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Tips on adjusting to Colonization 2008

Discussion in 'Civ4Col - Strategy Articles' started by LordYabo, Oct 15, 2008.

  1. LordYabo

    LordYabo Chieftain

    Oct 15, 2008
    Burlington, Ontario
    I have enjoyed playing Colonization (1994) for the last 14 years. I play it through to completion several times a year using DosBox. The graphics are outdated making it difficult to share this gem of a game with colleagues and friends.

    I was thrilled to see they were remaking it with the Civ IV engine and promptly bought a copy as soon as I saw it.

    If you are similar to me, you love the new graphics and interface but the changes to the game are extremely frustrating. Old strategies don’t work and new ones are not intuitive. The civlopedia leaves much out and the instruction manual is a joke (especially compared to the tome from 1994).

    I got totally smoked in my first two games. So much so, I was angry and lurked these forums looking for answers to my frustration. Some posts were informative and helpful but still left a lot of questions.

    I’ve now been able to win the game, and find playing a lot easier. The following are observations I made while losing, then put into practice in a new game, and then won the revolution in 9 turns.

    I’ve attached my save game to this post so you can see what a winning setup looks like. I would say I was over prepared for the revolution, but it sure beats losing!

    Strategic Overview
    Your second most important resource is time. You have 300 turns to build an economy, fight a war, and win. Anticipate roughly 20-30 turns for war (depends on the number of ships the king ends up having how many waves he sends). In my game the king had 200 units and 50 ships and it took about 9 turns for him to land all units.

    The first 50-70 turns focus on expansion. It’s quantity over quality at this point.
    The next 100-130 or so turns focus on your economy and relations with the nations and natives. This is where you start building up your manufactured goods and experts.
    The next 50 turns spend completely focused on building up your revolutionary forces and supplies. It took me roughly 25-30 turns to get my rebel sentiment from 3% to 50%
    Declare independence around turn 250 and you’re on the path to victory!

    The single most important resource in winning the revolution is population. This is fundamentally different from 1994, where guns were most important. The reason for this reversal is the combat mechanics. Before if you lost a battle you simply lost guns or horses, but you kept your person who could return to fight another day. Not so now, if you lose your dead! Guns and horses won’t help you at all if there is no one to use them!

    All of the winning strategies are focused on the overarching importance of food (read people) production.

    1. Build lots and lots of Settlements
    This isn’t Civ III where corruption kicks in at massive amounts after your 4th city, or Civ IV where distance from your capital matters. In fact, there is no corruption at all. The only thing you have to worry about is upsetting natives by being too close and leaving yourself open to attack.

    The game heavily favors settlements. A single free colonist (no profession) working plains in an existing settlement:
    Generate 4 food, eat 2 food, net +2 food

    A single free colonist founding a city on plains will:
    Town Center: Generate 4 food and 4 cotton
    Free Colonist assigned to farming: Generate 4 food, eat 2 food
    Net: 6 food + 4 cotton

    That is 5x the production for the same cost, and no other time is this more important than at the beginning of the game. The more resources you have at the beginning, the faster you can expand and get a leg up on everyone else.

    And don’t worry about the sites either. If the land is empty, it’s good land (well, except for mountains, tundra/ice, and deserts). Even if a square only produces 1 food on it, put in the hands of a competent farmer, he can generate 4 food on it, for a net +2 food. Latter when you factor in founding fathers (2 food becomes 3 food) and rebel sentiment (+50% production) what once looked like crappy 1 food land, is now an agricultural paradise of 7 food, for a net of +5!

    And unlike other Sid games, the borders never expand, so you can plop cities every 3 squares in every direction!

    Finally, in a change from 1994, the maps are much smaller (less tiles) even when you play on huge, so every spot is valuable. I used to only found a city if there was a special resource. In 2008 you can’t be as picky, but you also don’t need to be.

    2. Small Settlements over Large Settlements
    In my first game I had 6 nice sizeable settlements (14-20 population). I thought that was good enough to win. Boy was I wrong.

    Besides the fact that it doesn’t generate enough resources to win the game, it is also harder because rebel sentiment is exponentially more difficult to generate the larger the town. There is a post already on these forums about how many liberty bells per population and how all that works. Suffice to say, it takes much less liberty bells to get two towns of 10 to 50% than one town of 20. This is important because the king adds troops to his forces based on the number of liberty bells produced, not your percentage.

