Archive for the 'Raiding' Category


One week later

So it has been a week and a bit of patch 3.3. Is all looking well? Is everybody having fun? Are the new instances living up to their hype? Is 3.3 a fitting climax to Wrath?

First off, for warriors it has been a thoroughly uneventful patch. We’re not touched by the AOE nerf and we have had absolutely no changes to any of our abilities or talents. Judging from what I can see in instances and raids that is perfectly alright…we’re in a decent place just now. And for once, our tier chestpiece isn’t the most boring looking of them all.

I was originally going to do a long piece on the Frozen Halls, but then realised that by the time I had published it people would already have been running it for days solid. The big plot twist would be no surprise at all, nor would the cimactic battle at the end. Instead, here comes the shorthand guide to furying in Frozen Halls:

The Forge of Souls

  • Trash is perfect for furies, but do give your tank a chance for getting aggro
  • If possible help your tank out by interrupting the odd cast
  • At Bronjahm, hit the stolen souls
  • At the endboss, stop DPS when it mirrors a soul…everybody will be happier

The Pit of Saron

  • Stick close to the tank to avoid pulling patrolling mobs
  • On Garfrost, hide now and again if you get too many stacks of the debuff
  • On Ick, run from the nova
  • On Tyrannus it makes life easier if you stop DPS when youre branded
  • Oh…dont stand in white runic circles

The Halls of Reflection

  • Fury your heart out on the trash, but be mindful because the mobs do hurt
  • Interrupt is a good thing
  • Full on DPS on boss one
  • Full on DPS on boss two

That’s pretty much it.

Of course, the 5-man is only half the instancing madness in 3.3. The other, of course, is Icecrown Citadel whose first boss, Lord Marrowgar, already has caused enough problems for him to a)have his damage output nerfed and b)been made tauntable. I applaud the former since he hit jolly hard, at least in the 10-man version, but I have to admit that the latter has me thinking “oh, so people have really unlearned their raiding skills of ages past”. Yes, I know I sound like a grumpy old grandparent now, but back in the day it was not unusual to have taunt immune bosses, and we had 40 man raids back then.

I do appreciate that the transitions can go tremendously badly, but honestly I still think it is, to use a phrase, “dumbing it down” a tic too much. At least after only a week. Basically it appears to me that Blizzard have responded to complaints (and internal testing perhaps) by turning every knob in the house. Turn down his damage, by all means, because it was needed. But give it another week before you change anything else.

UNLESS (and this is a big one) it was never intended that he should be taunt immune.

Next up for me: Lady Deathwhisper.

How far are you along in 3.3?


Tier what?

In the coming patch, we have three new ilevels of loot from the Coliseum, namely 232, 245 and 258. Currently we dont know which of the four modes will feature which ilevels of loot. It is easy to assume that the loot will be arranged as: 10<10hard/25<25hard. In other words, 10-man raids will be a full tier below the 25-man loot. In fact, WoWInsider made a very nice table that shows it.

Like most other people are sure to, I looked it over and thought “looks reasonable”, but deep down in my subconscious mind gears were ticking. At first glance, the table seems entirely reasonable, until you take a look at the ilevels themselves. It is worth noting, that when Blizzard announced the level difference between sets, they were also careful to say that they wanted to avoid ilevel inflation. Even so, they have approached this two-tiered system in a very inconsistent manner.

Ilevel difference between Naxx10 and Naxx 25 is 13 ilevels. Ilevel difference between Ulduar10 and Ulduar 25 is 7 ilevels, except for weapons which is 13 ilevels. Between T7 and T8 there is 19 ilevels, but between T7.5 and T8.5 there is only 13. Conversely, if we accept the arrangement as suggested by WoWInsider, there is 13 ilevels between T8 and T9, but 19 ilevels between T8.5 and T9.5. Confused yet? I know I am.

Further, Ulduar 10 Hard is 7 ilevels above Ulduar 10 while Ulduar 25 Hard is 13 ilevels above Ulduar 25 (except for weapons, where the difference is 7 ilevels).

