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Grasshoppers and Elephants

Grasshoppers and Elephants

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Project Blog by thebelon Cult of Games Member

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About the Project

This project is my way of trying to compile and complete my growing collection of models from Vietnams resistance war against America era miniatures, rather than having a box of dusty lead it will be rather cool to have a box of painted miniatures. This project has been ongoing on and off for a few years now. It started off as a collection of books on my Kindle about the vietnam war then i got into 15mm with battlefronts tour of duty that i first tried playing at a demo game at the grumpy gamers convention at wayland games. Then i started collecting 20 mm vietnam miniatures for use in FNG, force on force ambush valley and the lard's charlie don't surf rule set. i found the 20 mm miniatures by chance wandering round salute i came across the grubby tanks stall they have a huge range of us and NVA and VC in metal as well as a very swish resin firebase and resin huts, This project will cover mainly my 28mm collection and maybe dip into my 15mm and 20mm collections at some point. I plan to collect and paint as many of the Gringo 40s range of figures that i can for both the Vietnamese and Free world forces. Im going to use the painting guide from the flames of war tour of duty book as much as possible as i am colour blind and brown and green can be awkward to work out. This can lead two some interesting colour choices.

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Some more marines to paint up from gringo40s great us marine range

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Some more marines to paint up from gringo40s great us marine range

The infantry platoon is growing

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The infantry platoon is growing

This is the start of the infantry platoon.

from what i can work out the platoon would be made up of three rifle squads of nine men each, each squad would have an rpg and lmg, i will have to sorce some more rpg and lmg figures when the shows like salute start up again.

the rifle squads would be supported by  a weapon platoon armed with morters recoiles rifles and hmgs, which are luckily in my tray of next things to paint.

 

20mm PAVN command unit and medic

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This unit is made up of the platoon commander, radio operator and a dude with a bugal.

there is also a medic.

once again the models were from brittania miniatures.

these models will be used as the command section for my NVA infantry unit.

 

20mm VC from brittania miniatures

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This is a unit of 9 VC miniatures.

The models are great and full of detail for the size. Most of the unit are armed with bolt action rifles appart from the unit leader which has an smg and a very pointy hand which as we all know automaticaly makes him in charge.

there is also one miniature armed with the b40/41 RPG.

 

Extraction under fire

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The OH-6 arrives and takes out an mmg covering the crash before leaving the areaThe OH-6 arrives and takes out an mmg covering the crash before leaving the area
Extraction under fire

The enemy take the initiative and because a helicopter was on the table the threat increases by two.

The first increase is hidden in plain site, any civilians in play are replaced with a VC unit.

The second increase is spider holes.

spider holes are difficult as they can pin your units down. When time is short this can be bad.

This is a problem as the grunts and pilot are now cut off from the extraction point and the village has a unit with an mmg in it.

The VC unit that just arrived reinforces with an RPG and takes a shot its off target but still wounds a grunt guarding the extraction zone.

The grunts take shots at the VC unit behind them taking one out of action the grunts and the pilot move cautiously into the village taking cover as they go trying to stay out of the firing arc of the mmg.

A grunt with a blooper is called in to help hold the extraction zone.

The right hand side is all pretty much out of action but the left hand side is still holding on.

Right flank under pressure Right flank under pressure

The vc keep the initiative this time the threat is blank giving the US a bit of breathing space.

The VC mmg team moves into the building opposite the grunts and pilot then they open up on them before fading away luckily the cover they are in holds out and they have just enough turns to move back to complete the primary objective

At the extraction zone things are getting back under control.

the medic heals the m60 loader but unfortunately the RTO is KIA

The NCO lobs a grenade at the remaining VC threatening to over run the right side and takes them out.

the blooper uses a card from the order hand and loads up with buck shot rounds and takes out  most of the unit in front of him, the grunt next to him fires into the unit with the RPG reducing it to one man.

