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Number of Games
Class Frequency Discussion
Valeera rules Hearthstone. No matter what happens to the rest of the classes, that big black bar is going to stick around. Lackey Rogue is dominant and defines the meta like no other deck. Its popularity has increased at lower ranks where players have grown more aware of its power level. Its numbers have remained steady at legend, where everyone knows it’s probably busted. Nearly 30% of legend opponents are Rogues, and this number only increases the higher you climb at legend.
The transition in the Warrior class, which we’ve identified last week, is continuing. Control Warrior is rising in popularity, especially at higher levels of play, where it is the 2nd most popular deck in the game. Bomb Warrior has declined with the growing belief amongst players that it’s an inferior version of Control Warrior. We’re not sure that’s an accurate assessment, but to beat Rogues, you should play Control Warrior because Bomb Warrior doesn’t quite cut it.
Mage’s popularity has risen quite substantially with Conjurer Mage taking center stage. It is now the 3rd most popular deck at legend, where it has become a tempting Warrior counter. Other Mage decks haven’t really panned out, with their prevalence diminishing.
As promised last week, we’ve split the Mech Hunter archetype into two: Oblivitron Hunter is the slower strategy built around Mechanical Whelp and Nine Lives. Bomb Hunter is the aggressive variant that runs a full tribal build of mechs, aiming to curve out and pressure the opponent early. Certainly, Bomb Hunter blew up this week, with its popularity spiking at all levels of play. Oblivitron Hunter is in the process of fading. Midrange Hunter is also declining.
Druid is displaying contrasting trends. At lower levels of play, Token Druid has risen in popularity due to increased awareness of its early success. However, its popularity at legend has crashed hard, losing nearly 50% of its meta share. Is there an underlying cause? We’ll find out soon enough.
Priest is showing signs of life, with a new archetype jumping into the scene at higher levels of play. Miracle Priest is a hard-cycling, spell-heavy, Gadgetzan Auctioneer deck that utilizes Grave Horror and Chef Nomi as its win conditions. It’s seen quite a bit of play and experimentation at legend, so we’ll be interested in following how well it performs. With all the attention given to Miracle Priest, both Wall and Silence Priest seem to have been cast aside.
The Shaman class has declined at all levels of play, with the growing perception amongst players that none of its archetypes are very strong. However, we can identify that Shaman is still deep in a refinement process that has yet to show any signs of ending, while other classes are more advanced in their development. Until we see actual stabilization in its builds, we can’t count Shaman out.
Warlock has also declined, with everything but Zoo Warlock fading from existence. Zoo Warlock has specifically declined at legend, where its presence is now very modest.
Paladin is now at the bottom of play rates. Mech Paladin has seen a very small uptick in play, while other Paladin decks have failed to establish themselves as more than memes. Last week, we did see that Mech Paladin is a stronger deck than its play rate suggests, so it’ll be interesting to assess whether it’s made any progress this week.
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
Lackey Rogue is the best deck in the game, at every rank and skill level. We don’t think there’s a real argument about that. It’s encouraging that Lackey Rogue’s win rate has declined this week, but this is a natural process of a meta that’s becoming more refined with bad, “free win” decks disappearing. The only meta deck in the game that’s statistically proven to be a counter to Lackey Rogue is Control Warrior, and even in this matchup, we believe there is room for Lackey Rogue to improve by making a few adjustments.
Considering the extremely high prevalence of Lackey Rogue, and the fact that its win rate is still the best in the game, we feel that it’s unlikely that the meta will simply balance itself out in a natural process. Balance changes will probably have to be made to re-boot the current power levels we observe. There’s just no way around it. Hex needs to be nerfed to 5 mana. As soon as possible.
Warrior is clearly a strong class, but its main strength in the current meta comes from its ability to contest Rogues, which is why it’s successful in tournaments (a 1-deck format) and at high legend (where Rogue’s prevalence is extremely high). There are more than a couple of matchups that are horrible for Control Warrior, so it performs worse in a more diverse meta where Mages and Hunters are prevalent. Rogue normally destroys Warrior counters, so in every way you look at it, Rogue is the primary driver for Warrior’s current success. That doesn’t mean we think Warrior should be untouched by balance changes, but our point is that labeling Warrior as THE #1 problem in the current meta is off base.
