Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, with a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that


Saturday, 24 July 2021

Trip to Stryker's, and Various Other Topics

 On Thursday I had an invitation to a wargame at Baron Stryker's country seat, rather north of here, so I packed up my lucky tree, tried to convince Siri the Navigator that Stryker does not, in fact, live at the pharmacy in my local High Street, and set off early to avoid the entitled children trying to kill each other on the Edinburgh Bypass.

It is maybe difficult to convey what an illustrious event this was for me. Since I have not been anywhere for 16 months which did not involve vaccinations or visiting my mother in her care home, it was a genuine treat. Ian had set up one of his excellent Old School games - proper wargaming! - an Allied force of about 1815 [I was the Duke of Wellington, though I am not a gentleman, and the Archduke, who had travelled further than I, was Blücher] was fighting against Ian's [Napoleon's] impressive looking French.

Ian, whose photos will inevitably do the event more justice than mine, will probably produce the official blog account in due course, so I shall merely set out here the best of my pictures, to give an idea of the action, with my usual propaganda-laden, biased captions. It was a most enjoyable day, with beautiful toys, an entertaining and absorbing game, great food and amusing company; I really had a marvellous time. My thanks to Stryker and the Baroness for their faultless hospitality, and to the Archduke for being an all-round good chap and a splendid ally.

Oh yes - the reason I still need navigation assistance to get to Stryker's, after a number of such trips, is because I can never, for the life of me, remember which exit from the M90 to take. It's always familiar when I get there, but you know how it is.

 
Turn 1 - Allies on the left (British this end, Prussians at the far end) and French opposite. I had all sorts of ideas about shifting some cavalry to my right flank, to cover the French lancers on that side, but the French immediately started bringing up their heavy cavalry reserve in the centre, so the Allies were prompted to react to this.

 
Thus the action began with a cavalry battle in the middle. I have no idea what odds Paddy Power had been offering against this possibility, but here we were again. The morning session was underway in frantic style, and Napoleon had brought along the Dice from Hell - here is an example of what the Allies were up against in this first session.

 
On the Allied left, some Prussian uhlans chased away a very attractive (though short-lived) regiment of Chasseurs à Cheval, but were obliged to follow-up, and suffered from musketry for their efforts. It took them a while to recover their composure.
 

The main cavalry action was not going well at all for the Allies - the Scots Greys have already routed (and took a long time to rally - they completely ignored all the fine words of Wellington, and only rallied when Stapleton Cotton joined them after lunch), some Prussian dragoons are falling back, while the Prussian cuirassiers and the battered Inniskillings are struggling against French cuirassiers and carabiniers respectively. Below you can see that the British right flank was now fixed, everyone in square, obsessed by the threat from a single unit of lancers.

At this point, we took a break for a splendid lunch, and the Allies were pretty much convinced that they would be beaten very quickly during the second session. However, something in the wind had changed. Given the choice, if there is a hill, the British infantry always prefer to march over the top. After lunch, the Cambridgeshires received a charge from the dreaded lancers in line, and drove them off with very heavy loss. That was the first encouraging sign for our side!

Allied cavalry still on the field, though the Prussian cuirassiers are about to disappear. The Blues have now taken on the fight against the French cuirassiers, and the Inniskillings are somehow gaining the upper hand against the carabiniers. This was the start of a very good spell for the Allies. [I have to observe that Blogger is a real pain in the neck this morning - uploading photos has been punctuated with a lot of failures and re-tries, and my usual treatment of caption text doesn't seem to be working now...]. Below you see the massed Prussian infantry working themselves up to fever pitch.

Napoleon sent forward his shiny new Grenadiers à Cheval, to support his stalling cavalry thrust, and they were promptly defeated by the Blues - the Curse of the Fresh Varnish strikes again. With the disappearance of the French lancers, Wellington's squares got themselves into column and started advancing on the Allied right.

On the Allied left, the Prussian uhlans keep an eye on a Swiss square (as one does), and the Prussian infantry are wearing down the Poles at the windmill. Below, you see the Cambridgeshires, with Rifles support, involved in a firefight with French infantry at the farmhouse. The last surviving gunner with the Guard Horse Artillery waves his linstock in defiance. I think it's a linstock.

