If you’re new to board gaming, there are a ton of board game genres to choose from. You can try new ones that are close to your heart or seek out the games that are the most challenging for you. Whatever your choice, it’s important to begin with a new game that you don’t already know how to play. Why? Becausedue to the unknown mechanics of the new game, it’s less likely that you’ll know all the rules, so you’ll be forced to learn them as you play.
Board games have been around for a long time. You can trace their roots back to the beginning of civilization, and even before that. However, the modern board game craze has only been around for a few decades. In a short time, board games have gone from being something only rich people could afford to something that is very popular for everyone of all ages. From children to adults of all ages, people all over the world play board games of all sorts.
When you’re new to the world of board games, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by all the choices. What game should you play tonight? What game industry should you look to for your future development? What game genre should you fall in love with first, and why? To help you make this life-altering decision, we’ve compiled a list of the most popular game genres and their mechanics.
The game business has seen a huge growth as a result of the worldwide epidemic that has kept the population inside. There’s a lot to learn, as with any new pastime. It’s a trip into the unknown that I took many years ago. We felt it would be useful to create a list of all the genres and popular game mechanics since there are so many beginners to the pastime.
4x: “Explore, Expand, Exploit, and Exterminate” is an abbreviated acronym for “Explore, Expand, Exploit, and Exterminate.” These are, without a doubt, some of the most in-depth games available. 4x games put players as various organizations, civilizations, or species against one another in an attempt to acquire dominance by extending their geographic, economic, and technical reach. In order to do so, players must use technology trees, which provide new skills and methods to acquire resources. Technology trees are a hallmark of the genre.
While military choices may appear in certain 4x games, they are always the least efficient path to win, since the genre’s primary emphasis is on testing the players’ ability to handle a variety of routes to victory. 4x games are known for being some of the longest and most complicated games available, with Twilight Imperium being the most famous for its duration.
Eclipse: Second Dawn for the Galaxy and Sid Meier’s Civilization: The Board Game are two notable examples.
Abstract: They’re exactly what they sound like: abstract games. These games may have a theme, but all elements of the game must be strictly educational. Chess and checkers are excellent instances of abstract games, in which the board and all player pieces merely communicate the state of the board and the possibilities of an otherwise highly mathematical game. These games are tactical in nature, yet their fundamental concepts are simple.
Hive, Mahjong, and Azul are among notable examples.
Area Control is also known as “area majority” or “area influence,” and is fondly referred to as “dudes on a map.” Multiple player-controlled groups fight over a map in area control games. When a player has the most pieces in a particular location, most games give them control over that region. The various factions often have passive powers that provide them an edge over their opponents. Risk is the most well-known area control game.
Cthulhu Wars and Kemet are two notable examples.
Campaign: Campaign games are a newer phenomenon, but they rapidly became one of my favorites. These games feature a single continuous narrative that is split into chapters and may be played many times. It’s not unusual for these games to include branching storylines in which the player’s choices influence the story’s conclusion. The narrative route is sometimes determined by player decision, while other times it is determined by the results of player efforts. Character development is a hallmark of the genre, with players able to improve their playable characters’ attributes and skills via achievements, narrative advancement, and experience points. Gloomhaven, the most popular game of all time (according to BoardGameGeek), is a great example of a character-building campaign game.
Tainted Grail: The Fall of Avalon and Etherfields are two notable instances.
Deduction: Deduction games transform game night into an evening of mystery and riddles. These games offer players a puzzle to solve and provide them with hints in tiny doses throughout the game. It will be up to the players to piece together the puzzle by collecting clues. Deduction games are often social, comparable to children’s games like Mafia, in which participants attempt to figure out who in the group is a traitor. Other deduction games pit players against the game itself, such as Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders & Other Cases.
Mysterium, Chronicles of Crime, and Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game are just a few examples.
Dexterity: While most board games concentrate on cerebral challenges, some, like finger football, rely on physical dexterity and coordination. The emphasis of these games is often on balancing items or striking a target with a target. Dexterity games are simple to play and have few rules, making them ideal for families. Jenga is perhaps the most well-known dexterity game.
ICECOOL and Crokinole are two notable instances.
Gloomhaven, the Euro Dungeon Crawler.
