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Turning Point: Stalingrad & Breakout: Normandy

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Turning Point: Stalingrad & Breakout: Normandy

Postby Gryff » February 22nd, 2018, 1:31 pm

Turning Point: Stalingrad & Breakout: Normandy, the ancestors of Paths of Glory
Hi guys, I'm searching players for this great games.
I've played typical hexagon Igo-yougo wargames for years, but after I discovered TP:S and B:N those felt incredibly boring.
The mechanics are so innovative and thrilling, in fact, afterwards I have never played a 'normal' wargame again!
So, be warned! :D
But, if you are interested to learn and/or play these games, let me know!
Especially TP:S is great for games vs. beginners, because the Russians are harder to play, so the beginner takes the easier side, the Germans. However, it would be great to play vs. an experienced player,too, for a change :-)
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Re: Turning Point: Stalingrad & Breakout: Normandy

Postby StarPit » April 14th, 2018, 12:33 pm

Hi Gryff,
would be nice to play online with you BKN using Vassal/Skype at the weekends.
I'm an experienced player living in Germany.
Hope the time difference will be no problem.

TPS is also a great game but I haven`t played it for about 20 years... would have to learn it again. ;-)

Best,
Peter
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Re: Turning Point: Stalingrad & Breakout: Normandy

Postby Gryff » April 14th, 2018, 8:53 pm

Hi Peter,

I didn't play both games for 15-20 years, my face to face opponents married and got children, or new jobs and moved to other cities or both:-). At that time live-play was technically not possible, and I tried cyberboard for some PBEM attempts, but gave up on it, later.
Then I found 'Paths of Glory' a card-driven game about the Great War in Europe, which I could play live in wargameroom.com, all games there have rules enforced,too. It is in many ways the successor of TP:S and B:N but added much more levels of decision making and a very interesting grand strategy design. It's actually the successor of two brilliant AH design concepts( Hannibal and TP:S/ B:N).
While Hannibal suffered from a too big amount of luck involved (for a game of such length), by the simple fact, that both players draw their cards from the same deck ( if I draw all the good and high-value cards, you won't! ), PoG has a deck for each player and is so balanced that I would call it 'Chess with cards and dice rolls'. This means, no matter how bad the dice rolls or card draws, a beginner will never beat an expert in this game.
Each card can be used in one of 4 ways: 1. As the event( then it will be removed from your deck). This could be new units as reinforcements, the entrance of a neutral country into WW I, or other historical events of the Great War 2. To activate as many areas as it's operation value 3. Getting an amount of replacement points to rebuild armies and corps at turn end 4. To 'strategically redeploy' units( let them move by train or ship) It became my favourite game for the next 10 years, and probably still is.

So after many years I re-found Vassal in February and the option for live-play of the great AH games.
I started several TP:S and one B:N game, which is only sporadically played live, but daily per PBEM and while TP:S is smooth and straightforward, B:N rules are a pain in the ass! There is no other way to describe it! No Joke, I think I spent more time reading rules and posts in consimworld forum for B:N than I spent time for learning ASL ! And that for a game, I 've played already about 20 times, and won at a con, even if that was 20 years ago. AH was my favourite game company, and I played about 80% of their games at least once, and there was one thing which, besides some brilliant game designs, was always outstanding to other game companies, the high quality rules. Which was very important in the pre-internet times. So I can say, the rules for B:N are the worst written of all AH games, I've ever played! Since the start, 2 weeks ago, I have been spending 2h per day, for reading posts in comsimworld and rules again, for every impulse and action, almost. Let me quote that from today: 'Again, I must critizise the way the rules are written, this part is 'hidden' in the weather section and is not in the advantage section of the rules! Of course you don't want to repeat all rules again in every section, but at least a hint in 11.23 like: ( read 18.42 for details of execution) would have helped. As I said before, I practically read 30%-40% of all rules again, for every action, and the new question that arises from that'.
So to make a long story short, I'm not sure if I am ready to start another, until I comprehend and know all rules again. For TP:S you could me wake at 4am, and I would able to explain the rules. I can only recommend TP:S, same pressure, 'what is most important now?!', but without the hinderance of obscure, unclear and even sometimes misleading rules.
Michael
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Re: Turning Point: Stalingrad & Breakout: Normandy