On the central ridge, it's all happening - the Allied cavalry is now going very well indeed, putting the French line infantry to flight. Napoleon sends up the two battalions of his Guard to put things right...

...and ponders which of his axioms, appropriately delivered, might encourage the infantry, who can be seen heading back his way in disorder. Below are two general views of the table, coming into Turn 8 (the end of the day). The mighty Silesian Landwehr have chased away the Poles, while in the foreground the Hertfordshires (?) have decided that trying to form line to meet the oncoming French infantry is too risky, so they plough into them, still in column. I wanted to see what happened when two columns met head-on, so was delighted when the British boys managed to disorder the opposition on this occasion.


At the end of the game, the French were once again scoring a few successes, but the Allies had won on Victory Points by a decent margin. Napoleon could not get his Guard infantry onto the ridge in time to stop the rot, and the Allies were surprised and delighted to have won, considering the disastrous morning session. Stryker admitted afterwards that at lunch he had considered giving us some extra troops, to keep the game going in the afternoon. I've seen games turn around like this before, but I don't recall one turning in my favour for a very long time!

Here you go - you saw it here - British and French columns meeting head-on. Lovely toys, too.

 

Separate Topic #1 - WSS Rules

I'm very pleased to say that my enforced break from painting has allowed me to finish the playtesting I had planned, and I now have a working "First Edition" of my Prinz Eugen rules. I'm confident they will change some more, but at least I'll be editing something which exists rather than a cloud of scribbled notes! My thanks to Chris G, Stryker, Goya and the others who have helped me get this project shaped up. Another tick in the box, and a great deal of waste paper off to be recycled!


Separate Topic #2 - Troll-Stalking for Beginners

I mention this lightly, with no particular agenda. It would be inappropriate for someone with a blog as ill-disciplined and rambling as this one to have too thin a skin. I don't set out to upset anyone, but it is bound to happen. I don't worry about it - if someone disapproves of what I write, I assume they will move on and not waste their time on it. If they express their distaste then fair enough - words are cheap - in fact, some people's words are without any value at all.

Recently, an old friend of mine drew my attention to the fact that I was taking a bit of a panning on the pages of a hobby chat-forum, not from the point of disagreeing with what I had written, but from a stylistic point of view - in particular, phrases such as "incomprehensible" and "a mess" were in evidence when I had a look.

Well, I'm not really going to get too upset about this. I quite enjoyed most of the invective aimed in my general direction. I am aware that such fora have traditions of being unpleasant for its own sake, but one hero in particular - his ID may or may not be Frobisher, as it happens - went a bit far. His contribution, which was what had triggered the tip-off in the first place, was much too personal and unkind for my taste.

Why do people do this? I don't know, but I guess that one day it will kill off our access to social media as we know it, Jim, so I don't see it as trivial. To quote the uncredited soldier from the Waterloo movie, how can we kill one another? We've never even seen each other (etc). Where is the appeal in being hateful to a complete stranger, with no real motive? Is it just to amuse our friends, or do we actually feel better afterwards?


I have no idea. I thought for a while about why I should be a little upset about something so unimportant, and I decided that it is the "we've never even seen each other" bit. The anonymity. There's a definite threat in receiving hostility from a stranger who could be - well, anyone, really. So I contacted my old friend who had tipped me off in the first place. He, you see, is a member of the forum in question, and thus he has access to a few more details about the Cruel Frobisher. Armed with some simple facts, easily available to any member of the forum, I spent about 20 minutes, online, and poking about mainstream social media, without doing anything illegal, and I now know all about Frobisher. I know his name, I know where he lives, I know what he works at; I have, if I am interested, access to pictures of his friends and family. He is not very threatening at all, in fact he is rather a sad little creep. I have removed him from my consciousness.

Given this amount of extra information, I have reduced forum-member Frobisher from the status of Mysterious Warrior to something rather more entry-level. I have no idea what I could actually use my new knowledge for - almost certainly nothing at all - but it is astonishing how the implied threat disappears when people appear on public platforms as themselves, with their own identities. Maybe a change has to come, in which case MSFoy will have to come clean and admit that he is, after all, the Prince of Wales. Topic closed - if anyone on a forum somewhere takes exception to my views then I'm sure they're right. I could not care less. 