Dungeon Crawler: A dungeon crawler is a game that is recognizable to anybody who has played fantasy games of any kind. While dungeon crawlers aren’t always associated with fantastical themes, they often do. These role-playing games take players through twisting labyrinths as they battle creatures and gather riches. Despite the fact that Dungeons & Dragons is a tabletop role-playing game rather than a board game, it helped popularize the genre. Dungeons crawlers have had a revival in recent years, with a stronger focus on continuous campaigns, and have seen enormous success.
Middara: Unintentional Malum, Gloomhaven, Hellboy: The Board Game, and Descent: Journeys in the Dark are just a few examples.
Euro: A “Euro game” is a kind of game that is highly mechanical and has little direct player involvement. They usually feature economic or historical elements, with each player attempting to earn the maximum points by judiciously using the limited resources available to them. Many Euro games feature numerous resource tiers that get more difficult to acquire as the game progresses. Euro games are known for having little to no luck, which is probably one of the reasons for their popularity. Euro games are more abstract than dungeon crawlers and war games, but not quite as abstract as the abstract genre.
Anachrony and Ticket To Ride are two notable instances.
Party Games: By their very nature, party games are best when played in big groups. These games have been created with as few rules and components as possible to make them simpler to teach and play in groups. Typically, party games concentrate on collective thinking, comedy, or acting.
Cards Against Humanity, Taboo, and Two Rooms and a Boom are some notable examples.
Real-time: Most board games have a turn structure based on a fixed number of actions or a sequence of phases. Real-time games do away with such framework and make time the limiting factor. While the time is ticking, players will execute their actions as rapidly as they can. Because of the additional strain that real-time features impose, gameplay is typically simpler than in other genres.
Project: ELITE, Captain Sonar, and Galaxy Trucker are just a few examples.
Trading Card Game/Collectible Card Game: Arguably one of the most well-known genres for anybody who grew up in the 1990s, when intellectual assets such as Pokémon first appeared. Publishers of CCGs sometimes offer starter sets to assist new players get their collections started, but more frequently than not, new cards are acquired via buying blind packs of cards, in which customers have no idea what they will receive. It’s just as much about buying and collecting cards as it is about putting together a deck and competing against other players. Regular expansion releases are common in CCGs, making keeping up with them prohibitively expensive.
New cards may be sold in huge retail-size boxes or tiny packs of ten to fifteen cards, but they all have one thing in common: they’re all blind. Consumers buy packs of fresh playing cards without knowing what cards are inside. Because customers have no idea what they’re getting, it’s perfectly conceivable for them to spend money on a pack of cards they already possess. The phrase “trading card game” refers to the community’s trading of cards in order to build their desired decks.
The game begins once the cards have been purchased. TCGs and CCGs are primarily head-to-head games in which players fight each other using decks of thirty to sixty cards built around a theme or concept.
Magic: The Gathering, Pokemon Trading Card Game, and Keyforge are just a few examples.
Warhammer 40K, the ever-popular wargame.
Wargame: The only genre that is more involved than CCGs is wargaming. In its early stages, wargaming was used to educate military strategy and plan out tactics. Since then, it has grown into a sizable enthusiast community that enjoys a wide range of gaming subgenres, such as skirmish and historical wargames. Designing, constructing, and painting each player’s unique army and landscape is a part of the gameplay, making for a really immersive encounter. While some wargaming maps include grids, most wargames utilize provided tools like rulers to figure out how far troops may travel or assault.
Warhammer: Age of Sigmar and Star Wars: X-Wing are two notable examples.
Mechanics of the Game:
A system or function of player interaction with the game or each other is referred to as a “game mechanism.” These may be as basic as a set of rules governing what participants are and are not permitted to say in a guessing game, or as complicated as assembling a team of characters with a diverse range of abilities. While the aforementioned genres are useful in determining what kinds of games you may like, they aren’t sufficient. Each of the game mechanics listed below serves as the foundation for the overall experience. Understanding the many kinds of game interactions, whether with other players or the game itself, can aid you in determining which ones you like.
Acting: Players must mimic and act in a certain role. The majority of people are acquainted with this through the game of Charades.
Monikers and Two Rooms and a Boom are two notable examples.
