In Her Majesty’s Name 2, Production Update 1

Good day to one and all.
Well, with all the design work now closed and signed off by the Minister and PPS, the Ministry has turned its attention to matters of production.

  1. Illustrations and Photographs
    Over the past few weeks we have been gathering photographs of figures, vehicles, beasts, terrain and actual games. The Ministry is grateful to those of you who submitted nearly fifteen hundred plates to choose from.
    The Minister has spent many hours curating these photos in terms of size, focus, depth of field, colour, whimsy and appropriate content.
    To the gent who supplied us with his personage collection of backstage shots taken in the Folies Bergeres 1895, we thank you, but this is a family publication. The Minister may keep a few examples for, er-hem, legal reasons, but the rest shall be returned to you forthwith.
    There is still a rapidly closing window in which people could still present us with such photographs. We are talking days here, not weeks.
  2. Layout
    The Ministry has now handed over its manuscript to Mr Mill, of Cobalt Peak Design in the dominion of Australia. Once more he has taken on the herculean task of laying out our magnum opus such that the general public shall be amazed by it.
    Not since Thud & Blunder has one man had to deal with so many tables in a single volume. Indeed, we could teach Whitaker’s Almanack a thing or two on tables – ha!
    The staff at the Ministry (i.e. Sir Charles) is wading through layout proofs by the sheaf and ensuring that every line is as intended.
    With luck and a fair wind this task shall be completed before Christmas.
  3. Printing and delivery
    So, the Ministry’s minds turn to printing. Once again we shall be calling upon those brave chaps in Lithuania to produce our tome, as they have faithfully done these last few years.
    Our problem being that Her Majesty’s government seems ready to sever trade relations with the continent and has not, as yet, advised the Ministry on the terms upon which we must manage our imports in the future. Most perplexing indeed.
    Add to this the pox that still ravages all nations, and we cannot be sure when our books shall arrive.
    We were planning to release the physical book, and its telegraphic imprint, before the Salute Games Trade Exhibition as is out custom. Of this we can no longer be sure, so we shall communicate with you all as soon as we have any firm news.

Well, there you have it. In summary, all things going forwards at full steam, but possible rapids and crocodiles ahead.

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In Her Majesty’s Name – Second Edition update

A short update for you all on IHMN Second Edition.

The book is currently with our layout artist, Millsy of Cobalt Peak Design, and he’s sent us the first layout proof to work through. At the moment, through his careful design we are looking at around 200 pages.

We are sorting through the hundreds of photos that we have been given by players around the world. The best shall be included in the book, but this is a lot harder job than you might think. We have to grade photos by clarity, focus, depth of field, colour, and the interesting representation of the subject. Currently we have about 1,500 pictures and only need 60 or so for the book. That said, we are still interested in seeing more, but we shall be closing the doors shortly… before I go mad.

With luck we shall have all this completed by the end of November, then the book goes off to our printers, Standartu Spaustuve, in Lithuania.

This is the final push for Charles and I, a few days of concentrated work to finish our magnum opus.

Our only concern is the lack of progress in the EU-UK trade deal and what that means for importing products into the UK.

Our partner, Nick Eyre of North Star Miniatures will oversee the local and international distribution of the print version.

Our friend Sean of SnM Stuff is ready to launch the digital version, but again we have no idea what the trade regulations shall be on digital products.

When we know more you will be the first to know. Meanwhile: Keep Calm and Carry On!

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Here come the Mechanized Walkers!

Well, in preparation for the book I have been knocking together some mechanized walkers and here are the first two.

These are light walkers, which could be British Ajax or French Chacal (Jackal) pattern. Each has a single steersman who drives it and operates the weapon systems.


As you can see the one on the left has a machine gun and a steam claw, the other a flame thrower and and chainsaw (which counts as a steam claw for the purposes of the game).

The steam claw is designated as a ‘wrecking’ weapon, which means that it is very good at smashing its way into buildings and peeling open other walkers and armoured vehicles.

They are both made from Ramshackle Miniatures parts with extra elements from my bits box. I love Ramshackle because their vehicles and robots have lots of rivets and other 19th century details.


