Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ross.dec / The Truth deck analysis

Hey all to The Deck Out followers!

Since CC season has started, I have lots of decks I have to analyze. The metagame is getting more versatile with each set, which I'm very glad to see. The format seems healthier than in a long time and without the first turn rule this would be a great season for Pokémon TCG. I'm also surprised how many trainer lock decks have been doing great. I have a few trainer lock decks left for analysis (including Vanilluxe and Chandelure) but I will start these analyses from the oldest trainer lock deck I haven't yet analyzed.

This update is about the deck called Ross.dec. You may know it as The Truth as well. Before NV was released, I was pretty sure that it was going to die but for some it has done well in Cities as well so I thought to myself that I have to analyze it. I was never a big fan of this deck and still aren’t because of its auto-loss factor to OHKOers and that's why I was pretty sure it would die when it loses its surprise factor. However, I was wrong so here I am with a Ross.dec analysis.

First, let's take a look at the skeleton list of this deck:

3x Solosis
2x Duosion
2x Reuniclus(BW)
3x Oddish
1x Gloom
2x Vileplume
2-3x Reshiram/Zekrom/Kyurem
4-6x Main Attacker Tank
1x Cleffa
2x Pichu


4x Sage's Training
4x Pokémon Collector
4x Twins
4x Rare Candy
4x Pokémon Communication
2x Tropical Beach


4x Rainbow Energy
4x Double Colorless Energy


The main strategy of this deck is to set-up the main attacker so your opponent can't OHKO it. After that you just move and heal the damage your opponent does and don't give them a chance at all. In order to achieve this goal you need to set-up many things. You need Vileplume, Reuniclus and your main attacker before you start attacking.

If you just look at the list of this deck, your first thought is ”how can that work?”. This deck is extremely slow and it needs a lot of time for set-upping. Here is the order you need to set-up the thing in order to do it as fast and as efficiently as possible.

1) Set-up Vileplume

You need to set-up Vileplume as fast as possible because it will slow down your opponent's game as well. That gives you more time to set-up and that way your opponent can neither disrupt your set-up with Catchers.

2) Set-up Reuniclus

Reuniclus is vital in order to achieve the goal of this game. You just need it up before you just start attacking. About its purpose later on.

3) Set-up your main attacker and start attacking

This is the last step when you have set-upped Reuniclus and Vileplume. Remember to use the attacker you feel like is the best in that certain match-up.

When you've set-upped, it's time to play the game. Whenever your opponent attacks your main attacker, you just move the damage on other Pokémons with Reuniclus's ability. Usually you want to move the counters to your Legendary Digimons but it emergency situations you can move them to Reuniclus or to Vileplume. You can also kill your Babies because the main point is not to let your main attacker die. Wherever you move your damage counters, you must not let your main attacker have ANY damage on them once your turn ends – just keep that in mind and you'll be fine.

That's for the main strategy, this deck will have a lots of optional strategies depending on which attackers you choose to play in this deck so there is more coming up. Now for the card explanations.

Card Explanations

I'll first explain the most obvious and important cards and I'll later get on with all the teches and main attacker options.

Reuniclus works as the damage manipulator. You need it move the damage counters from your main attacker to other of your Pokémon. It's vital in this deck. The reason for 3-2-2 line is that because of trainer lock you need a thick line of Reuniclus. If you're running only 1 Duosion and your only Duosion is prized and you have already set-upped Vileplume, there is no way you can set-up Reuniclus. To avoid these situations, it's prudent to run 2 Duosions.


Everyone should be familiar with Vileplume at this time. The reason you need Vileplume in this deck is to because it stops Catchers and PlusPowers. That way most decks are unable to OHKO your main attacker. They can't either kill your Reuniclus because they can't use Catchers. Most decks hit 120 without PlusPower so all you need from your main attacker is not to get OHKOed by 120 damage. There would be no point for this deck without Vileplume. In order to get the Vileplume into play, be sure to play 2 Oddishes at the same time because your opponent will kill your lone Oddish if you happen to play only 1 Oddish at a time.


These notorious guys are known to everyone but here they have a different mission than in other decks. In this deck, these just sit on the bench and have damage on them. Once in a while they get KOed by the damage on them and sometimes the damage is healed from them.

