Profile photo of Buz H. By Buz H. On February 19, 2013 Posted In Game of Thrones LCG

What’s the deal with Lannister?

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February 19, 2013

So Lannister is the worst house, right? Or that's what peeps around TC think, anyway. So House of Dreams–Tunnels of the Red Keep is the best build, right? Or kneel strategies are the only way to fly these days, right? Well, sort of….

The real problem with Lannister, in my opinion, is its horrific matchup with Targ burn, which, as you may have noticed, is popular right now. Gold weenies and other important cheap characters get sucked up by First Snow of Winter, and the Military strength Lannister brings to bear isn't enough to keep their board up against the Stark winter decks that are running around. With Incinerate, Price of War, other murder events, and (possibly worst of all) Search and Detain around to wreck Cersei and other key uniques, Lannister has been on a downswing lately.

The other problem, as is commonly held, is that the last cycle wasn't good to them at all. Though Pentoshi Manor and Enslaved were in there, not much else really caught the eye for the Lions of Casterly Rock. There were weird events (influence cost, Walk of Shame? Really?) and weird characters (Yezzan's Grotesquerie? Doesn't that hurt me when I attack in a power challenge?) and characters that divide opinion (is Hugor Hill a world beater? Is Penny good? or not?)

Thus, as is my wont (since I have deckbuilding ADD) I have rolled out a “new” type of Lannister deck. This deck borrows many principles from the Knights of the Hollow Hill builds that Nathan first opened my eyes to and that I've seen some others using recently. I wanted it to be a pretty fast PBJ deck, and thus packed it full of renown. I wanted to keep some control elements in, and am using Pentoshi Manor and Iron Throne (like any good Lannister should).

I've also emphasized an oft overlooked aspect of Lannister–Draw. They haven't got much new in the way of Draw, but that's because their old stuff is just so good. Golden Tooth Mines, Pyromancer's Cache, Tommen–what more do you need? Using the cache means no Castellan and thus (for this first build at least) no overt character control at all in terms of kneel.

What I have tried to emphasize in my event suite is the new Lannister challenge control mechanisms. I find these to be ridiculously strong, but hampered because they use a resource that Lannister doesn't naturally want. Influence is something that is second nature to me as a Targaryen loyalist, so it wasn't that hard to slot in enough for Walk of Shame, Double Bluff, and When I Woke.

The other thing that harms builds that center on Cersei is targeted removal and Search and Detain. Thus, I've got a few positive attachments to keep her safe from Bear Island and S&D, while Futile Gestures is great in the right circumstances. Notice that it can cancel Orphans, Ghaston Grey, No Quarter, Castellan, Incinerate, Bear Island–basically everything except Search and Detain. Jaime, Cersei, Ser Arys, Joffrey and anyone with Longclaw will benefit from this protection–way better than Paper Shield and well worth the Power cost.

The plots are high in initiative and just want to win challenges early. Frey Hospitality beats S&D in a pinch, and Game of Thrones will tie it. Shadows and Spiders slows down Stark decks and others not prepped for it, and, well, it's not like the plot deck isn't standard PBJ stuff. I've tried to find a slot for Power of Blood and just don't think I can.

Anyway, what do you think of the deck? Is eschewing Enslaved a good call? Are there events I've overlooked? Should I look at a bit more control in the character base? Should I look at answering Maesters a bit more specifically? Or is this just a bunch of crap?

