Tribulations of Great Pokémon 14
by, 29th December 2012 at 03:02 AM (2930 Views)
Well, it looks like I have the energy to get another one done, so this will be the last Tribulations of Great Pokémon this year (I am completely certain this time, for sure!). In today’s article, we will delve into six Pokémon that are great in competitive battling (instead of the usual five). They will be evaluated on the greatness and their tribulations to determine whether they are balanced or not. If they are not balanced, I will issue a [+] for those with performance bias and a [-] for those with a tribulation bias. Normally, I would explain the purpose of these articles, but a break every now and then wouldn’t hurt. So, let’s look at what our six subjects are:
Yep, once again, another starter is chosen. Unfortunately for Torterra, it is the least useful Sinnoh starter in battling, due to a couple of notable fatal flaws. In fact, it is difficult to use it effectively because of those fatal flaws.
The first fatal flaw is its Speed. While Torterra’s defences are not bad, its lack of resistances and Speed means it is not going to reliably do any walling. Keep in mind that while Torterra does resist the Rock + Ground combo, it is vulnerable to status as well. The second, and perhaps most critical flaw, is its weaknesses. Ice is the most notable one, especially in conjunction with its low Speed, since even Water-types have a way around Torterra. Because of this, it is difficult to effectively use Torterra in the higher tiers since even the common Water-types could handle it. Still, that doesn’t mean Torterra’s a bad Pokémon.
Torterra’s STAB combination is actually quite good. Grass STAB is nice for certain types, while Ground STAB complements it by threatening certain types that are powerful against Grass, most notably Fire-, Poison- and Steel-types. Rounding them up is Rock coverage, mainly for Bug- and Flying-types. This works well with Rock Polish, in which Torterra could boost its Speed to out-Speed Scarf Rotom (even Rotom-N). However, you could also utilise a Choice Band for the raw power, or Curse to build it up. With pretty good defences and unique resistances, Torterra’s also a decent supporter, as it learns Light Screen, Reflect, Synthesis, Leech Seed, and of course, Stealth Rock. Overall, Torterra’s movepool and stats are decent, only hampered by a few fatal flaws.
Now, let’s see what makes Torterra difficult to train. First things first: Torterra is a starter Pokémon. That means you can’t have all three starter Pokémon (the other two being better at battling), while also maintaining that huge male ratio (making it difficult to get a female variety). So, does Torterra have any Egg Moves worth having? There are quite a few moves, actually. The niche moves Turtwig gets are Body Slam, Amnesia and Stockpile. One move that stands out among them, though, is Wide Guard, which is useful in Doubles or Triples. Unfortunately, this is also a chain-bred move, and the direct inheritor of this move is also a starter (Mudkip). This makes Wide Guard difficult to inherit, since Mudkip is also usually male, and as such, would have difficulties acquiring it itself. Still, the ability to avoid Heat Wave and Blizzard (and even Earthquake) is something to consider.
Its Dream World ability is decent. Shell Armour works very well on a Curse set, due to the ability to avoid one of Curse’s main obstacles (Trick is the other). Unfortunately, this is difficult to obtain. It’s a gift Pokémon, and the latest and most relevant way to get it is to buy Black 2 or White 2 at Wal-Mart, which should grant you one of the starters after buying of the games. Because you can’t soft reset for stats, there’s no turning back with what you get (including natures and IVs). By the way, it’s male only, so you cannot breed for more Shell Armour Turtwig (if that were possible, the distributors will lose sales).
Well, that’s all for Torterra. As usual, there isn’t a lot to say about starter Pokémon. However, there’s the question about Torterra’s verdict. Looking at these, I thought Torterra is a decently balanced Pokémon. In-game, Torterra’s access to Earthquake, Crunch, Leaf Storm and Wood Hammer (Heart Scale move) makes it a powerful force. Shell Armour is difficult to get, but if you do, it’s good because it is a great ability for certain uses. It doesn’t need Egg Moves as much as some other starters, so that’s a plus too (the only one that matters is used in Doubles, where it is more useful since there’s Trick Room to work with). From what I see, Torterra’s a balanced Pokémon.
