This page doesn’t hold back anything. There are detailed spoilers for the Dream-Eaters campaign ahead. I highly suggest that you stop reading now if you have not played this campaign once or twice before. Come back once you at least gave it a try and experienced both mini-campaigns for yourself on your own.
The Dream-Eaters cycle sent our investigators to the surreal environments of the Dreamlands. Players are facing not only one, but two Ancient Ones this time around, each with a mini-campaign leading up to the final confrontation.
This article takes a close look at each of these campaigns and their scenarios, the mechanics tied to them and the choices that the players will have to make facing all of these challenges. As in previous installments of this article series, i will also give some suggestions for investigators and player cards that are particularly well suited for Dream-Eaters.
This article is not going to look at each encounter set and each scenario in detail, this site already has pages for those. Please refer to those for more zoomed in views on the single cards that make up the encounter sets and encounter decks.
One Cycle, Two Campaigns
The Dream-Eaters cycle is split up into two mini-campaigns of four scenarios each. This has some repercussions, the most important being that you will have to build seperate decks for both. So you are looking at up to eight different investigators and decks. The chaos bags are also seperate and you will need to remember to change it when switching from one campaign to the other.
The campaigns are meant to be played alternating between them, the interludes that connect them don’t work if you would want to complete one first before moving onto the next. This means some extra setup from having to switch your decks (possibly moving cards around between them) and your chaos bag. To make this a bit easier, you can slightly change the order of scenarios. Instead of going through the campaigns strictly alternating between campaign A and B, you can move through them in an A-B-B-A-A-B-B-A pattern. That way, you have to do the extra setup only four instead of seven times.
The mini-campaigns can also be played on their own. It is recommended to do the eight-part crossover campaign at least once to get the intended experience in full. But for future replays, doing only one is certainly an attractive option. That way you will skip all the interactions with the Black Cat in the interludes, though.
Campaign A is called “The Dream-Quest” and follows the investigators that are venturing into the Dreamlands following Vigil Gray’s dream-quest for the town of Kadath. The four scenarios making up this campaign are:
- Beyond the Gates of Sleep, a rather mellow scenario that focuses on discovering clues around a central location
- The Search for Kadath, an epic journey to multiple continents. Can not reasonably be fully completed, you try to do as much as possible.
- Dark Side of the Moon, where players evade numerous enemies while making their way across a long section of locations
- Where The Gods Dwell, the final showdown with Nyarlathotep. This scenario is built around interacting with Hidden treachery cards.
Compared to campaign B, this one is much more focused on exploration and investigating. While fighting enemies certainly is a part as well, it is much less so. Dark Side of the Moon asks players to have a certain amount of agility or they will need to be able to compensate for it otherwise. In the last three scenarios, the players will be under heavy time pressure. For that reason, they will want to have investigators and/or decks that are action efficient and can stay ahead of the doom clock as well as possible.
The Dream-Quest: Evidence of Kadath
Near the end of campaign A, the players find their way barred by the Onyx Gates, a location with 12 clues on it and shroud that scales from 2 to 5 with player count. This enormous obstacle is weakened for any “Evidence of Kadath” the players managed to pick up on their way, each one removing one of the clues. To gather evidence of Kadath, you need to do the following:
- During the resolution of Gates of Sleep, side with the zoogs. Doing so will enable an additional piece of evidence (and 2XP) during setup of Search for Kadath.
- During setup of Search for Kadath, you need to speak with the priest Atal. If you sided with the cats before, this will happen automatically, but if you sided with the zoogs, you will need to force your way into the temple. This awards one evidence. If you sided with the zoogs before, you will gain an additional one right afterwards.
- During resolution of Search for Kadath, you gain one evidence for each Sign of the Gods that you managed to collect in the scenario. Up to 10 signs are up for grabs, but actually achieving that is near impossible. Aim for 5-7.
- Successfully finishing Dark Side of the Moon awards 3 evidence of Kadath.
So provided you don’t outright fail the scenarios, you can end up with 5 evidence plus however many you claim from Search for Kadath. If you manage 7 out of 10, that will open the Onyx Gates without having to spend any further actions on discovering clues. Having to discover a few clues there is of course not the end of the world, but Where The Gods Dwell is indeed a scenario where every action is precious, so this shouldn’t be underestimated either.