Action Points: The action point system restricts what players may accomplish on any given round. Players will be granted a fixed amount of action points at the start of each round, which they may distribute as they see fit. It’s a well-known rule that more valued activities require more points to complete. Players in Middara: Unintentional Malum – Act 1 have three action points each round to spend. The majority of activities only cost one of those points, but attacking will cost two.
Dead of Winter and Burgle Bros. are two notable instances.
Action Queue: In an action queue, participants choose their actions before they are carried out. In these situations, it’s typical for the board’s state to change before players have an opportunity to execute their pre-selected actions, requiring them to adjust how they utilize those actions to the new conditions.
Mechs vs. Minions and Trickerion: Legends of Illusion are two notable examples.
Area Majority/Influence: Also known as Area Control, which is also a genre mentioned above. Although it is technically a game mechanism rather than a genre, I’ve included it in both sections of the article since area influence is such a prominent feature of every game in which it appears. Area impact games pit players against one another for the same limited area. Whoever possesses the most pieces/units in a certain area is given control and, in many cases, benefits. Because of the purpose of the game mechanism, it’s a common addition to military-themed games.
Rising Sun, Star Wars: Rebellion, and Twilight Struggle are some notable instances.
Auction/Bidding: In auction and bidding games, players compete for resources or points by bidding with in-game money or points. Before the item(s) being auctioned is given to the highest bidder, each participant will have the chance to make a bid.
Power Grid and Ra are two notable examples.
Bluffing: Bluffing games, as the name implies, require players to mislead their opponents into thinking something that is not true in order to win. Bluffing games need some kind of concealed information in order to work effectively.
Coup and Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game are two notable examples.
Character Development: Character development is the evolution of playable characters that improves basic attributes and unlocks new skills. It is most prevalent in role-playing or narrative-based games. Players are often provided with growth options by using experience points acquired over time or by accomplishing certain tasks. Character growth may happen in a single session or over the course of a campaign.
Descent: Journeys in the Dark and Gloomhaven are two notable examples.
Communication Limits: If players were allowed to freely disclose every piece of knowledge, certain games, particularly deduction games, would be much too simple to solve. Players are given communication restrictions to prevent them from giving out secret information or cooperating in an otherwise game-breaking fashion.
Mysterium and Decrypto are two notable examples.
Deck Building: In board games, it’s customary to offer players a deck of cards to use to carry out their action choices. These action-determining card decks are changed during the game in deck building games to maximize their usefulness for the player’s objective. This is accomplished via the addition and removal of chosen cards throughout the course of the game, allowing players to tailor their decks to better represent their objectives by both adding new cards and eliminating those that aren’t relevant.
Black Rose Wars and Dominion are two notable instances.
Mysterium is a social deduction game in which the only person who may offer clues has communication restrictions.
Deduction: Deduction mechanisms, which are often social in character, present players with clues that they may utilize to uncover the game’s concealed information objective.
Deception: Murder in Hong Kong and Love Letter are two notable instances.
Dice Rolling: While it may seem self-evident that dice are designed to be rolled, not every game that uses dice requires players to do so. Some dice, such as the coal dice in Merchant Cove, are solely used as counters. The outcomes of dice rolls are often used in games that require players to gain resources, decide the success of an action, or affect movement.
A Feast for Odin and Too Many Bones are two notable instances.
Players are traditionally given cards, and they must either work with what they have or discard and redraw a certain amount of cards. Drafting is an alternative way of distributing components, in which the components are allocated based on a selection process. Card drafting may include all players choosing cards from their hands and then passing the remainder. Character selection in Nemesis, for example, is done by the first player drawing the top two character cards, selecting one, shuffleing the other back into the deck, then passing the deck to the next player to do the same.
Terraforming Mars and Blood Rage are two notable examples.
Grid Movement: The squares on the board and how players travel from one to the next are referred to as grid movement. Grid movement games, such as dungeon crawlers, allow players to travel throughout an area where each space is measured in the number of areas on a grid. Squares, hexagons, and triangles are examples of these shapes.
Star Wars: Imperial Assault and Betrayal at House on the Hill are two notable instances.