    3. Education
    Unless this is the first post you’ve read on these forums, you probably know that education is seriously broken. Not only is it totally different than 1994, but unfun, and it doesn’t even match what the manual/civlopedia says about it. I fully hope/expect that Firaxis re-evaluates how all this works for the patch.

    Education is so broken that you should altogether skip using schoolhouses or colleges. Only with a university do you have any hope of getting a graduate in a reasonable timeframe.

    Suffice to say, the real way that education works is this:
    -- The number of students currently in a school building in city does not matter. Having one at a time in a university or 3 at a time makes no difference.
    -- Every graduate, regardless of where or how, increases the time of the next graduate by 1 year. So your first university grad will be 5 turns, the next 6, and so on
    -- Most graduating professions, regardless of how long an expert has been in the city, will require money to finish. Farmer, lumberjack, ore miner are free, everything else ranges from 250-500 gold.

    Since the graduation time increases with each graduate (two put in at the same turn will result in one graduating after the other), only the first 10 or so graduates are really worth the effort. After that your opportunity cost is too high. Here is an example:
    A master weaver in a textile mill generates 18 cloth per turn (+ bonuses). In 10 turns he can generate 180 cloth, which, if you sold them at 10 per is 1800 in value.
    A weaver at the docks costs 900, so in 5 turns he pays for himself
    If you wait 10 turns for school, you have an opportunity cost of 1800 + graduation cost of 200 (I don’t have the screen in front of me, but I think its 200). That’s 2,000gp you are missing out on. And none of this takes into consideration the time it takes your free colonist to get to your university, which could add another 4-5 turns.

    So, you can wait an excruciating length of time to get a graduate elder statesman for 500gp or just buy him, now, for 1500gp.

    So, in my experience, the only thing the education system is good for now is elder statesman during your last dash for the 50% finish line. You can pop them out the first 5 from a university in 5-10 turns, and you save 1,000 per from the dock price. This barely justifies the cost of constructing a single university.

    4. Native Training
    Since education is broken, you either have to buy all your farmers etc. or get them trained by the natives.

    Gone are the days of natives so wise they can train an expert in their field in only a single turn!

    2008 went with a similar mechanic to the education system for the native training. Every graduate from a single native village (this is different from universities, which is colony wide) will increase the time of the next graduate by (at least) 1 year.

    I didn’t know this, I thought it was a standard 5 turns or something like that, so I loaded up an expert farmer tribe with some free colonists in a short period of time. Each one took progressively longer and longer to pop back out. Near the end of the game it was taking 50 turns to get a graduate from that village.

    Finally, there does appear to be some overlap in training multiple colonists. I loaded up a village with two colonists. The bar went to the top and out popped a new expert. But the bar didn’t reset to 0 for the second colonist, it was about half way and continued from there. This leads me to believe that the second student probably goes at 50% of the first student, and the third probably goes at 1/3 the speed of the primary, and so on. It is unclear if the backlog of students affects the primary, but I don’t think it does.

    So, since this is per village, this means after the first 2 or 3, you need to find another village for your farmers and fisherman. At some point the travel time becomes ridiculous and it’s just faster to get them from the docks. Again you have to consider the opportunity cost of not founding a new settlement because you can’t produce enough food for everyone just to save 600 at the docks.

    5. Trade with the Natives
    In 1994 trading with the natives was interesting, but not necessary. There was little information on why they would offer what they offered for a good.

    In 2008 native trade has become more in-depth and more transparent. Ignoring native trade is one of the factors that led to losing the first couple of games.

    Native trade works like this:
    a) Each native nation has one pool of money from which they buy goods at all the villages. If their southern most village says they have 1,000 gold, travelling to the northern one won’t help you, they will still only have 1,000 gold.
    b) Each native village has one good they desire and will pay a premium for, it is marked on the bar below the village. My testing showed about a 10% uplift on a cargo of horses from when they didn’t want it, to when they did
    c) Each village has two goods they will trade with you. One they sell for about 50% of market value and one they sell for close to market value. You can tell the one they will sell cheap by looking at the land their village is on. What this square produces (plains = cotton/ore) is typically the one they will sell for half price (I was getting ore for 2 per unit when the market sell price was 4).
    d) It appears the natives sentiment to you affects the price they offer when you buy from them

    6. Preventing Attack by the Natives
    Other posts on these forums will go into the details of how and why natives aren’t impressed with your version of civilization, but suffice to say building large cities and clear cutting forests right next to their village doesn’t impress them.