The Dream-Quest: Agility in Dark Side of the Moon
Dark Side of the Moon has some unique mechanics around the “alarm level” in play. You mostly acquire these by failing certain treacheries or killing notable enemies. Many of these treacheries ask the players to have good agility, something that can catch them off-guard because while agility tests are a mainstay in the encounter deck, they are rarely that numerous. They also happen on some locations used in the scenario. To drive the point home, many of the enemies are also tailored towards being evaded instead of fought.
This is maybe something to keep in mind when picking your investigator, as someone like Leo Anderson might run into considerable trouble here and will have to compensate somehow.
Web of Dreams
The B campaign is called Web of Dreams, where a second group of investigators tries to find out what happened to their friends in campaign A. They ultimately follow them into the Dreamlands and run into the spider god Atlach-Nacha and her many-legged minions. The four scenarios of this campaign are:
- Waking Nightmare, where the players navigate a hospital to find someone while killing many spiders
- Thousand Shapes of Horror, an unconventional scavenger hunt while pursued by an invincible enemy
- Point of No Return, which has the players fight their way to the exit from a large grid of locations
- Weaver of the Cosmos, a video game like fight against an oversized boss enemy
Web of Dreams is much more focused on fighting than Dream-Quest, but there is of course still a lot of terrain to traverse and clues to find to progress. Having a dedicated combat investigator around pays off here, much more so than in campaign A. Swarming is also a much bigger part, thanks to the spiders which are just everywhere in this side of the campaign.
Web of Dreams: Steps of the Bridge
While campaign A has the players actively seek out the evidence of Kadath, campaign B has something that the players will want to avoid. For each set of 3 “Steps of the Bridge” that players collect during the first three scenarios, the final one will start with 1 extra doom on a location (up to a maximum of four). Avoiding this is important, because the location sticks around for all of the scenario. So this doom will count towards every single one of the agendas. Steps of the Bridge are earned the following ways:
- Failing Waking Nightmare. Each infested location at the end of the game will contribute one tally mark to the Steps. Failing by having the agenda run out adds 8 tally marks, same as if everything was infested.
- The Point of No Return will hand out one tally mark for each damage on the scenario card. This damage is increased whenever an agenda advances, up to a maximum of 5.
Note that during setup of Point of No Return, the scenario card might even already start with 1 or 2 damage on it if Steps were previously earned. So there is a negative feedback loop here, making it very important that you do not fail Waking Nightmare.
Thousand Shapes of Horror doesn’t interact with this mechanic at all. Due to Point of No Returns feedback from previously earned tally marks, make sure to pass Waking Nightmare and this whole mechanic shouldn’t matter much at all. On the other hand, failing Waking Nightmare by having the agenda run out can max out the steps almost on its own. If that is about to happen, it can be preferable to suicide everyone into the next best spider swarm instead…
Web of Dreams: Vale of Pnath in The Point of No Return
The Vale of Pnath is a location in The Point of No Return. To progress to the final stage of that scenario, players need to flip that location to its veiled side and spend a bunch of clues. However, the location has a very pesky ability printed on it: Players can neither play nor commit cards while they are at the Vale and while it still has clues on it. It also has 4 shroud, so collecting those clues (which is required to flip the location) can be very difficult for many investigators who will find that they have to beat the shroud 4 with just their base intellect.
If you want to prepare for this, include assets in your deck that you can play beforehand and make good use of at the Vale. That can be something small like Magnifying Glasses for Seekers with already good base intellect or assets that can be used to just pick up clues or investigate at other locations: Necronomicon, Pendant of the Queen and Grete Wagner are examples.
The Black Cat
The two campaigns are connected with a series of interludes that provide a bit of story exposition. More importantly though, they allow the investigators to meet the Black Cat and allow it to follow either of the groups around and relay information between them. In terms of gameplay mechanics the players get to choose:
Do they want the Cat to warn and stay with group A? Or with group B? If one of those is chosen, the other team gets a penalty in exchange, though.
Alternatively, the players can ask the Cat to merely relay some more general information to the other group. This will neither give bonuses or penalties to either side, but it will lead towards the bonus goals for a campaign. More on this later.
Finally, the players are feel to tell the Cat to take a hike. If they do, they get nothing out of it except for a couple snarky comments along the way.