Verdict: Balanced [±0]
Oh boy... Staraptor. It had to be covered eventually, because it is a great Pokémon after all. To be honest, this is a Pokémon I dread, simply because, telling you now, Staraptor’s an easy Pokémon to get, yet it is somehow very good. Yes, Staraptor’s an early bird Pokémon like Swellow and Pidgeot, but Staraptor is truly something special indeed. Now, the reason I am against using Staraptor in normal circumstances is how easy it is to train one. That’s not to say I have a grudge against it. It’s just that it doesn’t feel right to use something that is easily accessible. I am sure some people loved Staraptor precisely for this reason, but I know I don’t. Let’s see what makes Staraptor a stellar Pokémon.
One thing that immediately sticks out from its stats are Attack and Speed. The Speed tier is acceptable for a sweeper, while its Attack allows it to use its STAB Brave Bird and Double-Edge to hit really hard. However, Staraptor also has a powerful weapon that truly differentiates itself from its other bird kin: Close Combat. This move ensures that even Rock- and Steel-types won’t be attempting to wall Staraptor. In terms of a fourth move, there are some viable options. U-turn is for switching out in anticipation of a healthy wall, Roost to recover some damage off its recoil moves, while Quick Attack strikes first. Its abilities are also good. Intimidate is to help Staraptor take a Physical hit well, while Reckless boosts its two STAB attacks. Well, this is all good and all, but Staraptor isn’t a perfect Pokémon.
Staraptor’s going to have problems with anything that hit it hard or super-effectively (or both), especially one that is faster, such as Jolteon. In addition to this, anything that could take a hit from Staraptor and KO it back (Physical tanks are good, like Rhyperior) or cripple it (Cofagrigus) would do well in checking Staraptor. Staraptor’s main moves also drain its HP away, and being weak to Stealth Rock, Staraptor’s not one to survive for long (without Roost, that is).
Now it’s time to see the troubles it is with Staraptor. First and foremost, it gets Double-Edge through breeding. The only Pokémon that learns this move is Togetic (45), a hard to get Pokémon. However, their dominantly-male nature makes it easier to acquire. Roost is another move that is obtained through breeding, but a Move Tutor ensures that it is not involved with move legality issues. The last of the troubles is, passing on the Dream World ability Reckless. This is because Starly has no Dream World ability, making it a necessity to evolve Staravia to find out if you have the right ability. Thankfully this won’t be an issue if you only wanted Intimidate, because this is the only natural ability Staraptor has.
The ones I listed in the previous paragraph are basically the only issues that Staraptor notably face, because Staraptor has the advantage of being an early Pokémon and being very powerful. It is so powerful that it had to be banned in the metagame for underused Pokémon in Standard Play. Some of the things that Staraptor has the benefit of for being an early-game Pokémon include being easy to catch (Starly’s catch rate is at max), takes less time to hatch (16 cycles), is available in Dream World from the start (though you need four badges and some points first) and learning the necessary moves by level-up (Return, a universal and easy-to-obtain TM, is an OK alternative to Double-Edge).
Based on these factors, Staraptor is easily an imbalanced Pokémon. To be fair, Staraptor does have a couple of issues to get past (Double-Edge and Reckless), but they are not necessary for Staraptor to prove its might, since it doesn’t need either to prove its might in an earlier Generation. I am actually torn on what the ranking should be, but since I don’t see anything that rivals or exceeds Staraptor’s imbalance (on the performance side), I will give it a maximum score. It’s true that in battling it is more balanced, but for an early Pokémon to deserve the honour of being too powerful in the lower tiers makes Staraptor an example on how not to design a Pokémon’s balance between effort and reward.
Verdict: Imbalanced [+5]
I remembered taking a liking for Spiritomb when it was called Mikaruge because of its type combination. This Pokémon basically trumped Sableye’s only selling point because Spiritomb is a far better Pokémon than it, at least until Sableye got Prankster. It is a Pokémon themed around the number 108, and would you look at that: it has 108 Defence and Special Defence! Besides that, what makes Spiritomb a great Pokémon?
Combining its type combination and defences ought to make Spiritomb a tough Pokémon to OHKO, and with Pressure, it is a decent staller. Being a Ghost-type, Spiritomb has access to several good status moves, such as Will-O-Wisp, Hypnosis and Calm Mind. Its movepool is good given its relatively small size. Physically, Spiritomb gets two strike-first moves, Shadow Sneak and Sucker Punch, which makes a Choice Band set attractive. It could use its immunities to cause the opponent to switch out, but if you use Pursuit, they won’t go off scot-free. Combined this with Trick, and you have a handy set. On the Special side, there is the useful mono-attacking Calm Mind set, especially as a last-turn Pokémon.