Control Warrior is likely the best Warrior deck, but we think that Bomb Warrior may still have a place in the meta. After adding Elysiana themselves and gaining experience in the matchup, Bomb Warrior players seem to be doing quite well in the mirror. Bomb Warrior’s problem is that at higher levels of play, it doesn’t seem capable of beating Rogues consistently, and beating Rogues is the most important thing you can do in the current meta.
One of the best ways to beat Warrior is by playing Hunter. Bomb Hunter has exploded in its performance and looks very strong. Its primary weakness is faster matchups, where it is usually outpaced by Rogues, Druids, and Warlocks. There is still room to make improvements in this deck, as it is still young in its development. The fact that its win rate reaches Tier 1 already is quite impressive, and it might be able to overtake Lackey Rogue in win rate if the latter continues to be the main target of the meta.
Other Hunter decks aren’t as impressive. Oblivitron Hunter looks like a failed experiment. It’s one thing to struggle in faster matchups, as exhibited in Bomb Hunter’s matchup spread, but it’s another thing to completely roll over without resistance. We don’t think this archetype has a future. Midrange Hunter seems alright, but it’s going to be very hard for it to improve when its matchup against Lackey Rogue is so terrible.
We’re less enthusiastic about the other Warrior counter, which is Conjurer Mage. We think this deck might be a little overplayed, though its best build has yet to be figured out. Our skepticism comes from its poor matchup against Bomb Hunter, making the Hunter deck better positioned in the niche of countering Warrior and the primary cause of Mage’s fall in win rate this week.
Druid’s fall in play rate at legend was no accident. Its win rate has also drastically fallen as a result of several decks teching against the Druid’s board flooding nature. It seems that the meta has successfully targeted Druid and brought it down to earth, establishing it amongst a pack of competitive decks that are strong, but clearly inferior to Lackey Rogue.
The hard teching against board flooding has also severely impacted Zoo Warlock. As we suspected last week, Zoo Warlock thrived in the unrefined meta filled with janky clumsiness that usually accompanies the launch of an expansion. Now, things aren’t so easy, and Zoo’s matchups against Rogue and Warrior are catching up to it. It is now a Tier 3 deck at legend and less likely to find success at higher levels of play. The class’ future does not look too bright.
Don’t be fooled by its early growing pains, the Shaman class looks to be on its way to delivering on its pre-launch promise. As it turns out, Shaman archetypes have proven to be very difficult to refine but they’re getting there. Morpher Shaman is amid a massive breakthrough after dropping its underperforming Malygos variant and further refining its “Big” variant. Its win rate is spiking harder than any deck in the game, and it could tear through the 50% barrier by next week. Murloc Shaman is also displaying a significant rise in its win rate, reaching Tier 2, where we estimated it would eventually land. Alongside the murloc-light build, full tribal lists are finally showing genuine promise thanks to the addition of stronger late game cards: Both Hagatha the Witch and Swampqueen Hagatha are doing a lot of work.
Mech Paladin continues to fly under the radar, but it’s performing very well. It’s also very slow in its refinement, with the common ladder builds proving to be sub-optimal. If you’re not playing Bronze Gatekeepers, you’re basically gimping yourself as there is a dramatic difference in the archetype’s performance depending on the usage of this card.
Priest looks to be in a dire state. We’re quite disappointed with Miracle Priest’s current performance, though it’s still a bit early to count it out completely. It has a steep learning curve and there are some card choices that can potentially improve its performance. We’re expecting the archetype to get a boost in its win rate next week, but we’re not sure it will be enough. It doesn’t seem to carry the same scope for improvement we’ve identified in Morpher Shaman, for example. Other Priest decks have made improvements in their performance, but their overall win rates remain largely underwhelming.
Class Analysis & Decklists
Lackey Rogue continues to dominate and dictate the Hearthstone ladder meta. Its representation has only increased over the past week and it’s showing no signs of relenting. Its matchup spread is one of the strongest we’ve ever seen, exhibiting a weakness only to the Warrior class. Nothing else seems capable of reliably beating Lackey Rogue, and that includes traditional counters such as aggressive decks and board-flooding decks. Objectively, Lackey Rogue is the best ladder deck in the game. Warrior gets a lot of attention too, but Warrior is still matchup-dependent compared to Rogue: You’re not going to have a good time running into Mages, Hunters or Paladins. The only riddle left for Lackey Rogue to solve is the Warrior matchup.