    I ran into a situation where my relations with one tribe was +1 for trade and -12 for my way of life. I tried numerous things but 4 years after the save the natives always declared war and sneak attacked my villages. I tried giving gifts of goods and money, but to no avail. It appeared once the net relations reached -13 they would attack.

    I went back 8 years in auto saves and started building up an army. This was a defensive measure for the inevitable attack. But they never did.

    It turns out that the native tribes (and there were three separate ones) got back in line when they saw the dragoons and cannons at each city. My relations got down to net -22 and they never attacked.

    This is when I learned the natives are opportunists. If you look big and strong they will put up with whatever you do.

    7. Build your settlements inland
    The kings forces will always appear from the east close to where you started. If you founded your first city on the coast close to the route to Europe, be prepared to lose this city in the first turn of the war.

    All of the rest of your settlements should be built inland and far away from the eastern shore. However, you can build costal cities safely north and south of your starting position, because the king attacks the closest thing he sees, he doesn’t go up and down the shore attacking every costal town.

    8. Founding Fathers
    The game features a point system from which you earn founding fathers. You can view your progress along each type of founding father from the special screen.

    There are two bars: the top is the Political Points needed, and the bottom is the specialized points needed. In many cases the specialized points are easier to come by. For instance, exploration points come from uncovering black squares. You get more points for inland squares than sea squares, but they all help.

    Now remember you have only one political point pool from which you “buy” founding fathers. So if you spend 1,000 points to get a religious father, you won’t have the 1,000 to spend on a political father.

    Now here is something I wish the manual or someone would have told me:
    When you are saving up for a particular father, once you meet any of the father’s requirements they will offer to join you (assuming another nation hasn’t taken them first). IF YOU SAY NO you will not get a chance to be offered again until your points fall below his requirement. This means some offers to join that you decline could result in never being offered again because you never dip below their requirement again triggering the offer again.
    So if you have 1,000 political points and a father offers to join you and you say no, because you want someone at 2,000. When you get to 2,000 and you say yes for the one you want, your points will go down but not necessarily to 0. It could drop down to 1,100 (see other posts for the reasons and factors affecting this). So even if no other nation took the 1,000 point father, you never get a chance to get him again.

    Finally, political points are generated by creating liberty bells or through production. If you use liberty bells to generate political points, the king will be alarmed by your liberty bell production and will add troops for the revolution. So in the early phases of the game generate political points through production to keep the REF forces low.

    BTW, you can earn a LOT of political points through production. A single town with three carpenters creates 40 hammers. Each hammer gives you 3 points, so that is 120 points per turn from just one city. This can be very effective.

    9. Hide your Rebel Sentiment
    Being a colonization old timer, I was fooled into getting started on my rebel sentiment early by recruiting statesmen early so I could get the bonuses to production.

    Bad move. It alerted the king more often and more frequently and that game ended with massive REF forces I had no hope of ever conquering.

    So the best plan is to build up your infrastructure like printing presses and newspapers, recruit your statesman and spread them throughout your empire, and when you are ready to get up to 50%, do it all at once in as short a time period as possible.

    10. The Final Push before Declaring Independence
    As in battlestar galactica, making babies is your #1 goal. Your most important resource is people. This isn’t just an HR slogan, this is the reality of the combat mechanics.

    As you fight you will take some combat losses, the only way these can be replaced is by guns, horses, and people.

    A big town with high rebel sentiment, 3 blacksmiths, 3 gun makers, and 3 ranchers can pump out ~60 guns per turn and ~25 horses per turn, which equals the equipment necessary for 1 dragoon and 1 soldier every two turns. But who’s going to carry it into battle?

    Even your best food producing town can only make +45 food per turn. That means a new free colonist roughly every 5 turns. So to keep up with the production of equipment, you will need a 5:1 ratio to your gun producing town to keep the flow of troops going.

    This resorts to a somewhat cheesy tactic of creating settlements purely for food production. Then you use wagon trains to move the food from multiple towns to one town close to the front lines and for every 200 food a new colonist will pop out, ready to die for the cause of freedom.

