Kickstarter Roundup – Summer 2020

My blog has been stalling throughout the summer but my gaming kept on going. Kickstarter proved to continue strongly with a qualitative line-up of titles. I have received very few Kickstarter games since the beginning of the year but from September onwards I think I will absolutely love waiting for the mailman =D


Tantrum House: not much to explain here. Of course I cannot resist some promos and extra content for my favourite games. I can mention the ones for Cartographers, for instance, which I had to get and had been chasing for a while + some extra content for Set a Watch or Genotype. Was hoping to find more during the pledge manager but in the end, I did not increase my initial pledge.

Daimyo: La Boรฎte de Jeu is a publisher very dear to me since I tried It’s a Wonderful World. This new title looks beautiful and present an intriguing and original atmosphere. I like that this seems to be a very crunchy experience using mechanics such as dice management. My wife being prone to analysis paralysis, we will see how it plays out though ๐Ÿ˜‰

Intrepid: this one was a real surprise for me because it came out of the blue. I had heard a little bit about it but it was not on my radar. In all honesty, it’s thanks to the website What’s Eric Playing that I was sold ( I love the dice mechanics in this one which is not using pure luck but forcing you to use the connections between the modules and players to advance in the game. Seems a rather innovative experience and very much looking forward to it!

Spirits of the Forest: Let’s be honest this one was mainly FOMO and a beautifully-led campaign that got me to pledge. Of course a lavish multiplayer card-drafting games is alway something I will look at but this one was supported on my side without reading much about it. Congrats (again) Thundergryph Games and let’s see what I’ll get!

Petrichor: this is such a wonderful and gorgeous game! Just the cover could be a piece of art to be honest! I had my eyes on this one for a long time but held back as I thought to have the full experience I would have to jump straight away on all expansions. … And that’s exactly what I did but I did not feel bad about it when you see the big box with all extra content, game organiser, etc. this was such a good deal! Cannot wait to have it home and get it on the table!

Terraforming Mars: not sure I have to explain much about this one. Well I will definitely have to write a review about Terraforming Mars and the experience it is. I absolutely love this card, the drafting, the engine building and the increasing tension when you play. I wanted to invest in some of the expansions so why not go all in and then … of course I need the big box otherwise it will take up too much space! (hum … was I convincing enough?)

Railroad Ink: here again a very efficient and enticing campaign. With more challenges and stretch goals one could imagine, Horrible Guild managed to create a whole community. Railroad Ink proved to be a quick and enjoying game I could bring around and play with anyone so adding more content and mechanics can only make it better right? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Endangered Species: this one is a what an expansion dubbed as more of the same thing. And that’s exactly what I was looking for. Rather risky when I still have not received the base game (should be here in a few weeks) but I read enough about it and watched so many videos that I can pretty safely say that it will hit the table several times with my wife. The overall theme already got her excited and I think the middleweight complexity is right where we sit most of the time when we play together.

To keep an eye on in September

โœ”๏ธ – definite back — ๐Ÿ” – intrigued but don’t know enough — โ“- on the fence

๐Ÿ” Streets: Villagers looked interesting enough but had read some pretty negative reviews too so never tried it. This ones seems more appealing to me but I have to check how meaty mechanics will prove to be

โœ”๏ธ Mercado de Lisboa: a Lacerda meaty filler game. No need to say more, I’m in! Interesting combo mechanics in a much lighter format whilst still being strategic enough. And of course the access to the pledge manager to bag some of his games on top of it ๐Ÿ˜‰

โœ”๏ธ Way of the Samurai – Blood and Bushido : the expansion to one of my best solo experiences of 2020. An intricate hand management game where you have to careful plan every move to defeat your opponents. A ton of deployability in a tiny box. Not sure the expansion is needed right now but for 9โ‚ฌ you can count me in

โ“In Too Deep: I was so excited about this one until they pulled the plug at the beginning of the first campaign. Will now be a lot more wary and wait to see how it unfolds. Greedy publisher in terms of reaching their SG or needed to rework the campaign to have the expected appeal? We will see!

๐Ÿ” Cascadia: I heard Rahdo talk about this one in his August recap ( and have to say that the look of the game appealed to me and the fact that he compared it to Calico in terms of gameplay and depth intrigued me a lot!