44 comments:

  1. Brilliant looking game and definitely a game of two halves, really glad you had a good day out and that it was worth the wait. I did tip my toe in the water with a trip to the club but only stayed for one drink - don’t think I’m quite ready to put up with the arguments between the conspiracy group and the other - you shouldn’t be here without two jabs set! I may invite a select individual or two for a game seems far more enjoyable.
    In terms of forums then I’m not in favour of anonymity people should be able to know and see who is commenting and then some of these little creeps who think they are being clever would never creep from under the rock. But other than the desire to seek glorious revenge in some way I think I’m at the age where I couldn’t give a damn what someone thinks - generally it’s their loss!

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    1. Going places is a bit of a culture shock, must admit.

      The troll is dismissed from my mind. If anyone's life is so empty they have to try to upset someone else for a bit of gratification then they are to be pitied, I think.

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  2. That looks like a great game, I'm wallowing in nostalgia now and really envious. I've tried to get my team together for a game and failed dismally; always one of us either on holiday or socially isolating.

    Regards that troll character, 'Pearls before swine' springs immediately to mind. Hopefully he'll just sod off and harass the Billy Goats Gruff.

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    1. The game was terrific fun. Fortunately, Stryker (rules author) did most of the thinking and calculation for us, so it was a real holiday trip!

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  3. Glad you had a nice day out and a victory as well! I saw no hexes so I did wonder what rules were being used?

    Pleased you managed to rationalise and dismiss the harmful poison from your troll. There were several reasons why I closed down my old blog and sadly being trolled was one of them. It took me over 6 months to pluck up the courage to try again under a different title and thankfully, so far, I have avoided their attention.

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    1. We used Stryker's "Muskets & Marshals" rules, which I think used to be downloadable from his blog - I don't think they are now.

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  4. Splendidly old school, Foy. What a wonderful re-entry into normal life. I am hoping to do the same in August now that I am double dosed.
    Sorry about the trolling but you have the measure of the man and have drawn sound conclusions.
    Cheers, Mike

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    1. All the best for August, Mike! Double-dosing is the way ahead, no question.

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  5. What a fantastic looking game - and some great action there too.
    Appreciate the WSS rules too - these do look fine, and a lot of work has clearly gone in.
    Re. the damned internet - well said sir! I find that forums are becoming an easy way in which to knock others, and it's pathetic. That fact that Frobisher also feels the need to have his identity plastered so blatantly across social media says a lot too, I think. I know a few people who put stuff on facebook at least twice a day (photos of dogs, dinner, and sometimes dogs' dinners...). Clearly these people aren't wargamers, and have too much time on their hands. A sense of purpose is what's required!

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    1. Hi Darren - it was one of those rare days when everything was as good as it could be. You don't think I've peaked too early, and used up my luck for the year?

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  6. What a grand re-entry into civilization, Tony! The game looks splendid and the action riveting. Must have been a welcome delight, for sure.

    On your trolling episode, sorry to read about this. I do not understand this behavior toward another's hobby and effort given FREELY. Not being much for social media (well, besides blogs!), I never encounter this behavior first hand.

    It is far too easy to criticize and critique from behind the safety and anonymity of a keyboard. Someone of true conviction would post their position here in your Comments section for all to see and critique.

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    1. Hi Jon - it was a welcome return to something I remember from The Time Before Covid - it certainly was a fun day.

      Trolls - not a problem, really - I'm more troubled about why the human race behaves like this. I've had a few problems with flamers and spammers and online nasties in the past, and they always leave a bad taste, but the proportion is vanishingly small when I consider the total number of contacts. It is a reliable rule of thumb that weasels from the chat-forum world with some kind of grudge never make any direct, honest approach, or leave a comment - it's never happened!

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  7. What a wonderful looking game! That last shot of the British and French columns meeting head on is fantastic. I notice you are using colored bingo chips to, presumably, indicate losses and/or unit status. Which rules did you use for the game?

    Best Regards,

    Stokes

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    1. Hi Stokes - we were using Version 7 (I think) of Stryker's "Muskets & Marshals" rules. As I recall, yellow chips mean "Disordered", red mean "Routing" and Blue mean "the colonel is dead"!

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  8. Glad to see that you you had a good trip, game and company. Looking at that lovely old school setup I half expected to see Edward Woodward by the table.

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    1. Edward sent his apologies - something about being late. It was a great day all round. Without wishing to cue the sad violins, I'd sort of forgotten about stuff like enjoying something...!