I’ve painted one in Army Green and the other in Navy Blue, and their bases are not finished yet.

I also have a couple of Ironclad light walkers I am building at the moment.

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In Her Majesty’s Name – Second Edition, Design Note 4

So, the writing is complete. Eighty-five thousand words, which is more than the original three books all together, and fifteen thousand words larger than Thud & Blunder. A truly mammoth task and a labour of love.
However, the work is nowhere near complete.
Next is the Alpha draft, the first time all those words are combined into a single document, ready to be reviewed, word by word, and line by line by the pair of us. Spelling, grammar, cross-references, points calculations and game sense needs to be checked and, where necessary edited. It is a time of blood and woe!
Then the Beta draft, which goes out to our crack team of nit-pickers. Men who shall show no mercy in their quest for perfection. Any mistake and we shall be flayed on the proof-reader’s rack.
Back to us to edit once more, creating the Omega draft.
Meanwhile we shall be talking to artists and people who have displayed great IHMN game photos for the graphic content of the book.
Once we have the Omega draft and the graphics, it is off to the far side of the planet for layout by our comrade Millsy of Cobalt Peak Design.
By then it shall be the Christmas holidays.
In the new year we shall receive the first layout copy to be reviewed once more to ensure there have been no faux pas during that process.
When we have approved a final layout, it is off to our printers in their secret bunker in Lithuania.
While they labour at the presses, we shall be working on the launch, and all the free supporting materials we usually supply.
With luck, and a fair wind, the first print run shall land in Nottingham in early spring.

As an appetizer, here is the list of companies we finally decided on and created:

The Black Dragon Tong
The Brick Lane Commune
Brumby’s Marauders
The Crescent Moon
The Entourage of Vlad Tepes – Prince of Wallachia
The Hellfire Club
Lady Helen Quatermain’s Airship Privateers
The Honourable East India Company
Le Cabinet Noir
The Kentish Men
La Legion Entrangere
Lord Curr’s Incorrigibles
The Mounties
Ninja
The Okhrana
The Pathans
The Prince of Wales Extraordinary Company
A Royal Navy Landing Party
Scotland Yard, Q Division
The Servants of Ra
The Society of Thule
The Templars
Tipoo Sultan
The US Secret Service

Many of these now have access to our new and improved armoury, including airships and mechanized walkers.
Further design notes and updates shall be forthcoming over the next weeks and months.

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IHMN 2nd Edition, Design Notes 3

Well, it has been a few weeks now since the last Design Note update. However, this does not mean that we have been entirely inactive. In fact, quite the opposite.

During this time Charles and I have been beavering away at many of the structural rules’ sections. Well Charles mostly if truth be told. I had a period of sickness that laid me low for longer than I thought it would.

So, where are we?

3.0 Playing the game

Charles has done a bang-up job of rewriting these to include everything we have learned in the last eight years. This includes hundreds of player game reports, refinements that occurred in each of our books as we moved forwards, questions on various Fora that made us question how we had explained things, direct and indirect feedback from players and critics, the demo games at shows, and our own games with friends.

Charles has also updated all the explanatory examples and added more where necessary.

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The authors pondering the new edition, or was it the cake?

4.0 Set-up

Terrain gets more interesting in these new rules, with the introduction of structural integrity. While still maintaining KISS, we have developed a system that recognizes that not all terrain is the same.

5.0 The Armoury

No section has had more of a revamp than this. The original word count restriction we had to follow to meet Osprey’s format requirements is gone, so we have been able to bring in several new sections.

Some of these began to appear in HVF and SDRS, others were developed for Daisho, Blood Eagle, IHMN Gothic and Thud & Blunder. Some are new, and quite exciting if we say so ourselves.

All through this though we have kept in our minds the KISS principle. So, we are keeping the generic weapons types, the standard armour types, and most of the equipment.

The sections that have undergone the greatest change are Vehicles and Mechanized Walkers. Both are now much more thoroughly addressed, rather than being a last-minute add-on. There is a logical underpinning into how both are designed, used, and costed.

This section now covers, in detail, land, maritime and serial vehicles. With links to new playing rules for them.