 

Mmg team waiting for the pilot and gruntsMmg team waiting for the pilot and grunts
Getting the extraction zone back under control Getting the extraction zone back under control

The US kept the initiative for the next two turns and although the possible contacts started building up on the farside of the table the bottom end was clear so the pilot could move in and extract safely.

If the VC had taken the initiative it would have been a different story as the US forces were so close together at the extraction point it would only have taken one hit to cause a lot of damage. As it was the player units were able to fire on anything that came i to view and kept the enrmy at bay long enough to extract the pilot.

unfortunately it was only a partial victory as the primary mission was completed but the secondary could not be as the RTO was taken out of action.

All in all its been a fun afternoon gaming.

i cant help but think it could have been a lot different if the sappers had not stopped the m60 advancing into the village keeping the enemy away from the right flank.

also the villager caused problems as it stopped me moving directly to the objective then spawned VC making it very hard for me to get back in one bit.

Just made it in timeJust made it in time
As the game ended possible contacts built up around the crash site and moved into the villageAs the game ended possible contacts built up around the crash site and moved into the village

Trying out the game.

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The mission i generated for this game was to contact and help the downed helicopter pilot to the extraction point.

To do this you have to split your order deck in half and have to get to the crash site and locate the crew member before the time runs out or the enemy have found and captured the crew member and the primary mission is failed.

The secondary mission is to get all units back to the players start point before the order cards run out.

This will be taking place in a hot LZ and is in VC territory.

The weather is clear with good radio contact. There is only limited artillery support but Air support is on station.

I set up my first units the M60 gunner and loader covering the village containing possible contacts, two grunts are going to have to move round the village to get to the crash before the timer runs out.

The NCO is placed to the back as he can pass his action on to another unit to keep them in the fight when needed.

Trying out the game.

The Enemy get the initiative on the first turn and as its a hot LZ the threat token is used straight away.

They get 3 slows 4 quicks. A unit of sappers have moved up to the right hand flank close to the m60 gunner and his loader. They open fire pinning the loader the M60 flips a joker when saving so gets the chance to fire back but misses.

most of the other possible contacts stay in place or start to move towards the edges getting closer to the players units.

 

Sappers move in Sappers move in

In the players turn  the two grunts move out in to the open and on towards the objective.

Using the hand of cards a Medic and and RTO are called onto the board, i think the medic will be needed soon and the RTO allows you to keep to cards in your hand for later.

The M60 gunner opens up with the support of his loader but to no avail the sappers are to good at using the cover they are in and manage to save all the hits.

The NCO gives his action to the M60 gunner who again manages to miss his targets.

In the enemy phase the sappers move away from the combat firing as they go wounding the loader of the M60 then they just fade into the undergrowth the area is probably riddled with tunnels and spider holes.

Trying out the game.

As the players forces push forwards towards the objective they reveal a contact in the village its a civilian who hunkers down behind the wall.

This changes the rout they were going to take so now have to push on through the undergrowth near the crash.

The VC forces are building up on the left flank with more and more possible contacts.

A grunt defending the flank tries to reveal one of them  but can’t see anything yet.

 

Pressing on to the crash sitePressing on to the crash site

The enemy take the initiative and the threat level rises again flipping 3 quicks. All enemy units and contacts get a free out of sequence action.

The contacts surge forwards one unit of VC moves towards the right side that is  covered by the m60 gunner, its very  close range and the gunner does not have time to swing the pig around before he is taken out of action and hits the ground next to the loader that the medic is still working on.

The left side also comes under fire from a unit of VC but so far they have not done any damage.

The US player has to deal with static on the radio so the RTO’s action is used up trying to sort that out

The medic keeps trying to help the loader and the NCO toys to stop the M60 gunner from bleeding out.

The Two grunts moving on the objective get up to the wall overlooking the crash.

The Villager moves out into the open behind  them and between the players extraction point. This could become a problem as time is running out.

