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Impromptu HITS/GCM Game 10th Feb 2013

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Impromptu HITS/GCM Game 10th Feb 2013

Post  Blackstreet on Mon Feb 11, 2013 12:04 am

Sirs,

I submit my report of the action that took place around the Bonner Woods, as reported here:

http://www.sowmp.com/gcm/battles/battle/14411

I was in command of two Confederate Corps. Soldier's Corps, with his and Barlow's division, commenced the battle some way off from the rest of the Army, in the vicinity of the main objectives. This Corps operated largely independently, and both commanders controlled their brigades commendably in defending these woods, coming under attack from three Union divisions.

The Corps under Shaka started to the North. I had initially requested that this Corps move South down the Eastern Road, to arrive at Scrugs. After around 20 minutes, I met General Jones bringing his division down this road, and asked if the rest of the Corps was behind him, which he believed to be the case.

Having seen some of the enemy dispositions North of the objectives, I instructed Jones to move West from Scrugs, arriving at McDonald from where he could launch an attack. I believed this would strike a heavy blow on the enemy, especially once the rest of the Corps arrived.

I then rode back to Soldier's Corps, where I found the fighting had been fierce, and Barlow had come under especially severe attack, but had fallen back in superb order. Conferring with Solder, I agreed to send Jones South, round to support Barlow's left. I was satisfied that the rest of Shaka's Corps would be coming in from McDonald to hit the Union left.

Around this time I was informed by General Shaka that his division was engaged NE of Wilson - much further North and West than I had expected. Nevertheless, he had caught the enemy here, and his division generally formed a very strong attack on the enemy left.

The arrival of Shaka's Corps, including the artillery reserve, saw the destruction of a significant portion of the Union left. Jones however had not moved round to the left, where Barlow held on against all the odds against Hays' division. nevertheless, Jones, along with the rest of General Shaka's Corps, inflicted severe damage to the enemy who were surrounded.

Commendations to Generals Barlow and Soldier for their superb defence of the Confederate left, which allowed the rest of the army to attack and destroy the enemy at leisure.

I very much enjoyed this battle, and believe everyone else did too - for me the time flew by. Thank you to everyone involved, including the enemy. Union General Byrd had a bad time with an AI division, which would have severely penalised him, and allowed us to attack him piecemeal.

I remain respectfully, your obedient servant,

Blackstreet

PS
You division commanders worry about your AI brigade commanders not being under your complete control - you should try Army some time! I actually would like to see how a game goes with an experienced human Army commander on one team, and without one the other - I'm thinking the ones without would be able to organise themselves well enough.

Does anybody actually resent the chain of command in HITS? Or see it as pointless? I'm pretty sure the KS guys don't, but the GCM players are used to organising themselves, and I sometimes wonder if I'm just a fifth wheel, or worse, an unnecessary distraction?

Certainly, I enjoy the role, but I find now this doubt creeping in. I have thought of some unusual strategic plans, but I have never yet employed any, because currently I'm lucky if I can get half the army into the position I want! Smile

Generals Byrd and Georgia (and other GCM/HITS Army commanders) - what have you to say on the subject, Sirs?

Perhaps I just need a holiday. In any case, I'm taking my own division next time, whether or not I'm CinC Twisted Evil

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Re: Impromptu HITS/GCM Game 10th Feb 2013

Post  kg little mac on Mon Feb 11, 2013 1:47 am

Well. . . GCM games do not follow any command structure, everyone sort off talks things out as they go, as we stay in separate rooms and allow open communications, so I'm not surprised Shaka kind of went his own way. But he (Shaka) will do fine once he gets used to a defined command structure.

After you and I had conferred and you ordered Jones to Barlow's left, a few minutes later I saw Jones to my immediate right and rode over to him. He said he had been ordered to Barlow's left, but both of us saw an opportunity to break the Yank line if Jones attacked to my right. I knew if we broke them there, we would be able to turn and drive off that pesky Hays attacking our left.

