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Thread: Rules For Merchant Ships?

  1. #1
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    Default Rules For Merchant Ships?

    I can't find any rules about merchant ships except those in the Mediterranean campaign found in the 2014 scenario book, and I did't find them much help in writing scenarios with merchants as a goal. Does anyone have any ideas they could share?

    Bob.

  2. #2
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    Hi Bob! On the Aries website, there are contest scenario winners listed, and one of them, the campaign talks about merchant ships. I have also come up with merchant ship ideas, but haven't posted anything or play tested them yet. I'll try and share more later.

  3. #3

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    Coming up with mechanics or stats is straightforward, but I think making merchant ships the object of an interesting scenario is not so easy. If the merchies are escorted, the escorts fight. If not the merchants are snapped up...

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    I don't know, I think there could be a bit of fun with a few sloops of war harassing some merchants guarded by a frigate or 3rd rate.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dobbs View Post
    I don't know, I think there could be a bit of fun with a few sloops of war harassing some merchants guarded by a frigate or 3rd rate.
    I would definitely be interesting to try it out. It's not like we couldn't play such a scenario now, though of course it's more fun with the right ships. I'll see if I can work up a scenario based on your idea...

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    A "wolf in sheep's clothing" scenario might be fun. Commerce raiding can be a good scenario as long as it's not as lopsided as those contests tend to be.

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    Another good example of the "War In The Lakes." US cutting off British supply ships to Northern Forts and Batteries. Throw in a few small boat "sneak attacks", and treacherous water rules, and there you go. Working on one as I can, titled..."Fire and Ice".

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    I believe that merchant ships carried a few cannons for defence against pirates.

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    The beauty of SOG's chit based system, allows for modified damage variables. Late night stealthy boarding actions spelled doom for many well armed vessels (provided boarding nets were not cut or put on). Say for instance, a well armed frigate with a burden of 5, her 200+ crew fast asleep may only draw 1 or 2 E chits for the first round or two (or randomly determined by d6), sort of a "drop your c#%ks, and grab your socks" situation. The customization potential of SAILS is awesome.

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    The new Ospery Rules "Fighting Sail" have some rules for Pirates and Privateers which you might want to check out for use in such scenarios! Might need a little modifications, but they would be easy to figure I believe!
    "War is the greatest game Man can play!" BG George B. McClellan

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    This is just a first try, so bear with me.

    Ships
    1. Choose any warship with a burden of three or less.
    2. Cover half of the boxes in both the hull and crew damage rows, round up never down. This represents the space the space taken up with cargo. If you decide to take on more cargo then just cover more boxes. The more boxes you fill means the higher point value your ship is worth at the end of the game.
    3. The hull and crew damage boxes that are left are treated like any other ship in the game.
    4. A merchant ship must reduce its veer by one. Their crews are just not as good as the crews of fighting ships.
    5. Merchant ships may not initiate an attack on another ship. The captain does not have to wait to be fired on. If an enemy ship makes threatening moves that makes the ships commander think he may be under attack, the merchant may fire.

    Prize Crews
    1. The only way to control the captured ship is to put a prize crew on board.
    2. The prize crew can be part of a boarding party or part of your crew that is put on the captured ship after the fight is over.
    3. You take one crew damage representing the prize crew that has been left on the captured ship. The prize ship uncovers one crew damage, again, representing the prize crew.
    4. If you can not afford to send a prize crew, then you have to hope that the stricken ship will stick around until the game is over. If a captured ship tries to leave, then any other ship can capture it and might sink it.

    Scoring
    1. A merchant ship that is captured is worth one point for each point of burden, plus one point for each box devoted to cargo.
    2. If the merchant is sunk, then it is worth only one point for each point of burden.
    3. The merchant that survives gets one point for each box of cargo.

    What do you think? Is this a promising start, then please state what your changes or additions would be or way off the mark, then give me an idea of what you would do about cargo ships used in the game.