Section: Draw Deck (62 cards)
Card Set Number Type Rarity
2 x Bronn's Hireling LotR 17 Character F
2 x Brothel Guard LotR 43 Character F
3 x Cersei Lannister LotR 6 Character F
2 x Double Bluff LotR 34 Event F
3 x Futile Gestures VM 6 Event F
3 x Golden Tooth Mines Core 57 Location L
1 x High Septon LotR 37 Character F
2 x Hugor Hill VM 4 Character F
1 x Joffrey Baratheon PotS 36 Character F
1 x Lady Stoneheart MotM 58 Character F
2 x Lannisport Steward Core 52 Character L
2 x Little Bird RotK 1 Character F
1 x Longclaw ASitD 55 Attachment F
1 x Lyanna Stark ODG 56 Character F
2 x Myrcella Lannister LotR 13 Character F
1 x Norvos VD 36 Location F
2 x Painted Dogs IG 3 Character F
1 x Penny VD 24 Character F
3 x Pentoshi Manor AHM 64 Location F
2 x Pyromancer's Cache W5K 13 Attachment F
1 x Queen Cersei's Chambers LotR 26 Location F
1 x Ser Arys Oakheart PotS 9 Character F
1 x Ser Balon Swann TWH 63 Character F
3 x Ser Jaime Lannister LotR 5 Character F
1 x Ser Kevan Lannister LotR 12 Character F
1 x Ser Lancel Lannister CB 103 Character F
3 x Sunset Sea LotR 25 Location F
2 x The Goldroad LotR 29 Location F
2 x The Iron Throne LotR 31 Location F
1 x Tommen Baratheon SA 106 Character F
1 x Tyrosh AHM 77 Location F
2 x Walk of Shame ARotD 104 Event F
3 x Western Fiefdoms Core 58 Location L
2 x When I Woke… PotS 51 Event F
1 x Widow's Wail LotR 1 Attachment F
Section: Plot Deck (7 cards)
Card Set Number Type Rarity
1 x Breaking and Entering LotR 51 Plot F
1 x Frey Hospitality LotR 49 Plot F
1 x Game of Thrones LotR 53 Plot F
1 x Retaliation! ASoSilen 80 Plot F
1 x Shadows and Spiders LotR 55 Plot F
1 x The Breaking of Oaths KotS 50 Plot F
1 x Valar Morghulis Core 201 Plot S
Section: House and Agenda (2 cards)
Card Set Number Type Rarity
1 x House Lannister Ice&Fire 258 F
1 x The Power Behind the Throne LotR 48 Agenda F

  1. Since I don’t play Lannister (Shame on You!! I’m telling Dany!), I don’t have much experience with the House. That said, this looks like a lot of fun to play.

    Do I count 8 Influence providers? Seems like that should be enough for what you’re trying to do.

    Curiosity – why Lady Stoneheart? Is it just for the Renown?

    I’m sure other actual Lannister players will have more constructive feedback. I just wanted to say this looks like a cool idea.

    1. If anyone can do it without too much of a problem, it’s Lannister with its massive draw.

      My first drafts always start around 65 with the idea to cut it down to 60 at some point, if possible. Keeping it to 60 on a first draft can be difficult. I know 60 is a goal, but sometimes the deck needs a few more cards to run correctly or to address some meta concerns.

  2. Another issue at the moment that’s keeping Lannister down which you might have missed has to do with what is usually a strength of the stereotypical Lannister hyperkneel. Lannister as a control house needs characters to be on the board in order to kneel them, and most often needs them to be there during the Marshalling phase. Unfortunately, House of Pain style decks (and really, any Targaryen deck making heavy use of ambush) is able to negate a large portion of the Lannister deck’s ability to control the flow of the game. Once you’ve negated their control, Lannister characters are just generally pound for pound weaker in challenges, which puts them on their back feet.

    All that said, a Lannister deck focusing on using different varieties of control as you have, might stand a better chance in the current environment.

  3. It’s been crystallizing in my head for a time now that the refrain of Lannister being the worst house isn’t entirely right, it’s merely the worst house against those houses, and specifically the decks within them, that are dominant now.

    Leaving Maesters out of it, you have some decks that are strong meta decks that either dominate what Lannister does or just simply do something similar but better. Many have already been mentioned or thought of for sure:

    Targ Burn – Easy deals with the ubiquitous Lanni weenies via burn, ambush bypasses some staple control for Lannister, superior economy when paired with KotHH

    Martell – Out draws what Lannister can, more reliable control via icon removal & bounce rather than kneel, par economy with Lannister

    Stark Winter – Out controls by virtue of Meera Reed, becoming increasingly potent on the formerly undisputed Lanni strength of intrigue

    Those elements are also compounded by the fact that Lanni is generally bereft of quality non-unique characters or if quality they are reliably labeled as an ally.

    There are still some truly excellent cards though that are so good and universally useful that they can make almost any Lannister build good.

    My top 5 in no particular order: Pentoshi Manor, House Divided, Enslaved, Iron Throne, and Pyromancer’s Cache are all superb and find their way into every one of my Lannister decks.