๐Ÿ” 7th Citadel: a beast of a game and so much hype around it! I have never played 7th Continent because even though I am really tempted, I don’t think I will invest enough time to ever do it justice. Hope this one will be a more accessible experience and something I can sink my teeth into!

โœ”๏ธ Set a Watch – Swords of the Coin: really enjoyed this one during the summer on my terrace with some good Gin but my main complain was that there was not enough variety in the monsters and that it felt rather samey after a while. Expecting some more content from this one and perhaps some more balancing in terms of mechanics and powers. Let’s see what they have in stock for us

๐Ÿ” Dinosaur World: really curious about this one because I heard so much praise for Dinosaur Island that I have to keep an eye on that one. I never came to purchase the first game because I just find it extremely ugly and unappealing. Maybe it’s stupid of me but the arts, the board and pretty much everything about Dinosaur Island just does not do it for me. Excited to find out more about this on and the roll and write they will announce (Demeter you won’t be on your own for long!)

Set a Watch

Title: Set a Watch
Player count: 1 to 4
Play time: 45 min. to 1h

Set a Watch is a game that was released in 2019 following a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2018 (back when I was not completely addicted yet … which explains why I had never heard of it until a few months back). This game is designed by Mike Gnade and Todd Walsh. Rings a bell? Probably should for Mike Gnade at least who worked on games such as AlderQuest, Maximum Apocalypse or the upcoming and very hyped Lawyer Up which was recently on Kickstarter (late pledge available here).

Coverage of Set a Watch spiked in the last few weeks given the increasing attention devoted to solo players during the confinement. And yes I am very happy as I do enjoy a good solo game … and of course my bank account is also looking forward to the end of this lockdown! Another good news for fellow players is that there will be an expansion coming next year on Kickstarter and I received confirmation from the designer that there will also be an upgrade pack if you missed the previous Kickstarter.

What is Set a Watch?

This is a dice rolling game set up in a fantasy world. There is not much of a backstory but you can imagine that the kingdom is in danger and you are coming to the rescue. The plan is to set up a camp and to travel across the kingdom with your team of warriors. Each of them have their own abilities and your campfire will be central to your endeavour as this will drive some of your action as well as your ability to tackle the enemies lurking in darkness.

Everything I will explain here is based on a solo mode but can apply to higher player counts. When you have more players, you will spread your heroes amongst your teammates but overall play is not affected. Now that you know this, let’s open the box and empty it of these cards and dice. Yes, as you can see in the main picture, the box will also serve as a board and container for some of you cards.

First of all, you select randomly four adventurers and lay out their four cards in front of you. Then select (again at random) three abilities that you will spread out. From all of them, you have to select one randomly and exhaust it. As these represent also your characters’ health, this means that every single adventurer will start the game with only 2 health points. (apparently a common mistake amongst new players so keep it in mind). You can then distribute their dice (d6 or d8, depending on your adventurers).

Then set up your creature deck (separate your unhallowed monsters in another deck for now) by selected randomly 30 creatures and then including 1 to 4 summon cards depending on what level of difficulty you want to play on. Divide your creature deck into as many summon cards before including them and shuffle separately before forming one deck in total. This means your summon cards with not be altogether as you include several small stacks of cards with each summon card. (FYI, a summon card is powerful as it exhaust one ability of the adventurer on camp and is then placed in the graveyard and replaced by an Unhallowed Card – ie. very powerful monster).

Prepare your journey: take the location cards and remove all final locations (one in the base game) and respite locations (with a tent figure). Then draw 8 randomly and put them face down on the location slot in the box + add a final location at the bottom. This will represent your journey across the kingdom. Place all other locations cards in the “unused location” slot, these will be used when triggering some bonuses allowing you to select locations.

Unhallowed deck: shuffle the unhallowed and draw one to place face down in the horde deck (within the box), then deal 7 in a face-up deck next to the board and discard all remaining. The Horde deck represents your final battle and will build up (or not) during your game. Your should therefore have so far one card in the horde and an unhallowed deck with the top card revealed for you to see. Last thing, set up the firewood value at 7 to start the game (you can also roll the d8 to select the value and make it harder).

I will not go too much down the rules and various turns as there are plenty of videos online and the rulebooks is also available on the BGG page (set up is not the clearest but turns breakdown is great and there is also a section breaking down a typical game which is very helpful) –> here. What I would rather do is to explain the main mechanisms so that you can see if this game is for you or not based on that.