Now, it’s entirely possible to say “that’s Blizzard fixing their own inconsistencies” and be totally correct. Provided that WoWInsider is correct, we have a constant separation of 13 ilevels between tiers of loot. Suppose that this is the case. And that the difference between tiers will remain 13 ilevels. The result will be that 10-man T10 is going to be the equivalent of 25-man T9 from hardmodes. What that means, is that a hardmode T9 25-man raider will be fully geared for Icecrown Citadel, in fact they will be geared as if they have it on farm, before they have even started the instance. Unless of course Blizzard decide to make another quantum leap up the ilevel ladder.

Alternatively, T9 hard will be equal to T10 normal, for both 10 and 25 man versions. This doesn’t seem to make much sense however, since it’ll mean that people who have done hardmodes will find few to no upgrades in the next level of raiding. I doubt it’ll happen this way since it would trivialise the progression in the next raiding instance, something I think Blizzard wants to avoid in the interest of keeping their raiders busy for longer.

So, to sum up the situation. Hard mode ilevels started out as having about half the improvement that a full tier had. Come patch 3.2 they’ll be a full tier above the normal mode loot. Which means 2 effective levels of difference between T9 and T9.5hard. Furthermore, if the 13 ilevels between tiers is correct, T10 10-man normal loot will be equal in level to T9.5 25-man hardmode.

A few questions spring to mind at this stage:

  • Is it intended that 10-man raids be used as gearing up raids?
  • Is it intended that the challenges in 10-man raids be faced with 25-man geared people?
  • Will the ilevel separation remain at 13 for T10 or will they institute a bigger jump to create complete separation from the tiers?
  • If the previous question is answered with “yes” or “13”, will ilevel caps be instituted for 10-man raids and/or their achievements?

The answers to all of the above are still very much up in the air. In time, they will be answered of course, but for now all we can do is speculate. What do you think?


The triad of raiding, part 2

Yesterday, we looked at the first two legs of the triad of raiding, cohesion and planning. Today we’ll look at the third leg, momentum.


I listed this point on top, since it is also the most important one of the three. It relates directly to the two other points. You cannot, however, influence it directly in a positive way. Unfortunately, you can very directly influence it in a negative way.

So what is momentum then? Like its physical counterpart, raid momentum is the amount of impetus a raid has. Picture the raid as a lorry…when it’s going, it really goes, but it can be stopped eventually, and it will take a while to gain back its lost speed. Especially if the ground it travels on is slippery or treacherous.

To translate it to WoW terms, picture two situations:
1) A raid who has oneshotted three bosses and are rapidly clearing trash towards the fourth.
2) A raid who has wiped four times on boss one, had to wait ten minutes for an afk at the second boss, and are now spending ten more minutes at the briefing of boss three.

Raid one has momentum working for it, whereas raid two is struggling to gain momentum. It’s not hard to imagine both situations, including which situation you’d rather be in. Raid momentum is that magical combination of concentration, feeling of “win”, progress through an instance and peoples self confidence. None of these factors can be directly changed by the RL, but you can indirectly affect them.

At its simplest: keep things moving along at all times, if you can. If it gets too choppy, or it starts heading towards a bad situation, stop for a moment, just long enough for the raid to right itself, then continue.

If you’ve just taken a wing of Naxx, dont call a 15 minute break before the next, and harder, wing. If you have to, call the shortest possible break, to avoid people losing their concentration. And yes, it’ll happen quicker than you think, so instead of 15 minutes, consider a 4-5 minute break. Conversely, if you’ve wiped 4 times on Kel’Thuzad, it might be an idea to take five minutes, for people to break out of their current mindset. In short, you want people to “lose” their current concentration, which is negative.

When you’re on a roll, people will be more upbeat, more positive, more concentrated and they will perform better as aresult. And the effect can amplify itself.

However, be mindful. Momentum is lost very quickly. Too long breaks will do it (as mentioned above), as will DC’s and AFK’s. Perhaps worst of all is the endless briefing.

While you, the RL, may have narrowed the incredibly complicated tactics of boss X down to what you think is a very short list, its still likely to be too long. Google have a point about their 28 words on a page policy. Peoples attention span when faced with many instructions is very short. Keep it concise, keep it precise, keep it simple.

Essentially, you want to describe a boss in the fewest possible words without the essential bits getting lost. Compare these Kel’Thuzad briefings:

“Phase 1: Kill things inbound. Abominations: melee, banshees: ranged, skellies: free for all.”