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  9. I'm jealous as sin - that looked agreat game and wonderful spectacle.
    I chuckled about your not trusting yourself to remember the correct junction so using a SatNav when not really neecssary as you always remember when you see it. I though it was just me that did that!
    Looking forward to seeing what you've cooked with Prinz Eugen.

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    1. Hi Rob - yes, very good fun.

      The Security SatNav thing suggests a variation on the old Paranoia Joke: "Just because I'm lacking in confidence doesn't mean I'm not actually going to screw up again next time..."

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  10. It was good fun but I was so mesmerised watching your battalions moving in and out of square that I took my eye off the centre and allowed the Blues to crash through - well played!

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    1. That was a very funny sequence - at that early stage of the game, things had gone so poorly for the Allies that I was sort of convinced that your single unit of lancers was just going to wipe out our right flank, all on its own. You will observe that we kept the sailors and marines to the rear!

      I'm still running through the action in the centre in my head - the two French line battalions melted away with very little resistance, and the Horse Grenadiers, of course, had New Unit Syndrome, so anything was possible. Maybe the Blues would have won the fans' man-of-the-match award, but there were lots of heroes - the French guys who defended the farmhouse looked as though they would be there forever, and then there were the unstoppable Landwehr, and the Prussian skirmishers did bad things to your artillery which probably had a big effect on the narrative of the battle. One of these units would probably get the sports writers' award? I forgot to mention in my captions about it being a bad day for colonels, and also Murat. The authorised post can cover all that!

      Thanks again for the day out.

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    2. Postscript: after further thought, I think my personal nomination for MotM has to be the Prussian dragoons, who recovered from an early reverse and just about won the centre on their own. So much glory, so little time to think about it...

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  11. Beautiful game! Just the right size action and lovely aesthetics. So jealous of those wonderful soldiers.

    As for trolls, I’ve had a few over the years, they are always sad nobs, best to walk away and let them be them (ie sad nobs) :-D

    Cheers!

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    1. I do agree that getting the balance between rules style and game size right is a major element in the success of these OS games. I reckon Stryker hit the sweet spot here - me, I'd have been fretting about getting more toys on the table, but the size was just right. Since my own Napoleonic games don't allow much formation-tweaking, I probably went a bit over the top drilling my troops, but they almost certainly benefited from the experience. [Scum, all of them]

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    2. You should wear your troll with pride, Foy. My social media profile is so miniscule, meek and mild that nobody's ever bothered to have a go at me. This is a source of shame, you can tell.

      What an absolutely splendid game.
      Yours
      WM

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    3. WM - the game was very good. As for the troll, I would mount him on a flag-pole if the opportunity arose, and display him as a trophy.

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  12. Excellent looking game!

    Keyboard Warriors are the blight of social media and are usually spineless losers in real life.

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    1. Prof Berners-Lee and his chums, I believe, regarded the internet as something which would be used primarily by academics, and later it became of interest to the military, and then business, which is where the big money came in. He had no comprehension at all of the alternative life forms which would just use the wonderful toy to spray obscenities on the wall. Not the beginnings of a clue, I'm afraid - I guess he never understood that everyone would have access to it.

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  13. A fine looking game, and a nice come from behind win.

    As for trolls, they should attend to their important work under bridges, and not be hanging out online!

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    1. Hi Peter - a big turnaround in the game, no question. Still not sure what happened - maybe sacrificing that goat at lunchtime worked after all?

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  14. I'm going to have to revisit this post on a bigger screen. It looks like what a wargame looked like in my head when I was younger and wiser.

    As for Nav aide, whatever happened to taking a greasepencil and writing the exit number on the windscreen? Ok maybe taping a piece of paper with an indecipherable scribble on the dashboard where it would stick stubbornly until needed, at which point it would flutter off?

    I don't know why I remember those days fondly but I do despite not really wanting to relive them.

    Anyway, best post on this Sunday.

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    1. Thanks Ross.

      The old fashioned reminders for exit numbers were simple, but had the disadvantage that I would have to know the exit number at some point to write it down.

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  15. Face to face old school wargaming will fine friends and lovely toys…Hurrah.
    What’s not to like…

    Like you I simply don’t understand Trolls… especially when they are having a go at you when you are not even a member of the forum… a case of… if I new what they said I might be bothered.. but I didn’t so I’m not.