I take full responsibility for countermanding your order to Jones. It worked out.

I prefer games with a command structure. Unfortunately, in many GCM games, we have quite a few younger players who won't take orders or suggestions from anyone.

I do think we (GCM players) should stress to new or newish GCM players playing in the HG games that they should do their best to follow orders. Weathers will be a little like Dan Sickles no matter what we tell him, so I guess it's a little like real life if some of your commanders go off on a lark of their own.


Last edited by kg little mac on Mon Feb 11, 2013 2:32 am; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : added the last bit)
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Re: Impromptu HITS/GCM Game 10th Feb 2013

Post  Uncle Billy on Mon Feb 11, 2013 2:35 pm

I have found that most of the GCMers are happy to get into the role and follow orders. As Mark said, there are a few of the younger ones who of course, know everything there is to know and resent anyone telling them what to do. I suppose for those few, we could ask them before the game to adhere to the chain of command or refrain from playing. Also the CinC always has the nuclear option of taking control of the troops himself.

I don't think it is too unusual for division commanders to modify original orders based on what is happening in the battle. In yesterday's battle, if Mark hadn't asked for direct help from Jones division, his flank would have been turned and it would have been the rebels on the receiving end of a pincer movement. Of course, if Hays would have rolled up your other flank and destroyed your army as a result of the redirection, you'd be hailed as a strategic genius and courts martial convened. Very Happy Heavy weighs the mantle of command.


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Re: Impromptu HITS/GCM Game 10th Feb 2013

Post  WJPalmer on Mon Feb 11, 2013 4:44 pm

I agree that some deviation from in-game orders should be expected and perhaps welcomed as "historical." After all, this is recognized by and built into the SoW game design where AI subordinates are, as we well know, anything but slavish robots mechanically following our directions. Considering the last half-dozen HG games, I'd be hardpressed to say whether, for instance, Hays' experience with frozen AI brigade commanders is better or worse than what our CinC's have occasionally encountered with recalcitrant human leaders! Shocked

It's certainly true that players in regular GCM games are not actually expected to follow in-game "orders" in a role-playing sense. This makes the HG and HITS styles a novelty to many. I'll include a reminder/admonition in the pre-game write-ups about how, in the spirit of recreating the CW division/brigade leader experience, players should be aware of their position in a game's OOB when receiving orders, instructions, requests, etc. from teammates (especially the CinC), and carry these out in a manner consistent with their understanding of how a CW leader in their position might respond. Let's also remind folks about the chain of command in the moments before game launch.
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Re: Impromptu HITS/GCM Game 10th Feb 2013

Post  Blackstreet on Mon Feb 11, 2013 9:36 pm

My good Generals!

Thank you for your insightful thoughts. I would like to point out that it was not my intention to hint that I had found some commander more or less "obedient" than others. Shaka and Vegas did keep in contact through couriers, and Shaka kept me informed of some events. It was not my intention to admonish anyone.

Indeed, I am almost just pointing out that, because all of the division commanders were so experienced, the judgements they made were all sound, rendering most input I made almost unnecessary.

Indeed, in hindsight, if Shaka and Vegas had followed my orders to the letter, they would have missed the opportunity to encircle General Georgia, and would have instead arrived late to support Soldier and Barlow. In hindsight, my planning was poor, and good fortune, and the decisions of the division commanders turned out to be superior judgements to my own.

1) Shaka headed for Soldier's Corps directly - good call: arrive earlier to support the stranded Corps, and also happened to stumble upon exposed enemy salient. Also, this could easily have been a poor communication on my part. I'm not having a dig at Shaka, he was great to have on the team, as was everyone else.

2) Soldier countering my orders sending Evans to Barlow's left - good call: Solder had a better situational awareness of his sector, and rightly directed the reinforcements to a more appropriate position.

3) Vega's artillery reserve deployment: good call. When I saw where he was, I sent a courier to say "that looks like a fine spot to deploy", and I think he was going to do this anyway.

