It’s that time of year again: GenCon, baby! As always, there are great Infinity events on offer there, and once again one of Goonhammer’s own was on hand to participate!
As I mentioned in my series of articles last year (culminating in a tournament report you can read here), one of my favorite events at GenCon is the 400 point “ITS After Dark” tournament. It’s a great event, the terrain is always top-notch, and the vibe is very chill. This year was no exception, and I once again brought my Shasvastii to the event. In fact, I think I brought the exact same lists as I did last year, mostly because that was the stuff I had painted and ready to go! So without any further preamble I’m just going to dive into the action!
Caveat: Aside from pictures of the tables (which I actually took the following morning), I was so in the zone that I completely blanked on taking pictures of the events as they happened. Trying to get a 400-point game finished under the allotted time is a bit of a hustle and I just never found the opportunity to take action shots. But then again I often find it hard to discern what’s going on in photos of Infinity games-in-progress anyway, so hopefully you’ll forgive me for their absence.
Further Caveat: By the time I am writing this report, these games were played 5 days ago and as you shall soon see a ton of stuff has happened since then. While I have tried to go over the general sense of the key events that happened in each game, I don’t remember with exact precision what all happened (and you probably don’t want that level of detail anyway, as it can get very dry). I apologize in advance for any errors or omissions or fuck-ups in this description, they are purely the result of my faulty memory. It’s hell getting old.
Game 1: Unmasking
Our first mission of the evening was Unmasking, and my opponent was Edward (aka “Ahab” in ITS). Edward is a super cool dude with fantastic tattoos, and he is actually the Tournament Organizer for the Infinity Satellite tournament at NOVA. On the night in question he was playing White Company. This “Non-Aligned” faction is a mercenary force that’s a mix of Pan-Oceania and Yu Jing troops. It has a lot of flexibility and a really diverse toolbox.
This mission is kind of cool in that each side places 3 “High-Value Targets” on the table. One is the real “designated target” and two are decoys. There are three consoles along the center line of the table, and hacking a console allows you to confirm the identity of one of the enemy HVTs. Critically, you can’t hack the same console more than once, and you can’t attack an enemy HVT (designated or decoy) until you have unmasked them. You score the bulk of the points for killing your opponent’s designated target while keeping your own alive. That means controlling access to the consoles, but herein lies a rub – this mission uses an Exclusion Zone, meaning you can’t use advanced deployment skills like Infiltration or Forward Deployment to get all up-close and personal. This sucks, because half my army is composed of stuff that deploys outside my DZ. But whatever, there’s more than one way to skin a cat.
Rolling off for our Lieutenant tests, I won and opted to go first (see above about controlling access to the consoles). My opponent chose to deploy on the side of the table with the elevation advantage, and after I had deployed all but my reserve model he put a 5-man core fireteam of Haidao and Jujak heavy infantry atop the tallest building on the left flank (Building A in the above photo). The Jujak missile launcher and Haidao MULTI-sniper were prominent in ARO, everyone else was deployed prone or on the stairs on the back side of the building out of LOF. There was a Haris fireteam of two Karhu troopers (one of who was armed with a Feuerbach) and Liang Kai, all prone and out of LOF atop the building in the middle of his deployment zone. He also had a Danavas hacker on my right and a camo buddy on either flank. The camo tokens had repeaters deployed in their ZOC, which marked them both out as Guilang skirmishers with the Minelayer skill (an excellent profile).
I had held back my Speculo Killer as my reserve model and placed it just outside my opponent’s DZ right up against the base of the tall building where his core team was deployed. It too has the Minelayer profile, and while Minelayer has gotten a little bit of a nerf in the latest update of the game, I was still able to place a Shock mine in a position such that it was an inconvenience to my opponent once should he want to advance.
His reserve model was a single basic Fusilier.