If the players decide to warn and have the Cat stay with group A, an Elder Thing is added to the chaos bag of both campaigns. It has a positive effect when drawn during A side scenarios, but on the B side it’s the usual bad stuff. Similarly, having the Cat protect group B will add a Tablet token which is negative for A, but good for B.
The choice for the Cat to help a group comes up at each of the three interludes and you can change your mind from one to the next. The one exception is if you decide to threaten the Cat at the first interlude. It will be gone for good then and only taunt you on the following ones.
Both groups meet Randolph Carter during their first scenario. And then end up with him as a story asset in the deck. Having him show up in both campaigns simultaneously is of course suspicious as hell and as expected we will find that we get betrayed by one of them once we get to the first of the final scenarios. And then, since this is Arkham LCG and we don’t have good guys here, the other one betrays us as well in the other finale. Turns out both of them are actually an aspect of Nyarlathotep… Yay!
Until the reveal, we can make use of the Randolph Carter story assets for our decks and they are actually not bad at all. 5 points of soak in total, +1 to each of two stats and a conditional trigger that can draw some cards. For three resources, that’s certainly a good package if the stats are relevant for you. If your ally slots can’t support him, he’s also got a set of great icons, so that’s nice as well.
The card draw is triggered by pulling a token that has two of them in the chaos bag right from the start. It’s also actually the bad token that gets added if you send the Black Cat to help the other group. So you have 2 or 3 tokens in the bag that can trigger Carter. This will often lead to the ability firing two or three times during a scenario if you can get Carter out early, a huge advantage. It’s even good enough that manipulating the token pulls with certain mystic cards can pay off with silly amounts of card draw.
Neat story asset to have and while he won’t be around for the final scenario, you can drop one of your regular allies from your deck for him.
Swarming is a new keyword that appears on enemies from the Dream-Eaters cycle that has a couple quirks worth talking about.
For one, it takes cards from your deck and uses them as swarm counters. You get these cards back by killing the swarm enemies, but the cards go on the bottom of your deck. For most decks, this is not going to be too much of an issue, but if you are relying on certain combos, this does have a chance to disrupt what you are trying to do. An example for such a combo would be Daredevil/Three Aces.
Evasion is also interesting. On the one hand, it does exhaust the whole swarm in one action, so that can be very worthwhile. On the other hand, evading the swarms will not get you your cards back which can be an issue.
Fighting them works in a slightly different way because while you do attack only single enemies at a time, excess damage can spill over from one swarm enemy to the next. So you can either go for big hits that kill multiple swarm cards at once or you can use one of the few ways to deal “area damage”, like Storm of Spirits or Dynamite Blast, and wipe out the whole stack.
Individual swarm cards are usually easy to defeat and even just punching at spiders does reduce the power of the whole stack. So in that way they are easier to deal with than common enemies…
…on the other hand, the swarms usually have more raw health than comparable enemies. Even the lowly Swarm of Spiders has 3 health. And should you not manage to defeat the swarm or at least a couple of its members, their individual damage will all add up. This can be very dangerous, so beware any cards that could make a swarm enemy appear mid-turn.
Swarming enemies (in the form of zoogs) do appear briefly at the beginning of campaign A, but they are mostly a thing for the B side where spiders are a near-constant part of the scenarios.
Hidden treacheries and hand size
Hidden treacheries were first introduced in Carcosa, and they make a return this cycle. They are used only during the A campaign and are always tied to Nyarlathotep in some way. Three of the four A scenarios use the Agents of Nyarlathotep encounter set which features three Hidden cards. The other twelve are all specific to Where The Gods Dwell, a scenario built around using this mechanic to have the players “fight” Nyarlathotep in a very unconventional way.
One of the effects of Hidden cards is that they reduce the effective hand size of players until they are dealt with. The Dream-Quest doubles down on this by also including some treacheries and effects that directly impact cards in hand. The Dreamer’s Curse set is completely built around this, either by straight out reducing maximum hand size or by baiting out cards to prevent negative effects. Some scenario specific cards further enhance the theme, for example several locations in Gates of Sleep punish players for having too many cards in hand when entering them.
The three Hidden cards from the Agents of Nyarlathotep cover all these bases. Not only are they Hidden, but they also require discarding another card to get rid of them.