    All that to say that there’s some stronger than your average Lannister deck builds out there and they’re going to need some serious love in the character department (note not one made it in my “top 5″ list) to get reliably competitive in the tournament scene.

      1. Really? I find that especially against Targ Hollow Hill (where Long Lances just erases your kneel) that Lannister has a terrible time.

        Stark winter, maybe they have a shot, but with Targ so hot right now (literally) I think Lannister has a tough road to hoe in any tournament.

      2. haha, you tell him, Larry. I thought Buz would know that it’s row and not road since he’s in Oklahoma, land of farmers. Guess not. :/

        I agree that Lanny is going to have a hard time until Targ gets nerfed. I don’t see that happening though. They might restrict Long Lances but that isn’t going to do anything really. They really need to either make it a limited response or make it unique. I say make it unique if they want to fix it(that way I can still run 3x and just dupe it or save it with Belwas). 😀

      3. I find it interesting the FFG was fairly quick to disassemble the Baratheon power-grab combo of Make and Example and Superior Claim that they have yet to respond to the Targ board-wiping potential event and attachment combos. Not that I mind if I’m the one piloting…

      4. You guys are comparing Lanny against Targ KOTHH, which is essentially the best deck existing today. My point is that Lanny is just as good as Martell, GJ, even Stark, and better than Bara’s best deck.

      5. Just because everyone keeps playing that PBtT crap and doesn’t know how to really build anything good out of Lanny doesn’t mean they don’t have a good build out there somewhere. My KotHH and Maester decks have done very well recently. I agree they need SOMETHING, but unrestricting Castellan isn’t it. Then again…go ahead, unrestrict it! Please! My Maester deck would LOVE to run it, and my KotHH build could use Pyromancer’s Cache for the extra draw.

      6. I never said that there are no good Lanny builds, I’m asking for proof that Lanny has builds as good as Greyjoy, Stark, and Martell, all of which have championship wins this past season, something that Lannister cannot claim.

        Heck, did Lannister even make it to the semi-finals at any point?

      7. Hah, yes I have a soft spot for Martell. Greg made top 4 in worlds with Lanny didn’t he? I believe Martell and Bara were both shut out of Top 8.

        Things change quickly. Just because Lanny was crap a year ago doesn’t mean much today. Look where Targ was a year ago. Martell is unfairly thought of as OP, and Lanny is unfairly thought of as UP.

        Madrid this week: Lanny has 4 of the top 8.

        In my mind, Targ is #1, Bara is #6, everybody else is tied for #2.

      8. I agree w/ Warren here. Targ at #1 due to a lack of answers for things they do, Baratheon at #6 due to lack of things they do, everyone else jockeying for 2nd best. Possibly Martel has a lead there because it handles Targ better than other houses do.

      9. A random weekly tournament where Lannister takes one spot in the top 4 (and not even the top spot in the top 4) is hardly proof that they’re the equal of the houses who have won National Championships. Nor are the results I’m quoting “a year ago”, nice attempt at being misleading though. Heck, Gencon, the oldest of the games I quoted, was merely 6 months ago, and I’ll also point out that 3 of those months were months without chapter packs.

        I’ll leave it by pointing out that 100% of the Stark decks did better than the top Lanny deck, 100% of the Greyjoy decks did better than the top Lanny deck, and 50% of the Martell decks did better than the top Lanny deck. :)

    1. I happen to think so. If you look at Lannister draw, what do you really have? GTM, cache, and cantrippy type stuff. If you FREE THE CASTELLAN then you can run the cache combined with the extra marshalling phase control of the Castellan. I have to think that exact combo is why they are on the list, which probably made sense in 2009 or whenever but it doesn’t now, IMO.

      Now, looking to a 3 cost Ally with a Limited Response to solve all the problems probably isn’t going to make them the top house, but I think the option for more draw and more control is really good. I think then people would see Lannister PBTT hybrids as a top-tier deck due to increased redundancy and options. YMMV. Does it, @Kennon?

    2. I’m all for a constantly changing and adapting banned/restricted list. Unrestrict Castellan and give it a shot. I don’t think it’s going to skyrocket Lannister to the top, but may get a few more people involved.

      I don’t think Long Lances should be restricted, either. I do think there should be a mechanic to be able to cancel ambush, though. It skirts most (if not all) cancel because it’s in hand when played … if ambush’s “any phase” trigger could be cancelled by other effects, it would help a lot. (It wouldn’t necessarily help Lannister, but it could help other builds)

      Just my 2 cents.