“In phase 1, we will stand in the circle. Ranged will kill banshees at a distance, since they do a huge knockback. The abominations need to be tanked or they will kill our healers. Tanks and melee will engage them. Skellies need to be killed before they reach the centre of the circle, where they will explode and damage the raid. So they are a free for all. If you see one, kill it.”

It may be a silly example, but the latter briefing will very likely kill your raids momentum, especially if the players know that two more blocks of text that size awaits them. The tank is already surfing the net, and the main healer went for coffee.The former doesn’t say why things need to die like they do, it just says “do stuff to things”, which essentially is the important bit. Leave all the abilities, that aren’t really important, for forums.

Another example of the right and wrong thing to do is the handling of trash by the tanks. Again, two situations that relate to planning (partially) and momentum:

  1. RL marks targets, says “go” before every pull
  2. Tanks mark and pull at their own pace

Situation 1 is, quite frankly, the worst possible thing you can do to your tanks. You stifle them to no end, remove any initiative that they have, and as a result you will at some point kill the momentum of the raid. A tank, a good tank, lives and breathes initiative. Since they are the ones who hold aggro, they are the ones controlling the engagements, period. They shouldn’t be held on a too short leash.

Let’s look at situation 2 to clarify. Here, the tanks are able to mark the targets they consider priority, and they can pull whenever they think it best. So, they can evaluate the situation, most likely quicker than the RL, and they will retain their control and initiative of the engagements. Initiative is, as said, vital, since it governs how well tanks respond to panic or unforeseen situations. The last thing you want is a tank who is too scared to act when a mob patrol appears.

So to put it simply: If you micromanage your tanks, you take away their ability to act independently. And by doing that, you open the door for every mishap to break the momentum of the raid.


A raid leader is like a captain of a ship. You steer the general direction, point out the obvious (“Avoid those bridge pylons”), and try to make sure that people are having a good time. Beyond that, you get your fingers off the controls. You are here to make sure that everybody is on the same page of the chart, not to decide whether the cook aboard serves rice or pasta.

It’s a lot easier to keep a snowball rolling than it is to get it moving after you let it stop. Keep it moving, keep the momentum up whenever possible. Most of all: know when to pull the brakes on a raid. Learn to recognise when momentum would just lead to a very quick wipe. There are exceptions to any rule.

If you’ve made it this far, there’s always the chance you think “gosh, what a load of rubbish!” And it may well be! If I’m dead wrong, please do let me know about it. Any other comments are of course happily accepted as well.


The triad of raiding

Most of us raid. Yup, you, me, that other guy. And we all know what a good raid is, and what a bad raid is. But if we want to quantify and describe what makes a good raid, how exactly do we do that? It’s quite simple to list things that we see as “good”, for example:

  • No deaths on trash
  • No deaths on bosses
  • Quick pulling
  • No excess damage taken from AOE
  • Achievements pop up for every boss
  • Loot drops
  • No waiting periods
  • No DC’s

Most of these are effects, symptoms if you want to compare to medecin. They are the “what”, rather than the “why”. The “why” is what the raid builds up over time, hopefully spurred on by the raid leader(s). It’s the “more than the sum of its parts” stuff. A raid can have spectacular theoretical numbers, but if it doesn’t come together, most people are going to be frustrated in the end, none more than the raid leader (RL in the following).

The RL has the best and worst of jobs. They get praise when things work out, but they are also the person to feel how cold it is on top when things go badly. The RL has the dubious honour of being responsible for everybodies good time, more or less. Essentially, the RL has to manipulate things, so as to create the “more than the sum of its parts” stuff and the “come together”ness of a raid.


How does a person do that? How does a person manipulate the “why” of a “good raid”? And what does the “why” even contain?

  • Momentum
  • Planning
  • Cohesion

The triad of a raid, which a RL must know about, and must be able to manipulate to cause a raid to be successful. Most of them rely directly on the rank and file, and are only indirectly affectable. Let’s continue by examining what these three words, pulled out of the blue, mean. So, in the following, imagine that you are a raid leader.


A raid group is a team, with numerous small subteams. To be successful, a team needs to have a certain familiarity with itself. It’s not a strict requirement (or pugs would never work), but it helps. Furthermore, a team must feel like a team, have an esprit de corps. This is where the RL comes in…make people feel like part of a unit, rather than just some bunch of people hobbled together in a dank and dark place.