    Thanks for responding,

    Bob
    Last edited by Bos'n; 06-11-2015 at 00:06. Reason: Needed to clarify rule 2 under ships, what to do if your ship has an odd number of boxes. Typo!

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    Very nice Bob! Excellent system to go by, covers the real world problems they faced adequately.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bos'n View Post
    This is just a first try, so bear with me.

    Ships
    1. Choose any warship with a burden of three or less.
    2. Cover half of the boxes in both the hull and crew damage rows. This represents the space the space taken up with cargo. If you decide to take on more cargo then just cover more boxes. The more boxes you fill means the higher point value your ship is worth at the end of the game.
    3. The hull and crew damage boxes that are left are treated like any other ship in the game.
    4. A merchant ship must reduce its veer by one. Their crews are just not as good as the crews of fighting ships.
    5. Merchant ships may not initiate an attack on another ship. The captain does not have to wait to be fired on. If an enemy ship makes threatening moves that makes the ships commander think he may be under attack, the merchant may fire.

    Prize Crews
    1. The only way to control the captured ship is to put a prize crew on board.
    2. The prize crew can be part of a boarding party or part of your crew that is put on the captured ship after the fight is over.
    3. You take one crew damage representing the prize crew that has been left on the captured ship. The prize ship iuncovers one crew damage, again, representing the prize crew.
    4. If you can not afford to send a prize crew, then you have to hope that the stricken ship will stick around until the game is over. If a captured ship tries to leave, then any other ship can capture it and might sink it.

    Scoring
    1. A merchant ship that is captured is worth one point for each point of burden, plus one point for each box devoted to cargo.
    2. If the merchant is sunk, then it is worth only one point for each point of burden.
    3. The merchant that survives gets one point for each box of cargo.

    What do you think? Is this a promising start, then please state what your changes or additions would be or way off the mark, then give me an idea of what you would do about cargo ships used in the game.

    Thanks for responding,

    Bob
    I like it. Might make the basis for a good solo scenario as well as face to face play.

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    I will file these rules away for later use! Well done.

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    Well done , Bob. Perhaps you should add a rule about cannon, giving the merchant ship less firepower and a slower reloading rate.

  16. #16

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    Nice start Bob.

    What do you think the minimum distance the merchantmen would have to travel to escape the pirates/privateers.

    Should the merchantmen use slower maneuver cards ( F or ? ) to give the pirates/privateers time to sink/board them?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gunner View Post
    Nice start Bob.

    What do you think the minimum distance the merchantmen would have to travel to escape the pirates/privateers.

    Should the merchantmen use slower maneuver cards ( F or ? ) to give the pirates/privateers time to sink/board them?
    Thanks for your interest in all things commercial.

    The maneuver cards, as I understand it, signify the capabilities of the ship not the crew. What about lowering the veer by a point or two, that would signify the poor quality of the sailors themselves. The speed of the ship could be the only advantage a merchantman might have.

    The decrease in the fire power of the merchantman is represented by the number of boxes devoted to cargo. The Spanish frigate Sirena could be used as a merchant ship because her burden is 3. As a warship, Sirena would have a broadside of 2,3,2; be able to do 4 actions; the crew could inflict 2 damage from musket fire and take 22 points of damage before surrendering. As a merchant her broadside would be 1,2,2; she could only do 3 actions; the crew could only dish out 1 damage from musket fire; and could only take 10 points of damage before raising the white flag. If her veer went from a 7 to a 5, then I thing she makes a fine ship for the merchant marines.

    The rate of fire could be adjusted, maybe to an extra turn to load cannons.

    What do you think? Let me know.