Which is why this section will be dedicated to beating Warriors. We believe that most ladder Rogue builds are not optimally built to beat Warriors, and with the right mindset and card choices, this matchup is not as hard as it seems and can be improved without making sacrifices in other matchups.
Our refinement work from last week helped us find new insights that should lead to a further evolution of Lackey Rogue. In simple terms, we’re on the right track, and we believe we can break the deck further.
- We can now confirm with absolute certainty that the more aggressive, SMOrc variant that doesn’t run the Thief package is significantly stronger than the Thief variant. With the rise of several grindy Warrior counters, Sap has also become a stronger card. While the package of Vendetta and Underbelly Fence can be quite strong, the deck-building price to pay for it is too great.
- Token Druid has declined, which makes Fan of Knives a weaker card. It did a good job of disincentivizing Druid players this week, but it is the obvious cut when we think about improving our performance against Warrior. Hench-Clan Thug is a card we’ve been waiting to cut completely once we’ve found a better choice. This leaves us with 3 open slots from the build we’ve featured last week.
- Heistbaron Togwaggle is indeed misunderstood and arguably misused. It performs significantly better in the presence of EVIL Cable Rats due to the increased consistency of lackey generation and is a huge wild card in the Warrior matchup. Both Wonderous Wand and Zarog’s Crown are often game-winning treasures. We think Rogue players don’t pick Wonderous Wand often enough in general. It’s usually a tough decision between Crown and Wand (Golden Kobold can also be correct sometimes), so don’t underestimate Wand’s ability to give gas to a deck that’s very focused on burning out opponents.
- The deck building cost of Togwaggle is nearly non-existent because EVIL Cable Rats should be in the deck regardless of whether we’re running Togwaggle. Having more lackey generators is just good, and the card will generate lackeys more consistently than a Shadowstep. Cable Rats aren’t cards you’re actively looking for in the mulligan, but you’re never upset drawing them. They can fill the curve on turn 2 or 3, are good bounce targets for Waggle Pick and provide combo activators for SI:7 Agent, EVIL Miscreant, and Edwin Van Cleef.
- The final decision comes down to whether we want Deadly Poison, Cold Blood or Shadowstep. Shadowstep is significantly weaker than the other two, and as we’ve said earlier, if the argument for its inclusion is lackey generation through EVIL Miscreant, Cable Rats are more stable generators. We assess that Deadly Poison is ultimately better than Cold Blood. Both are nice to have in the Warrior matchup, but Deadly Poison is a more efficient source of damage with a higher ceiling. Against Warrior, you’re usually not looking to buff your Waggle Pick, but the weapon you get from Weapons Project. This severely punishes the Warrior when he destroys the Pick.
- Our last advice in the Warrior matchup is related to mindset. Warrior doesn’t have that much armor gain and taunts, which is why you should develop a hyper-aggressive mindset. Go face and go face hard! Do not make trades unless you can be severely punished by not trading. Every point of damage counts, so you need a very good reason to make trades. Play with this mindset and you will undoubtedly improve against Warriors.
Warrior continues to be highly popular this week. Control Warrior has comfortably overtaken Bomb Warrior in its representation and is the more consistent deck once you hit rank 4. Its spike in popularity at legend has been significant, and it is now the second most popular deck at higher levels of play.
It is also highly rated in the tournament scene because of its Rogue matchup and sideboard flexibility. However, it is a slightly different story when it comes to its performance in most of the ladder spectrum, where Control Warrior has attracted the rise of some of its most crippling counters. Bomb Hunter and Conjurer Mage have seen their stock skyrocket, and they represent strategies that counter Warrior’s game plan. Their density of threats usually eclipses the Warrior’s removal capacity. These counters ensure that Warrior’s overall ladder win rate cannot compare with Rogue, which has a better matchup spread. At high legend though, where the Rogue population is particularly absurd (much like in tournaments), Control Warrior becomes a stronger choice than it is at lower levels of play.