      1. Ambush is treated as a bold face Any Phase ability. Allanys, The Painted Table, The Iron Throne(Lanny) and Seasick can cancel it. I’m pretty sure that’s how it goes. The Any Phase wording is in the rule book I believe.

      2. I don’t think that Iron Throne (Lanny) can get it for the same reason that it can’t stop Meera from blanking anything. I could, however, be mistaken. I’d love it if I were.

      3. The Lannister Iron Throne couldn’t cancel it, but something like Alannys could. Of course, if they have influence still available, they can just do it again immediately, however.

      4. FAQ 4.14: (4.14) Keywords
        Keyword effects with a point of initiation (such as ambush) cannot be canceled. Characters can be saved from the effects of a keyword like deadly.

  4. I am against unrestricting Castellan, and I think calls for it are the usual Lannister greediness. It’s a restricted card, not a banned card — nothing prevents Lannister from using the awesomeness. Wanting to run both Castellan AND another power card like Search and Detain or Pyromancer’s Cache is not a reason… it’s a desire.

    I haven’t actually seen any weakness in Lannister’s game, just a possibly broken level of potential out of Targaryen — what they do tends to trump the games of every house, not just Lannister. I wouldn’t say that Ambush is broken, but I would definitely say it is stronger than FFG expected it to be. It dodges far too many cards, and there isn’t really any good way to counter it without a whole whole whole LOT of relative brute force.

    Most of the Lannister decks I see don’t use half of what they could as far as control options. EX: Toll Gate is virtually unused, but it counters Ambush decks pretty well.

      1. A lot of the ambush characters are not named, and you knew that. Plus I’m not saying drop a Toll Gate ftw, I’m saying it puts a major hiccup in what Ambush can offensively do… which you also knew. Getting tired of you changing the subject just to argue with me. Heaven forbid I make a good point.

        @Buz — Lannister already does everything. It can even run a choke deck. It just happens to be a notch below any other house in any single category. It kills less well than Stark, it ambushes less well than Targ, it draws less well than Martel, it chokes less well than Greyjoy, and it rushes less well than Baratheon. But it is a close second fiddle in every possible category. Lannister players, I have noted, always want just a little more even though they already have more going for them than any other house.

      2. Come on buddy I was just testing you. Of course there are a lot of good targets for the Toll Gate…

        Sellsword Deserter
        Queen’s Knight
        Dragon Thief
        Dragon Knight
        Long Lances
        Company of the Cat

        Just to name the most commonly played ones. So yes, it has good applications vs Targ decks but is easily played around by a good opponent.

      3. How does Lannister ambush even second best to Targaryens? Martell has a few characters that can come into play during the challenges phase. Baratheon has a few events that can bring characters into play during the challenges phase. What does Lannister have in that regard?

        Anyways, yes, it does suck to always be second best. You know that basketball team (or football team, or baseball team) that has tons of second place finishes? Ya, I didn’t think so.

      4. A longer road burns more gas. I’m all for making the opponent play around my cards; it means they are doing something other than what they’d rather be doing. You don’t have to stop them, just slow them down and trip them up.

      5. @Theorist, I think that’s a bit of a skewed lists of strengths and second places that you’re presenting there. Lannister is far from being second best at everything as you’re trying to represent. For instance, they surely aren’t second in cancel to GJ. Both in number of available cancels and viable options, that’s going to be Martell. For saves, they surely aren’t second to Greyjoy since they only have two options, and Gilded Plate surely isn’t what I would call playable. They certainly aren’t second in kill to Stark, as Targaryen is actually the lead there at the moment with Stark in second. Baratheon may be the king rush house, but I’d say that Martell builds still are better at the second place mark here than Lannister. The list could go on from here….

        We are, however, actually kings of a handful of effects- straight up gold production, kneel, and strictly draw based card advantage. I wonder, though, if that’s enough?

      6. Joshua, second best in every category is a winning team. You can’t just hit the 3 or have the best running game. When I’m talking capabilities, take it to mean that and not second place finishes.