Turn order:
Reveal location (no decrease in firewood value during 1st round)
Roll dice for all adventurers and decide which one will camp. This adventurer now select the various camp actions he will take (special rules apply)
Apply any effect from the location if necessary before revealing monsters
Draw as many creatures as indicated on the location and place in a line going towards the campfire. Only reveal face up the closest cards to the fire and respect the number of creatures you can show depending on your fire value (1, 2 or 3): the brighter the fire, the more you can see
Combat: you will now select attacks (bearing in mind your range) and abilities from your party to decimate the groupe of daemons coming your way – keep in mind the creatures’ abilities in general and when they are first in line. Do this until you have no dice left to take any actions
Damage: if you cannot kill all creatures, you then take damage for all remaining daemons in line

You will repeat this for each location in the deck and also bearing in mind that each adventurer can only go twice to camp for the whole game. When you reach the final location, no one goes to camp. You then deal creatures as always depending on the value on the location and then add the horde deck, making it extra challenging to tackle (luckily you have one extra adventurer compared to all your previous turns). If you get through this and still have some firewood and at least one adventurer standing, you win. Otherwise, well … daemons will be feasting on your remains.

How does it play?

What a great adventure is Set a Watch. Immersive in the story it tells and with some great heroes and monsters. I have played several games both solo and 2 players and really enjoyed them both. Actually love the solo part as it feels even more like a puzzle. Analysing how to use all your powers and dice in order to take down your foes and being wise enough in order not too be caught off guard by monsters hiding in the darkness really got to me.

There is a great variety in the cards available to you, the fact that you have several heroes and that you can either select them or pick them at random (as suggested by the rulebook). Games will never be exactly the same and your brain will be left burning to adapt to some of these challenges. Easy to set up and take away this compact world is a great game to take with you and once mastered, rules are very straight forward. Special thumbs up for the components and the portability of the game. Just a small disappointment with the dice with some colours I don’t particularly like and the overall quality which I feel could be better given you use them all the time.

Not much to complain about but I would mention two things that for me make this game not so perfect.
– variety can seem great at first but this will probably wear out rather quickly if you play several games in a row as you will mainly come across the same enemies (luckily, the unhallowed deck will keep a few nice surprises for you). Therefore a game I cannot go back to too often if I want to keep that energy and passion I have when I play it
– the game is not as balanced as I would have liked – some heroes and abilities are clearly stronger than others and I felt that some combinations will leave you to struggle a lot more during the game. Whilst I do not really mind this amongst enemies so that it keeps the game fresh every time, I felt that unbalanced cards in your hands are just taking away some of the initial thrills you can feel when battling through the waves of enemies

However, I know my experiences will get even better as soon as I can get my hands on the expansion et the Kickstarter upgrade pack when available through the campaign! All in all, if you are looking for a great hand/board management game with dice rolling set in a fantasy world and which can still be challenging while not being too complex to learn then you should give Set a Watch a try!

Verdict: 8/10

Snowbirds (+ expansions)

Title: Snowbirds (Expansions: Storms & Sunset Sky)
Player Count: 1 or 2
Play time: 10/15 minutes

Snowbirds was released in 2017 as part of the Solitaire PNP Contest organised by BGG Yeah you probably see a trend as to where I find my inexpensive or free games at the moment. Tough year to come on top because Black Sonata was part of the candidates (which I late pledged with its expansion only a few days ago and am really excited about. If you are curious there you go: link). However, Snowbirds stil managed to lead the charts in some of the categories that year.

That was enough for me to check it out and let’s be honest, it is mostly the art that motivated me to read more about it too. Nature seems to transcribe particularly well into nice board games int he last few years and birds are very common too (yes Wingspan, we are looking at you) – on a side note, I think bees are close to nยฐ1 this couple of years with a plethora of games using them (Honey Buzz, Queenz, Bees Secret Kingdom, etc.).

Anyway, this all led me to check this game and I was even happier to notice additional content was also available with two expansions on BGG. I therefore switched on my printer to get yet another PNP game. Before delving deeper into Snowbirds, I just wanted to mention that I also checked on Kickstarter and was surprised this had not been picked up by a publisher for a physical release. That said, I saw that the artist and designer Brian Garthwaite has made several games (some equally gorgeous) but most them have remained “only” PNP projects.