One disadvantage with Spiritomb is its Speed. Sadly, it doesn’t learn Trick Room, because it would be a great user, learning Nasty Plot and various other surprising status moves. The low Speed makes it easy for the opponent to take advantage of Spiritomb’s lack of offensive presence by setting up a Substitute, especially one that’s not weak to Ghost or Dark. They would then be given the opportunity to boost. This would make Spiritomb a setup bait, because something is out that ready to takes advantage of Spiritomb’s lack of circumventions to freely setup. Spiritomb may be bulky, but it is not an all-purpose wall. Having no weaknesses is one thing, but it does not have enough resistances and recovery (Pain Split and Rest are pretty much what it have). In fact, it cannot take repeated strong hits, so don’t count on Spiritomb to prevent big threats from laying the hurt.
Now here is the interesting part about Spiritomb: its tribulation. The reason it’s interesting is how you obtain a Spiritomb in Sinnoh. You see, there’s this item called the Odd Keystone, which is required to awaken Spiritomb. Unfortunately, this is not easy (if I bring up this point in the first place, what do you expect)? So, you need to place this on the Hallowed Tower at Route 209 first, and then comes the most troublesome part. The next thing you need to do is to interact with real people underground from a nearby device, and you need to do this 32 times! It could be the same person interacted (after exiting the place and re-entering), but man, that’s a lot of trouble to get! When you are done with this tedious process, go back to that Odd Keystone you left behind, allowing you to battle a Spiritomb. You ought to save beforehand, because if you defeated Spiritomb before catching it, you need to do this all over again.
Fortunately, this trouble does not exist in Generation 5, because you need to do other things to obtain Spiritomb, this time with Infiltrator instead of Pressure. This is not bad, actually, because at least you have access to both abilities this time. One way to get Spiritomb is through Dream World, in which you catch one at Spooky Manor. However, you need at least 10,000 points before you could encounter one, so good luck with that. The other way is through Black 2 and White 2. One NPC (Yancy or Curtis) in Nimbasa City offers to trade you a different Pokémon each time, but Spiritomb won’t be available soon, as it is the eighth Pokémon you could receive from trade (out of 12). I am not certain how things work there, but it sounds like it will test your patience, since you need to call said NPC fifteen times after you return their Forgotten Item. (If someone could brief me on how this works, please tell me. I will gladly listen.)
In terms of Egg Moves, there are some interesting options, but they are status moves. The ones that stand out are Destiny Bond and Pain Split. Destiny Bond is a surprise for anything that doesn’t expect it, but Spiritomb’s slow, so there’s no guarantee that the opponent will fall for it. The other move, Pain Split, could be learned through Move Tutor if you want to. That is to say, Spiritomb doesn’t necessarily need the be bred to learn Egg Moves. One thing for sure: Spiritomb’s a bit tardy as an Egg (31 cycles). If you want to learn Curse, you need a Heart Scale because it is located in such a way that you won’t learn it immediately (Spiritomb has five moves at Level 1). Still, as far as early moves go, Spiritomb’s quite capable. Only problem is its low Speed, meaning you won’t run away from battles that easily.
If there is one thing Spiritomb is cursed with, it is its location. You need to persevere to obtain Spiritomb, but thankfully this is the only relevant difficulty. The other difficulty is its breeding, if you want to get to that. Yes, you will eventually want to share this Pokémon, but at least that’s not as bad as finding it. However, Spiritomb is not really the best in battling. Yes, Ghost/Dark is a great type combination, but its low Speed for not enough bulk is a liability in a metagame that becomes more hard-hitting and fast-paced. Fortunately, it has a place in the lower tiers. But still, it’s a real shame for Spiritomb, though...
Verdict: Almost Balanced [-1]
(This is for @Dark Blueberry;)
Along with Froslass, Gallade evolves from a specific-gendered pre-evolution. Perhaps Gardevoir looks too feminine, therefore a male counterpart is introduced. Froslass is on a similar boat: Glalie looked too masculine, so we have a female counterpart. What I didn’t like about them is how they inherited basically the entire movepool of the original evolution while keeping their unique set of moves to themselves, making the new evolutions more useful by default. At least Gallade is not too bad, because it doesn’t completely overshadow Gardevoir. Froslass, on the other hand...