Hand Management: The economy of the cards in a player’s hand, as well as how and when those cards are utilized, is referred to as hand management. It’s possible that the aim is to utilize the cards in a certain sequence or combination to maximize their benefits. Players in the Century series pay cards from their hand in a certain order to upgrade and swap the gems in front of them in order to acquire a specific combination. Because gems can only be improved in a particular order, players will need to utilize the cards they have in a specific order to acquire the gems they need.
Gloomhaven and Pandemic are two notable examples.
Hidden Movement: Some games include a one-vs.-all structure in which players must locate a character or item. The location of such character or item, on the other hand, is concealed from people looking for it and is not displayed on the board. Instead, the player in charge of the goal item will use a separate board or piece of paper to mark their position on the board. By concealing movement, it provides a gaming experience akin to hide-and-seek, in which players must coordinate their efforts or successfully use clues to locate their target.
Captain Sonar and Letters from Whitechapel are two notable instances.
Hidden Roles: In social deduction and semi-cooperative games, hidden roles are used to either generate mistrust among participants. At the outset of the game, participants are given roles at random, which define what their goal is. In social deduction games, participants are split into teams or a single player is assigned to the position of antagonist, similar to a Mafia game. In semi-cooperative games, all or none of the participants may have responsibilities that undermine the group’s goal.
Secret Hitler and Nemesis are two notable instances.
King of the Hill games are similar to area control games in that players compete for control of certain areas on the board. However, king of the hill games vary in that players control just one or two characters rather than a whole army, and they fight over a restricted number of regions for points or special advantages.
King of Tokyo and Aristeia! are two notable instances.
Legacy: Legacy games are a relatively new addition to the gaming industry. All legacy games are multi-session campaign games that are permanently changed by player choices or results. For example, anytime an epidemic occurs in Pandemic Legacy Season 1, cities will be permanently changed and left in poorer condition. Players put stickers on the board that will never be removed to indicate the change in condition. Before ending, most legacy games will feature a campaign of 10 to fifteen chapters. Some legacy games will be unplayable after the campaign is finished, while others’ end states are ideal for casual play with all the difficulties of the board’s changes (like Betrayal Legacy).
Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated and The King’s Dilemma are two notable instances.
Mancala: The mancala mechanism is an adaptation of a method developed by the original Kalah game. Players pick up all of the tokens in one area and assign them to other locations in a sequential order in this mechanism. The action connected with the slot in which the final token is put will be triggered.
Five Tribes and Trajan are two notable examples.
The playing area is decreased over time, whether it is prompted by player activity, card draw, or a normal element of the round sequence.
Atlantis Rising and Forbidden Desert are two notable examples.
Market: Market mechanics let players to purchase and sell fresh resources or cards in games using them.
Food Chain Magnate and Paladins of the West Kingdom are two notable instances.
In Star Wars X-Wing, mobility is measured.
Measurement Movement: Measurement movement is a technique used in war games to assess how far a player’s pieces may travel on a board. Players use rulers to calculate the movement distance in measurement movement, which utilizes the spaces on the board to determine how far a piece may travel.
Warhammer 40,000 and Treasure Island are two notable examples.
Modular Board: Modular boards, which are common in scenario-based games, are playing areas made up of several tiles and/or cards. Game designers may offer a larger number of options by utilizing numerous components to replace a conventional board, allowing them to provide additional strategic chances or meet the requirements of campaign games that need a broader range of configurations.
Spirit Island, Gloomhaven, and Mansions of Madness are some notable instances.
Many storytelling games offer players with narrative chunks at the beginning and conclusion of a scenario, as well as scattered between triggered events triggered by the accomplishment of different goals. When players are given the option to select between various tale endings throughout any of the story parts, this is known as narrative choice. The players’ choices may have an immediate impact, granting prizes like as experience or goods, or they can have long-term consequences for the overall story.
This War of Mine: The Board Game and Forgotten Waters are two notable examples.
Allegiances and betrayals are at the heart of Rising Sun’s negotiating strategy.
Negotiation is concerned with agreements reached between participants. These agreements may be about commerce, acts, territory, or alliances, and they can be binding or non-binding depending on the game.
Rising Sun and Monopoly are two notable examples.
Pattern Building: Pattern building, which often goes hand in hand with tile placement, involves players to arrange components into complicated patterns in order to activate effects or earn points.
Azul and Isle of Cats are two notable examples.