DSCN3930

The Mechanized Walker section is a complete write, sufficient to allow people to design their own Walkers and field them as part of their favourite companies. Example Walkers are fully detailed for several nations to give you a head start. We even describe how you could play games that only involve Walkers. We do love you gear-heads.

6.0 The Bestiary

A complete overhaul here as well. This has been expanded and some of it brought into line with the transport options in Chapter 5.

the men from the ministry 2

From left to right: myself, Charles and Billy.

7.0 Talents

Most of the Talents that have come from the original books are still there, though some have been clarified or redefined to bring better balance to the game. Player feedback has been very important here. A few new ones have been included to broaden the scope of play.

8.0 Mystical Powers

There was a serious discussion as to whether we should just create a compilation of Powers from the original three books and Gothic, tidy them up and say: “there you go”.

Well that was never going to stand for a few reasons:

  • The first being that we had learnt so much between then and now.
  • The second is that this is the opportunity to present the game we wanted to write originally, but could not, because we did not have the experience or skills to do so.
  • The third is that this is VSF, and our original concept was these the powers should represent what people of the VSF ‘period’ might believe in.
  • The last was that we were not going to abandon IHMN Gothic (more on that last point later).

So, should we just pick up the magic system from Thud & Blunder, rename a few spells and drop it into IHMN? The answer is a resounding no.

What we have done is; review all the current Powers from the original three books; decide if they were of any use; clarify and redefine those that were problematical; determine where there are gaps that could usefully filled with new Powers; and categorise them as Lesser or Greater.

This last thing makes it so much easier to cost them, something we learned from Thud & Blunder.

9.0 Companies

The original points system was as good as it could have been eight years ago. However, it could be improved, and this is where Charles applied his deep arithmetical skills to make it balance and work better.

Add to this the challenges of costing Vehicles and Walkers, which he manfully took on, and now we have a system that works across the piece.

Only a handful of companies have been rewritten so far. Mostly as working examples for the other changes in the game, especially the points system.

After much thought we have decided to include roughly twenty-five companies in the book. This number is not set in stone. So not all the companies in the original books will be in there. This does not mean they are going to disappear, and many will be addressed over the next couple of years, though in what format we have not yet decided. The key principle here is to provide a broad range of companies with different themes and capabilities.

Added to all this will be a section on how to create your own companies, from original theme to fully costed list with plenty of examples. This has proven to be popular in Thud & Blunder, so we shall be bringing the same approach here.

One of our big jobs for the next couple months will be writing up the companies

10.0 Scenarios, complications, and landscapes

Now I have just got into writing this and it’s a biggie. I am approaching it logically, rather than the way I wrote it in the first book.

I shall be considering all the relevant material from the original books, suitable materials from our other Ministry books and putting it into a clear structure.

As before the combination of a scenario, one or more complications and a landscape will mean that (theoretically) you will never have to play the same game twice.

One reason for all this work is to provide a solid the foundation for the Campaign system.

11.0 Campaigns

We have not even sketched out this section yet, but once 10.0 is complete we will be giving this some heavyweight attention. The system that developed across the first three books was fairly simple, but we don’t think that it gave you all the tools to create exciting games.

IHMN Gothic

As we have said before we are not replacing Gothic or folding it into the new book.

Baron Viktor von Frankenstein and friends

The Baron von Frankenstein loves to make new friends…

It is a standalone supplement expanding the game into Horror. What we shall do is issue a guide that makes it compatible with the new core rulebook.

And in conclusion…

So, here we are. The Spring writing campaign is over, and we are now well into the Summer. If we can get all this completed by early Autumn, then it is off to our stalwart band of proofers, followed by some play-testing. The target remains to release this in Spring 2021 and do the official launch at Salute (if they will have us).

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Pricing announcement

The UK Government has removed the 20% Value Added Tax (VAT) which had previously applied to sales of e-books across the UK and EU.

The Ministry of Gentlemanly Warfare is pleased to be able to pass on the resulting saving to its UK and EU players.

Our digital distributor, the splendid SnM Stuff, has removed the VAT from the UK and EU prices of the digital copies of DaishoBlood EagleIHMN Gothic and Thud & Blunder; you can see the new prices by following the links.