But we are not talking about Froslass. Let’s talk about Gallade’s good points instead. If the stats are anything to go by, Gallade has a very good Attack. The moves it learns complement this, so there is plenty of type coverage to choose from. In fact, it has access to 15 types on the Physical side (Water and Steel excluded)! Among the essentials are the elemental punches and its STAB attacks, but don’t forget Shadow Sneak, because Gallade needs the first strike it could get. With this many options, you would undoubtedly love to have some way of boosting them. Good news: Gallade has the moves for the job. Swords Dance is generally awesome for Physical Pokémon, but if you need some assurance, there’s Bulk Up to boost Defence. Gallade also inherits a rich support movepool from its predecessors, so it’s not something to overlook. Some of the nice stuff it has include Will-O-Wisp and Taunt, which it could use to form a stall set similar to Mew and Sableye, but with actual offensive presence.
As powerful as Gallade may be, it is unfortunately hampered by its Speed and Defence. Base 80 is not exactly very fast, so there are plenty of Pokémon out there who would pick on its lower Defence, as long as Gallade hasn’t boosted it enough yet. It could even fall prey to a strong Special attack, especially if Gallade is weak to it (Shadow Ball and Hurricane comes to mind). Another thing that could trouble Gallade is a strong Physical wall, such as Cofagrigus. Even Spiritomb or Sableye are nice counters to Gallade, since they are immune to its STAB, and could threaten it in their own ways. Gallade may be strong, but it isn’t impossible to handle.
One of the difficulties associated with raising Gallade is to evolve it with the Dawn Stone. Dawn Stones are not common, so it’s advisable that you save one until you are satisfied with your male Kirlia, unless you are not planning to use Gallade as a real battler or you just want to fill PokéDex space. If you are hatching eggs or searching for a Ralts or Kirlia, keep in mind that they have to be male if you are planning on Gallade. Speaking of hatching eggs...
One of the Egg Moves that Gallade appreciates is Shadow Sneak. This move is not available elsewhere, so you need a Ghost-type for this. Fortunately, the evolution family are Amorphous Pokémon, so you could bring in Spiritomb, but it’s already been said that Spiritomb is difficult to get, so Shuppet and Duskull are alternatives. However, just a reminder: use a female version of Ralts, Kirlia or even Gardevoir as a parent, but not Gallade (because Gallade’s male-only, remember?). Gallade also learns Night Slash and Leaf Blade through Heart Scales, so if you are looking into using those moves, have some Heart Scales ready, as those moves have their uses.
Finally, there is Gallade’s ability. It has Steadfast and Justified, and Justified is the better ability of the two because Gallade’s not weak to Dark, while flinching isn’t common. However, the trouble with this is, you need to get it through Dream World’s Spooky Manor after accumulating 10,000 points, like Spiritomb! If you do get a Ralts with Telepathy, there’s another difficulty: breeding. You see, there is a 60% chance the Dream World ability will pass on, but considering the male-only evolution, that makes it a 30% chance of getting a male Ralts with Telepathy. And then, there is the issue of its slow level-up curve...
Well then, would Gallade be a balanced Pokémon? Yes, Gallade is certainly a wonderful Physical attacker, but its low Speed and Defence prevented it from becoming a top-tier threat. There is also a fair share of tribulations to overcome, but nothing that makes Gallade too overbearing to train for the advantages it has.
Verdict: Balanced [±0]
In a rare case of type change, Magnemite and Magneton gained the Steel-typing. This is quite beneficial because it gives them a lot of resistances. Later on, we are introduced to magnetic caves that allow Magneton to evolve into Magnezone by levelling it up there. Magnezone is perhaps a more creative evolution compared to Magneton, because it turns into a UFO that can’t really fly. Magnezone gained quite some recognition in competitive battling, and that popularity doesn’t seem to be fading away quite soon.