Event focused investigators can feel impacted by these things more than others. They generally want to keep a healthy amount of cards in hand to have options and the constant barrage of discard effects and hand size constraints can be a problem. In turn, such investigators might be better suited for Web of Dreams than for The Dream-Quest. Patrice in particular can actually run into something like a soft-lock during Where The Gods Dwell by having all of her already innately lower hand size being occupied with Hidden stuff and no longer drawing further cards.
Veiled locations is another mechanic that appeared first in the Carcosa cycle, although it wasn’t keyworded as such when Dim Carcosa did it. Veiled locations are locations that come into play revealed. When there are no clues on them, the players can use a free action to flip the location and read the story text on the other side which will usually resolve some game effects as well.
One scenario in each of the campaigns uses Veiled: Search for Kadath for campaign A and Point of No Return for B. Search for Kadath uses it as the main driving force for the exploration of the “continents” that the players have to do. Point of No Return puts some slight spins on the template and features some locations that have different conditions to flip as well. While not strictly “Veiled” locations, they do behave similar in that they come into play revealed.
Since there’s only two scenarios out of eight that use this mechanic, it’s not something grand to keep in mind with regards to investigator choice or deck composition. But there are some interesting side effects that you can make good use of. Most importantly, the fact that all locations enter play on their revealed side can increase the power of many player cards. Seeker and Rogue both have several cards that allow moving to revealed locations or using certain actions there without being actually present. So anything from Elusive over Esoteric Atlas to Deciphered Reality gets a shot in the arm for this scenario. The Search for Kadath constrains this insanity a bit by only having a limited number of locations in play at the same time and No Return doesn’t put all locations into play immediately. But it’s still very powerful if you can make use of it. Playing Luke Robinson and just bouncing all over the map with the Gatebox is fun, i heavily recommend doing that at least once.
The Dream-Quest: Bonus Goal
The fight against Nyarlathotep doesn’t involve a whole lot of actual combat at first. Players have to collect and combine certain Hidden cards in their hand at certain locations and pass various tests. However, there is a way to have a proper final confrontation with the Big Bad that does have them not only escape Nyarlathotep, but actually defeat and banish it. This happens on a final agenda for Where The Gods Dwell which is skipped unless certain criteria are met.
To make that fight happen, two conditions need to be true after defeating Nyarlathotep the first time: The Black Cat needs to “know the truth” and the investigators need to possess the Silver Key. The Key is gained by group B if they successfully finish Thousand Shapes of Horror, then passed along to group A automatically at the third interlude. For the other condition, you need to successfully finish Search for Kadath. This only means that at least one investigator needs to have resigned at a port, there’s no requirement for a certain number of Signs to collect. You also need to have the Black Cat “share knowledge of the Dreamlands” at the first interlude so it can get a “hunch” that something is off. Additionally, you also need to finish Dark Side of the Moon successfully, otherwise Randolph doesn’t survive the voyage and the Cat can not discover the truth.
Obviously, this bonus goal is only possible if Dream-Eaters is played as an eight-part full campaign. The Dream-Quest as a standalone lacks both the Black Cat interludes and the Silver Key.
It should be noted that there’s sort of a third condition in play here. Where The Gods Dwell is a scenario with a notoriously short doom timer on the agenda. Finishing it is a struggle for 1-2 players, so fitting a whole extended boss fight at the end needs excellent action efficiency and near flawless execution during the scenario. It’s certainly a lot easier to do in full groups of four.
Doing or not doing this extra fight is completely for bragging rights and the challenge itself. There’s 5 extra XP in it during the resolution, but that usually doesn’t matter. It is also not part of the epilogue.
Epilogue and final resolutions
Once you finished the full eight-part campaign, you get to an epilogue that goes a little different depending on how your journey went. In total, there are 16 resolutions, 9 of them successful ones. For a successful overall campaign, you will need to have finished both sub-campaigns successfully as well, otherwise you will get an ending that is basically congratulating you on preventing one apocalypse only to fall to the other one.
Both campaigns have one option at the end that they can only pick if they happened to unlock it along the way. For campaign A, this is the option of venturing deeper into the Underworld to find their companions from B. This is only possible if team B decided during the second interlude to have the Black Cat “share knowledge of the Underworld” and can lead to an ending where both groups are united in the Dreamlands for the rest of their lives (provided the other team doesn’t decide to leave the Dreamlands!) Obviously, you will also need to complete Where The Gods Dwell successfully.