Not much has changed regarding what we feel is the best Control Warrior build. If you’re interested in reading about the insights that led us to it, last week’s Warrior section does a good job of explaining things. We’re genuinely puzzled that most ladder builds do not yet run two Town Criers while insisting on Acolyte of Pain, which is weak in the mirror matchup and terrible against Rogues. The full rush package is powerful and performs extremely well in all matchups, and against Rogues in particular.
The rise of Control Warrior mirrors, however, did tip the scales towards running at least one bounce effect for Elysiana. We like Youthful Brewmaster over Baleful Banker because it has stronger applications outside of the mirror. Hecklebot is a strong card in the mirror, but another Elysiana is stronger, which is why we’re making this 1-card adjustment.
The same adjustment is done for Dragon Warrior, which has many powerful battlecry minions it can utilize with Youthful Brewmaster. However, Bomb Warrior doesn’t need Brewmaster. The life-total pressure that Bomb Warrior can exert on Control Warrior makes it a decent matchup without needing to conform to an Elysiana arms race. The featured build from last week, where we sprinkle the bomb package on a strong Control Warrior shell, is just right.
- Warrior Class Radar
- Control Warrior
- Bomb Warrior
- Mecha’thun Warrior
- Dragon Warrior
Conjurer Mage is a competitive deck in the current meta, backed up by a great matchup against Warrior. Its biggest problem is dealing with aggressive decks of any kind, especially those that flood the board. With Bomb Hunter’s rise in play, this problem becomes even more severe. The deck just struggles to fight back into the board.
Therefore, we’re looking to cut the “fat” and improve percentages in faster matchups. The first luxury card that comes to mind is Power of Creation, and subsequently, Kalecgos. The performance of PoC has only worsened over the past week, and since we were already unimpressed last week, it’s an obvious cut. While some players still like running Kalecgos without PoC, the legendary just isn’t as strong without it. Instead, we’ve found that Alexstrasza is the best late game dragon in the deck. She allows the Mage to close games quicker, which synergizes with a faster approach that reduces some of the threat density. Alexstrasza can put a lot of pressure on Warriors and other slow decks since she can end games if they haven’t dealt with your board for a single turn.
To improve the board flooding problem, we’re adding back Mind Control Techs. We’re not enamored with the card, and a better option may eventually be found in the future, but Mage’s options are far and few. Two Dragonmaw Scorchers and a Mossy Horror are essential for having any chance against Druids and Warlocks, and Rabble Bouncer is generally one of the strongest cards in the deck.
Hunter is in the process of fully transitioning into aggressive Bomb Mech Hunter builds. Oblivitron Hunter, which is a slower deck that primarily abuses the interaction between Mechanical Whelp and Nine Lives, is a very underwhelming strategy that we just can’t get behind and fully expect to fade away.
We can get behind Bomb Hunter though, as it is proving to be very strong. It dominates Warrior, and it also beats the other prevalent Warrior counter in Conjurer Mage. Much like Conjurer Mage, it struggles to deal with other aggressive decks that are faster to get on the board. The popular solution to these matchups has been to run Unleash the Hounds as well as Dire Wolf Alpha. We believe there might be a better solution as this package has proven to be quite underwhelming over the last week.
One of the strongest, yet relatively uncommon cards in Mech Hunter, is Upgradeable Framebot. It’s a very annoying minion to deal with as it’s usually impossible to kill on turn 2, which allows your Magnetic buffs to connect the following turn and start snowballing. We think this minion should be considered core in every Bomb Hunter deck.
A card that’s almost never played in Bomb Hunter decks is Bronze Gatekeeper. Much like in Mech Paladin, Bomb Hunter’s chances of winning increases by a significant margin when it’s able to connect magnetic buffs. Since Bronze Gatekeeper has been performing incredibly well in Paladin, it leads us to believe it’s just an excellent card for mech decks in the current meta. The high health and taunt protection should make it invaluable in any aggressive mirror, and its synergy as a follow up to Upgradeable Framebot is obvious. Decks such as Zoo Warlock and Token Druid could be completely crippled by a Gatekeeper connection, and we think Gatekeeper can be equally annoying in slower matchups since it makes it even harder to play around subsequent magnetic buffs. We think it’s worth trying out and has a high likelihood of success.