Essentially, building unit cohesion is the task of the RL’s people skills. Some have it, while others don’t. Much has been written, in many places, about leading raids, about officers in raids…I wont go into details here, since it’s a subject for a lengthy debate. There are as many ways of doing it as there are RL’s, and I can’t generalise, much less give any advice.

In general though, I find it pays off to be civil, nice, respectful and most of all, never let yourself get overtly annoyed or angry. It pays off down the line, even if it is at times hard.


Planning is a two edged sword. Too much of it will stifle freedom and creativity, and too little will result in 10 or 25 headless chickens. How much planning is needed? Just enough to be able to avoid chickens, which to many may seem like “not enough”, but “too much” information will suck the life and joy out of the people who prefer to wing it.

Again, much has been written in many places about it, so I’ll offer you a very general outlook on it all.

Planning is, in my mind, best done outside of raids. Post strategies on fora, link to other strategies or videos. Post the raid composition ahead of time, so that people, if they don’t already, know what they are doing. Use the pre-raid time, when people are getting fired up and waiting in the instance, for group dispositions. Let people with special jobs know, including pulling and tanking. Let them know about special mobs, if applicable. This is also the time to reiterate marking strategies, and to elect a marker.

However, too much of the above will be a point of annoyance as well as spam in an already busy raid chat (or Vent channel). Most hunters will use their mark without you saying. Many mages are able to figure out amongst themselves who needs to sheep which marks. Same for rogues, same for warlocks…same for people applying shouts or blessings. As a RL, you aren’t supposed to micromanage.

Let me say that again: Hands off the micromanaging.

As an overall leader, its your responsibility to say what needs doing. NOT to say who needs to do it, nor to do it all yourself. Yes, this needs raiders to be on the ball, but these are live people. Trust in their abilities as much as your own.

Now, some of you will say “yeah, that’s all well and good, but it’s a hippielike rosy-red description of utopia, real people are stupid and inanely so. So it wont work like that guv.” Correct, it wont work like that in every case. Some people do need handholding or pushing with a cattleprod. However, get one of their classmates or role-colleagues to do it rather than yourself. Or one of the officers. Or the tank. Just don’t micromanage it all.

So far so good, or not (depending on your views). If your views don’t match mine, and I’m not saying that they should, please feel free to comment. I’m by no means perfect, so healthy criticism is always welcome.

Tomorrow we will look at the last leg of the triad, and come to some sort of conclusion.


Steerage class raiding

Also posted on BigHitBox

This topic has been on my mind, subconsciously, for a while, and it was sparked into life yesterday. The basic premise is the question:

Has Blizzard created a classed society of raiders by making 10 and 25 man raids, and creating different loot tables therein?

The answer: yes

Hold on a minute…how can I state that so bluntly? Because, in my mind, that’s exactly what they have done. Now, many people will disagree, and many will also call me a whinger and QQ’er. Fair enough. Do me a favour then, and read this to the end before commenting “Less QQ plz”.

The facts then, or what may pass as facts:

  • Blizzard wants to support small raiding groups
  • Blizzard wants to support large raiding groups
  • Blizzard wants two parallel raiding progressions going on
  • It’s not Blizzards intention that you gear up in 10’s for 25’s (re the parallel progression)
  • Blizzard wants reward to match difficulty
  • It is generally agreed upon that 10mans were tuned harder than 25mans

If a normal and heroic raid are supposed to be tuned to be roughly equally difficult, why does the inclusion of 15 extra people yield significantly better loot? Blizzards intention of increasing difficulty via hard modes does nothing to alter that scenario really. Ghostcrawlers comment that hard mode 10-man loot is better than standard 25-man loot is a small pittance tossed to the 10-man crowd. The current situation is that you get better loot for the supposed extra headache of having 15 extra people to organise/control.

The result of that may well be that 25-man raiders do the 10-mans when fully geared, both for the achievements and for the loot, before heading back to tackle the 25-man hard mode. This leads to 10-man raids as nothing but achievement suppositories for heroic raiders. The normal raiders don’t get to do the reverse however, so if you’re solely a 10-man raider, good luck trying to get those extra achievement points.

Another point is that people who actively prefer 10-man raiding, for whatever reason, are forced to never be “the best they can be”, something that bothers many and ultimately leads to ambitious players migrating to the larger raids. Skill is worth nothing without gear.