My first turn opened with my Speculo Killer dropping smoke to block the line of fire of my opponent’s ARO pieces on top of Building A. Though this blinded the Missile Launcher Jujak, it did nothing against the MSV2-equipped Haidao Sniper – but my next few orders went into my Albedo-toting Gwailo, who let loose with his Heavy Rocket Launcher. This is a risky play against linked ARO pieces, but I didn’t see much choice here, I really had to take them out to open up the middle of the table. Unfortunately I covered both the Jujak ML and Haidao sniper under the template and ate AROs from both. I out-rolled the ML, who died a fiery death, but sucked down a sniper hit. No worries, as Heavy Infantry I had two wounds. We traded another shot, and this time my opponent rolled well and knocked me unconscious. Revealing my Sphinx TAG from hidden deployment, I moved to a position where I could see him around my own smoke and opened up with my Spitfire. This too was risky (as his MSV2 negated my Sphinx’s Mimetism -6), but Burst is king and my 4 dice to his 2 put paid to his sniper. Now the table was largely clear, but I’d spent a few more orders getting here than I had wanted. My final asshole move over on this part of the table was to put my Sphinx in Suppressive Fire, where he’d be handing out a wicked -9 modifier to anyone who wanted to tangle with him at 24″ range or less, -12 if they were approaching from a direction where he had cover.
Moving to the second combat group, I moved my Nox fireteam up to the middle of the table, using the Hacker to hack the center console and reveal an enemy HVT. I got lucky and picked the real designated target (deployed over on my left) on the first try. Target acquired! I didn’t really have the orders to capitalize on that information this turn, but it would help me prioritize for next turn.
With just a few orders remaining, I used an off-table order to bring on my Cadmus Seed Soldier on my extreme right just outside my opponent’s DZ. My final order of the turn was to hatch (Cadmus drop as a seed, a gooey bag of yuck) and move into hacking range of my opponent’s Danavas hacker. I attacked with Trinity and though I beat whatever she tried as an ARO, I only got one success (which she handily tanked). This turned out to be very very bad for me, as you are about to see.
My opponent’s first turn started with the Guilang on my left flank spending a few orders moving up and laying another Repeater in ZOC of my Sphinx. Uh oh. His Danavas then activated and attacked my Cadmus, successfully getting off Oblivion over my Trinity ARO. With my Cadmus now Isolated and unable to respond with hacking attacks, my opponent then set about hacking my TAG. With a decently high WIP stat and 6 BTS I had hoped that this would chew up at least a couple of orders, but alas my Sphinx fell to possession in a single order. That left most of my opponent’s main pool to go on a rampage with my own TAG – which he did, boy howdy! I think he was hoping that I’d shoot it, but I spent most of my AROs dodging. I knew I just needed to hold out long enough, and fortunately for me he spent most of his turn blasting the ever-loving-hell out of my Nox fireteam (which was all in my second combat group) and my poor Haiduk marksman.
The rest of that turn was a fog of “Oh, shit!” and “My ARO is to dodge!” but I do remember that my Speculo managed to conceal herself in smoke. My opponent also repositioned his other Guilang to protect his Danavas in case my isolated Cadmus got frisky (though he’d only have a single order, he had a boarding shotgun and wasn’t afraid to use it). After ravaging my list, play passed back to me.
My first order of business was to clear the Possessed state on my TAG, which I did by burning a Command Token. Fortunately, since most of the casualties were in my second combat group, I still had a decent number of orders to play with. I also burned a command Token to bring the T-Drone FTO (the only still-conscious survivor of the Nox fireteam) into the first combat group – I needed every order I could get!
My first order of business was to deal with the repeater net, so I hatched my Seed Soldier out of camo state and set about running over to blast the Guilang and the repeater both. The Seed-Soldier then turned around and shot my opponent’s designated target, scoring me a big whack of objective points. My Shrouded hacker stealthily approached another console and successfully hacked it, revealing one of my opponent’s decoys. I tried to blast this dude with my Taigha Beast’s chain colt but failed to inflict a wound. Finishing off my turn, I once again put my Sphinx in Suppressive Fire, confident that without a Guilang on that flank laying more repeaters that I wouldn’t suffer possession again.
My opponent’s other Guilang started out by killing my Cadmus, then sidled out with a sensor bot to take a shot at my Speculo – she successfully dodged and the bot ate a wound from her mine, dropping unconscious. The middle part of the turn is a blur – he spent a bunch of orders on the Feuerbach Karhu tangling with my Sphinx and finally knocked it into 2nd-level unconscious. He made a play against my Speculo Killer with Liang Kai and my ARO was to calmly drop a mine – my opponent knew that I was getting close to being in retreat by this point, so he agonized over what to do. Either way, she tanked whatever he did to her and stayed alive. His Fusilier crawled into a position to be able to do something to her the following turn and play passed back to me.