What is Snowbirds ?

In Snowbirds, you are guiding your flock of birds on their migration from North to South. This will not be an easy task as you must make sure they survive the trip by controlling their food, exhaustion and their pace. You will be going through the deck of cards to reveal your actions and the locations you are passing by but must remain careful in your choices. Taking the risk not to forage enough food in order to have more actions left might also mean you will not make it and might have your birds die of hunger.

This is the pitch for the base game which plays entirely solo. Mechanics are mainly hand management and push your luck. Set up is easy:
– Draw 9 map locations to form the migration deck, place “South” at the bottom and set up North as your starting point
– Shuffle your action cards and deal 5 to build your starting hand
– Set up your player board with Hunger and Exhaustion on 0 and flock (size) on 5

Basic setup after 3 rounds (exhaustion and Hunger at 1) + a nice player aid on the top-right corner

MAP CARDS – As you can notice from the above picture, they have several pieces of information on them (ie. North, Great Lake, Bird Sanctuary and Wheat Field). You can see the track for your flock token, the top row is the distance; Dice symbols represent Risk and bottom row is Hunger. You can also see that some of them (in this picture all of them) can have a special effect triggered when on them: ranging from extra/less foraging, to bonus actions or higher risk.

ACTION CARDS – Here again, these cards have quite some information them. You can see the flight value, foraging content and also an icon in the middle which can be either the value of a die or a “R” (reroll). The size of your hands always equals the size of your flock – except if stated otherwise by a card of if some of your birds die then you will not discard your cards but not replenish them until you have less cards than the amount of birds in your flock.


  • NEW DAY – Draw a new map card and lay it next to North (or the series already placed)
  • PRE-FLIGHT (Each turn only before birds fly)
    * REST: you can place an action card face down to remove 1 Exhaustion (but will lose VPs at the end of the game)
    * FORAGE: you can play an action card Forage side up to decrease Hunger by the amount shown on it
    * FLIGHT: you play your action card Flight side up to meet or exceed the amount of “Distance” on the two map cards in play (the one you leave from and your destination) – any extra points will be lost
    * VIGOR: roll two dice representing your vigor, if this meets or exceed the value shown on your current location + your destination, you succeed. If not, you will increase your exhaustion by 1
    !! You can place one (or more) of your action cards sideways to play their tenacity value and replace one of your dice (by a value indicated in the middle of the action card or if stating an “R” then preroll one of your dice) !!
    Move your flock token to the next location. Remember to increase Hunger on the player board by adding up the two values on your starting location and the destination (the hunger you built up during your journey)

Push your luck: to use less card you can always not forage or not use “Tenacity actions” (cards put sideways). However, do not forget that Hunger will have an impact on Distance (the hungrier you are, the longer distances will be as your flock is weaker). Besides, exhaustion will also increase the risk value of future cards. All in all, this will make your trip more difficult and if you Exhaustion level passes 2, you will lose a bird and same thing will happen if you ever go over a value of 4 in Hunger.

Migration will end once your flock reaches South, of at least what remains of your initial flock depending on how adventurous or cautions/smart you have been throughout the game. Scoring is easy (but note that minus VPs are possible):
– Earn points for: any distance on unspent action cards + value of your flock
– Lose points for: final value of Hunger; any face down rest cards and final value of exhaustion (- 2 VPs for each point)

Expansions: Sunset Sky (left) & Storms (right)

Expansions offer rules to play with two players. Sunset Sky is adding a lot of new map cards for more variety and also some new effects. Storms is intruding a new system which will branch out locations tempting you into risking even more in order to potentially get some interesting rewards but also with negative effects lurking if you do not manager to go through these stormy cards.

How does it play?

First of all, I am not sure my pictures do justice to the game but I want to emphasise the fact that it is absolutely gorgeous, and whilst I have some reservations (namely when it comes to some location cards from Sunset Sky which I find sometime difficult to read), I was very impressed with how clear, clean and just plainly beautiful these cards are. The colourful locations and well as the simple iconography makes it a real pleasure to browse through this game.