        Lannister has Hidden Vale Pass to free-drop cards like Black Ears, The Burned Men, etc. You discard them afterward (can be saved w/) and they come in on offense, but it’s influence/gold free. That’s a bit better as far as dropping unexpected guys than other houses, Targ excepted. Not being able to neutralize these cards in marshalling or by a MIL push is a big part of what makes ambush powerful.

      7. To comment on your second point Theorist, you were listing the niche’s of each of those houses so of course Lanny isn’t going to be as good as the others at what the other houses do best…with one exception. Lanny certainly draws cards better than Martell. Martell has effects that put cards into their hand after being revealed or can return cards to their hand from discard pile, but those are one-of effects and not repeatable every turn. Lanny is certainly the king of drawing cards…repeatedly…every turn.

        Instead of looking at what Lanny doesn’t do as well as the other houses, how about we look at what they do do well?

        First, they are the kings of card draw. No doubt about it. GTM, Cache, Tommen, Widow’s Wail, Tyrion, Gold Cloaks, the list goes on. You will outdraw people. Guaranteed.

        Second, they get more gold than anyone. Lannisport Treasury, all the 1 gold characters, the Lannisport Steward, etc… You can outspend anyone.

        Third, they have repeatable control. Castellan, Brothel, Alchemist’s Guild Hall, Penny, Pentoshi Manor, Toll Gate etc… It may only kneel characters or control challenges but not being a one shot effect like much of what Stark, Martell, and Targ has is a big boon.

        So I’m tired of everyone complaining that Lanny sucks. They don’t suck, they’re just not Targaryen. :)

      8. I don’t know, Kennon. I actually think that if you built it for that, Lannister is extremely good at killing. You get:

        Lion’s Gate + hate cards, to spot kill in Marshalling — Pentoshi Manor is a big help here.

        Death By Payne
        Terminal Schemes
        A Lannister Pays His Debts

        Double Bluff, to change a POW or INT into MIL

        The Burned Men

        …plus kneel, which pushes MIL for them.

        Sure I’m missing some of it.

        Targ does get thunder, I agree. I’m not sure they get this kind of dont-care-how-big-it-was thunder though. Lannister could really bring the murder game if they wanted to do so.

        As far as cancels go, it depends on what you mean by cancel. If stuff is knelt or dead before it can be used (kneel Maester Aemon), it’s canceled. Arguably Lannister has the best cancel game in that respect.

        As far as saves, I agree. Lannister has lousy saves. It has to draw into new cards to win, which it is thankfully good at… plus it has the gold to get them out without trouble. But that’s not quite as good as saves.

      9. @Joshua — I’d state the only reasons I know… lack of faith and old thinking from diehard Lannister players. If Lannister had won a tournament or placed 2nd, nobody would be surprised and they’d probably be really popular at tournament (afterward) which would lead to more wins for them. And as Nathan said …give me a minute… …egh… there are just too many draw/kneel builds and that’s walking right into a dominant popular Targ.

      10. Ah, see you’re painting things with strokes more broad than the actual game terms, which skews things a bit as well. For instance, in the “kill” category, you seem to be including trait based “discard” effects, which are two separate things in the game. Likewise, when I mentioned cancel, I was referring to the strict usage of the term “cancel” in the game which is a very specific effect that doesn’t cover kneel, icon manipulation, challenge removal and others.

      11. Somehow I doubt that “lack of original thinking” is a problem for the likes of Will Kennon or Greg Atkinson (forgive any spelling mistakes) and I can only believe that many of the other top level players are equally willing to try out decks before the big tournaments.

      12. Whoops, forgot one other thought though. If we’re willing to bring card quality into play, the quality of reactive cards like Death by Payne and A Lannister Pays His Debts is almost certainly behind that of a proactive card like Terminal Schemes, Incinerate, or Swing the Sword.

      13. @Kennon — Yes. I tend to view things from the POV of where the card is prior, rather than where it goes. I’d refer to a kill, a discard from play, and a shuffle from play into deck all as a kill. Kill to me implies a permanent answer to something in play. I apologize for generic use of a technical game term.

        @Joshua — I don’t imply that no good players are trying new Lannister archetypes. I mean only what I say, that there are not enough people doing that. I don’t think Lannister builds well as a min/max. They have to take 2 or 3 things and blend them well.