    In the 1994 game having 5-10 purely food producing towns was not necessary because you lost equipment if you lost a battle, not people. The new combat mechanic necessitates this and is one of the reasons I was blindsided in my first few games.

    11. Declaring the Revolutionary War
    As noted elsewhere in these forums, a key strategy is to declare as soon as you hit 50% sentiment.

    Once you declare the war, the kings forces will never increase, but yours do because of your functioning economy.

    In addition, because of the bonuses from the declaration of independence, your rebel sentiment will go up drastically during the war, so if you were thinking you wanted to get it to 80% before the war for the combat advantage, forget it.

    12. Fighting the Revolutionary War
    In 1994 when you declared independence you got access to super units called Continental Soldiers. They had awesome bonuses. I declared my first independence and no such joy, your left with the same troops as you had before the declaration.

    The kings forces are vastly superior to your own (and likely in vaster number), but there are ways of beating them.

    The first thing you need to know is that you will likely lose your first costal town. The kings forces always appear from the east side of the map (close to where you began). He will dump all his troops on the closest shore available to where your colony is.

    You know all those nice fortresses you built for defense? Useless. The kings forces receive 50-150% bonus for attacking settlements, neutralizing any defensive bonuses you receive. Also, they typically have veteran III (+30% strength) and bonuses for attacking in forests, mountains, or otherwise.

    Now did you notice something consistent in the above? REF receives ATTACKING bonuses, but no defensive bonuses!

    So in a big shift from 1994, the game overwhelming supports an aggressive war. No defending from your towns, you need to bring the fight to the REF. I found dragoons to be ideal for this, as they are fast to move around (especially with the founding father that gives them +1 movement) and have a base strength of 4.

    If you are defending anything, you have to remember that canons and dragoons receive no defensive bonuses! So if you were to defend a town, or a pass, or whatever is important, you must do it with soldiers.

    I made the mistake early on of thinking dragoons were 1 strength higher than soldiers, so they were better. Well they are only better in some circumstances.

    By attacking instead of defending, I was able with my 40 dragoons to wipe out each wave of REF troops landing each turn.

    Finally, remember this is a fight for EVERYTHING. There is no reason to hold back for any reason. Give every man woman and child a musket and just keep attacking. To qualify for a win all you have to do is have one remaining citizen in one remaining town while defeating all enemy ground forces. In circumstances like these you don’t need to protect your costly elder statesman, give ‘em a gun and get them to the front line!

    I hope this has been helpful. I know explanations like this would have gone a long way to me enjoying the game sooner.

    Attached Files:

  2. Freddy K

    Freddy K Chieftain

    Oct 5, 2008
    Plains or Grassland city tiles will generate:
    3 food usually
    4 food/resource only when there is a river nearby
    5 if you build on top of resource and
    6 if you build on top of resource near a river(haven't tried that one though).
    You could build roads (not on native land) and use horses to speed up travel times of aspiring farmers. Don't hesitate to turn the scout into a farmer or a sugar planteuse;), once he's done exploring he/she keeps the explorer promotions and can travel 2 tiles a turn.
  3. jeffreybar

    jeffreybar Chieftain

    Oct 20, 2008
    Thanks, LordYabo. A few of these I (finally) figured out on my own, but there are definitely some good tips in there that I only half-suspected or didn't know at all.
  4. Gorgo

    Gorgo Chieftain

    Jul 15, 2003
    Kent, UK
    This is not only a very interesting analysis, but it's also really well written.
    Thanks a lot for sharing :).
  5. Xochipilli

    Xochipilli Chieftain

    May 1, 2004
    Nice guide! It is worth to be put in the strategy article sub forum, i think.

    You can also win by destroying all REF ships...

    Selling horses or guns to the natives gives you a huge profit also, allthough every time you sell horses to the same tribe they will give you less and less for it. Trade goods and tools also give you some profit.
  6. Drakan

    Drakan Voluntas Omnia Vincit

    Jun 15, 2004
    Nice writeup LordYabo.