Using a pair of cards from the players order hand the RTO calls in for more orders this can be used once per game and allows the player to move ten cards from the discard pile to the order pile giving the player two extra turns (go’s)

The last thing the US has to do this turn is pop smoke to help show the air support where the targets are next turn.

As the crash site has two contacts covering it the grunts will probably only be able to deal with one and are too close for an artillery strike so hopefully i will have the cards in my hand to call in an OH-6 scout helicopter to either drop smoke to cover the extraction or use the M60 to keep the enemies heads down.

VC pushing on the perimeter VC pushing on the perimeter
Grunts getting ready to search the crash siteGrunts getting ready to search the crash site

The card hand provides and the OH-6 arrives on station.

when a helicopter moves over the table each enemy on the table flips a card if its red they are revealed if not already and take a shot.

A unit of vc in the rocks to the north west take pot shots with there rifles and manage to cause a hit, an other unit on the opposite corner by the village opens fire with an mmg and misses.

The grunts search the helicopter and find the pilot he triggers two pcs one is a unit of VC but he manages to move before they spot him, the other is an ambush covering the crash  and an mmg opens up at close range and some how manages to miss the pilot so he jumps over the wall into relative safety.

Now he just needs to be extracted.

The OH-6 opens up with the M60 at the ambushing mmg unit and takes it out before leaving the area.

Mission and support level

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The next thing you need to work out is the mission, threat level, weather, radio contact and air and artillery support.

These can all be done with a flip of a card and will let you know wether you are patrolling for a hidden  weapons cache in or trying to extract a downed air crew.

What support you will have during the mission and wether you are going into a hot or cold LZ being patrolled by elusive VC or hard core NVA troops.

I have made some tokens on my 3d printer to keep track of the threat level and the level of support available.

The Red threat tokens are taken from a big pool so they are random and one will get revealed each time the enemy has the initiative in a turn.

In a cold LZ these are only revealed after the first shots of the game have been fired.

I should probably print out the sheet the tokens go on.I should probably print out the sheet the tokens go on.

setting up a game.

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I wanted a random way to set up a table so i came up with the following way.

shuffle cards

deal out 17 shuffle in 1 joker

deal another 18 on top.

place one card per square from bottom right to left then up to the top right till all the squares are covered.

number cards are discarded other cards relate to different types of scenery.

the joker is the objective.

 

setting up a game.

Once you have placed the objective token, the player entry/exit point is placed on the square furthest from it.

The Enemy entry point is then placed in the square furthest from the player point.

The player entry point is the square with the marker and all the squares directly touching it.

Five Enemy possible contact markers (these are meant to represent movement in the undergrowth or a shadow or strange noise that needs to be looked into)

are then placed on the table one goes onto the objective marker the other 4 must be two squares a way from a player starting point square and at least one square away from any other possible contact marker.

The game is now pretty much set up and ready to play.

Entry points and possible contact markersEntry points and possible contact markers
Player entry / exit pointPlayer entry / exit point
Enemy entry point i think i have to make a better oneEnemy entry point i think i have to make a better one

Feet on the ground, working on rules to use with my collection.

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During the lockdown i have been messing about with some solo rules to go with the growing collection.
just so i can get some games in.
I have played quite a few rule sets like fng and force on force which work well solo but i was after something a bit different more like a board game crossed with a tabletop game. I always find with solo tabletop games that it is easy to give yourself the advantage through how you place enemy units and how you control them.
I was also trying to create the game to fit onto a smallish table, i made a gaming mat that is 2′ x 2′ with 3″ squares on it
i would have done hexes but found squares easier to draw.
The mat is a green grass mat from aldi that i sponged browns and greens and red acrylic paint and some weathering powders on and then stuck a load of types of grass tufts on to it.
The grid was drawn on with a good old sharpie marker.

Bam 💥 Bam 💥

The player takes control of squad of infantry and starts wit a fire team on the table that can be added to as the game goes on.