Postby StarPit » April 15th, 2018, 11:30 am

Hi Michael,
well, although English is not my first language I never had real problems to understand the BKN-rules. That's funny! :-)
I took apart at the AHCon playing BKN in 1997 and have played several BKN tournaments online using the ACTS dice roller and Vassal. So if you have any BKN-questions, just feel free to ask sending a PM. Same on my side... ask me at 4am and I will help. ;-)

Good to hear that you know TPS very good. I want to learn this game again...

Well, I also really like "No Retreat: The Russian Front". There were some problems with rules/cards at the beginning, but the latest edition is fine. I love to play NR:TRF so VERY much that I even decided to make a German deck of cards (poker cards quality) for private use.

Michael, take your time with your online matches. Maybe there will be a chance to play with you later on.
By the way... where do you live (time difference?)?

Take care ... and "nice dice"!

Best,
Peter
Last edited by StarPit on April 15th, 2018, 11:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Turning Point: Stalingrad & Breakout: Normandy

Postby StarPit » April 15th, 2018, 11:35 am

I strongly prefer the original rules and don't like the L2-rules.
Think it is MUCH more exciting if the Advantage is worth 1 VP (which is not inculded in the L2-version!).

Best,
Peter
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Re: Turning Point: Stalingrad & Breakout: Normandy

Postby Gryff » April 15th, 2018, 3:14 pm

Hi Peter,
I'm always ready to share my knowledge about TP:S, so if you want to (re-)learn the game, I'm your man. :D
Maybe, it would be the right thing to play a B:N with you now, to eventually learn all rules, but unfortunately, I was told that practically all players in Vassal use the L2 rules nowerdays, so I learned those. And you know, if you ask me for a game of TP:S, I would think, great, let's start to have fun now, while if you ask for a B:N, at the moment, I feel more like when I'm considering about to make my annual tax report: It would be good, it should be done, maybe next week. :mrgreen:
Well in fact, 15-20 years ago that was easier, we found a 'plausible' way to play the game(B:N), by just deciding on several instances about the interpretation of the rules and sticked to it, 'ALL' players used the same rules. Face to face live play definitely has a lot of advantages. But if you play via the internet with players around the world, this doesn't work.
The rules of B:N are complex, but it's definitely not the most complex game that I've played. But beside many unclear parts of the rules, the way the rules are presented, important sections scattered all over the rules, makes it so hard to learn and play! Instead of repeating the important parts or link them with the other important rules adding something like: 'Read 18.4 for details' at end of 11.23, or 'Rules of 9.34 does not apply here', etc.
The time difference could be a problem, but I'm sure we will find a good solution for both of us, I live in Berlin, we have no closing hour here, so the 'time' difference to the rest of Germany is quite sensible :D If you say, the party starts next Saturday at 8pm, the first people would come around 10pm. A time, were in other parts of Germany , the first people would almost start to consider going home again:-)
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Re: Turning Point: Stalingrad & Breakout: Normandy

Postby StarPit » April 15th, 2018, 4:39 pm

Hallo Gryff,
Du lebst in Berlin? Ist ja toll, dann koennen wir uns ja auch auf Deutsch unterhalten! ;-)
Ja, "ftf" bringt schon mehr Spass, aber das ist leider nur selten moeglich.

Es gibt nur wenige Unterschiede bei der "L2"-Version. Großen Einfluss auf das Spiel macht der Unterschied, dass bei der AH-Version der "Advantage" mit 1 VP verbunden ist. So muss man sich SEHR genau ueberlegen, ob man den Vorteil gegen 1 VP aufgibt.
Ferner kostet der Einsatz der Navy (Bombardment) im Laufe des Spieles immer einen Impuls. Nur bei Air Bombardment rueckt der Turn-Marker nicht weiter.