The great thing about these Pokémon in this deck is that they can work as attackers as well. These all Pokémons have Outrage, which obviously comboes with Reuniclus damage-swap ability very well. The deck runs DCEs so you can get them hitting easily for 140 damage. It's not rare to see Ross.dec using these legendary Digimons as attackers in a game and why would it be – these things are broken no matter which angle you look at them from.

Cleffa and Pichu

Cleffa is doing here the job it does in most of the decks – refresh your bad or small hand. A perfect starter for this kind of deck.

In this deck Pichu is more important than in any other decks. The deck runs 2 different stage2 Pokémons, which are very difficult to get into play if you're fully reliant on Collectors. However, Pichu enables you to use supporters like Twins or Sage's instead of Collector in T1/T2, which makes your set-up faster. You usually want to grab at least 2 Oddishes with Pichu any time you use Playground because your opponent will immediately target your Oddishes with Catchers when they hit the table.

Trainer engine

This trainer engine is something, you will see in every Vileplume-based deck. It's just the best trainer engine to run in Vileplume decks. No matter, which Vileplume deck you're building.

You need Collectors because it's the best T1 Supporter. You need Sage's because you need the right cards from your deck at the right time. You also need Twins because your deck is slow to set-up. You're always behind prizes. Twins is especially good in this deck because you can even manipulate the damage and that way your opponent's prize count as well. You need Rare Candy for Vileplume and Communications for the very early set-up. Tropical Beach is the card that helps you after N or other disruption cards. It's also a very good card when it comes to increasing your hand size.


There is a few energy that you need to run in this deck. First, you MUST play 4 Rainbow energy. You can use them for any attacker and you can manipulate damage with it. Damage that comes from Rainbow Energy is very important as I'll explane later.

Also, playing DCE is very imporant. Many main attacker options require DCE and you can also use it to retreat Legendary Digimons if you happen to open with them. You can also use them as a retreat energy if your opponent tries to disrupt you with Bellsprout and drags Vileplume or Reuniclus into the active position.

The way you play rest of the energy is up to the main attackers you run. And which main attacker can you run? That's what I'll talk about next.

Main attackers and tanks

These all attackers are very different but they have one thing in common – they can't be OHKOed by 120 damage and therefore can't be OHKOed by Zekrom or Reshiram.
Donphan Prime

This was the main attacker in the original list of this deck and it was a good choice because it 2HKOed everything in that format. In that format Magnezone Prime was the only thing that could OHKO it and even Magnezone needed tons of resources to kill Donphan. The format didn't have any Water Pokémons so Donphan didn't have a weakness either in that format. However, in the current format Donphan isn't anymore the best bet. Kyurem can OHKO Donphan easily with an Outrage and that what makes Donphan unplayable if Kyurem is common in your metagame.

If Kyurem isn't played in your metagame, Donphan is a very good option. The thing that makes Donphan better than any other attacker is that it hits your own bench when necessary. Own Bench damage may seem negative but it often is useful in this deck. You can manipulate all the damage you get from the Earthquake and can that way activate your Twins or inactivate your opponent's Black Belt.

Suicune&Entei LEGEND

This was the other attacker in the original list. It needs only Rainbow Energy and Double Colorless Energy to OHKO every attacker in ReshiPlosion, which is still a very popular deck. It also OHKOs Cobalion and other metal Pokémons as well. It has whopping 160 HP, so it's also a great tank to move damage counters to. 

If you happen to run into a Ross mirror or against Gothitelle, SuiTei is very effecitve in those as well. The-not-so-used attack of SuiTei snipes for 100 to the bench. That way you're able to kill your opponent's Reuniclus, which is very important in those two match-ups. 

I have seen SuiTei ran with 1-1, 2-1 and 2-2 lines so try those all out and see what fits your style and metagame the best.


This guy became very popular soon after it was released. The reason for this was because it was the only ”almost-good” Water type Pokémon. At the same time it also had 130 HP. Beartic also comboes greatly with Vileplume because Sheer Cold stops your opponent from attacking. Sheer Cold combined with trainer lock slows your opponent down and therefore decreases the amount of damage your opponent does. Beartic has a weakness to metal, which meant that it didn't have a weakness of all but thanks to Cobalion, Metal became played once again.