Furthermore, you can argue that the 10-mans, if properly balanced, are going to become ez-mode raids when fully heroic geared people start running them. Even now we see this trend, where people gear up in the heroic raids, only to own the normals. Except that the normals currently are vastly harder than the heroics. When Blizzard fix that however, the end-user experience for a 10-manner is more than likely to be diminished if they have to bring heroically geared people. The challenge simply goes away…and some of us do like challenges.

In their attempts to incentivize both forms of raiding, they are setting the stage for 10-mans slowly bleeding to death as a separate entity. Instead, they’ll become the “kiddy pool” of raiding, where the undergeared or the “too casual” people hang around. Anybody worth their salt is in the “proper raids”. It might be painting a dark picture some will argue, and to a certain extent I agree. However, the question remains fully valid:

Why must I feel like a lesser raider, solely because I consciously choose to raid with my guild rather than a larger group?

While some of my guildies only raid 10 mans, others dont, and the gear disparity is visible, since heroic gear is better than normal gear period. So because I don’t PuG, or have a raiding group, I’m forced to perform less, to pull my weight less?

Quoth my favourite crab monster ( Bluetracker and full thread):

If your contention is that 10 player raiding is harder than 25 player raiding, then we disagree. The logistics of managing 25 players in our minds outweighs the “marginalizing individual effort” that you mention. I could see a way to have 10 and 25 drop the same loot but also share a lockout. Anything else will just kill 25 player raiding IMO, which is not something we want to do. We do however want to support 10 player raiding, and that means making the difficulty more appropriate for the rewards. If that isn’t challenging enough for you, we do have the 10 player hard modes.

The above is a Ghostcrawler quote. Here, he proposes a solution that would eliminate most of my problems with the current raiding situation. It has drawbacks as well of course, so let’s have a look at some of the pro’s and con’s:

A shared lockout will preclude people from raiding as much as they could possibly like. If you’ve done one, you’re out for the week. End of story. Critics will call this “enforced casualness”, and yes, that’s what it is. If you clear it all in two nights, you have nothing else to do for a week, and yes, with the current amount of content, that plainly sucks if you want to raid 5 days a week. However, there are quite a few more raids upcoming, so the raiding blight will not last forever.

A shared lockout will preclude the heaviest emblem farming, as well as shard farming. It’ll increase prices on shards, and it’ll mean less epics from emblems. So you can’t gear up your alt as quickly by being pulled through Naxx anymore. Big deal.

It’ll furthermore force people to actively make a choice with whome they raid. Yes, that’ll probably kill off a lot of PuGs off the bat, but in the end you’ll still be able to PuG your favourite raid.

The burning question is then: What incentive is there to continue doing heroic raids? Well, achievements for one thing. Titles another? A third alternative could be a cosmetic difference to the tier loot. 10 man is bluish and 25 is reddish perhaps? “My character looks horrible in blue, but red…oh yeah baby!” Vanity oh vanity…don’t we all love thee. Before anybody starts pointing fingers, look at the multitude of people who grind away to receive that title, or that mount, or even that special pet…I know, I’m one of them.

Ultimately, raiding should be about choice of format/people rather than a gear-choice. Bring the fun, not the gear. Currently, the normal raids are the “second class” of raiding, perhaps harder than the “first class” (though not by design), but always with worse loot. It seems the inevitable fate of every 10-man group to ultimately lose their best and brightest to the better rewards of the heroic raids.


The DPS commandments – week 2

Time for the second installment of sermons, based on the DPS commandments by Weryl over at DPSPlate. In the interim, numerous commandment sets have sprung up all over various blogs and webpages. I’ll stick to the original, and deliver a long and, most likely, inanely obvious sermon to you. So please, do read on.

II. Do not cause your raidmates to die. In this way, do not allow the healers or wearers-of-cloth to become squished by Lesser Nasties should the Tank ignore them. Your weapon shall be your weapon, but CC shall be your shield in a time of trouble.

We are warriors. We wield big weapons. But when the animal waste product hits the rotating air-delivery apparatus, we must always fall back to our humble origins. Remember our very first Tier-set? Might. It was a tanking set. Remember our very second Tier-set? It was also a tanking set. We used to be a tanking class, with some DPS tacked on, at least judging by our available epics.