Pick-up and deliver: Pick-up and deliver games, like fetch quests in video games, send players to a distant area to collect an object and return it. The distinction between fetch quests and pick-up and deliver is that the latter involves more preparation and thinking on the part of the players while being much less tiresome. Players will gain money, which can be used to enhance their operation, or points, which can be used to score at the conclusion of the game. Euro route construction games are often pick-up and deliver games.
Age of Steam and Merchants & Marauders are two notable examples.
Player Elimination: Player elimination is more frequent in competitive games and eliminates participants from the game permanently. This usually indicates that the eliminated player can no longer win. The objective of games like Fire Tower is to be the last player remaining, while games like Gloomhaven may feature player removal as a result of failure rather than as a group goal.
Nemesis and Skull are two notable examples.
Push Your Luck is a luck-based mechanic in which players must decide how much risk they are prepared to accept. Players may either accept their current score/gain or try their luck by doing anything (such as dice rolling, drawing a card, or drawing a token token) to improve their gain at the risk of losing what they currently have.
A Feast for Odin and The Quacks of Quedlinburg are two notable instances.
The winner is the first player to complete the objective. These goals may be as simple as the winner being the first player reach ten points, like in Catan, or they might be a more literal race, as in Flamme Rouge.
Dune: Imperium and Res Arcana are two notable examples.
Rock-paper-scissors: Named after the game that inspired it, the rock-paper-scissors mechanics offer a minimum of three choices, each with a circular advantage over the other.
Grimslingers and BattleCON: War of Indines are two notable examples.
The role-playing opportunities in Tainted Grail are many.
Role-playing: Role-playing may be interpreted in two ways, which we’ll discuss. Players take on the role of a character by managing their piece/components on a board, where player choices are the same as the ones made by the characters they’re playing as. The second, more complex kind of role-playing involves players acting out their characters’ speech and actions, which is popular in tabletop RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons. In both cases, skill and stat growth based on experience points is very frequent.
Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game and Tainted Grail: The Fall of Avalon are two notable examples.
Roll/Spin and Move: One of the most recognized methods in the business, roll and move was popularized by early board games such as Chutes and Ladders and Monopoly. In a roll-and-move game, players roll a certain number of dice (typically one or two) and then move a certain number of squares ahead based on the outcome of the dice roll.
Camel Up and Formula D are two notable examples.
Roll-and-Write: Roll-and-write is a phrase that some people may not be acquainted with in terms of function. Roll-and-write is a dice game in which participants roll dice and report the outcome on a score sheet. The dice outcomes may usually be used to a variety of scoring criteria, but they can only be used once. Even if a player rolls a superior scoring chance later, the results recorded on the score sheet cannot be altered. Many people are acquainted with these mechanics because to Yahtzee. This mechanism has recently been modified to operate with devices other than dice rolls.
Cartographers and Railroad Ink are two notable examples.
Rondel: Players advance their token forward a predetermined number of spaces on the action wheel, which is represented by an action wheel. The more spaces a player advances, the more money they will lose. The action of the last space their piece falls on is carried out by the players.
Great Western Trail and Trajan are two notable examples.
Route Building, often known as network building, is a kind of game in which players link regions to create an effect. These are often railway or commerce lines of some kind.
Brass: Birmingham and Gaia Project are two notable examples.
Secret Unit Deployment: Another kind of hidden information, secret unit deployment refers to the placement of units (cards or other components) into the play area that contain some type of secret information. All players save the person in charge of the unit are unaware of the unit’s details. The kind of unit, its attributes, or its position on the board may all be concealed from opponents.
Android: Netrunner and Dracula’s Fury are two notable examples.
Semi-Cooperative: In semi-cooperative games, players work together to achieve common goals, but they also have hidden objectives to complete. In some cases, the hidden objectives may merely offer players with new aims, while in others, they will actively work against their friends. If the common objective criteria are fulfilled but the hidden personal ones are not, a player will lose. My own favorite semi-cooperative game is Nemesis. All participants are collaborating to guarantee that two of the space ship’s three engines are operational and that the spacecraft is on its way to Earth. Players may, however, have goals such as rerouting the spacecraft to a new planet, setting the ship on fire, or ensuring that they are the only character left alive.