Meanwhile, Midrange Hunter is struggling to improve its standing against the field and looks outclassed compared to Bomb Hunter. The deck has a balanced matchup spread, except for being utterly hopeless against Rogues. As a matter of fact, it’s the worst meta deck in the game against Lackey Rogue, with a miserable 30% win-rate in the matchup. In a meta of nearly 30% Lackey Rogues, this problem is beyond repair.
Token Druid didn’t have a good week and is a victim of its initial popularity. The meta has shifted against it and several decks have aggressively teched to punish board flooding, a good example being the increase in Fan of Knives’ popularity in Lackey Rogue, as well as Rabble Bouncer in Conjurer Mage. This has significantly affected Token Druid’s matchup against several key meta decks.
As a result, Token Druid has fallen both in its win rate and popularity. Now, it looks like a good deck amongst several good decks rather than a clear frontrunner. There have been several experiments in finding stronger builds than the one featured, but we haven’t been impressed. Shoving a healing package in Token Druid, for example, looks very weak.
Rather than adjusting to the meta with new cards, Token Druid’s key to success will likely just be a result of the meta relaxing the grip on its throat. As Token Druid declines, so do tech cards against it, and the deck should eventually perform better at a lower play rate.
Other Druid archetypes would wish for Token Druid’s problems, as they don’t look anywhere near being competitively viable. It seems that Druid’s current defensive tools just don’t cut it. It can no longer significantly stall and punish wide boards, and it also struggles to deal with big threats. Hunters, Mages, and Rogues simply eat slow Druid decks for breakfast.
Miracle Priest has been the focus of the class over the past week, with many players attempting to master and refine this unique deck. Miracle Priest runs a very cycle heavy package that includes Northshire Cleric, Acolyte of Pain, Wild Pyromancer and Gadgetzan Auctioneer. This enables Priest to draw very aggressively into their Grave Horrors and ultimately, Chef Nomi. Alongside Séance, Chef Nomi can be quite an intimidating win condition in slower matchups while Grave Horrors are there to seal faster matchups.
The deck’s biggest problem is survival. While Miracle Priest is very capable of handling board flooding decks thanks to Wild Pyromancers, it has a more difficult time against Rogues and the amount of non-minion damage they can dish out, as well as “tall” decks such as Conjurer Mage and Bomb Hunter. Beating Warriors isn’t as easy as it looks either, since Brawls offer a strong answer to Chef Nomi and they are quite capable of pressuring Priest, especially after drawing a certain Mad Genius (and then there are Bomb Warriors, which just farm Priests). As it stands, Miracle Priest doesn’t look likely to make a significant impact on the meta. Even when we take its learning curve into account, its current win rate is a long way off.
In any case, we’ve evaluated card choices in Miracle Priest and found some room for improvements. We’ve mostly looked at the builds from DeadDraw and Meati, who have both hit high legend ranks with the deck. The main takeaway is that Mass Hysteria is very underwhelming and should never be a 2-of, as it’s too clunky of a card to include in a deck that’s very reliant on drawing cheap spells. We do like running one Mass Hysteria as it forces the opponent to play around it. Weapon tech also doesn’t seem to be doing much for this deck, while Zilliax is pretty good and at least one Forbidden Words is a reasonable decision.
- Priest Class Radar
- Miracle Priest
- Wall Priest
- Silence Priest
Murloc Shaman has given the class a reason to be optimistic. Not only does the murloc-light, Warmage build continues to perform at a decent level, but even the tribal builds have made some progress to suggest it might be too early to write them off just yet. The improvement in this variant begins with the inclusion of both Hagatha the Witch and Swampqueen Hagatha. The two Hagatha’s provide gas and resources to Murloc Shaman, allowing it to last a surprisingly long time. The fact that the build is so dense with minions, makes it a pretty good fit for Hagatha the Witch in the same way the card has worked well in Even Shaman in the past. Our featured build, which is largely inspired from our usual research, attempts to strike a balance between early-game aggression and late-game swing turns, providing Murloc Shaman with a “value plan”. This variant has proven to be particularly challenging to refine, so it’s likely a work in progress.
Morpher Shaman has also made progress largely due to the underperforming Malygos builds fading away. BoarControl has hit #3 legend with a list that improves the Warrior matchup by increasing the density of threats with both Ancestral Spirit and Big Bad Voodoo. With the decline of Token Druid and Zoo Warlock, Lightning Storm is cut. Instead, the deck runs Ancestral Healing to enable Eureka power plays through Walking Fountain. Without the early game Likkim removal package, we’re strictly counting on our swing turns at 5 and 6 mana to blow our aggressive opponents away. It works.