Terrakion is a basic that has 130 HP. So it's out of the OHKO range of Zekrom and Reshiram like all the main attacker options of Ross.decs. It also has a rare weakness to Grass type, which isn't that played. Terrakion has lately gained a lot of popularity in the Ross.decs all around the World. Terrakion hits 90 for 3 energy so it 2HKOs everything. The best thing about Terrakion is its type – Fighting – which makes it good against Lighting Pokémon like Zekrom.


This is in my opinion one of the most interesting teches in this deck. It's good against many Pokémon and iron Breaker does the same as Beartic's Sheer Cold BUT Cobalion has a Fire Weakness AND 120 HP. Special Metal Energy takes Cobalion easily out of the OHKO range of 120 damage attacks but Cobalion is still easily OHKOed by Reshiram because of its weakness. It means that Cobalion can be played only in a metagame that isn't full of ReshiPlosion. If you want to run Cobalion in a metagame that has ReshiPlosion, you need to play SuiTei and Cobalion at the same. SuiTei is by far the best ReshiPlosion counter for this deck.


Kyurem has gained a lot of popularity as a main attacker for this deck just like Terrakion and Cobalion have. The great thing about Kyurem is that it's one of the Legendary Digimons that this deck can run even though it wouldn't want to attack with it. Kyurem has once again 130 HP and it has the same weakness as Beartic. One can say that Beartic has been replaced by Kyurem in lot of Ross.decs Kyurem's weakness to Metal is bad if your metagame is swarming with Cobalions and that's why you can't run only Kyurems as your main attackers.

Steelix Prime

Steelix Prime was a tank before Reshiram and Zekrom was released. It has 140 HP and is a Metal type Pokémon. It's both a pro and a con. You can make it even a bigger tank with Special Metals but due to its Steelix weakness, Reshiram can OHKO it easily. Steelix has been making a comeback in the past few weeks because Chandelure has gained popularity. Steelix is a perfect counter against attacking Chandelure and Vanilluxe. First, it's body prevents all the special conditions done to it. Second, it has a Psychic Resistance. Third, it discards Tropical Beaches, which will hurt Chandelure more than you in the mid and late game.
Machamp Prime

This is one of the rarest teches in Ross.dec but it's one of my favorites. I've always loved Machamp Prime but it's just so difficult to set-up in this format that it makes its unplayable. It has 150HP and weakness to Psychic so nothing really played OHKOs it (excluding Magnezone). The problem with it is that it's a stage2 Pokémon. Setting up 3 different stage2 Pokémon and winning the game is like Mission Impossible – only Tom Cruise can pretty much do it. Reuniclus combos very well with Machamp because thanks to its ability you can get Machamp hitting for 150 damage very easily. If you feel like playing with Ross.dec and want some fun and real challenge at the same time, Machamp Prime is a great card for you.

Deeper into the strategy

Everything about this deck is as theorymonical as it can get. Same goes with the ”deeper” strategy. After you've managed to set-up, all you need to do is to avoid getting OHKOed. Against some decks it's difficult against other it's easy. It's usually easy if you aren't facing a Magnezone deck and play carefully. Here are some situations and strategies for Ross.dec and against Ross.dec.

1) Forgetting to move damage from the main attacker

Moving damages from your attacker is the one most important thing you must remember while playing this deck. Ross Cawthon forgot to move damage in the Worlds – so can you.

2) Black Belt and damage manipulation

Black Belt may be played if they are afraid of Ross.dec. That way ReshiPlosion can get rid even off SuiTei LEGEND. Black Belt can give you real problems if you aren't prepared for it and that's why a sharp player should always be prepared for it. This happens by not being in the leading position of the game until the game is 1-1. You must KO your own Pokémon with Reuniclus' ability so you aren't leading in any point of the game. If you take the lead and they can surprise you with a Black Belt, you can easily lose the game. This is something most people forget to do often or don't think about at all because Black Belt isn't that played.

3) Prizes

This deck is full of 1-1 and 2-2 lines. You don't even run your attackers more than max 2 copies of each. This deck can easily lose to prizes. Just prize 2 Vileplumes and you can easily GG. You can also have a combination of things in prizes that can cost you the game. This is one of the most prize-orientated decks that I've ever seen.

4) Outrage

Outrage is something you must be afraid of and something you can abuse. First, why you have to be afraid of Outrage? The reason is simple. You're using attackers that can take 130-140 damage. ReshiPlosion is one of the decks that can manipulate the damage counters so well that it can easily adjust Outrage to 130-140 range. When attacking, you must be careful how much your opponent can hit with Outrage while the game goes on. When playing Kyurem as a main attacker you must be extra-careful.