Another aspect of the game I really enjoy is that the narrative makes sense. How exhaustion or hunger are affected by your movements and the effect they have on risk and perception of distance just tie in nicely with the overall storyline. As a player, I really felt like I was controlling my flock and guiding them through these various locations and pondering whether I should take some risks and potentially lose some of my birds. All in all, actions work well, are not too complicated and form overall a nice and pleasant game.

However, I also have some rather major concerns with this game. First of all, I think it is just too easy and this will affect my interest in replaying it rather quickly… I found that it is difficult to lose some of you birds as you can always mitigate risks if you are careful enough. Therefore, this will be mainly about your VPs and not about your flock going through the migration process or not. After quite some games, I never lost any bird and whilst my final score varied greatly, I am not sure this is enough to make me go back many times again to Snowbirds.

Another element is that I do not have any issue with luck and randomness especially when it ties in nicely with the story of the game but in this case I found myself losing interest as I found strategy is rather limited. Bottom line is that the main decision is whether or not you wills sacrifice some hunger and risk just to save some cards. This will most likely be the case every two turns, or you can just figure out by looking at the cards in front of you.

I was really happy with Sunset Sky which adds some nice effects and increases massively the replay value of the game with a lot more location cards. Storms is indeed an interesting concept but for me this ended up increasing the “push your luck” mechanic which I find rather frustrating in this game. These cards will therefore most likely stay aside from the rest of the game. Finally, two-player mode is okay and at least means I can share this with my wife but at heart, Snowbirds remain a deeply solo experience.

Verdict: 6/10 (was probably higher after a couple of plays but wearing out rather quickly for me)

Railroad Ink (Blue Edition)

Title: Railroad Ink
Player count: 1 to 6 (per box)
Play Time: +/- 30 minutes

A very hyped genre is definitely roll and write. In the last couple of years they have been pretty much everywhere. Whilst it’s a very crowded type of games, some of them still manage to surprise me either with their form/genre or with their mechanics. And we are pretty hooked on them with my wife, so get ready as you will read about some of them on this blog. But is Railroad Ink part of these good surprises? Let’s find out.

What is Railroad Ink ?

This is a pocket-sized game which was release in 2018 in 2 editions: blue and red. No changes at all in terms of the base game but these offer different expansions (two in each box). In each of them you will find 6 boards, 6 dry erase markers, 4 dice for the base game and 2 set of 2 dice which would each be used to play one of the expansions available in each box.

Railroad Ink plays over 7 identical rounds where you will roll the four dice and then draw the various tracks/roads on your map. Bearing in mind of course that roads and tracks must be drawn starting from the exits (red crosses) and always be in some way connected to one (e.g. cannot drew one in the middle of the map. Just remember that you must draw all four dice whether convenient or not. Just to help you out, you also get joker tiles (cf. top of the map, six white squares). You can draw one per round but are limited to 3 over the whole game.

Okay right, simple enough but how to you earn points in this game? At the end, you will go over specific elements to count them (symbolised again on the top part of the map):
– How many exits each of your network counts – careful that stations (black squares do not interrupt tracks and roads) – for each network look on the tab to see how many points they are worth: e.g., network of 2 is 4 points; 6 is 20; etc.
– Longest road and track: imagine you are driving on these, what is the longest path (1 point per square)
– 1 point per filled square pithing the orange line at the centre of the map (max. 9)
– Lose one point for each track or road not connected or at the edge of the map without an exit
– Star symbol is used fo extensions, which we will cover right away!

A (for once) non messy and rather great result – 53 points without any expansion

After playing dozens of games and without ever looking at the expansions, this blog was the perfect excuse to try them out too. As explained before, you find two expansions in each edition of the game. For instance, the “Deep Blue” version we own contains the “Rivers” and “Lakes” expansions, which are basically an additional couple of dice for each of them. Without a lot of expectations, we tried them out with my wife this afternoon. Before detailing these a bit more, I just want to add that for each expansion, the game now plays in 6 rounds and you can choose each time whether or not to use any extra die when you roll al the dice (six in total now, i.e. 4 base game and 2 for expansion).

Lakes: these can be drawn anywhere if they do not contain any stations, otherwise have to be linked to a track itself linked to an exit. They will connect to tracks and roads if these are themselves linked to a station on the same lake. On top of this, at the end of the game you will score 1 point for each square contained in your smallest lake.