My point is this: in this game, I could have just said "everyone head for the objective, and work it out yourself", and the result would have been largely identical. The only exception perhaps was Jones' division which was pretty much the only division I had a more direct command over, which he complied with in excellent form, and I suppose this aspect worked out well.

Hmm.

I think that, if the Army CinC says "everyone head for the objective", or something to that effect, then he will quickly find all his divisions engaged, and himself jobless. If he can hold back reserve divisions, he has much more to play with. On the flip side, if he does not engage the enemy quickly, he may be attacked piecemeal.

My strategy last night was highly risky - the two isolated divisions could have been brought back towards the rest of the army, which could have then acted as a whole.

I guess I'm still learning, and as I say, am greatly enjoying the role. But I think will continue to work on the use of reserves more. And this would be easier with more players. Awesome.

Yes, and interesting topic indeed.
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Re: Impromptu HITS/GCM Game 10th Feb 2013

Post  Khryses on Mon Feb 11, 2013 10:52 pm

Excellent AAR notes - and I'm glad to see not all the kinks in the chain of command have been worked out just yet Laughing

I concur with the esteemed Gen. Blackstreet that the varying... liberality that orders are interpreted with (especially compared to battlefield conditions as seen on the ground) can only add to the experience. After all, that's one reason we like to use players instead of computers where we can.
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Re: Impromptu HITS/GCM Game 10th Feb 2013

Post  Uncle Billy on Mon Feb 11, 2013 11:36 pm

Don't be soft. You should convene courts martial ASAP. Your division commanders utter disregard of your perfect plan cost the Union a well deserved victory. This slight of your authority is intolerable. As a token of friendship, we will happily provide the firing squad. Twisted Evil

I find that as CinC, my main tasks are to form a general overall strategy, manage a reserve if one is available, and keep the commanders informed as to what is happening on the flanks. Detailed strategies cannot be planned since these are all meeting engagements, but sorting out which division will be on the each flank, who will form the reserve, and what the direction of approach should be are the things I do at the start of the battle. During the battle, I try to keep an eye on the flanks to make sure mine are not in danger and check for an opportunity to attack one of the enemy's. I also try to give each division commander a verbal view of the battle in general and more importantly, what's going on in his vicinity that he may not be able to see due to his position on the field.

The KS/GCM battles do not often have reserve forces. In pure KS battles, I almost always have one. In the KS/GCM fights everyone wants to get into the fight as soon as possible. Since the GCM guys are use to fighting short duration battles, it makes sense that they don't want to wait around. But with our battles being 2-2.5 hrs long, there is very little danger of someone not satiating their blood lust. The lack of reserves makes the fights more of a slugfest with not much tactical depth. I've been thinking that it might be a good idea if the CinCs have their own small AI division that they can use as a reserve in these games. It would also give the CinC added joy in responding to all his division commanders pleas that the reserves be committed to their sector. Right now! In yesterday's battle, Sven would have had a good opportunity to make use of his if he hadn't misplaced it. Embarassed

I don't find that it gets easier with more division commanders. In fact I find that it gets much harder when I have more than 5 human divisions. At that point it is difficult to concentrate on the battle, be everywhere I need to be to see what is going on and write all the messages I need to send. At that point I think corps commanders become necessary.

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Re: Impromptu HITS/GCM Game 10th Feb 2013

Post  Blackstreet on Tue Feb 12, 2013 12:04 am

Ahh Bill, you raise some good points. I certainly felt I had a good situational awareness. I knew where everyone was, and was fairly well aware of everyone's situation. I was able to inform various division commanders of the state of play in nearby sectors, and I daresay this may have been of some use to them.

Perhaps because everything went so well, I was left with less to do than normal!