This means you can now get your hands-on digital copies of many of our rules for less than the price of a popular takeaway.

Please note that the physical books were already free of VAT, so their prices have not changed.  Similarly, VAT does not apply outside of the UK and EU so the prices of our e-books in other parts of the world are also unchanged.

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The Gnolls are coming!!!

Few things put a thrill of fear through an elf than the unexpected appearance of a a Gnoll warband. Other races that border the steppes are not fond of them either.

Gnoll figures

In the rulebook we used the Gnolls as the example warband for the 9.5 Creating your own warband. However, we never expanded the list to a point where it could become usable.

Well given that North Star has released a set of multi-pose plastic Gnoll figures, and a certain Phil Hendry reminded us of our laxity, we have now produced an official warband list.

You can find this on the Thud & Blunder page of the Ministry blog. Just scroll to the bottom and there it is.

Don’t say nagging the authors never works ;).

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The Robbin’ B’stards – a created warband

When we wrote T&B we created a combined, generic Orc & Goblin warband (9.4.1.6) to give you a general guide to these classic fantasy races.

However, I am a magpie, so when I spotted these characterful goblin miniatures I set about following our own advice in 9.5 (Creating your own Warband) and designed a  Goblin warband around them. So here they are, the Robbin’ B’stards, led by The Green Meanie, with Bert the Ogre on percussion.

Now I am no Matt or Billy (true figure artists friends of mine), and am quite rightly considered to be at the ‘just about allowed to have crayons’ end of the painter spectrum, but I’m quite pleased in how they turned out. They certainly pass the ‘at arm’s length test’ in my eyes.

Goblin 4
Some of the sharper eyed amongst you will have noted that these goblins ain’t green. This is my personal choice as I have never liked green orcs and goblins. I think that they look more dangerous in flesh colours.

These are goblins from my Bramlinghame setting, and come from the Blackwood, so wear natural colours that will help them move stealthily through the undergrowth.

The bases came out better than I imagined. I have never used crumbled cork before and it gives such a lovely texture when pressed into the polyfilla. I added a bright spring flock to lift the figures, after all I will be using these for Thud & Blunder, not something grim and dark like The Lord of the Rings.

The list itself is just under 300 points, the size my local gang generally game at in a multiplayer game. One-to-one, we usually have 400 points each. I shall need a few more rank and file goblins to reach 400. So it’s into the lead pile I go.

Goblin 2

The leader is called ‘The Green Meanie‘ as it is a temporary title more than a person. Green Meanies tend to die relatively often so, when they do, the next toughest goblin steps up. Here is his listing:

The Green Meanie

I tend to give at least one figure in each party some Hero points, so they have a little more survivability, which is very important when you are only three feet tall. Even though he’s the best fighter in the warband, The Green Meanie will not be leading any frontal assaults. Goblins work best darting out of cover to mob the enemy and then fading away again.

You will note that these goblins are all stealthy. They are not particularly well-armoured or tough, so they need to take advantage of any cover they can before ganging up on enemy troops.

They also mostly carry poison. This is because it is their equalizer against better troops, and they have to make every hit count.

Brimstone the Shaman is fairly handy, making himself invisible and lobbing nasty fire-bolts at enemy leaders. He can also cast Shadow which, when combined with their, stealth can make the goblins hard to hit when they have to cross open ground. Long experience against Elven and Brigand archers has made me wary of open ground and fire lanes.

Brimstone the Shaman
Every figure is individually named. I always do this as it makes for a more interesting narrative. I stick labels, with their names, under their bases and, if they die, simply change the label. If a more senior figure is killed, and one of the rank and file did well, he may then get promoted on the principle of ’empty boots’.

Here is the troops part of the list:The Gobbos

So the warband has a second-in-command, a goblin sergeant called Knuckles. He’s got his eye on the top job, but is willing to let the current Green Meanie lead for now. Too many failures though and there might be an unfortunate ‘accident’ one night.

The core of the warband are its warriors. Tinpot, Weasel and Slugger are light on their feet, stealthy and about as tough as a underfed rabbit. So they tend to like to mob enemy figures with their poisoned blades. Other players will soon learn not leave their figures isolated and out of sight.