- Shaman Class Radar
- Murloc Shaman
- Morpher Shaman
Our concerns regarding Zoo Warlock’s future in the meta has proven to be grounded. As the meta becomes more refined, several decks are honing their card selection to combat their weaknesses against flooding boards. As a result, Zoo Warlock’s win rate and play rate have fallen.
While other decks are refining, Zoo Warlock is standing still to its own detriment. Last week, we may not have been convincing enough regarding card choices in the deck, so we’ll try again.
Saronite Taskmaster is garbage. It’s terrible. It has no redeeming value. It is strictly detrimental and often game losing. There isn’t a single, logical means of justifying its inclusion from a statistical perspective. It should simply be called Saronite Trashmaster. Cut it, dust it, do whatever is necessary to make it not appear in your final deck and you will win more games. Thank you. If you’re still not convinced, imagine this paragraph was written in all caps and read it again.
Now, for the less dramatic insights: Witchwood Imp is one of the better 1-drops available since it’s a good sacking target for EVIL Genius and works well in tandem with Magic Carpet by buffing it, making it even more difficult to remove. Cable Rat isn’t too great, but it generates a powerful 1-drop that works well with Magic Carpet. Lackeys are just strong tempo cards in aggressive decks. We’re not impressed with Crystallizer; it doesn’t look like running a vanilla 1/3 for 1 mana is worth it. Both Leeroy and Soulfire are also quite weak in this deck since it’s so reliant on maximizing its resources and minimizing dead cards in hand. Bloodsail Corsair is too narrow of a tech card since it’s terrible beyond the Rogue matchup.
Zoo Warlock is pretty much all Gul’dan has left. Every other Warlock deck looks dead in the water. You either go Zoo or go home. Or just play Rogue. Yeah, Rogue is good.
Paladin is at the bottom of the play rates, yet the performance of one of its decks suggests it’s far from a dead class. Mech Paladin has a pretty good matchup spread, but most players are wary of a poor matchup against Rogue, which could be amplified by an expected increase in Sap’s popularity.
However, there are reasons to believe Mech Paladin can do better. Last week’s suggestion of adding Bronze Gatekeepers to the deck has proven to be a defining step in the deck’s refinement. With more data from you, faithful netdeckers, we can conclude that Bronze Gatekeeper is one of the best cards in the deck (!) and is 100% core. In fact, since most Mech Paladin players have yet to catch up to this discovery, it is safe to conclude that Mech Paladin has significant scope to improve statistically. Bronze Gatekeeper makes such a massive difference in improving the Paladin’s ability to stabilize that it is crucial. This deck wins when it magnetizes taunts. Adding Gatekeepers adds 66% more magnetizing taunts. Simple as 1,2,3.
Other Paladin decks don’t have much to hope for. Secret Paladin is mediocre at best and is completely outclassed by Lackey Rogue, which caused it to fade away from existence. We’ve seen increased experimentation with “Big” Duel Paladin, but this archetype is performing so poorly that it’s likely just a phase. Kangor’s Endless Army is Paladin’s best shot at competitive viability, and it’s all about getting the most out of this card in the current meta.
Bomb Hunter fits the meta breaker description better than any other deck over the past week. It’s a beatdown strategy that utilizes a forgotten core from Boomsday that hasn’t had a chance to shine until rotation. It’s positioned well against Warrior and Mage, and some of the decks it struggles against are currently in decline (Token Druid, Zoo Warlock). Rogue is still a problem, but Rogue is pretty much everyone’s problem!
The build we’ve decided to feature attempts to provide answers to board flooding decks without weakening the Rogue matchup by running Bronze Gatekeeper. It’s a card we’ve seen perform exceptionally well in a different mech deck despite being completely forgotten. Sap is a natural counter to Bomb Hunter and being able to force it our earlier might help alleviate Hunter’s inherent weakness against Rogue to some degree. This list is all about maximizing Hunter’s consistency at every mana slot and cutting situational cards that end up sitting in your hand too long. The less turns you end up skipping, the more likely you end up winning.
Strap in, it’s gonna be a blast!
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