The players character is not on the table but is just of the edge in control of the units on the table.

the game uses decks of playing cards instead of dice as rolling dice can be annoying in a small space and end up all over the place.

I like the idea of cards as they can do multiple things depending if you go by the number on the card or the suit or even just the colour.

Jokers are cool as they allow you to take into account things like low ammo and misfires or even returning fire when drawing cards to save.

Player units on the table will be able to preform actions that can be boosted by the use of cards.

The game will use two decks of cards

One deck of cards will also be used to control the amount of turns in the game as well as the command actions the player has.

Each turn the player will get a hand of five cards to use each turn any unused cards will be discarded and five new cards dealt once all the cards are gone the game is over.

Shooting and enemy actions will be controlled by a separate deck.

Once again cards can do some cool things when shooting.

Deal out a number of cards equal to your units fire rate

Red cards of a certain number are hits

Black cards are misses

Red Jack/Queen/King can only be saved by the equivalent black card.

Red aces can’t be saved

The target then deals its defence cards.

Black cards are needed to defend and must be of an equal or higher value than the red card its defending against.

A single card can also be used a grid defence using the squares on the table so if in incoming mortar strike is triggered you just have to flip a card and the suit can be used as the column and the number can be used to find the row.

 

Feet on the ground, working on rules to use with my collection.

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During the lockdown i have been messing about with some solo rules to go with the growing collection.
just so i can get some games in.
I have played quite a few rule sets like fng and force on force which work well solo but i was after something a bit different more like a board game crossed with a tabletop game. I always find with solo tabletop games that it is easy to give yourself the advantage through how you place enemy units and how you control them.
I was also trying to create the game to fit onto a smallish table, i made a gaming mat that is 2′ x 2′ with 3″ squares on it
i would have done hexes but found squares easier to draw.
The mat is a green grass mat from aldi that i sponged browns and greens and red acrylic paint and some weathering powders on and then stuck a load of types of grass tufts on to it.
The grid was drawn on with a good old sharpie marker.

Making a start on the 20mm NVA

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  1. These are the first if the NVA from brittania miniatures that i have stripped in dettol and repainted.

i tried out contrast paint to start but could not find a green that i liked so i went over them with russian uniform green and used us field drab for the packs and webbing.

i think its ment to be a darker green but found that it looked too dark and i could not make out the details so painted them lighter.

In reference pictures the uniforms are all different greens. Due to wear and tear.

according to an osprey book (armies if the vietnam war p21) they would be issued with multiple uniforms but after time in the field and especially after moving down the Ho Chi Minh trail they would be down to one complete uniform and in most cases a spare shirt or trousers.

Im trying to work out the organisation of an infantry platoon but am finding quite a few variations in various books and online. So my plan is to paint a load of infantry and sort that out later.

There is some cool info online about the NLF and PAVN formations being formed under the system of three.three cells to a squad, three squads to a platoon, 3 companies to a battalion etc.

so i guess my platoon would be three squads of three fire teams making a squad nine men and a platoon 27 men plus the command and support weapons but thats only a guess gonna have to do some more reserch in my Nam library.

 

 

 

First Rifle squad and command team with attached medic

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First Rifle squad and command team with attached medic
Platoon commander & RTO with the platoon sergeant Platoon commander & RTO with the platoon sergeant
M60 team M60 team
First Rifle squad and command team with attached medic
Point team including m79 grenade launcher and pointmanPoint team including m79 grenade launcher and pointman
Rifle team Rifle team

These models were base coated with games workshops grey seer.

all the clothing was painted with creed cammo contrast paint.

the boots and weapons were painted with vallejo german grey.

the skin was painted a variety of colours and shades.

the webbing and pouches i think are supposed to be the same as the uniform but it did not look too good on the smaller models so i painted them vallejo khaki as the webbing tends to look lighter and other colours in the pictures i was using for reference due to sunbleaching and dirt.

once the base colours were dry i gave them a 50/50 nuln oil and medium wash.