In a raid situation, or other group situation, one must never forget the credo “every warrior a tank”. So when it goes badly, it is our duty to whip out the ol’ sword and board and do our best to tank whatever mob runs loose. Or, if we’re supremely confident, dps-tank it. It matters not.

What matters is, that if your tank dies or overlooks something, we’re the next best thing. Especially if we can manage to get an intercept in. 3 seconds of stun is wonderful, both for us and for the squishy person we’ve saved.

In full DPS gear, our avoidance and mitigation is, let’s face it, worse if we were wearing swimsuits. However, we still have a goodly supply of health, usually more than most squishies. Use it. If you manage to get your shield equipped you are much better off. Do it. And then taunt and shield wall, and then shield block. Yes, your health will look like a hyperactive yoyo, but thats not your problem. That’s the healers problem.

At this stage: Apologies to all and any healers reading this. But when a DPS warrior has to emergency tank, they will need healing, and it is your job to provide it. Be warned, that the fury warrior in your party may try such things if your tank goes bellyup.

Ideally, of course, our tanks are both awake and alive, so we’ll never have to emergency tank. But in times of crisis, we can’t just think “not mah probluhm” and DPS on. Give it a spin sometime, it wont hurt (the healer) much, and they will thank you for it.


When all things are equal

Guestpost on BigHitBox on Feb 26, 2009

Blizzards view, according to the blue posters, is that pure classes, should “all other things being equal” do slightly more damage than hybrid classes.

I’ll assume that hybrid classes are defined as: “classes that can multirole (i.e. heal, dps, tank)”. If this is incorrect, please correct me.

The justification is that since hybrids can multirole, they shouldn’t do quite as much damage as the pure classes. Which seems fair enough?

However, what is the benefit of being a hybrid, if your hybridization is not needed in a raiding situation? In other words, am I to be penalised as a fury warrior, because I can tank? Is the elemental shaman to be penalised because they can heal?

Some will say: “Yes of course, because you can tank. At a moments notice, you can switch to tanking, and the elemental shaman can switch to healing. With 3.1 even more so, albeit out of combat.”

While that is correct, the inherent ability to do things, does not equate to actually having a need for doing things. You can argue that its semantics, yet if Blizzard insist on the hybrids-vs-pures line of reasoning, I, for one, would like to see the examples of it utilised as more than a simple argument for differentiating between damage output.

Taking an example in a 10man raid (I raid 10 mans only, due to being in a small guild). The agreed upon setup for entry level in a raiding instance is usually 2 tanks, 3 healers, 5 dps. How many encounters need 3 tanks, or 4 healers? None. However, you do need at least 2 tanks in most cases, essentially taking the offtanking position into the realm of fulltime tanks.

The main point is here: How is it justified to say that hybrid classes should do less DPS, if the utility gained from their hybridisation is nullified by the encounter mechanics, or not used by the majority of raiding groups?

Are we going to see encounters that need more tanks in Ulduar? Are we going to see encounters that need healing rather than DPS? Somehow, I doubt it, since it will grossly favour small raiding groups bringing hybrids rather than pure classes. Which isn’t fair either?

So if hybrids are not needed to perform their multiroling, because the risk of pushing pure classes out, why are they doing less damage? If you bring a fury warrior, fully intending them to do nothing but DPS, why aren’t they allowed to do the same DPS as a mage, all other things being equal?

Perhaps it is worth considering bringing back the viability of CC? Or even the need for it in raids. Currently, most CC is done by the tank, and consists of holding mass aggro while mobs are being nuked post haste. It’s a topic all of its own, so I’ll merely pose one question here:

Given that the pure classes are traditionally the ones with most of the CC, would it not make sense to let that offset the hybridisation ability of other classes?

In other words, let “…but you can tank!” be offset by “And you can sheep.” It will take a lot of encounter design, and will cause problems of its own. But seeing as most people would rather be of use apart from “just being there to bring the numbers”, would it not be a way forward? Let DPS be equal, but let people have a use for their class abilities, which in reality differentiate classes much more than the name or size of their nuking ability.

The above is of course taken from the perspective of a DPS warrior. From a protection warrior, or other mainspec tank, it would be quite a different position. Is it wrong? Is it right? Is it completely irrelevant? Is it just me asking silly questions?

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