Magneton gained the ability Magnet Pull in the transition to Generation 3. This is more beneficial on Magneton than Nosepass, simply because Nosepass is weak to Steel attacks. After evolving, Magnezone has more resilience, in addition to becoming stronger. Due to Magnezone’s resistances, it could reliably trap several Steel-types that attempt to use a not-very-effective move and defeat them. Skarmory is a prime example. It cannot do much, while Magnezone will zap it in return. Some other notable Steel-types Magnezone traps include Ferrothorn, Forretress and Scizor, which it defeats by using Hidden Power Fire.
Magnezone could even attempt to boost its Special Attack by using Charge Beam, or just go offensive with Choice Specs or Choice Scarf, or play safe under a Substitute. Another neat trick that Magnezone could do is to set up Reflect and Light Screen. With its resistances, there are numerous opportunities to do that. Magnezone’s ability to clear Steel-types is one reason it is found in a team that specialises in offensive Dragon-types, since that’s the only type that prevents a Dragon sweep.
Unfortunately, Magnezone is double weak to Ground. If you are not using Magnet Rise or Air Balloon, Magnezone will take massive damage from it. Other times, it has to contend with its Fire and Fighting weaknesses, both common moves found in the metagame. Since all three attacks are usually coverage moves, this could prove to be problematic for Magnezone. It doesn’t help that Magnezone is slow, because this makes it prone to being taken care of first. Magnezone also doesn’t have much in the way of coverage. Basically, it only gets Electric and Steel Special attacks, in addition to Hidden Power. Therefore, its coverage is easily resisted by certain key types, such as Electric- and Water/Ground-types, or a resilient Special wall like Blissey(since Explosion lost power).
Now we get to the part where we talk about Magnezone’s tribulations. Searching for a Magnemite is easy in some places, but harder in some. Magneton, on the other hand, is rarer (it’s not called Rarecoil in Japan for nothing). However, Magnezone requires evolving Magneton to get. Actually, there are some Magnezone near P2 Laboratory, but it is easier to evolve Magneton anyway. In order to evolve Magneton in such a fashion, you need to be in Mt. Coronet or Chargestone Cave, and level it up. Magnezone can’t learn Tri Attack, so if you want that move, now’s your chance to learn it. If not, then there’s no harm in evolving Magneton, who evolve from Magnemite at Level 30.
In terms of moves, Magnemite does have a rough start. It doesn’t learn anything particularly strong for a long time, in which its best move for a long time is Thundershock, until it gets Mirror Shot around Level 25. This is better than the past, because the next best move it learned was around the 30’s, which is either Discharge (DPP at Level 38) or Electro Ball (BW at Level 32). One could say that Magnemite’s true potential is locked for a long time, unless you decided to teach it a TM or Move Tutor to enhance its moveset. Once you got a good Special Electric attack and a Special Steel attack (and possibly either Signal Beam or Hidden Power), things are good at that point.
Magnet Pull is the big reason Magnezone is useful, but Magnezone also has Sturdy as its alternate ability. Because of this, you could do some sampling with the Magnemite or Magneton you are catching by scouting its ability. Trace is far more reliable for this, although one could use a Steel-type if Magnemite or Magneton isn’t threatening your Steel-type. Magnezone, being genderless, cannot acquire Egg Moves. This could be good because that’s one less worry. But then, this means you can’t pass on its Analytic ability to a low-levelled Magnemite, which is a drawback with being genderless.
Now for the big question: is Magnezone balanced? The role in which Magnezone fills is limited, but it does it really well given its relatively small selection of moves. Its tribulation is really only limited to its weak offence early on (which is rectified with the right TMs), while the other two (evolution and ability) are not much of a hassle. Magneton is rarer and more difficult to catch, but it comes with generally better moves than Magnemite. Basically, I think Magnezone is a balanced Pokémon.
Verdict: Balanced [±0]
(This is for @Infinity Mk-II;)
Yes, that’s right. For the first time, I am going to cover a sixth entry. Before that, when I covered a sixth Pokémon, it’s usually one of two Pokémon under one entry, such as Whimsicott and Lilligant. For my “first” sixth entry, Heatran will be covered, because it’s been some time since I covered a legendary Pokémon.
Heatran is unique among legendaries, because it has gender (both male and female), something legendary Pokémon isn’t known to have. But those quirks are not why we are discussing Heatran today. Heatran is one of the best Fire-types out there, something not many players anticipated back in the day because of its drawbacks. Because of this, I will discuss its drawbacks first.