Mirroring this, the team B can discover a way out of the Underworld and thus allow them to meet up with team A in the waking world. This way is hidden on the back side of the Tower of Koth location in Point of No Return. Again, you also need to win the final scenario as well.
The investigators only go through three scenarios before they enter the finale, so of course there are fewer opportunities to earn and spend experience available. The campaigns do give a lot more XP than is usual to partially make up for that, so there’s still a somewhat okay amount going round but the lack of XP is certainly noticeable. You don’t get as much experience as you would for doing a full campaign like Carcosa and this does restrict some of your deck choices.
Available XP per scenario in The Dream-Quest:
Beyond the Gates of Sleep: 12 (locations/Laboring Gug) +1 (Crawling Mist) = 13XP
The Search for Kadath: 11 (locations) + 1 (Cats of Ulthar) + 1 (Stalking Manticore) + 1 (Horde of the Night) + 1 (Beings of Ib) + 1 (Crawling Mist) + 2 (setup: moon-wine with Atal) = 18XP
Dark Side of the Moon: 6 (locations) + 2 (Moon Lizard) + 2 (Moon Beasts) = 10XP
Where The Gods Dwell: 10 (aspects of Nyarlathotep) + 2 (High Priest) + 1 (Dhole of the Wastes) + 1 (Crawling Mist) + 5 (banishing Nyarlathotep’s final form) = 19XP
Available XP per scenario in The Web of Dreams:
Waking Nightmare: 10 (locations) + 2 (Grey Weavers) = 12XP
A Thousand Shapes of Horror: 7 (locations) = 7XP
Point of No Return: 8 (locations) + 1 (Gug Sentinel) + 1 (Slithering Dhole) +2 (Grey Weavers) = 12XP
Weaver of the Cosmos: 5 (Atlach-Nacha) + 2 (Grey Weavers) + 5 (successful resolution)= 12XP
The XP numbers are fairly straightforward this time around. The only thing worth noting is how unrealistic it is to expect getting all of them during Search for Kadath. More than any other scenario, it’s one where you try to get as much done as possible, with 100% completion being the absolute exception. Expect to get 3 continents done, maybe only 2 and a half. Should be around 10XP. Also, one of the XP requires breaking the law of Ulthar. You monster.
Going by those numbers, you can expect to carry about 25-30XP into Where The Gods Dwell and Weaver of the Cosmos. Which are numbers similar to The Dunwich Legacy. Also consider that cards like Charon’s Obol or Arcane Research do pay off a lot less than they would in longer campaigns. As a result, you should consider that in your choice of investigator and/or deck. Ideally you want to be able to get your core upgrades with the 10-13XP you get from the first scenario. Anything too fancy might not get to a point where it feels good until the campaign is already basically over. Finally, the low number of scenarios makes the “untranslated” upgrades from Seeker challenging to fit in. Ancient Stone in particular is almost out of the question, which is a pity… two of its upgrades would really work well in this campaign.
So, what qualities are we looking for in our investigators? The challenges posed by the scenarios aren’t actually all that special and there is no particular leaning towards a certain skill (like agility in TFA or will in TCU), so options are wide open. Campaign A asks for action efficiency more than anything, as it features some extremely tight time constraints on three of its scenarios. The Web of Dreams is mostly a combat focused ordeal, with Thousand Shapes being the exception.
As in previous Best-Laid Plans articles, i will suggest two investigators for each class. I’ll try and make it one per mini-campaign:
Mark Harrigan dodges a very specific problem that i have with Guardians in campaign A. Most have very low agility and will in turn have a huge problem dealing with Dark Side of the Moon. Mark sidesteps this with a solid 3 base agility and Sophie for those particularly clutch tests.
Nathaniel Cho is good whenever a campaign throws lots of strong enemies at players. He certainly has his work cut out for him during campaign B and his high combat means he won’t have to waste cards to kill swarms. He can just bare knuckle spiders into paste and won’t have to worry about ability triggers for his boxing gloves.
Mandy Thompson‘s investigator ability shines bright during Where The Gods Dwell, allowing her to reach deep and pull out those aspects of Nyarlathotep and what else you need. Feels almost like cheating, but that’s Mandy for you 🙂
Joe Diamond is the perfect hybrid fighter/seeker that Web of Dreams asks for. His weakness to treacheries isn’t as much of a problem as usual either. This is probably the best campaign for him.