Rivers: same overall rules for placement but this time, any unfinished river will count as a -1 at the end of the game. Rivers cannot be crossed by roads or tracks, only bridges can (represented on the extra set of dice). At the end of the game, count all the minuses and in terms of points, selected one river and count 1 point per square it contains + a bonus of 3 points if the river is connected on both sides to the edge of the map (these cannot be exits, i.e. red arrows).

Games with both expansions: rivers (left) and lakes (right) – still trying to be as clear as possible

How does it play?

Railroad Ink is a fun roll and write which is easy to teach and has a nice small table presence. I found the art rather appealing and the games flow nicely, which is a feat in itself as filling up 30 minutes can be tough for small table games. I appreciate the push your luck element of the game whilst going down one route (/track) and hoping some dice will come out on the next round. The addition of the joker tiles which can be used in a limited fashion per game makes it even more strategic. This has become one of our casual games at home with my wife when we are sipping a cup of tea or when having lunch on our terrace. Easy to set up, not many rules and great fun altogether.

Small improvements could be to have an idea of how many times each face depicted on the map appears on the set of dice as they are not distributed evenly but I never really bothered counting them. Apart from that, I heard (and read from) a lot of people that the theme was not present enough and that it felt quite bland but this is is not the case for us and we like building up our networks in our small city.

As far as the expansions are concerned, they are a welcome addition and do tweak the game quite a bit without overhauling it completely. This means you can add them up easily without having to remember many rules and as they are included in the base game anyway, let’s say that I did not expect too much from them. One small annoyance is that they can slow down the overall game (especially if you try to make nice drawings like my wife). I found the lake expansion to be rather forgettable and lazy as it did not to bring anything special to the base game. Whilst we really enjoyed the river one which is basically adding one kind of route and intertwines nicely with the rest of the constructions.

Verdict: 7.5/10 (6.5 with the Lakes expansion; and 8/10 with the Rivers expansion)

Psssst! If you are interested, there will be a Kickstarter launching on May 12th with two new versions of Railroad Ink as well as a solo board. More info can be found here (link). Definitely looking great and on my agenda to back!


Title: Orchard
Player count: 1 (more with several games)
Play Time: +/- 10 minutes

In this period of confinement, I discovered the wonderful world of PNP games. PNP? Print and Play of course – well don’t worry I did not know much about them before this whole staying at home situation. Definitely an inexpensive, pocket-size and fine way to play – well for the ones that are good because it is a very crowded market!

Orchard was awarded in 2018 best nano game during a design contest (link) on BGG – aka Board Game Geek. On year later, Side Room Games created a Kickstarter to fund a physical version of the game and it is now available for you to buy online or to print for free.

What is Orchard ?

It Is a solo card game where your objective is to harvest as many fruits as possible. How do you do this? AT the beginning of the game, you select 9 cards which are all bearing 6 different fruit trees (yellow, purple or red) and shuffle them. You start off your orchard by drawing the first card and setting it on the table.

Then you will take two cards in your hand and you are ready to go! On your turn you will select one of your cards and overlap the trees that are the same on both cards, for each of them you will score points (symbolised by your dice of the same colour). You then draw a new card and select again one from your hand to lay over the fiel in front of you to score more points.

As the game advances, your dice will bring more points depending on how many trees overlap: starting with one, then three, six and then the maximum (10). This is why the physical version uses a specific die with a fruit basket to symbolise this bonus. Of course, the overlapping will get more and more tense as combinations get trickier. Never mind, you have two “rotten fruit” tokens you can use if you overlap two different kinds of tree. However, these will subtract 3 points at the end of the game and also block the trees they rest on until the end of the game!

FYI, I am using the 5 side of the dice for the bonus (10) as I don’t have a physical copy

How does it play?

Orchard is definitely an excellent pocket size game! I love the replayability value and the scoring system. I found it very addictive and also really appreciated the fact that the game comes with 18 cards, meaning that during initial setup you basically split the pack of cards in two, meaning as soon as you are done with your first game you can just start over right away.

However, this has also the limits of its format, which to be fair is nothing to blame the game about. It does what it says on the tin: great fun little game which will keep you entertained for a few sessions at a time. So yes, the theme could be basically anything and randomness plays a big role in it but who cares because your game might be over and done with after 5 minutes, leaving you with the urge to start another one right away!

Verdict: 7.5/10

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