      14. Oh, one other mention is that Greg played a Lannister Wildlings build to top 4 here at the Moonboy Classic a month ago, so between that and GenCon, it’s obvious that he’s been trying for sure.

      15. Reactive cards are definitely weaker, mainly to INT challenges and losing initiative (forced to go first). To that I agree. But a spot-kill card is still a spot-kill card in the heirarchy of card strength, so long as it can be played — extremely strong compared to just about any card that doesn’t kill multiple characters.

      16. As a Lannister player, I take umbrage. Lanni’s been at the bottom part of the heap for a good long while now. Castellan being restricted made some sense when hyperkneel had been ruling the roost for a couple of years. But that time is long since past and Lanni hasn’t kept up competitively with most of the other Houses since.

        It’s just not that powerful in the current environment. Long Lances–barely limited by being Once Per Phase since it’s non-unique–effectively ruins it. Out of the House that was already top drawer when it came out. Stark has been steadily getting better at INT. GJ has several competitive builds. Martell has overtaken Lanni in its ability to draw cards, which was supposed to be one of Lanni’s innate strengths. Baratheon got a card that is incontrovertibly objectively much more powerful removed from the Restricted list almost a year ago–and, of course, that card effectively neuters Lanni’s best challenge type.

        IOW, Lanni is due for some competitive rebalancing. Removing the Castellan from the Restricted list would be just one small step for that. A very small one, and a mainly symbolic one at this point, at that. Lanni also lacks a solid suite of effective, efficient cards, in large part because so many of their efficient cards are fracking Allies.

        Even if I were to concede that Lanni is second best at everything (which I don’t), second best at everything is best at nothing. Every other House gets to be best at something and now most of them also get to be at least pretty really good at something that Lanni used to be better at them in doing.

        I think Baratheon needs a competitive boost and that Targ need a bit of a nerf (making Long Lances unique would be a good start). If wanting all six Houses to be competitive is “greediness,” well, guilty as charged.

      17. I think it is interesting that the people who say Martell outdraws Lanny are Lanny players rather than Martell players. I don’t hold to that, at all. Trust me, if Martell had golden tooth mines, tommen, insidious ways, or pyromancer’s cache, they’d be in my martell deck so fast it would make your head spin.

        I think the perception comes from The Viper’s Bannermen, and make no mistake, while Viper’s Bannermen are amazing, they’re pretty much only ever played in Martell KotHH because quite frankly, 7 gold is a lot for a non-Lannister house. They are also restricted. Finally, they’re one card.

        Other than that we have house messenger. House messenger is good, if you have gold to toss around to simply get deeper into your deck. Again, they are something primarily in KotHH because, again, Martell is not a house that has tons of gold at its disposal.

        Then we have to choose either fleabottom scavenger or dornish paramour, would y’all lannister players run either of those characters if they were in your house?

      18. I think martell does overall in their tier 1 decks get more draw however think lanni has overall card advantage because seems they have more ways to make opponent loose cards as well as gain their own. Although martell isnt weak at that either very strong in int to

      19. @Josh, Yup, I’d almost certainly run Fleabottom Scavenger in Lannister. I love that card! And with Lannister builds stereotypically slow to gain power, it seems like a perfect fit.

      20. @Josh- And I almost forgot to mention that Infamy makes a great enabler for the Scavengers, so overall, I think it would be an awesome fit in Lannister.

      21. While Martell ways of drawing are less repeatable than Lannister’s, their myriad of “reveal” effects and recursion options like Prince’s Plans lets them get around the draw cap and get a more ‘explosive’ type of card advantage than Lannister.

        Like a first turn Manning + FBS is five cards, BAM. Lannister just can’t do it that quickly, though it is more solid over the long haul perhaps.

      22. @Kennon: I was trying to make a point, dog gone it. lol

        @Buz: Yes, in the perfect draw Martell can draw cards quickly. You get hit with RBD next turn, and you’re 2 of your best draw cards are down and you’re down to 4 cards, and you didn’t get to play any of cards you drew into because you blew all your limited resources on trying to draw.

      23. Fair point. I see how RBD affects the discussion.

        I have tinkered around with Hollow Hill builds out of three houses (Targ, Martell, Lannister). My Lannister one has the hardest time keeping card advantage up, though it is the one with which I have the least experience and at least the latest iteration has some really dumb omissions.

        Back to the lab for more testing!

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