The last thing i did was to highlite the uniform with valkejo russian uniform mixed with buff.

the skin and pouches were also highlighted with the base colours mixed with buff.

MedicMedic

Starting an in country US Rifle platoon

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This is the first squad of the Rifle platoon.

i am following the platoon organisation from the Osprey book Vietnam Infantry Tactics by Gordon L Rottman. P16-p17

In this book it says the Rifle platoon on paper had 44 men made up of a command element of a platoon commander, platoon sergent and the Rto.

it then had 3 squads of ten dudes split into two teams made up of a grenade launcher and  rifle men.

the last group of men was the weapons platoon made up of 11 men with a squad leader two machine gunners with assistants and two antitank teams with loaders.

The book then goes on to say that in country this format very rarely existed due to squad members being wounded of on r&r the weapons team would sometimes be split up and used to give each squad a machine gun increasing its fire power or attatching them to the command squad.

It then says the anti tank units of recoiless rifles would in most cases be put into storage and the men would absorbed into the squads as riflemen.

Im going to base my platoon on the incountry formation with reduced squad size.

it will be made of a command unit with the platoon leader and a platoon sergent with the Rto.

two squads made up of two fire teams.

the point team will be 4 rifle men one will be armed with a grenade launcher and pistol

The gun team will be made up of the m60 gunner and loader supported by 4 rifle men.

which should be an understrength platoon of 23 men i may add another squad later on making it 33 men.

i am rebasing them on plastic counters that measure 20mm across as they are super cheap on ebay.

i used to use coins but did not clean them well enough so the paint and glue kept chipping off, i now have a pile of odd coloured 2p coins covered in glue and sand.

the tabs on the models are blended to the base with milliput then medium sand is stuck on with super glue.

I used a very course sand last time and it looked very out if scale with the smaller models.

they are now ready to be undercoated with games workshops grey seer paint.

 

Hunting through the 20mm pile of Nam shame

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These are a pile if cool miniatures that i have collected over the years at shows like salute and colours.

the pile includes US, NVA, and VC as well as civilians.

most are from brittania miniatures from a company called grubby tanks.

they have a huge range of 20mm bits and bobs

i plan on stripping in dettol and rebasing the little dudes on smaller 20mm bases to reduce the space they take up as my storage space is limited.

the models that are painted are very dark i have found recently with some 15mm flames of war models  that i prefer painting smaller scales with brighter colours as i find they show up better on the table.

i think im mainly going to paint them with GW contrasts as the block colours then highlight from there.

There are also some M113s and a sheriden to paint up. There are also some M113s and a sheriden to paint up.
A few Hueys and an OH6 that need some tlc to get them back on thd table. One of the Hueys is s mediivac varient complete with stretchers.A few Hueys and an OH6 that need some tlc to get them back on thd table. One of the Hueys is s mediivac varient complete with stretchers.
Some more airsupport that needs building.Some more airsupport that needs building.
The start of a resin firebase from grubby tanks. Its going to be fun building this up for defensive gamesThe start of a resin firebase from grubby tanks. Its going to be fun building this up for defensive games

There is quite a bit to be getting on with here. Its going to take a few days in the dettol to strip the paint off the figures amd i have to wait about a week for the bases to arrive, but i do have enough bases and unpainted miniatures to start on a US rifle squad and command team.

Hide and seek

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The next models in my painting pile of shame are a US Marine sniper team and a VC Sniper perfect for adding to a spider hole or other suitable covered onservation spot.The next models in my painting pile of shame are a US Marine sniper team and a VC Sniper perfect for adding to a spider hole or other suitable covered onservation spot.
Im going to start by making a scenic base for the sniper team. The long elephant grass is made from an old door mat thats slowely being chopped up.Im going to start by making a scenic base for the sniper team. The long elephant grass is made from an old door mat thats slowely being chopped up.