Winifred Habbamock does not need a lot of XP to get going at all. Cards like Nimble can be used particularly well by her while she also has the usual action efficiency of Rogues going on.
Tony Morgan does his best work in fighty environments and there are few that are better suited than Web of Dreams. The fight against Atlach-Nacha does depend a lot on having a lot of damage available in a short time so the doom does not escalate. Tony does that really well.
Gloria Goldberg, like Mandy, has an investigator ability that just dismantles the unique challenges behind Where The Gods Dwell. So if that scenario is something you struggle with (i can relate), then Gloria or Mandy can turn on easy mode for a bit while still not making it trivial.
Luke Robinson can be played on either side to great effect, but i do like him especially during Point of No Return where his ability allows him to just go anywhere because everything comes into play revealed. Being able to throw Storm of Spirits and Spectral Razor everywhere on the map is also excellent in the Weaver fight.
Stella Clark does not need a whole lot of experience to get going and is one of those investigators that can do almost anything. Due to the broad range of challenges in campaign A, that makes her a good candidate there even before considering that she has a built in way to get more actions out of her turn.
William Yorrick gets to trigger his ability a whole lot whenever he runs into a swarm of enemies. Turning this into vast amounts of card advantage is almost too easy.
As usual, i implore you to do what seems fun to you. These suggestions are merely meant as something you can fall back on if you are having trouble or if you are looking for inspirations on what to play next. They are by no means to be understood as something you should do or need to do.
Notable Player Cards
Investigators alone do not make a deck, so here are also some suggestions for interesting player cards that could do well in Dream-Eaters. I will limit myself to 2 per class:
On the Hunt: This card can be used to dig for copies of Nyarlathotep during Where Gods Dwell. Anything that can help to reduce the variance from that scenario is welcome.
Empty Vessel/Wish Eater: Just killing one swarm fully charges this amulet and gives you all the healing you need. Honorable mention goes to The Hungering Blade which feeds off of swarms the same way.
Esoteric Atlas: Really useful in the scenarios that feature Veiled locations, but during Web of Dreams, it’s actually quite nice throughout because the scenarios all feature a lot of moving around and backtracking to already revealed locations.
Deciphered Reality: Look, i am not going to claim that this level 5 card is the best use for your precious few XP. But you kinda need to see this card in action during No Return some time. So satisfying! It’s also good in Weaver, so getting it for those two scenarios is at least worth considering.
Decorated Skull(3) is another good way to cash in on the swarms. I would not run the level 0 one, though. Too many actions required there, you will likely not have so many to spare.
Nimble is great. Rogues have a couple cards that give them action advantage. This can come in the form of Leo de Luca or even something like Elusive. Nimble is the card from that group that i chose to highlight here because the other ones are already widely played and Nimble is somewhat new and under appreciated.
Open Gate is not a card that i am very fond of, but all the backtracking in campaign B can make it work out okay. Mobility is really worth that much.
Scroll of Secrets can help with finding the necessary puzzle pieces in Where The Gods Dwell, by looking at the bottom of the deck and moving them on top if desired. The upgraded Scroll can look directly at the top, but that’s a lot of XP that you probably don’t have.
Track Shoes: I like to move it, move it.
Chainsaw is something that i would recommend upgrading into with any combat oriented survivor for any side of the campaign. There are some big beasties around and just hitting for 2 isn’t going to cut it long term. This is especially true for campaign B, where all the individual parts of the Weaver have health in the multiples of 3 and you’ll frequently run into enemies like the Grey Weaver. Even the lowly Swarm of Spiders has 3 health… kinda.
As you can see, most of those suggestions are extra movement or options to profit from the swarm mechanic. Despite the wild dreamlands narrative and the unconventional campaign structure, the scenarios themselves aren’t all that special in their core mechanics, so there’s not much that you need to prepare for. The one exception where the challenges firmly leave the beaten path is Where The Gods Dwell, but interacting with the encounter deck’s contents is not something we can actually do a whole lot.
So in the end you will likely end up building your deck in a more general way towards the strengths of your investigator, with maybe a tech card or two thrown in for good measure.
Which is totally fine, of course.
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