Thankfully you can use Outrage yourself as well. Reuniclus can move the damages to your Legendary Pokémons so that you can use them in the late game as attackers. This can come in handy when you're surprised by a Black Belt or are playing a difficult match-up.

5) Openers

This deck has lots of them. Unfortunately this deck also has lots of bad openers. That's why you may time to time open with a lone Baby or with a lone Solosis. Opening with Oddish can also lead to an easy donk. Sometimes there are nothing you can do because your deck is full of 30 HP openers but it's something you can't really affect.

6) Horrible starts

This time I'm not speaking of a lone Baby starts. I'm talking about opening hands where you have 7 different Pokémon and nothing else. This deck is so full of everything that it isn't as consistent as most decks in the format. You can add supporters and drawing cards but even if you do you can't really make the deck any more consistent than it already is. Sometimes you just draw rubbish all-game-long.

Getting rid of the damage counters

Ok, so we have come this far. We have set-upped the field and started attacking. Reuniclus is moving the damage counters to other Pokémons but so what? Where do all these damage counters disappear? There are 3 ways to get rid of the damage counters in a prudent manner.

1) Blissey Prime

You play 1-1 or 2-2 line of this. When you get it into play, it's something incredible. Blissey heals all of your Pokémons once you evolve it. That way you can heal over 400 damage with only one power. That's very cost-efficient. However, playing Blissey is also difficult. Adding few Pokémon more into the deck makes the deck even more inconsistent than it already is. Also, if your list and playing style is too Blissey reliant, you can lose to prizes once again. Blissey was in the original list and it's very good in this deck but I wouldn't rely on it too much.

2) Seeker

Move 120 damage on Zekrom, use Seeker, play Zekrom and move a new 120 damage on Zekrom once again. Seeker helps healing your tanks and when playing Blissey it also combos with it. With Seeker you can also reuse Blissey. That way you don't have to worry about any damage during the whole game. Seeker is a very good card in this deck and I would suggest running 1-2 depending on your build.

3) KOing your own Pokémons

I already talked about this when I talked about Black Belt. This is a very important strategy when you're playing a difficult game where the damage output of your opponent is big. Sometimes you need to KO your own Pokémons with Reuniclus and sometimes you MUST KO your own Pokémons (because you want to avoid getting OHKOed by Black Belt or try to avoid not to activate your opponent's Twins).


Ross.dec isn't a near perfect deck even if it is able to fully set-up. It's no surprise that Magnezone/Eelektrik is the most Cities won deck because it's able to OHKO everything and works as a normal Zekrom/Eelektrik deck as well. Ross.dec loses automatically to a good Magnezone/Eelektrik player if Ross isn't running thick Donphan line which will run them out of resources.

The other problematic match-up is Chandelure because if you evolve Reuniclus with Candy they will just kill it with Jirachi. They will also drag your Reuniclus to the front all the time with Lampent if they are wise enough and that will cause you some serious problems. If you want to have an ok match-up against Chandelure, I suggest trying Dodrio in Ross.dec. You can get a free retreat to the most important Pokémons and if they drag your Dodrio active, you can pretty much retreat with hand energy with it. However, you must be careful with your resource management even then.


I could make a list of my own Ross.dec but there wouldn't really be a point in that. If you want to do well with a Ross.dec you must think carefully what you're up against in your own metagame and choose your attackers wisely. I think the best you can do is to look at the skeleton and put in the things you want to play.

If I were to make a list of the Ross.dec, I would play at least 1-1 Blissey, 1 Seeker and use SuiTei and Steelix as the attackers. Steelix is in my opinion a fun card to play in here and it has a good Vanilluxe/Chandelure match-up as well.

I hope you enjoyed reading this; I was surprised how enjoyable it was to write about this deck and how fun it was to play after all. If you've any questions or comments regarding the deck or the article, feel free to ask!
Thanks for reading.


  1. In the section explianing energy you mentioned Bellosom being able to drag up Reuniclus/Vileplume... it should Be Bellsprout

    Great article otherwise

  2. Just saying Kyurem is a great attacker.

  3. I made a Ross deck using Landorus and Machamp, with 1 Eviolite (For Landorus so it didn't get 0HKO'd by Reshi). It ran 2 seekers so you can seeker up your own vileplume and attach eviolite, then rare candy back in (or just evolve from gloom). I also found it enjoyed a tech of Bellossom just to reduce the potential for overdamage.