    That said I was sent a screenshot of a post that went up on a now defunct forum where a guy was having a right go at me about something I said to him at a show…
    The funny thing was … I hadn’t been to the show…
    Although from what he had said I worked out who he was actually talking to…
    He was talking to a six foot tall Londoner… I am a five and a half foot tall Scotsman… an easy mistake to make… I’m sure….If you are an idiot.

    All the best. Aly

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    1. Thanks Aly - best wishes to you.

      Maybe the mistaken identity incident was because the guy lied about his height? - that would do it.

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  16. That looks to have been a splendid game, thank you for sharing!
    On Junction numbers - it's always the journey that you do occasionally, but not very often, that causes the problem. 'A little knowledge..'
    As to trolls - in the world of 'celebs', if someone is rude to them online, their thousands of followers tend to 'pile in' and bombard the troll with far worse messages. Perhaps in a milder way some of your many blog followers will be having a quiet word with the gentleman in question on your behalf?

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    1. Junction numbers - that's true, it's the one think you probably know that causes the problems. Come to think of it, my musical career had some of the same issues.

      Trolls. The Venn diagram of people who are members of the forum and people who read my blog almost certainly has an intersection with one person in it, and he was the one who tipped me off. Forum behaviour is very odd - they will fight amongst themselves, but if a perceived outsider appears in their midst they will join together to attack him. Like badly-behaved wasps?

      I have limited experience of this stuff - I briefly joined a Yahoo Group which was sort of Old School oriented - can't remember what it was called (I had a look just now, and found some references to a defunct group, but that was a different one), but I got very fed up with people striking postures about "that's not proper OS", so left them to it. There is a law in nature somewhere which says that intelligence is inversely proportional to strength of dogma. I also was a member of TMP for a short while, and any time I posted anything either I was shouted down or else someone misunderstood what I meant, and responded by talking about themselves, on a different topic. Sometimes they did both. I couldn't see the point of that. I spent much of my working life arguing with people, so as a peace-time activity that's a non-starter for me.

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  17. Cool looking game, glad you finally got your first touch of face to face gaming again. As for your new best pal Frobisher, what a twat!

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    1. Hi Ray - it was great to have a day out - I rather impressed myself. I've now progressed beyond mowing the lawn and the occasional trip to Tesco, and I feel I should discover a new continent or something any time soon.

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  18. How wonderful to be able to read a battle report from both perspectives. Thanks for fighting with blogger to get this all nice and tidy and posted for our enjoyment. Glad you all got to meet in person for a change and get to enjoy such a lovely collection of soldiers!

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    1. Thank you David - Stryker's soldiers are something else, eh? Like jewels.

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  19. Excellent to read both accounts of this fine looking battle Tony (having seen Ian's first, just 'cause that's the order in which I looked at the blogs). The wargaming lore 'when luck is going your way never take a break' is up there with the 'shiny new troops always lose' axiom, don't you think (or is it better called a superstition)?!
    Your story has me astounded. Why write b/s about a blog on an unrelated forum? What sort of forum allows such tripe? Pillock.
    Regards, James

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    1. Thanks James.

      Ref the b/s writer - this particular forum specialises in being unpleasant - especially to and about TMP and its dignitaries. This whole thing is a mystery to me - there is no apparent attempt to moderate anything. One day - after the changes - this will be impossible. Anyone who cannot guarantee the legality of their subscribers' contributions will have to shut down; own it, keep it clean, be answerable, or pack up. Has to come. I wonder what will happen to the warriors when the time comes? I can imagine them roaming the streets in the dead of night, spraying BUM on the walls and kicking dustbins. Frobisher - I'll be watching.

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    2. On the subject of "never take a break", The Archduke and I were so astounded by our change of fortune after lunch that when Stryker suggested an afternoon break for tea and cake, we suspected more voodoo in the offing [which is a small room off the kitchen], and were muttering between ourselves that we shouldn't eat anything, in case it broke the spell...

      Worked out all right. Tea and cake never hurt anyone - well, it depends on the amount, I guess.

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    3. Oh Tony, if only you could see me rolling around on the floor laughing at your marvellous, humorous reply!!

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    4. Please James, don't encourage me, I'm silly enough as it is.

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