Kannst Dich gerne melden, wenn Du mal spielen moechtest. Ich werde mich bis zum Sommer um die "Steuererklaerung" TPS kuemmern. ;-)

Viele Gruesse
Peter
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Re: Turning Point: Stalingrad & Breakout: Normandy

Postby Mattp » August 22nd, 2018, 3:52 am

Very late to the topic, but I too love these games. But you left out Storm Over Arhem. Do any of you play that one as well?
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Re: Turning Point: Stalingrad & Breakout: Normandy

Postby Gryff » August 22nd, 2018, 1:53 pm

Well, there are other games in the series, but not all are 'real' area-impulse games or really thrilling. They probably were neccessary as 'development steps'. For example, Thunder at Cassino. Boring as hell, from today's perspective, because you can move ALL your units any turn, which was state of the art when the game was published. TP:S was a revolution, because it was the first wargame that implemented a new level: Which is the most important move , NOW ?! Because, you don't know if there will be another impulse this turn! Also, the combat/disruption system, where attacking units, must pause for 2-4 days, unless they achieve an overrun, really changed the strategic approach to the game design, compared to all predecessors. The Russians are literally trading lives for time.
The pressure of a possible breakthrough, the chess-like playing style and the freedom of choice makes TP:S the most thrilling game of the series. I just have played for several months a BK:N as PBEM, for the first time in 10 years, and was surprised how 'scripted' it felt.

In BK:N all air and naval bombardments doesn't count as impulses, that are 4 impulses, the Allied player can buy extra impulses with the vast amount of unused supplies, the 'fighting area' is much smaller, less areas need to be activated, so practically all units can be used every turn. While there is still 'timing'( it is smarter to bombard first and attack with ground units afterwards), it never really comes to the uncertainty the TP:S players have to face, if they will still have enough impulses to conclude their plans.
And as if that was not enough 'pressure relieve' in BK:N already, now ALL units can move one area for free( and keep their ready status) in regrouping phase at the end of the day.
This completely eliminates the most enjoyable and remarkable parts of TP:S, the 'decision-making' and 'which action/move is most important,now!?'.

There have always been criticism about some game design decisions in TP:S not being historical , like that the German artillery can only attack after 4 days again.
First of all, I am a player. I have been very interested in history since I was a child, but I give a shit on historical accurateness if that leads to a boring game.
After the initial bombardment, the German player can use their artilleries only once(in the 1st week), so you plan ahead and want to spent them with the most possible impact. But in BK:N, the Allied player bombards 4 times every turn ...
While historically correct, for the gameplay it results in: No 'hard decisions' must be made, unlike TP:S.
The Allies had the air superiority in the Normandy like the Germans in Stalingrad, but in BK:N the Germans can't move more than one area on a clear day(5 out of 7) without being attacked automatically( possibly flipped or disrupted1), while the Russians are not hindered in their movement at all.
Again, the BK:N rule seems more historically correct( especially in that scenario and scale), but the effect on gameplay is devastating.

I have played Storm over Arnhem only once, and that was after I had played TP:S, and I remember only that I was bored, because it was missing the key elements that made TP:S so exciting.
Storm over Arnhem and Thunder at Cassino are like Checkers, TP:S - Chess, BK:N like Checkers for ASL-players, strategically limited, but even if you played all games of the series and had no problems with those rules( as me), you will curse the ones from BK:N. YOU WILL ! :mrgreen:
Easily, the worst written AH- rules of all times!
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Re: Turning Point: Stalingrad & Breakout: Normandy

Postby Mattp » August 23rd, 2018, 2:00 am

You know, it's funny how one's perspective and which game someone played first colors their opinions of the other games. I started with Storm Over Arnhem when I was a kid, long before TPS was released. I think I got hooked on it after reading an old Series Replay in the General magazine. I had hours and hours of enjoyment playing that game. I think what I really liked about it was that it wasn't a monster game and every game really seemed to come down to the wire. There were certainly key decisions to be made I always felt regarding trading time for lives, how long to try to hold an area, etc... Though in fairness my experience with it was most likely colored by the fact that at the time it was a radically different approach to wargaming with the shift to areas/no hexes and the alternating impulse system which is what makes those games great.