I didn’t have a huge number of orders left, but I didn’t really need them. Dr. Worm slithered forward and tried to bring my TAG back into play, but alas he missed the shot with his GizmoKit. My Shrouded hacker moved up to dump three combi-rifle shots into my Opponent’s revealed decoy (killing it) and ate a Feuerbach shell for his troubles, and my Seed Soldier got into a position to be relevant to whatever was going to happen in the middle of the table.
My opponent still had a ton of orders, as while I had inconvenienced him greatly I hadn’t really inflicted all that much damage. His remaining Guilang finished off my Taigha (who had run around looking for the Danavas) on my right flank. Then began a speed run of orders as Edward focused on the objectives. Activating Liang Kai to clear the mine, he then revealed that his lone “Fusilier” was in fact Tao-Wu, who opened up on my Speculo Killer with a triple-burst nanopulser. Ouch! She failed her dodge and I thought for sure that she was done-for, but miraculously she made all three BTS Saves. Opting to fail her Guts roll, she moved around the back of the truck and out of his LOF. This meant meant the Karhu link team had to deal with her if they wanted to get to the center console. They did this, but it cost them precious orders to do so. Finally one of the Karhu specialists got there and successfully hacked it. Unfortunately, only a decoy was revealed. At this point Edward didn’t have the orders to get to and kill that decoy, so we shook hands over a hard fought and extremely bloody game. I think I finished with something like 40 points on the table.
We reported the game as 7-1, but in looking at the scoring now it seems I should have scored 8 Objective Points. Either way, it was a tough win over a very canny opponent. As soon as my Sphinx got possessed I thought I was done for, but by managing to hold on and stay focused I was able to keep from tilting. Whew!
Mission 2: Supplies
Supplies is a classic, and is one of those missions that absolutely favors the first turn. I was happy to win the Lieutenant roll-off and choose to go first. My deployment was pretty vanilla (infiltrating specialists near the tech coffins along the centerline of the table, hitters spread out to cover firelanes), but this table was fairly brutal, offering at least 4 extremely long DZ-to-DZ fire lanes. I once again put my Speculo into a position where she could offer smoke for my Gwailo.
My opponent (whose name I didn’t catch) was playing Ramah Task Force, a Haqqislam sectorial. I have played Ramah myself so I had some idea what I might be up against, but as it turned out my opponent brought a pretty interesting list. Front and center was a 5-man core fireteam of three Ghulam specialists with a pair of Zheyadan troopers with heavy rocket launchers, which he deployed elevated in good ARO positions. His list also featured a Maghariba Guard, the fearsome Haqq scorpion-tank which is in my opinion one of the coolest models in the game.
After my Taigha impetuously ran forward, my first order was as usual the Speculo laying smoke. I then activated the Gwailo and moved to where I could see my opponent’s two Zhayedan HRL troopers, but only had to engage them one at a time (Sixth Sense only gives you a no-modifier shooting ARO if you are the victim of an attack). With a linked opponent who benefits from Sixth Sense, this is always risky, but again I got lucky, immolating him on the first order. As I moved up to engage the second I was less lucky, and my Gwailo dropped unconscious. Fortunately, Dr. Worm’s little helper remote was close by, so I was able to doctor the Gwailo back up (and move back out of template range to boot!). I then spent another order and immolated the second Zhayedan, thus depriving my opponent of any further AROs. Heavy Rocket Launchers are great for this, especially against Haqqislam (which is a faction replete with fantastic doctors) because the “continuous damage” aspect of the weapon often doesn’t leave enough of a body to put back together.
I then swapped over to my second combat group and again moved my Nox fireteam up into the middle of the board. I was able to move them over to the leftmost tech coffin, open it up, and retrieve a supply box with my Nox hacker. Finally, I brought my Sphinx out of hidden deployment and moved him up to anchor my right flank, although I didn’t have the orders to put him into Suppressive Fire.