    Bob

  18. #18

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    The 'F' maneuver cards should be used for maneuver & speed only.
    Of most of the chase & capture/destroy the merchantmen games I've played, it seemed there was never enough turns to do much good before the quarry was off board.
    I like the idea of trading guns for treasure, a true test to see how greedysome merchant owners can be. Use pennies or dollars, depending on your income for each cargo box. Your opponent keeps what they sink/capture, they pay for what gets through. (It's not the money, it adds a bit of realism to being a merchantman or a pirate/privateer)
    A series of playtests would be needed to see how the rest would turn out.
    If I ever get the time, between my other 'fun things' I'll try it out.

    Keep up your good ideas.

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    Very interesting, I may have to give it a try.

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    I think this would make for an enjoyable and interesting solo scenario for later in the year, once folks have cut their teeth with the solo AI mechanism. We should see what solo rules would need tweaking.
    “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” ― Plato

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    Ed,

    A merchant ship would have to travel as long as the pirate chased him. If he stopped sooner he would be dead meat. In the game though the merchantman would need an exit point and he would be safe if he reached it.

    Bob

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    Quote Originally Posted by Naharaht View Post
    Well done , Bob. Perhaps you should add a rule about cannon, giving the merchant ship less firepower and a slower reloading rate.
    I have received several good ideas from the sailors at the Anchorage. I am compiling the information and will put a more thought-out version in a few days. Rules for cannons will be a part of it.

    Bob

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by 7eat51 View Post
    I think this would make for an enjoyable and interesting solo scenario for later in the year, once folks have cut their teeth with the solo AI mechanism. We should see what solo rules would need tweaking.
    That sounds like a challenge. I'll get on it right after I add all of the suggestions I've received for the rules and publish it on the forum.

    Bob

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    Great. Thanks for your work on this.

    It would be very useful to have a catalogue of scenarios and accompanying house rules, and it would be another benefit in pointing players and prospective players here.
    “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” ― Plato

  25. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bos'n View Post
    Ed,

    A merchant ship would have to travel as long as the pirate chased him. If he stopped sooner he would be dead meat. In the game though the merchantman would need an exit point and he would be safe if he reached it.

    Bob
    Sorry Bob, you're right, I was thinking WS&IM, or Flying Colors with multiple merchantmen which are the rules I used the last time I played with merchantmen. Too many

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    Quote Originally Posted by 7eat51 View Post
    Great. Thanks for your work on this.

    It would be very useful to have a catalogue of scenarios and accompanying house rules, and it would be another benefit in pointing players and prospective players here.
    The Campaigns and Scenarios sections of our forum are a good start for that notebook idea.
    Bob

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    Looks a very interesting possibility.
    I quite fancy a bit of commerce raiding.
    Bligh.

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    Hey Shipmates,

    The Rules for Merchant Ships has moved to a new thread in the Rules Help section. Have a look and let me know what you think.

    Rules for Merchantmen


    Bob

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    Once merchantmen and pirates are introduced into the game, I think there needs to be rules for the inevitable "parlay" between ships. It would add another dimension to the game and make the AAR even more interesting. But how to accomplish it? Both ships signal each other, reduce sail, one sends a jolly boat with an officer, etc. Any ideas?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kentop View Post
    Once merchantmen and pirates are introduced into the game, I think there needs to be rules for the inevitable "parlay" between ships. It would add another dimension to the game and make the AAR even more interesting. But how to accomplish it? Both ships signal each other, reduce sail, one sends a jolly boat with an officer, etc. Any ideas?
    Speaking trumpet Ken.