I should thank you sir, for your personal sacrifice, which allowed my greener boys to get so much good target practice at the backs and flanks of your men. Without this offering, the day would have been much more difficult Very Happy
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Re: Impromptu HITS/GCM Game 10th Feb 2013

Post  Blackstreet on Tue Feb 12, 2013 12:05 am

Khryses wrote:Excellent AAR notes - and I'm glad to see not all the kinks in the chain of command have been worked out just yet Laughing

I concur with the esteemed Gen. Blackstreet that the varying... liberality that orders are interpreted with (especially compared to battlefield conditions as seen on the ground) can only add to the experience. After all, that's one reason we like to use players instead of computers where we can.

Absolutely old fellow - can we look forward to you joining our ranks soon sir?
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Re: Impromptu HITS/GCM Game 10th Feb 2013

Post  kg little mac on Tue Feb 12, 2013 2:14 am

Uncle Billy wrote:Don't be soft. You should convene courts martial ASAP. Your division commanders utter disregard of your perfect plan cost the Union a well deserved victory. This slight of your authority is intolerable. As a token of friendship, we will happily provide the firing squad. Twisted Evil

I find that as CinC, my main tasks are to form a general overall strategy, manage a reserve if one is available, and keep the commanders informed as to what is happening on the flanks. Detailed strategies cannot be planned since these are all meeting engagements, but sorting out which division will be on the each flank, who will form the reserve, and what the direction of approach should be are the things I do at the start of the battle. During the battle, I try to keep an eye on the flanks to make sure mine are not in danger and check for an opportunity to attack one of the enemy's. I also try to give each division commander a verbal view of the battle in general and more importantly, what's going on in his vicinity that he may not be able to see due to his position on the field.

The KS/GCM battles do not often have reserve forces. In pure KS battles, I almost always have one. In the KS/GCM fights everyone wants to get into the fight as soon as possible. Since the GCM guys are use to fighting short duration battles, it makes sense that they don't want to wait around. But with our battles being 2-2.5 hrs long, there is very little danger of someone not satiating their blood lust. The lack of reserves makes the fights more of a slugfest with not much tactical depth. I've been thinking that it might be a good idea if the CinCs have their own small AI division that they can use as a reserve in these games. It would also give the CinC added joy in responding to all his division commanders pleas that the reserves be committed to their sector. Right now! In yesterday's battle, Sven would have had a good opportunity to make use of his if he hadn't misplaced it. Embarassed

I don't find that it gets easier with more division commanders. In fact I find that it gets much harder when I have more than 5 human divisions. At that point it is difficult to concentrate on the battle, be everywhere I need to be to see what is going on and write all the messages I need to send. At that point I think corps commanders become necessary.

Byrd should have taken the first division under Lee. Since we're playing with the random division generator, it doesn't really matter which division a player controls. That way Byrd (or whoever is CinC) would start next to his reserve division.
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Re: Impromptu HITS/GCM Game 10th Feb 2013

Post  MajorByrd on Tue Feb 12, 2013 3:32 am

In yesterday's battle, Sven would have had a good opportunity to make use of his if he hadn't misplaced it. Embarassed

And I wish I could have. I wanted them on your left initially, but they started well north of Robinson, almost in the NW edge of the map. Once they made it down south, shaka was already between us and I couldn't get a courier through without riding around his entire division. Then they seemed to have charged Vegas's guns because they were down about 800 casualties with only 60 inflicted. Horrible.
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Re: Impromptu HITS/GCM Game 10th Feb 2013

Post  Khryses on Tue Feb 12, 2013 11:18 am

Blackstreet wrote:
Khryses wrote:Excellent AAR notes - and I'm glad to see not all the kinks in the chain of command have been worked out just yet Laughing

I concur with the esteemed Gen. Blackstreet that the varying... liberality that orders are interpreted with (especially compared to battlefield conditions as seen on the ground) can only add to the experience. After all, that's one reason we like to use players instead of computers where we can.

Absolutely old fellow - can we look forward to you joining our ranks soon sir?

Depending on timing, why not?

Unfortunately I'm operating on Australian Eastern Standard, so usually can't make spur of the moment games with my British brothers in arms.