My opponent began his turn straight away with his Maghariba Guard, nosing out to take on my poor Haiduk marksman. Astonishingly, outside 32″ and in a bad range band for both of us, I was able to put an AP rifle round into Maggy, and she took a wound! I was not so lucky the second time, however, and as soon as my opponent had sussed out the range he advanced forward inside 32″ and utterly annihilated both the Haiduk and in the next order my CSU. He then spent a few orders advancing further, being very careful to avoid one of my camo tokens (a good thing, it was a Seed-Soldier with a panzerfaust!), but in doing so he solidly entered the ZOC of my Nox hacker. After a successful Oblivion ARO, Maggy was now Isolated and couldn’t accept any more orders from his pool.
Trying to make the best out of a bad situation, my opponent moved his Rafiq sensor remote forward, trying to get into a position to do something about all the camo tokens and hacking I had in the midfield. Carefully staying out of my Nox hacker’s ZOC, he peeked out at the camo token concealing my Seed-Soldier, who hatched by way of detonating his Chest Mines, knocking the bot unconscious (and most importantly, disabling his Repeater). He spent more orders working the Nasmat attached to his Engineer forward, trying to clear the Isolated state on his Maghariba Guard, but he managed to fail the engineering test with his last order. Maggy was still stuck.
My second turn was spent opening a second tech-coffin with my Shrouded hacker and grabbing a second box. My Taigha Beast charged forward and berserked itself into unconsciousness killing a Ghulam specialist from the core fireteam on the right flank. I then went to work with my Nox Hacker, successfully getting off Carbonite against Maggy (I didn’t want to do Possession because she was already Isolated). This brought her to the full -12 Reset penalty and let my now-hatched Seed-Soldier accomplish his main objective – killing the tiny Nasmat remote! In my haste to kill the enemy engineer’s little helper, I failed to notice a camo token, which revealed itself to be a Beasthunter. The Seed-Soldier got utterly obliterated, but he was successful in destroying the troublesome remote. Finally, I burned some orders sending my Speculo Killer over to kidnap my opponent’s HVT, putting me in a position to secure one of my Classified Objectives.
With both a Regular and Tactical Awareness order, Maggy had two shots to reset and clear her states but was down to needing to roll a 2 or less and predictably failed both rolls. There were a couple of orders spent on the NCO Ghulam with the smoke grenade launcher (in preparation for an attack run by his Mukhtar), but due to bad range bands these failed and cost several precious orders. They also did no good because by this time my Gwailo was looking down that fire lane (I’d moved it over to deal with his CSU in my second turn) and it has MSV2. At this point he went with Plan C and brought on a Nahab parachutist (I think it was the Specialist Operative profile) on my left table edge. Focused on the mission, this guy’s first regular order was spent slapping a D-charge on a building in my DZ and detonating it, nabbing my opponent his “Sabotage” Classified Objective in the process. The Nahab then moved around a little bit to try to get into a decent position but was facing a 5-man fireteam at close range. He managed to slice the pie decently well and managed to kill both of the Nox Forward Observers, but was having a hard time making progress with the orders he had left.
My final turn was spent consolidating and protecting my lead. This involved moving the Sphinx from the right flank to closer to center to blast the Nahab, though he ducked behind a tech coffin before I could kill him. I ran both of the troopers carrying boxes (the Nox hacker and Shrouded hacker) rearward to get them farther away from any kind of counterattack. There was a dicey moment where the Nox hacker had to cartwheel through the Nahab’s boarding shotgun ARO, but he made it.
My opponent’s third turn was really determined by his first two rolls – the Regular and Tactical Awareness orders on his TAG. If he had succeeded at either attempt to Reset (he failed both) he could have gone on something of a rampage, although he’d still have had to bully his way past my Sphinx (which was once again in Suppressive Fire, this time looking sideways along the centerline of the board). Instead he tried some shenanigans with his Nahab (I think the Beasthunter may also have gotten involved? It’s a bit of a haze at this point) but couldn’t get past my numerous AROs to get at the boxes. He did manage to succeed at both of his classifieds, however (one of which was In Extremis Recovery, which his Nahab got off one of my downed Nox troopers).
With time running down, we shook hands and ended the game, the final score coming out a 7-2 win for the Shasvastii. This was another game where EWAR against a TAG played a huge part.
Mission 3: Acquisition
My opponent for the final mission of the evening was Mark, aka “Boomtrick” in ITS. He was playing Starmada, which is a sectorial of O-12 and not really an army with which I have much familiarity. He won the Lieutenant roll off and chose deployment, picking the only side that offered even a shred of elevation. I of course would be deploying first, and I think it surprised my opponent when I chose to go second. But there was a method to my madness, as Acquisition is one of those missions where you score all of the points at the end of the game. I thought that having that final turn to rush up and grab the objectives might just make the difference.