Pricksie is a Goblin with hunting skills. He will be firing from cover with his poisoned arrows and trying to pick off lighter armoured enemies, such as spellcasters.

Now, I added Bert because I had just received the fantastic new ogre figure from North Star. To the goblins he is ‘The Brute Squad‘ and, if nothing else, he draws enemy fire from them. Making him Terrifying gives him a useful tactical advantage and reduces the chance of him being mobbed.

I have found that heroes are drawn like moths to a flame when it comes to a big monster. This allows the goblins to get on with achieving the scenario objectives.

Bert the Ogre
Note that Bert is not finished yet. There’s still a little work to do on his base and club.

Ogre 2
So there you have it, a created warband as opposed to a book one. I shall keep you up-to-date as I expand the warband and eventually, when we are allowed to play, their many successes on the field of battle (fingers-crossed).

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IHMN 2nd Edition Design Notes 2

So, it has nearly been two weeks since our first Design Notes, and where have we got to?

Charles has been running through 3.0 Playing the Game for the umpteenth time, with me trying to break everything with daft suggestions. The core of T&B has now been effectively welded to the colour and strangeness of IHMN, and we feel we are in sight of our goal with this section. Playability is our main aim, but we also want to include all the cool rules on waterborne and airborne combat that have evolved since 2013. Additional rules for mechanized walkers shall get added to the mix once we have finished that section of the Armoury.

The holy veto word KISS has been wielded dozens of times and we review and rewrite everything. This ship is not going to sail until we are absolutely sure it is right.

Work upon 5.0 The Armoury continues unabated. As well as including the best of the original books, new weapons are coming on board, and some of them are being fired in from comments on the blog and Facebook page. For example, considerable debate was had in the Ministry over the existence and power of sub-machine guns. Also which companies could wield them.

Armour is pretty much settled, but the various land, maritime and aerial transport types, and mechanized walkers, are still on the design bench.

We are looking to expand the weird science and are open to suggestions.The Prince of Wales Extraordinary Company

7.0 Talents is still being rewritten, especially as we are making sure we keep these in step with 8.0 Mystical Powers.

We have increased the number of powers, and divided them into minor and major categories. We are thinking that dabblers in the occult can use minor ones, and more dedicated occultists will be able to draw upon both. So there will be two talents to allow you access to these two levels. Debate continues over what to include and exclude.

As for 9.0 the Companies, there has been an overhaul of the points system to improve the balance of things (for those that like balance).

Companies that are close to final draft stage are:

  • the Black Dragon Tong,
  • the Crescent Moon (formerly the Ottoman Counter-intelligence Service),
  • Lady Helen Quatermain’s Airship Privateers, and
  • Lord Curr’s Incorrigibles.

Most have additional troop types and options, and their equipment, talents and powers have been brought in line with the updated rules.
Asiatic Confrontation

It should be noted that many more companies shall be able to take a suitable mechanized walker or two.

One company that shall not be making an appearance in this book is the British Army. We felt that for the purpose of this game that the Prince of Wales Extraordinary Company represented them well enough. This does not mean that you cannot field your own British Army companies, and there shall be all the materials you could want to devise them. This includes a chapter containing guidance on how to create your own company from scratch.

After some discussion, we have decided to not include a lot of the material from IHMN Gothic. This is because IHMN2 will be focused primarily upon VSF not Gothic Horror. With some free addenda, we believe that people shall still be able to enjoy Gothic alongside IHMN2, just as they have with IHMN1.

So there you have it. Comments here, or on the Facebook page, are always welcomed.

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Vapnartak 2020

I thought it might be interesting to discuss our experiences of Vapnartak this year, especially as it is the first big show of the year.

The venue
For those who have not been, Vapnartak is held in the York Racecourse building. Like Colours – which uses the Newbury racecourse building, this means that the show is spread across multiple floors. The venue is modern, has good multi-floor access through stairs and lifts, is well lit and has plenty of catering and toilet facilities.
It also means that the higher you ascend the narrower the floors get, more on which below.
The show is well-staffed, there are maps everywhere and parking is plentiful.