Time to make some scenery

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Trees and bushes will be useful to break up line of sight on the table and to conceal ambushing units.Trees and bushes will be useful to break up line of sight on the table and to conceal ambushing units.

I picked up the trees at salute a few years back they have been used in my 15mm, 20mm and now 28mm nam projects. The scrubby bushes are made from a chopped up door mat with some bits of rock and aquarium plants stuck to it.

These cast resin buildings are from grubby tanks 20mm range but i think they fit ok with the 28mm figures and work well for what i need them for.

they have some cool details like corrugated metal sheets poking through holes in the thatch.

the roofs are not stuck down so you can place models inside during a game.

Rice paddy fieldsRice paddy fields

I wanted to make some modular field sections so large areas of the table can be covered in them.

these came out a bit on the small side as huge areas would be covered in these wet and muddy fields with hard mud packed raised paths that would provide a small ammount of cover if you got down into the mud.

they are made from a chopped up rug with milliput sides covered in pva glue and sand.

different  sticky flocks and tufts as well as bits of aquarium plants have been added for the crops i was  going to add some plastic rice plants but decided against it as it would make it difficult to place minis during a game.

This is a cast resin bunker again from grubby tanks.

i added bits of plant and grass to help the bunker blend into the environment on the table.

the roof is removable making it easier to move minis around in game.

you could also place the bunker on the table with the roof off and use it as a fortefied position for a morter

Crashed helicopter objective marker

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I needed a better objective marker than a green disc with a star on it so i ordered up a       Bell H -1 Sioux laser cut wooden kit. These helicopters were used early on in the vietnam war as an observation helicopter but was phased out early on and replaced by the OH-6 Cayuse.i went for this kit as it was cheap and i planned to chop it up quite a bit.The kit is made by sarrisa precision and is great fun to build.Thought it would be cool to have broken plexiglass on thd ground so i chopped up an old gw blister pack and glued shards into the helicopter  and scattered on the ground with pva so as not to frost the plastic.

Piggys

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  Thought it would be cool to add some livestock to the villages. Starting with these pot bellied pigs from grubby tanks 20mm vietnam range. Thought it would be cool to add some livestock to the villages. Starting with these pot bellied pigs from grubby tanks 20mm vietnam range.

Messing with my 3d printer

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The finished tokens with embossed stars The finished tokens with embossed stars
  1. During both the lockdowns i have been fiddling with some ideas for a solo rule set to use with my Vietnam war miniatures.

To create a sense of suspense i decided the enemy would start as random tokens that have to be revealed to find what you are facing.

i started with wooden tokens with units written in marker pen on them.

due to bad hand writing i wanted a better way to make tomens.

last november i started messing with 3d printing and have happily printed stl files that are already made.

this time i was making the file from scratch in tinkercad then slicing in chitubox then printing on my creality resin printer.

it took a couple of evenings messing about with the programs but i am happy with the results.

This is the basic token in tinkercad a browser based design software thingyThis is the basic token in tinkercad a browser based design software thingy

After watching many youtube videos on hiw to use tinkercad i gave it a go.

i created a solid token then created a star that was hollow and iverlaid it to give the star pattern.

the writing was easy as well you just write what you want and it apoears on the screen then make it hollow and overlay it on the solid disc

i then exported the tokens as stl files and loaded them into chitubox for slicing.

 

All i had to do then was raise the tokens and tip them a few degrees on the plate then added some supportsAll i had to do then was raise the tokens and tip them a few degrees on the plate then added some supports

About three hours later and after uv curing the embossed tokens were ready for a splash of paint and varnish.

bam 💥 a good couple of evenings experimenting

its cool to be sble to take an idea from a thought floating around in my head to a physical thing.

Finnished tokens on the table.Finnished tokens on the table.

VC Radio operator with ChiCom Type 63 radio

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In between painting up my new cursed city set i found some timr to paint up this cool model from gringo40s female vc range.

This model is going to have a couple of uses in games either as a part of a force or as an objective marker.

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