My deployment was nothing spectacular, but I did deploy my Speculo Killer as my reserve inside an open building in the center of the table (where the center objective was located – it would be a panic room/armory in other missions being played that weekend, but wasn’t one for this mission). My opponent deployed a mixed 5-man link on my right, a Haris including both Hector (oof!) and Parvati (double-oof!) mid-right, a Duo of bots in the middle, and a couple of other dudes mid-left, with not much deployed on my extreme left. His reserve model was a Zeta Unit, a gigantic Armor 8 TAG toting a Hyper-Rapid Magnetic Cannon that he dropped on my right flank. It definitely looked like he was trying to overload me on the right.
My opponent started off string with his Zeta unit, moving up and facing off with a Forward Observer Nox. Somehow the Nox managed to prevail (I think I might have rolled a crit?), won the FtF roll and put the Zeta into the Targeted state. This was great, because that fireteam also had a missile bot. The next exchange was not so lucky, and the Forward Observer evaporated into a fine red mist.
What followed was a very aggressive suicide run by my opponent’s Roadbot + OKO Duo. They rushed through the middle building, but I actually chose not to reveal my Speculo Killer. They ignored her and pressed on. The Roadbot took a wound from her mine, but it was Shock Immune and went NWI (it’s weird to see NWI on a remote!). Dropping off the OKO (and its Repeater) on the far side of the central building, the Roadbot continued its rampage out the back side of the building. I revealed my Sphinx and took a shot at it, eating a Heavy Riot Stopper shot and getting glued down for my troubles. Worse, it tanked the Sphinx’s lone Spitfire ARO. It then continued on and glued down my Gwailo and Haiduk, though the Haiduk put it down for good in return. The follow-up was a bunch of orders put into the Zeta unit, as it moved around to get my Gwailo and Haiduk in line of fire and take them out. It then moved towards the center, tucking into cover and taking one ineffective shot at my Sphinx before running out of orders. Finally, the OKO rushed forward and hacked the console on the right.
In the impetuous phase my Taigha Beast sacrificed itself to knock the OKO unconscious (dropping its repeater) giving me a little more freedom of movement without generating hacking AROs. Given that the Zeta was targeted I thought maybe I should just hit it with guided missiles from outside LOF, but the Zeta has ECM (Guided) -8, and after doing the math it was not a favorable trade. It was much better to just sidle the bot sideways a little bit and take two shots in direct-fire mode. Of course I rolled a 2 and a 3 (both hits, feeling good about that) only to have my opponent roll a 5 in ARO and have my missile bot drop Unconscious. Argh.
Plan B: I needed to get that Zeta Unit out of the way, but I didn’t think my Speculo had a good line of approach – it’s very order intensive to smoke your way across a large gap. The Monofilament CCW is great at killing TAGs, but I didn’t have a huge number of orders available. Instead, I slithered Dr. Worm’s little helper over to my Sphinx and unglued it. I then spent several orders blasting the Zeta with a Spitfire, eventually dropping it unconscious. I then advanced the Sphinx to the back near side right corner of the central building and once again put it into Suppressive Fire. I moved what was left of my Nox link team up behind a building on my center right, but didn’t have the orders to do anything aggressive with them.
With his Zeta Unit down, my opponent moved his Haris of Hector, Parvati, and some other trooper forward. Hector took a plasma shot at my Sphinx and took a wound for his trouble (he was looking for 7s on 4 dice, I was looking for 14s on three dice). He took another shot at me as he moved back out of LOF and generated a single hit, but the Sphinx tanked both the ARM and BTS rolls. But the movement part of that fireteam activation had gotten Parvati in contact with the Zeta Unit, and she was able to engineer it back to having a single wound. It then bullied its way forward, tanked my suppressive fire ARO, and once again hit my Sphinx with a Heavy Riotstopper, gluing it down. It put a couple of potshots at me with the HRMC but we were so close it was in a bad range band and with the -6 Mimetism and cover it was not generating a lot of hits and I was tanking those it did land. I think it took a single wound in like 4 orders, and on the last of these I critted my Dodge ARO (the only thing you can do when immobilized by a Riotstopper) and broke free of the glue-goo. My opponent spent the rest of his turn pitching a Repeater up into ZOC of the console on my left with his CyberGhost, then cybermasking and advancing a Sarko killer hacker up to the back side of the central building. He was clearly staging units in preparation for his final turn.