Dead of Winter and Forgotten Waters are two notable instances.
Millennium Blades has a set collection.
Set Collection: Set collection, which is most commonly presented in the form of cards, focuses on rewarding players for collecting sets of cards depending on the size, diversity, or rarity of the set. Generally speaking, the bigger the set, the higher the benefits.
Abyss and Concordia are two notable examples.
Simulation: To the best of their abilities, these games mimic real-world occurrences. Simulator games that are based on historical events are not rare. They may also have role-playing aspects.
Undaunted: Normandy and Millennium Blades are two notable instances.
Simultaneous Action Selection: Simultaneous action selection, which may be used in cooperative or competitive games, implies that at some point throughout the round structure, players will secretly choose their actions for the round at the same time. After all of the participants have chosen their acts, they are all disclosed at the same time. This technique of action selection is often used to decide turn order as well.
Gloomhaven and Spirit Island are two notable instances.
Tableau construction is a kind of game in which participants create their own playing environment using publicly viewable components that they may change during the game. Unless deliberately eliminated by player actions, certain components (tokens, cards, tiles, and so on) will stay in play and active throughout the game. These elements will have an impact on the resources, actions, and points given to the player.
Everdell and Terra Mystica are two notable instances.
Take-That: One of the nastier board game elements, take-that refers to a player’s actions that have a direct detrimental effect on their intended target. Taking resources, forcing a player to discard, moving back a certain number of squares, losing a turn, and so on are examples of such acts. Take-that effects are either immediate or short-term, and they seldom have a long-term influence.
Star Realms and Cosmic Encounter are two notable examples.
In Galaxy Trucker, you may install tiles in real time.
Character skill trees are recognizable to anybody who has played a role-playing game. Similar to tech trees, tech trees work in a similar way. Players will be able to improve their tech tree and unlock new actions or enhanced versions of their current actions as they go through the game.
Gaia Project and Scythe are two notable examples.
Tile Placement: In tile placement games, players get points by adding new tiles to the play area (either their own or a shared one). Those points are often given for pieces being positioned next to each other in a set or covering certain areas. Tile placement is utilized to create a map/play area in certain instances, such as Betrayal at House on the Hill.
The Castles of Burgundy and Galaxy Trucker are two notable examples.
Traitor mechanics takes the concept of semi-cooperation and pushes it even farther. Traitor games are often cooperative or team games in which one player is given the role of traitor and is actively attempting to undermine other players. Traitors usually win by guaranteeing the failure of the other participants.
Secret Hitler and The Resistance are two notable instances.
Trick-taking games revolve on a hand of cards that is passed around the table one round after another. Each round has its own scoring system. After that, the play area is cleaned to prepare for the following hand and scoring (known as a trick).
The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine and The Fox in the Forest are two notable instances.
Variable Player Powers: Variable player powers are a frequent feature in contemporary board games. These are skills that are specific to the character or group that the player is controlling.
Spirit Island and Marvel Champions: The Card Game are two notable examples.
Worker placement is a thematic technique of action selection that is a common subset of action drafting. Each player is given a certain amount of components to use as employees. During the action phase, each player assigns one of their employees to an action space, which they subsequently resolve.
Anachrony and Viticulture are two notable examples.
We haven’t even scratched the surface of the numerous subgenres and variants of these mechanics. Our aim is to offer a solid basis for new players who may not be acquainted with these terminology, as well as an overview definition for those who may not have known what they were looking for. If you believe we’ve omitted an essential one or misdefined a word, please let us know and we’ll look into it.
As an example:
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What is a board game? Many people think it’s an old game, like Monopoly or Scrabble, but it is actually a newer form of entertainment. What is a genre? A genre is an area of board games that focus on the same theme, like the ones listed below.. Read more about what type of board game is monopoly and let us know what you think.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the different types of board game genres?
There are many different types of board games, but most fall into one of these categories: -Strategy games -Roleplaying games -Abstract strategy games -Abstract roleplaying games -Party games
What are mechanics in board games?
Mechanics are the rules that govern how a game is played. They can be simple or complex, and they usually involve some kind of physical action.
What are the 7 categories of tabletop games?
The 7 categories of tabletop games are board games, card games, dice games, wargames, role-playing games, miniature war games and strategy board games.
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