Traders
All the people you might expect were there, some with quite large stands. The unusual shape of the venue’s floors and the amount of traders that were packed in meant there was the congestion in the aisle-ways that we have come to expect. This started out as being jolly with lots of “excuse me” and “after you” – “no, after you”, but as feet became sore, old knees ached and the swag bags became laden with loot, it soon moved to jostling and grumbling.
I was almost knocked off my feet by one young fellow striding through regardless of the havoc he was leaving in his wake.
All my favourites were there, including Annie (in fine fettle), the Ainsty boys, Dead Hand Games etc. I did note that a lot more of the stands were of the strict historical nature, which attracted mobs of grognards. When you have enough chaps of my size and rotundity there is a danger of a critical mass occurring and stall have been known to implode.
On the very top floor, near the tables set aside for private trading (i.e. gamers selling off their own stuff) were a number of very interesting little companies. Producers of resin and 3D printed models amongst them.
The 3D model stands really interested me. The variety and quality of what was on offer was rather good. One producer packed up their products with all the support struts still in place, the other had actually removed them. I suppose the former saved a lot of time for themselves, and it is not really any different to buying models on sprues.
One resin company – Iron Gate Scenery – had a really good range of scenic items, including excellent doors and windows, the bane of all gamers who make their own buildings.

Loot
I rarely get the opportunity to be a punter because if I am at a show I am usually putting on a game. I was hoping that I could spend the day browsing wares at a range of stands, that I usually only see online.
My target was to obtains scenic items for a IHMN2 game I am putting on later in the season, and this was mostly accomplished. Stacks of crates and sacks, and a couple of porters’ trolleys were obtained.
I also got some doors and windows to try out the concept of using pre-made ones for my buildings.
And finally, I got the raging Annie figure from Bad Squiddo. I intend to convert it from SciFi to fantasy for one of my Thud & Blunder warbands.

Demo games
There were a couple of larger demo games, but most were fairly small and none seemed to have the wow factor. It did not help that quite a few of them were indifferently hosted, which is a problem I have seen at many shows. There was a distinct lack of punter engagement.
Now this annoys me. If you are going to put on a demo game then, in addition to the people pushing the figures around, you need at least one person who goes out of their way to engage with the public, explain what is going on and who can field questions. Scattering a couple of A4 sheets around and expecting people to read them is, in my arrogant opinion, a dereliction of duty.
Honestly I had thought the age of clubs turning up to just abuse the venue so they could play a large club game, backs to the punters, was waning. Some used to do it just to get free entry.
Perhaps the show organizers should ask people to actively engage with the public, as this benefits everyone. This seems to be the case with the Partizans, where they have a designated Demo game zone and the game providers are encouraged to engage through awards.
Another issue was that many of the large demo games were packed in between trade stands, and if people did gather to watch or just to take a photo this blocked the flow of trade.

Participation games
A lot of these were exiled to the upper levels of the racecourse building and into space not much wider than a decent corridor. I have put on a game there myself and it can prove challenging.
That said some of the games providers were cheerful and proactive in engaging the public. The RAF boys were there and entertaining all who passed them.
I must admit that I did not spend too much time up there, but there was a decent range of games, some of which seemed busy, but others that were moribund. Now that always puzzles me. You go to a show to put on a participation games, prepare the game, the scenario and all the supporting materials, carry in a tonne of scenery and figures, set-up the table then either sit there looking at your feet or abandon the table altogether and go a wandering.

Conclusion
Although it met all my shopping needs I was somewhat disappointed with the demo and participation games. Having many of them scattered through out a multi floor venue meant that many of them did not get seen by the majority of attendees.
The main trading floor suffered due to the aisle-way congestion that I have gone into above. The only major trader not on the ground floor was Sarissa and they were stuck in a cul-de-sac which meant browsing their wares was almost impossible.
Compared to other shows I find Vapnartak and Colours claustrophobic, which is entirely down to their venue, not the professionalism of their staff. I think that they need to spread out the major stands across the floors and widen their aisles.
I doubt that I shall attend again next year, but overall it was worth the trip as my wife and I had a lovely weekend in York.

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