Not that I won't get up at 4 in the morning when I can Laughing
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Re: Impromptu HITS/GCM Game 10th Feb 2013

Post  WJPalmer on Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:17 pm

Khryses wrote:Depending on timing, why not?

Unfortunately I'm operating on Australian Eastern Standard, so usually can't make spur of the moment games with my British brothers in arms.

Not that I won't get up at 4 in the morning when I can Laughing

Our HITS/GCM games have been starting at 20:00 GMT on Saturdays which, I believe, translates to 7:00 a.m. Sunday morning Australian Eastern Daylight Time in your neck of the woods? There might even be time for breakfast! Smile

Other than last weekend's impromptu game, the HG games have always been scheduled at least a few days in advance. This not only allows players to schedule the time, but gives everyone a chance to sign up for any command preferences they might have -- which makes setting the rosters go more smoothly on game day.

If you're interested, it's necessary to register ahead of time on the GCM website and run the GCM launcher. More info is available below -- but don't hesitate with any questions you might have. I expect another game this weekend, with a posting either today or tomorrow.

http://forum.kriegsspiel.org.uk/t631-kirby-smith-his-rebel-band-sign-up-for-hits-gcm-game-6#5506

Hope to see you soon in a game!
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Re: Impromptu HITS/GCM Game 10th Feb 2013

Post  WJPalmer on Tue Feb 12, 2013 3:08 pm

kg little mac wrote:Byrd should have taken the first division under Lee. Since we're playing with the random division generator, it doesn't really matter which division a player controls. That way Byrd (or whoever is CinC) would start next to his reserve division.

Ordinarily this would be so, and is fine for pick-up games and anytime we're OK with a "one-size-fits-all" OOB. But with the unit specializations, customized-unit sizing, independent brigades, special requests, etc. we've been trying to accommodate in regular HG games, it's not at all a sure thing that the first division to appear under an Army CinC in the staging OOB roster would be a suitable command for him.

When impromptu HG games are played in the future, and the CinC comes in without any idea where his division is, we might consider:

1) Allowing the CinC to turn off foliage for a moment during the Council of War to help him locate (if he's lucky it will be close and is just obscured by trees). This has the added benefit of giving him a quick visual of the positioning of nearby friendly divisions, which should save time in developing initial strategy;
2) If the CinC still doesn't have a clue where his division is, he should send an initial written courier to his division C.O., TC'ing him and ordering a movement to some presumably safe location behind the line where they can be found later. Where a CinC's division acts as a reserve anyway, this should work fairly well.

I really look forward to additional customization of OOB's and roles in upcoming games. Although the GCM tools used in making unit adjustments are not elegant, lots of options are now available to us with a few minutes invested at launch. In the next game, for instance, I hope to give each Army CinC more leeway to customize his own army's OOB structure in advance (though he won't have a final player roster until game time). But if he wants to experiment in retaining a small reserve division of infantry and/or guns under his command, assign a tactical support battery to each of his infantry divisions, prefers to place the new players' independent infantry brigades under the watchful eye of vets commanding larger divisions, give a small infantry support brigade to his artillery commander -- all of this is now possible. It will be fascinating to see how different organizational choices play out against each other and to compare effectiveness. And this should make for even more interesting post-game discussion!
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Re: Impromptu HITS/GCM Game 10th Feb 2013

Post  Uncle Billy on Tue Feb 12, 2013 3:43 pm

I really look forward to additional customization of OOB's and roles in upcoming games. Although the GCM tools used in making unit adjustments are not elegant, lots of options are now available to us with a few minutes invested at launch. In the next game, for instance, I hope to give each Army CinC more leeway to customize his own army's OOB structure in advance (though he won't have a final player roster until game time). But if he wants to experiment in retaining a small reserve division of infantry and/or guns under his command, assign a tactical support battery to each of his infantry divisions, prefers to place the new players' independent infantry brigades under the watchful eye of vets commanding larger divisions, give a small infantry support brigade to his artillery commander -- all of this is now possible. It will be fascinating to see how different organizational choices play out against each other and to compare effectiveness. And this should make for even more interesting post-game discussion!
This would make things interesting. It would create a bit of asymmetry to the battles. How would it work in practice? Would the CinC be given the total number of regiments/brigades and guns available to him and then he would decide how to divvy them up?