    However I disagree with a couple of points you raise:

    1. Fighting the natives early on not trading with them. Foremost this game is about declaring independence and fighting a war. Unlike you I don't trade with indians I don't even try to convert them I just use them as cannon fodder to train my troops (Dragoons). By the time the REF lands their 300 plus units I have a stack of 20-30 Dragoons with high promotions (Veteran IV or V plus Formation) of which normally 6-10 are veteran soldiers purchased in European docks and the rest are colonial militia. I typically spawn 3 generals fighting the ensuing Indian Wars and a further 1 or 2 fighting the REF. Using the General's promotions is key in taking out a REF even 8 times the size of your paltry colonial army. Heal 3 promotion is invaluable only available to General attached units. Naturally the first turns of the game I train colonists in their tribes.- fishermen, farmers, trappers, tobacco planters, cotton planters etc. after that its war because as you point out they are opportunists and will attack you if they see you are weak.

    Key to winning this game is building up your Economy. Trading, meeting natives with a scout and later on razing indian settlements will yield all the funds you require to win.

    2.- Do not build inland cities. Coastal cities are ideal for trading unless there is a particular sweet spot inland with resources such as 3 tobacco. You can choose to build a city on a sweet defensive tile right next to a forrested hill for the 75% defense bonus on fighting the WoI. Naturally you will avoid chopping down the hill's forest to mine it. This city in particular should be the closest to the far right where the REF will land eventually.

    3.- More settlements is not better à la Civ ICS. You can win fast with only 2 settlements keeping at bay the REF and upping rebel settlement on the last truns or take your time as I do and build up 5 or 6 very large settlements of pop 15 and above. More colonists means more soldiers but affects the LB as you rightly point out in your post. So you must know what you are doing.

    4.- Although adding the elder statesman at a latter age is good to avoid becoming the REF becoming too large I would however advise doing it as early as you can. Besides keeping the REF size at bay is more of a game mechanic exploit IMHO. A REF 8 times or even larger than the size of your army can be beaten through superior tactics and manoeuvre.

    5.- The only thing one should be afraid of is running out of time to fight off the large REF. I have lost games because it took the REF 8 turns to come back and forth from Europe bringing in waves of fresh troops. Unlike you I do not advise leaving only 30 turns to win the Revolutionary War unless of course the REF is small and maneageable. I've lost games having declared Independence on turn 60 because of the sheer size of the REF. Normally the WoI requires between 60-80 turns for a REF of 300 + units just to play safe. I play on Epic (450 turns) or Marathon speed so my game lasts longer than your 300 turns, that's the time for a normal game.

    6.- The single most important advice is to take out early fellow european colonies. You will hinder all their progress, avoid them stealing FF, you will be able to capture very useful units early on such as pioneers (the French always start with one) or even Elder Statesmen. Besides obvioulsy earning promotions very early on. I normally play with the Spanish (start with a veteran soldier) and with José de San Martín as my leader (-50 XP) which means that this starting vet soldier will earn promotions pronto. He will go out in the starting boat hunting out rival european settlements. As starting promotions obviously the Grenadier 1 & 2 for settlement attack coupled in with the Heal promotion to allow the enemy less time betwen attacks to build stockades. In Dale's and Snoopy's Patchmod this has been toned down somewhat as you can only declare war after the first 20 turns into the game. In vanilla Col2 you can declare war on them from turn one. They will not even have stockades built up, so they are easy prey and easy promotions for a veteran soldier which has as a starting promotion Leadership which grants them 100% XP on winning battles.

    7.- You need not loose ever a city fighting the WoI, no matter if it's in the coastline. Use your pioneers to build roads on all the landing spots of the REF. Place soldiers on forested hills (so don't clear them for mining puposes which will negate the defense bonus) with Mountaineer and Ranger (light forest defense) promotions, specially in a peninsula chokepoint. If you like settling in North America, there is a peninsula on the upper far right which is ideal to create killing ground for the landing REF. On placing cities on the map not only should you consider food and trading tiles but also the potential for defense. As you rightly point out the REF will land on the far right always. This however doesn't mean that later on in the game they will also deploy troops further down the coastline or even attempt direct amphibious attacks on the cities themselves.

    8.- Some FF are very important. Key but not essential to win are Peter Minuit (-25% cost of purchasing european units), Pedro Alvares Cabral (-50% time to travel to Europe) and Dom Pedro I to fight the WoI (free Veteran 1 and City Garrison 1 promotions dubbed "Minuteman" in the game). Aswell as all the other FF's that increase the LB output such as Benjamin Franklin. On attacking a cannon or a wounded REF unit it is easy to obtain for a militia soldier City Garrison 2 (Minuteman 2).

