

Thanks for the session report/comparison. For me both games get a 9.25 not because they play the same but because of there unique mechanisms that provide the players with enough variation and diversity.

Keep the positive comments coming in...
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Arne Thomi
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bewareness wrote:
With all due respect, after reading the major comparisons you draw between COC and SMC, i was a little suprised as you only have one COC game under your belt.

First impressions are IMHO not enough to draw a comparison between these two wonderfull games. I played both and think both have enough variation to be two CIV games that need both a different approach. A black and white break down of general issues doesn't do right to either of these games.

Thanks for the session report/comparison. For me both games get a 9.25 not because they play the same but because of there unique mechanisms that provide the players with enough variation and diversity.

Keep the positive comments coming in...


However I mentioned quite a few times I just had one game in so far. So everyone should know to take this report with a grain of salt. And with all due respect - one game is definitely enough to make out the huge differences in gameplay that I was trying to point out.
Essentially, you and I draw the same conclusion, as is stated in the bold marked part.
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Mark Mitchell
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Quote:
I played both and think both have enough variation to be two CIV games that need both a different approach.


Eh?
 
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Christian Marcussen
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gamecat_uk wrote:
Quote:
I played both and think both have enough variation to be two CIV games that need both a different approach.


Eh?


They are different enough to have fun with both and play both. I think
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