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    Bligh.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kentop View Post
    But how to accomplish it? Both ships signal each other, reduce sail, one sends a jolly boat with an officer, etc. Any ideas?
    With the solo rules, a dice roll with associated modifiers could be used to determine the outcome of parlay. We already use such rolls in the solo game and the WoG solo games. It takes seconds to look at a list of modifiers, make the roll, and determine the outcome. Thinking through such a list of modifiers and the die-roll outcomes could be a useful way to think about parlay rules, i.e. it sets up a natural catalogue of issues and outcomes.
    “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” ― Plato

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kentop View Post
    Once merchantmen and pirates are introduced into the game, I think there needs to be rules for the inevitable "parlay" between ships. It would add another dimension to the game and make the AAR even more interesting. But how to accomplish it? Both ships signal each other, reduce sail, one sends a jolly boat with an officer, etc. Any ideas?
    I haven't thought about anything but the merchantmen. I'll add that to my list. Be warned everybody, if you start a thread, then you will be busier than you ever thought you could be. There are more complete rules in a thread called "Rules for Merchantmen" in the Rules Help section. Please read them and let me know what you think.

    I'm havin' fun,

    Bob

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    Ok Mates

    Here is a scenario that uses the Rules for Merchantmen located in the Rules Help section of the forum. This is a new thread on this topic be cause I wanted to kept the comments on each draft separated. Enjoy the game.


    Convoy
    The names have been changed to protect the no so innocent.

    A small squadron and the merchant ships under escort approached their destination, St. Jorge in the Azores. Admiral 7eat51 smiled saying, “Bos’n, this has been a quiet voyage, I wonder what could go wrong now?”

    “Sail ho,” called the lookout, “Off the starboard rail.”

    Both officer and sailor looked west and saw the enemy glide out of an early morning fog bank.

    “Battle stations, Bos’n, we’re in for a fight!"

    The whistle screeched and the sound of running feet broke the morning’s peace. . .

    You must get the convoy safely into the harbor with as little damage as possible.

    Set-up

    Ships

    Merchantmen
    1. Burden 3 ships 101, SS01
    2. Burden 2 ships 103, SS03
    3. Burden 1 ships 107

    British
    1. HMS Zealous 104C
    2. HMS Vanguard SS04

    Spanish
    1. Argonauta 102C
    2. Heroe 102C

    French
    1. Le Berwick 104A
    2. Genereux SS02
    3. Commerce de Bordeaux 102B


    Playing Surface:
    1. 2 Ares game mats or larger surface with the long edges put together
    2. Use landforms to create a harbor on the Southwestern corner of the mat.
    3. The convoy enters from the Northeastern corner.
    4. The attackers enter from the Northwestern corner.
    5. The wind is from the North

    Sides:
    The number of players in the game determines which nation represents each side.
    • 2 players: Each player chooses a ship from different countries and 2 merchantmen. Either player can choose to be the Escort.
    • 3 players: A player chooses one British ship and is the escort; the other 2 are the Spanish attackers. Use 3 merchantmen.
    • 4 players: 2 players are the British and 2 are the Spanish; either side may be the escort. Use four merchantmen.
    • 5 players: 2 players are either the Spanish or British and are the escort and the other 3 are the French attackers. Use 5 merchantmen.
    • 6 or more players: 3 players play the French escort and the other 3 or 4 are the coalition attackers, both Spainish and English.

    When choosing ships for merchantmen,
    begin with no. 1 and work your way down the list.


    Winning Conditions:

    Attacker:
    1. For capturing a merchant ship you get 1 point for each point of burden and 1 point for each unit of cargo space used for storing merchandise.
    2. For sinking a merchant ship you get 1 point for each point of burden, that’s all.
    3. For capturing a fighting ship you get 3 times the burden.
    4. For sinking a fighting ship you get 1 point for each point of burden, no multipliers.

    A captured prize ship is worth more than bragging rights.

    Escort:
    1. For getting a merchant ship in the harbor, you get 1 point for each point of burden and 1 point for each unit of cargo space used for storing merchandise.
    2. For capturing a fighting ship, you get 3 times the burden.
    3. For sinking a fighting ship you get 1 point for each point of burden.

    Both French and British:
    1. If a merchant ship leaves the playing area anywhere but the harbor, the ship gets lost and no one gets any points for that wayward wonderer.
    2. High score wins.