When TPS came out, I of course got that one as well, but never really enjoyed it quite as much. I didn't like the several days refit, even if it's more realistic. It's also very much a grind so grand tactically there didn't seem to be a lot of decisions to make. But I suppose that's how the battle was....

I also have BKN and have played it many times (though not for a LONG TIME). Enjoyed that one as well, though I see what you mean about it feeling scripted to some extent and complaints about the Germans being devastated for moving. I always enjoyed Fortress Europa more....

I also have Thunder at Casino and Monty's Gamble, though I've never played either.

Ahh...ASL...greatest game ever made. I tend to play ASL about every 5 years then I stop because it becomes too all engrossing (ie. it takes over my life). So I quit cold turkey after usually about 15-20 Vasl games and maybe an RBCGIII (or two). Then inevitably I'll get drawn back into it five or so years late, rinse and repeat. I think I may be one of the few on earth who prefer VASL to actually using the counters for this one...in fact, I've played it using maps/counters probably 5 times but around a hundred VASL games over the past 20 years...
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Re: Turning Point: Stalingrad & Breakout: Normandy

Postby MichaelT » August 23rd, 2018, 9:09 pm

I agree on ASL. I am the same. I play it solely for a year or so and then don't touch it for yonks. I find to play it well you have to play it exclusively, just to stay on top of the rules and the errata, OMG the errata. It never ends. So many other great games out there to play rather than just play ASL all the time.
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Re: Turning Point: Stalingrad & Breakout: Normandy

Postby Gryff » August 24th, 2018, 11:05 pm

I think I have to explain myself a little more, when I say I'm a player, that means not only wargames. Although, as child I went from Monopoloy to Risk and then Kursk,History's greatest tank battle,1943 from SPI :-) But I played a lot of pen&pencil role-playing games, like AD&D, Paranoia, etc. and more than 300 Boardgames. I was in a group of people who met practically every weekend at least once for 15 years. In the early 90's, when PCs became affordable we met for Lan-parties to play Jagged Alliance or Civilization.
When I was student in my semester vacation, 2 of the group, who worked, took their vacation, too, and we played a 4 player Siege of Jerusalem for 2 weeks, average 10 h per day. We probably would have needed another 4 weeks to finish the campaign...
So I have played all, from 5 min Magic:The Gathering -games to endless 'monster games', and I came to some conclusions:

I need several different( but equal in their potential to win) strategies in a game to be able to play it more than once.

I would guess at least(!) a third of all boardgames, I've played, failed in this category. The 'game' was rather a riddle or a puzzle to find the best if not only strategy, and as soon as I discovered it( not seldom at the first game session), there was no reason to play them again.

The longer a game takes, the less important the luck factor must be.

I am not against randomness in games! In fact, the reason why I disliked Thunder at Cassino and Storm over Arnhem, was the missing 'uncertainty' in a player's action and the infinite impulses(no roll for day/night).
BUT, if you were playing for 6h, and another player wins because he drew the winning card(with no relation to the status on the board, or what was happening there for the last 6h) this is just a waste of time.
I'm referring here to card-driven games, which were very successful in the last 15 years, in fact too successful, because so many weak and not enough tested cdgs were published.
Twilight Struggle has several instant win/lose cards, dice rolls that can be devastating but it is still playable because the average playing time is 60-90 min. In fact, I had a lot of fun for some years, although I usually play only Paths of Glory today. Which takes 5-6h, but although there are combat rolls, and players draw cards*, there is no luck factor on your strategical decisions, or in other words, there is absolutely no chance that a beginner will beat an expert in this game. It's like chess with cards& dices when you've reached a certain level.
*=(but each from his own deck!! Such a simple and elegant solution to eliminate unfair luck like in TS and 90% of other cdgs, which means, when I draw all the good cards from the ONE deck, then you simply can't draw any)