    On declaring I choose slavery (extra 25% food is a must when you have settlements with 20 pop, food becomes scant also getting FF McCormick is great further on), 100% FF rate, controlled arms to up the 50% rebel sentiment, choose the extra 2 indentured servants per settlement which I upgrade immediately to dragoons and with the help of generals I had spawned in the Indian Wars give them promotions to Veteran 3. The generals I never attach to militia, only to veteran soldiers) and Manifest Destiny giving you 50% against indians. By the time of the WoI I've already made peace with all Indian tribes to avoid fighting simultaneously on 2 or 3 fronts. Normally I fight in 2 fronts, north and south (Canada and Viriginia) splitting my Dragoons equally in 2 groups of 13-15 units which mount over time as the WoI progresses besides the KIA of course.

    All the above comments are valid taking in mind my gameplay style which may be very different from others and will differ depending as well on the civ and leader chosen.

    I agree with the rest of your writeup.
  7. Imagawa99

    Imagawa99 Chieftain

    Oct 20, 2008
    My strat is probably quite simple compared to some but ill lay it out here for your viewing pleasure :mischief:

    First of all dont plonk your first colony down at the first square you see, your looking for an area with a forrested hill on the coastline (which i didnt do in my save because i thought i would get 150% def off that mountain :lol: ) this is extreamly important, also you want at least 1 fish really and if you can manage it a "prime" tobacco/cotton/whatever, this will be your money maker for finished goods and your only coastal colony. The first thing this colony will ever build is political points, your going to get yoru trade points from selling guns to natives and you want Peter Minuit, once you got him you can ignore founding fathers for a while

    Second you want a gun making colony, 3 hills and good food supply

    after that all the colonys you make are simply soldiers that your hiding from the AI, if you actually made them into soldiers then the mechanics of the game would prevent you making them go rebel, so... they would be set up as 2 forrest squares 1 hill square and the rest to produce as much food as you possibly can. 2 lumberjack 2 carpenter ore miner and blacksmith and just let them churn out artillery once they have their basic structures up

    The basic idea is to get warehouse expansions up as fast as possible after that you dont really have to worry about trading much and the less you trade with europe the less tax your going to pay, trade with teh natives if your desperate, occasionally you might need to take a full gallion back and just bite the bullet on the tax raise
    Sell guns and horses to the natives to get your starting income up but make sure you keep your own military strength up, the natives wont attack so long as you look strong, by the time you have taken all the natives gold and had a good number of treasure trains, you ought to have your first and second colonys at least semi productive and shifting their surplus out thru the warehouse expansions and its pretty much plain sailing from then on, put down "farmer" colonys and make sure you have at least 3 statesmen ready for each colony you have, build your printing presses/newspapers and when your ready drop your statemen in the town hall and you can expect 50% rebel in all colonys in 10 to 15 turns if you make the correct FF choices (choose carefully :) most of the FFs are useless)

    Now when the time comes your counting on the REF taking your first colony so dont worry too much about that you can just plant yourself down on the hills and pick them all off without too much trouble, i havent found a way yet to actually stop them taking a coastal colonly if the AI decides it really wants to so i figured i would just let them have it, leaving me with more units that can actually fight back

    The save games probably show it alot better than i have explained it :crazyeye: and i left alot of really obvious stuff out as this is turning into a wall of text, but as you can see some of it is exactly the opposit of whats been said b4 so feel free to comment/tell me im wrong, i think i can sum it up by saying the only things of any importance are guns and people/food and the rest of the game is just fluff. This strat can no doubt be made more efficient but it would always be the "one" way to win and that doesnt inspire me to replay and refine it.

    Edit: something i missed out, mission spamming is a very useful way to increase your population and definately something to learn, place the mission - get teh convert - straight back into the village to learn, doesnt matter what, and you have a colonist ready to be a farmer or whatever and when the time comes hold a gun

    Attached Files:

  8. Supr49er

    Supr49er 2011 Thunderfall Cup

    Jan 25, 2006
    Bear Flag Republic
    Welcome to the Forums Imagawa99. :beer:

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