Heatran’s main drawback is its Ground weakness. Because of the weakness, you shouldn’t bring it into something that obviously threatens an Earthquake. Not only is it weak to Ground, but it is also weak to Water and Fighting, both common types in the metagame. If it is raining, this is worse, because Heatran’s Fire attacks are weakened, while the Water attacks it fears are strengthened. In addition to this, Heatran’s on the slow side, making it prone to being attacked first by numerous faster threats such as Garchomp and Keldeo. Special walls are decent at stopping Heatran too, considering how they are not that harmed by Heatran’s Special attacks and could cripple it with paralysis. Even then, Heatran’s still a great Pokémon, but why?
Well, Heatran’s type combination is the main contributing factor. Fire/Steel contains a lot of resistances, in addition to Flash Fire’s Fire immunity. As a Steel-type, the Fire immunity differentiates it from the others. As a Fire-type, being neutral to Rock is considered a great thing. Together, they make Heatran immune to Burn and Poison. Heatran is also blessed with great defences, which complements its resistances well. This allows Heatran to perform a Special Defensive set, taking advantage of burns to become resilient on both defensive sides while stalling the opponent. Toxic is also another good way to stall for health drains, especially on targets that are immune to burns. Heatran is also a great user of Stealth Rock, because its defensiveness and threat factor gives it time to set them up.
Being defensive isn’t the only thing going for Heatran, as its base Special Attack of 130 is quite high. Not only does Heatran get Fire-type attacks, it is also blessed with Earth Power, SolarBeam and Magma Storm. The last of these moves is great for trapping and defeating what it traps, assuming Heatran is prepared. It could also use a Choice item to improve its offensive capabilities, or it could just use an Air Balloon to use its temporary Ground immunity to its advantage, such as against opposing Heatran. Its Attack isn’t too bad, certainly enough for Explosion’s power, but because it doesn’t halve the opponent’s Defence this time, it’s not as useful.
Heatran may be great, but there are some difficulties when training one. As a legendary Pokémon, Heatran isn’t easy to obtain. In Black 2 and White 2, you could only find Heatran in Reversal Mountain or in Diamond, Pearl and Platinum, Stark Mountain. Both places have only one of a kind. The former requires you to acquire a Magma Stone beforehand, something you don’t need to do in Stark Mountain (to compensate this, you need to perform a mission first). When you encounter Heatran, get ready, because in addition to being one-of-a-kind, it is very difficult to catch. Since you are doing this in a cave, Dusk Balls are useful for the task. In addition to this, Heatran’s inability to produce offspring meant that it is tricky to get one with good stats, because the one you obtain is the one you are stuck with, so if you have, say, an Adamant Heatran or a Hidden Power Fire one, you could only soft-reset or start over.
After catching it, you are not done yet! Heatran’s level-up curve is slow like the usual legendary Pokémon, so you need some dedicated grinding to get Heatran to shape. There is a move that Heatran learns exclusively by level: Magma Storm (96!). Well, you could learn Earth Power by level-up too, and it is encouraged to do so compared to using a move tutor, because it is cheaper to level-up than to spend your shards, which you could use for something that really needs them. Stealth Rock is another thing that Heatran learns through Move Tutor, and that’s a relatively expensive move too.
Explaining legendary Pokémon could get repetitive because they share some common tribulations, so I was not intent in covering them very often. Still, I don’t mind covering an entry exclusively focusing on legendaries. Anyway, the question now is: is Heatran balanced? As a legendary Pokémon, Heatran delivers the promise of doing great things in exchange for the difficulty to obtain one with a satisfying stat spread or nature. The versatility of Heatran meant that you need all the luck you can get for your chosen set. So yes, I think Heatran is balanced.
Verdict: Balanced [±0]
Right, mission accomplished. I was thinking: perhaps there will be a time when I will stop doing Tribulations of Great Pokémon, so I have already decided on the number of articles I will cover. For now, please vote for up to five Pokémon in Generation 5 that are great in competitive battling, plus a legendary Pokémon. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I have writing it.
Thanks for reading.
Chosen Pokémon that were done (meaning, they can't be picked):
- Victini, Excadrill, Reuniclus, Ferrothorn, Hydreigon
- Whimsicott, Lilligant, Darmanitan, Haxorus, Mienshao & Volcarona
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