Fun vs work ratio is important

I went to a Con with a friend, he carried 3 fat folders for ASL with him, and found another player soon, while I joined a 6 player Titan round. After I was eliminated as 3rd or 4th, I went back to his room and they hadn't even started and were still discussing rules and which optional rules they should use in that scenario! That was about 2.5h later. I started another multiplayergame, which was aborted after one player left. So after another 1.5h , I came back to his room and they were still setting up...
And it wasn't even a 'big' scenario.
That was of course after he had tried to convince me from ASL in private sessions before, but sorry guys, ASL fails definitely in this category. I owned(!) Squad Leader and from my perspective it works better as a 'game'. I don't wan't to spent more than 4h on 'preperations' for a game that I can start right from the box, while the game definitely has some flaws(especially in the 'open terrain' scenarios, the Dzerherzinsky Tractor Works scenario will always have a place in my heart :-)
I also don't need rules about the effectiveness of star shells on a cloudy but full moon night in Mid-November at 2 am... :-)
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Re: Turning Point: Stalingrad & Breakout: Normandy

Postby Gryff » August 25th, 2018, 12:42 am

And Mattp, you are right, the order of 'appearance' can change for oneself the perspective of a game, but there are so many other factors, like: With whom you have played that? Was he experienced and showed you the ropes? Or a beginner like yourself ?
Was that game long awaited? Did you buy it solely or did you buy 4-5 games at once and one of the others were just better or more popular amongst your friends ?
However, in the end, I think, it only counts when you want to play that game. If ASL were 'the best game ever made' I see no reason why you shoudn't play it. I would guess from what you wrote, it fails, even for you, in the the 3rd category: Fun/work ratio.
If you would ask me about the 'best game', I would answer Paths of Glory. I never had satoris in another game, often eurekas, but never a satori, an illumination. I had several while playing PoG, this game has so many level of understanding. The first I had, when I understood that the board was just one from 4 different races going on, and that you fall behind in another race if you push forward in this or the next one. PoG is very balanced, especially for a cdg.
The last satori I had, when I had been consecutive internet champion for 2 years, several hundreds of games under my belt, and in the 3rd year I played vs a player who made from the beginning 'wrong decisions' in our championship match, I think it was the semifinals.
I was rather surprised that he came so far in the tournament. Well, to make a long story short, he crushed me, he had developed a brand new strategy with focus on the Russians and the Eastfront, while retreating in the West and entrenching at the Rhine.
It was too late in the game to react approbiately, but like a Christmas tree, where suddenly all lights go on, I saw his plays and actions in retrospective.
I know now how Spasski felt, when he was beaten by Bobby Fischer :-)
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Re: Turning Point: Stalingrad & Breakout: Normandy

Postby Mattp » September 5th, 2018, 4:29 am

Gryff wrote:And Mattp, you are right, the order of 'appearance' can change for oneself the perspective of a game, but there are so many other factors, like: With whom you have played that? Was he experienced and showed you the ropes? Or a beginner like yourself ?
Was that game long awaited? Did you buy it solely or did you buy 4-5 games at once and one of the others were just better or more popular amongst your friends ?



I couldn't agree more about this. The "overall experience" you have playing a game, particularly one in this case where I'm remembering back 30+ years, is probably far more important than the specifics of the game. I just remember having a great time doing it even if my memories are better than the reality. Two other games like that for me are "Russian Front" and "Fortress Europa". I used to play those two games (and Breakout Normandy BTW) against one of my dad's lifelong friends when I was kid. He liked gaming and I did, my dad not so much. So I remember sleeping over at his house when I was like 12 and we'd literally stay up until like 6am playing through these games. I still remember one game of Russian Front thinking how well I was doing and then counting the 17 empty beer cans that had been consumed (not by me of course) at 6am after he went to bed and I was reviewing the situation. And then his kids came down, who were probably about 7 and 4 at the time, chased each other around the table, and one of them tossed a teddy bear at the other and you can pretty much envision the cardboard counter Yahtzee that happened to my absolute horror. The point I make is that the overall experience you have playing a game definitely colors your experience of the game.