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Re: Impromptu HITS/GCM Game 10th Feb 2013

Post  WJPalmer on Tue Feb 12, 2013 4:46 pm

Uncle Billy wrote:This would make things interesting. It would create a bit of asymmetry to the battles. How would it work in practice? Would the CinC be given the total number of regiments/brigades and guns available to him and then he would decide how to divvy them up?

The degree of control isn't quite that precise. When creating a game using random divisions, GCM begins by suggesting OOBs for each side based on individual player settings. These are always balanced in numbers of men and guns. Starting with this, the host uses various sliders and commands to make adjustments to each side's divisions individually (since GCM is division-based). So, for example, if a veteran will be commanding a full infantry division (perhaps 3600 men) but the CinC also wishes that a new player commanding an independent brigade be included as part of that division, I would ratchet up the size of the vet's division to 5,400 or 5,600. This will have the effect of creating an extra brigade in the division. The new player (included in the lobby but omitted from the battle queue) would simply select one of the the brigades in the vet's division in Staging.

Any adjustments like the one above impact the other divisions on that side too. So, when the size of one division is increased, the others on that side are decreased as GCM maintains balance between the sides. The same is true for guns. A side's allotment of guns, determined by how much infantry is brought to the game, is fixed and always balanced between Rebs & Yanks. If a CinC wants all his guns under the command of a single artillery leader, guns are added to that player's division while removing guns in what ever proportions desired from some or all of the other divisions.

All of this is going on behind scenes during game creation and set up. Not an exact science, for sure. For instance, as it randomizes things, GCM may just as easily break a 3600 man division into 3 brigades rather than two. As the week goes on and the list grows of players signing up on Doodle and the GCM website, I put together tentative rosters where player preferences, experience, those wishing independent brigades, etc. are taken into account and balanced as much as possible. Of course, late-arrivals and no-shows always make a number of last-minute adjustments necessary. While this dynamic makes it impossible for a CinC to predict in advance just how many/much of each resource will be brought to the game, he may consider and request changes to unit organizations and overall OOB structure for his side in the upcoming battle.

As the week goes on and CinC's are identified for the sides, I'll check with them to see what sorts of OOB structures and variations they'd like to try.
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Re: Impromptu HITS/GCM Game 10th Feb 2013

Post  Blackstreet on Tue Feb 12, 2013 9:11 pm

WJPalmer wrote:
I really look forward to additional customization of OOB's and roles in upcoming games. Although the GCM tools used in making unit adjustments are not elegant, lots of options are now available to us with a few minutes invested at launch. In the next game, for instance, I hope to give each Army CinC more leeway to customize his own army's OOB structure in advance (though he won't have a final player roster until game time). But if he wants to experiment in retaining a small reserve division of infantry and/or guns under his command, assign a tactical support battery to each of his infantry divisions, prefers to place the new players' independent infantry brigades under the watchful eye of vets commanding larger divisions, give a small infantry support brigade to his artillery commander -- all of this is now possible. It will be fascinating to see how different organizational choices play out against each other and to compare effectiveness. And this should make for even more interesting post-game discussion!

This sounds really exciting. I'm starting to think that we need more than one HITS/GCM game per week - who's with me?!
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Re: Impromptu HITS/GCM Game 10th Feb 2013

Post  Uncle Billy on Tue Feb 12, 2013 9:39 pm

Happy to oblige, but I don't get home until midnight GMT. How late can you stay up?

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Re: Impromptu HITS/GCM Game 10th Feb 2013

Post  Blackstreet on Tue Feb 12, 2013 9:43 pm

Uncle Billy wrote:Happy to oblige, but I don't get home until midnight GMT. How late can you stay up?

Not that late Sad
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