    Special Rules: (rules to consider)
    1. Merchantmen Rules found in the Anchorage Forum under Rules Help.
    2. Sinking Ships (Rulebook for Sails of Glory p. 40)
    3. Flagship (Rulebook for Sails of Glory p. 40)
    4. Ammunition Explosion (Rulebook for Sails of Glory p. 40)
    5. Surrendered Ships (Rulebook for Sails of Glory p. 41)
    6. Aim High (Rulebook for Sails of Glory p. 37)

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loki 13 View Post
    Very interesting, I may have to give it a try.

    This could be used as a pirate scenario. Hint, hint.

    Bob.

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    Due to the recent posts about pirates, I started rereading Osprey's Pirate: The Golden Age. It is interesting how they address the historical vs. the romanticized, and the evidence the authors marshall.
    “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” ― Plato

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    I may have to review that book myself Eric.
    thanks for the reminder.
    Rob.

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    Food for thought when considering how pirates should affect SOG merchant ships:

    Leeson.pdf

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    Thank you for the White Paper, Kenneth. This will make for good reading this evening.

    Where did you come upon it?
    “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” ― Plato

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    I have just downloaded it for further reflection too.
    Thanks Ken.
    Rob.

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    Peter Leeson, the author of the paper, turned it into a book entitled "The Invisible Hook, The hidden economics of Pirates. You can grab it on Amazon. I stumbled upon it while I was reading and researching Thomas Piketty's "Capital in the 21st Century" last year. Leeson has some interesting takes on why pirates acted the way they did. They weren't crazy or just plain evil, their actions can be easily explained using simple economic models. Good reading.

  41. #41
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    Having finished rereading Osprey's Pirate: The Golden Age yesterday, I immediately ordered the following text on amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/157...ilpage_o02_s00

    Attachment 15133

    She looks like an informative read.
    “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” ― Plato

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by 7eat51 View Post
    Having finished rereading Osprey's Pirate: The Golden Age yesterday, I immediately ordered the following text on amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/157...ilpage_o02_s00

    Attachment 15133

    She looks like an informative read.
    Looks interesting Eric.
    You can get the Kindle edition on U.K. Amazon for £11.83
    Rob.

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    I will write a review when I have read it.

    Hmm. I see a line saying attachment, but no picture. I swear I saw a picture when I uploaded it last night. Can this be the curse of the empty port bottle?
    “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” ― Plato

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    Well it is certainly not the curse of a full one Eric.
    Bligh.

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    I also modified for automated rules as merchant ships in convoys never really followed the rules. I input rules specifying that merchant ships automatically turn away from enemy ships if there is no escorting vessel in between them. Of course it may lead to collisions with other merchant ships, but that's one of those things that always drove convoying warships mad.

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    Sounds a very plausible scenario Richard. Not many ships other than the Large HEIC merchantmen would stand their ground when faced by superior odds.

    Rob.
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

  47. #47
    Comptroller of the Navy Board
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    United States

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    ISTR Linois found himself buffaloed by a group of HEIC 1500-ton Indiamen that had been specially painted to resemble, and were sailed as if they were, similar sized Royal Navy 74's.

    How I would handle this is I'd place a facedown chit on the base of each potential EIM, only revealed when an enemy ship approaches to half-ruler or when that ship fires its first salvo. At that point the chit is flipped to reveal which role that ship's controller has selected and Game On accordingly.

    You might also find some scenario ideas here: https://sailsofglory.org/showthread....ll=1#post39168

    And more idea fodder here: https://sailsofglory.org/showthread....ll=1#post72495
    Last edited by Diamondback; 07-20-2021 at 21:19.
    --Diamondback
    PMH, SME, TLA, BBB

  48. #48
    Admiral of the Blue.
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    England

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    Yet another great, but simple idea from DB.
    logged for future use, although my reveal cards may be a little more exotic, because It is easy for me to stand on the shoulders of the great man himself so it is.
    Rob.
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

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