Gryff wrote: However, in the end, I think, it only counts when you want to play that game. If ASL were 'the best game ever made' I see no reason why you shoudn't play it. I would guess from what you wrote, it fails, even for you, in the the 3rd category: Fun/work ratio.


You must not play ASL. The story that you recount in the other post about the guys never getting a game going is, in my experience, an anomaly. ASL is difficult to learn because of the depth and that it's a system not a game, but once you learn it, it is eminently playable and that is what makes it so great. Once you know the system, you don't find yourself referring to the rules much at all. The burn in period is long but the reward is so worth it. Sure, if you want to play a scenario doing a beach landing with landing crafts at night attacking caves, you've got a few extra rules to read. But mostly it's not like that. In fact, you could probably spend 10 years just playing scenarios in cities which plays very differently than the countryside. It is to me the most elegant gaming system ever conceived, provides endless hours of totally edge of your seat enjoyment, has an incredibly interactive system that puts each player having to make difficult decisions and weigh risk/reward every turn, it's incomparable to any game I've ever played. And it's very much like poker in that it has a lot of variables and "luck" but 95% of the time the better player wins because the better player is in position to overcome the luck.


Anyone who REALLY plays ASL (i.e. didn't just try it but really was borg-like assimilated) knows that it is NOT work to play. In fact, knowing the rules is part of playing the game because you know what you CAN do and thus I used to find myself curled up at night reading through "cellars" or "rooftops" for the umpteenth time when contemplating my Russian defense of the barrikady. I meant what i said when i told you why i stop - when i'm playing i play WAAAAY too much, it takes over my life to some extent to the exclusion of doing anything else with a free minute or two, and it burns me out playing hundreds of hours over such a short period of time. But no game ever has held my attention like ASL nor do i think will there ever be one. It is by far the greatest boardgame ever created. And i repeat, it's really not hard to play, it just takes time to learn. But once you learn it and it's burned in, it's incredibly fun, tense, and a very worthwhile gaming experience. All of those ASL'ers can't be wrong after all - it has stood the test of time and is still probably the most popular proper board wargame in the world (i.e. not counting "Axis and Allies" type shit - no offense intended!). There's a reason that VASSAL was for years and years just "VASL". :lol:


My .02 cents....all this ASL talk is making me want to bust it out. ;-)


Actually, truth be told, my latest addiction lately is playing the John Tiller Napoleonic PC games PBEM. Currently have three games going, Lutzen, Dresden, and the 2 hour per turn work like Leipzig......…..Great fun!


Matt
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Re: Turning Point: Stalingrad & Breakout: Normandy

Postby Mattp » September 5th, 2018, 4:39 am

MichaelT wrote:I agree on ASL. I am the same. I play it solely for a year or so and then don't touch it for yonks. I find to play it well you have to play it exclusively, just to stay on top of the rules and the errata, OMG the errata. It never ends. So many other great games out there to play rather than just play ASL all the time.



I agree that you have to play it exclusively, but not becuase it's difficult, becuase to play it well you really have to understand it. So it becomes all engrossing. You touch upon one of other reasons that i stop playing it periodically which is that there are a lot of other great games out there from other historical periods. I'm first and foremost a Napoleonics guy. The sad thing though is that it's just far more difficult to find VASSAL opponents for most games than it is with ASL. There are so many games i would play live over VASSAL if i could get opponents for them...... I had a great time playing Line of Battle Gettysburg and Antietam with a buddy of mine. I turn around and look at my bookcases and there must be 200 board games, many of which I've been lugging around for 30 years, everything from Wellington's Victory to Twighlight Struggle, to "Firepower" (which i really used to enjoy!), to the area movements games that are the basis of this thread. So many of these i would play if opponents were easier to get.

Though i will say that lately i'm more into "systems" than i am into games. Systems you learn once and can play a lot of games. Line of Battle ACW, ASL, and my latest venture Eagles (hexasim).

As a true ASL type personality, I recently purchased and have older copies of a lot of the masochistic Napoleonic La Bataille system of games. I've never actually played one of these, but i think i'd like to before i die......
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