In my turn the Speculo tossed a smoke grenade to cover the Sphinx, who took up a better position and got back into Suppressive Fire under cover. On the extreme left, where there was almost no enemy presence, I successfully dropped my Cadmus Seed-Soldier. In the next order I hatched him and took a pot-shot at the repeater that had been laid by the Cyber Ghost’s pitcher. Sadly, I missed. Low on orders, play passed back to my opponent.
Here’s where things get fuzzy for me. I know the Sarko killer hacker moved over toward the antenna console on my left, getting off Trinity against my Shrouded hacker and killing him outright, but took a long-range boarding shotgun ARO from my Cadmus and dropped unconscious himself. I don’t think his infiltrator made a play for the center tech-coffin at all, which surprised me. He spent some orders on his Zeta Unit, moving it laterally to get into better cover and putting it too into Suppressive Fire. We traded a bunch of shots here, all completely whiffing or bouncing harmlessly off our armor. He also spent some time pulling back Hector and Parvati, I think he was trying to prevent the Sphinx from getting frisky with its heavy flamethrower and trying to preserve Victory points. Either way, he ended his turn trying to lock down the center and right sides still.
My turn 3 was spent slithering Dr. Worm up to the console on the left. I was able to activate it, provoking a hacking ARO and getting spotlit in the process (satisfying my opponent’s Classified Objective. In the center I snuck my Speculo Killer (who was back in Impersonation state) back into the central building. Crawling up to the tech-coffin and dropping her state, she was now claiming that objective as well.
With my last 3 orders (all that was left in my 2nd combat group) I moved what was left of the Nox fireteam out, making a mad rush in the open for the antenna console on my right. It was a hail of HRMC suppressive fire and a Heavy Riotstopper blast, but eventually a Nox FO made it to the console and with his last order was able to activate it. Whew!
In the end, I had activated both antenna consoles and controlled all three objectives, all accomplished on the last turn. The only point I didn’t get was for my Classified Objective – it was for Experimental Drug but that Zeta Unit’s HRMC never left enough pieces to doctor back together! The end score was 9-1. It was a brutal game with a ton of back-and-forth between TAGs in the midfield. I feel like my opponent maybe played a little too cautiously – he had a 5-man defensive link in his backfield that never spent an order all game – and halfway through his third turn he made a comment that he felt over-extended and like he needed to pull back a bit. But in turn 3 you just have to go for it. By opting to go second I was able to shoot in and grab points at the end, but it would have been a lot harder if (say) Hector’s Haris fireteam was in the room with the tech-coffin. He’d have had to work to get there, but I feel like there were plenty of orders to make it.
Another ITS After Dark tournament in the books. Like past years, it was very well run and everyone who participated was super cool. I had a blast, met some cool folks, and really enjoyed myself. The friendliness and camaraderie shown by the players is one of the things that keeps me coming back to these events. By that metric alone, I’ll call this one a success.
But also: Holy shit, I went undefeated! Not what I was expecting! I knew Shasvastii could be strong at 400 points, but I never expected to be doing as well as I did. And what I really didn’t expect was winning the whole thing. But I ended up with the full 15/15 Tournament Points and 23/30 Objective Points, putting me in first place! On Victory Points I was way down there, because as an army the Shasvastii are super-squishy. But converting troopers to objectives is something they’re really good at, so I’ll take as many casualties as I need to to get the job done.
What is even crazier is that winning the ITS After Dark tournament qualifies you for the GenCon Masters Invitational. Oh, shit. That meant going up against the top-tier players, all of whom had won some other Satellite or one of the other GenCon events to qualify. This invite was conditional based on what happens in the other events (like the Grand Prix tournament on Friday), so it was entirely possible that I wouldn’t get a slot.
But at 9:00 AM Saturday morning (just as I was thinking to myself that they must have filled up and I wouldn’t get the call) I got a text from James, the Tournament Organizer, offering me a slot. Now I had a decision to make.
Spoiler Alert: I decided to go for it, and you can read all about it in the next article!
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