    It was a super fun deck though, and with Landorus and pichu, any start can be fine. First turn lone oddish? Collector for a pichu and a couple basics. Retreat oddish with a F energy, playground for a landorus. T2, Abundant Harvest and you haven't slowed your energy attach at all. In the mirror or other matches, you can get a T3 Machamp attacking even off a bad start.

    That said, I've lost my love for Ross.dec as NV really does hurt it's capability. Chandelure snipes can hit 60 in a turn, and keeping your whole bench 70 away from KO is a difficult task. Kyurem also loads way more damage than Ross.dec is used to, which is why Bellossom techs have started to be used.

    Still a fun deck for sure. I love the Machamp variant just because Bellsprout can't do anything to it. Fighting Tag > Vanilluxe and Bellsprout, but Chandelure will still 1HKO :|

  4. That and Magnezone can have fun trying to beat Landorus/Machamp. 1HKO's aren't easy if you just get 1HKO'd back.

  5. Great Article, I'm currently running the Truth with Beartic and never really realised how good Steelix is against Chandelure.

    When is the Beartic/Cinccino/Rocky Helmet article coming out? I'm really interested to see how this deck works well in Japan

  6. Anonymous1: Thanks for the fix, edited it!

    Anonymous2: Kyurem really is, and that's why I mentioned it in the main attacker section.

    Crawdaunt: Indeed, Ross.dec is something that can be varied so much that it has almost unlimited possibilites. I like your personal build style of the deck!

    Jelze: Thanks a lot! The article of Beartic/Cinccino/Rocky Helmet will be released 2nd of January.

    Thanks for comments guys and keep em' coming!

  7. I played this deck with 2-2 Steelix in it, played 4-2 on swiss and eventually lost to Esa at Top-8 match. Steelix easily steamrolls over any Zekrom variants that doesn't run a Magnezone. Steelix also laughs on any Vanilluxe variant (tech V-Create Victini may hurt you though).

    I'm just letting people know that Steelix is a really sweet thing in a Ross deck. With a Special Metal Energy attached to it, it can even survive from a early game Rocky Helmet or a Rough Skin. It isn't that slow Pokémon since it can attach Energies from Discard Pile to itself. Only thing I regret is that I really didn't considered about running a Shaymin.

    Steelix is quite good Pokémon against a Chandelure but it's still a bad matchup for a Ross with a Steelix, thanks to Drag Off and Jirachi. Also, if you don't get Vileplume out, prepeare for Switch and 90 damage on benched Reuniclus/Onix/Chansey/etc in one turn. Getting Reuniclus back to game mid-game is almost impossible thing to do since 2 Chandelures can easily KO both remaining 2 Solosis on bench via Abilities. Without being able to move damage counters around, Steelix will most likely be KO'd in 3 turns. Evolving Onix also takes a turn so a Steelix really have a few turns time to attack. There's not much Steelix could do against a Chandelure unless you get some fast Steelixes out.

    IMO, MatchUp against a Chandelure is really bad for Ross. This deck would need multiple prize head start against a Chandelure in order to have decent chances to win it. Prized Jirachi and fast T2-T3 Reuniclus would also give some hope of winning.

    Hopefully someone finds this post helpful.

    PS: Thanks Esa for posting this article. Ross/The Truth is fun deck to play but playing it has it own risks on it.

  8. I've never really though much of Steelix, but he does do a pretty great job in a ross deck. My one question to Tonu would be, how damage-overloaded does the deck get? I know Machamp/Landorus had a tough time taking the damage (that extra 20 on the dragons > Landorus really helps). I never run Blissey lines as they just make the deck inconsistent :| I prefer a couple seekers over a chansey/blissey. At least they'll never be dead weight if the other is prized. But yeah, my big problem with steelix is that you would only pot-shot them to start, meaning you're taking harsh damage to start out as you do 30 to them. Then after you only hit for 100, which means Zekrom/Kyurem outrage back for 120 damage. The Truth can move damage around, sure, but it can't take it forever.

    One other fun truth deck I made was a TTar prime truth. It could hit for self-damage on first turn of attacking, and then 60-70 after 2 turns of energy, and finish it off with 120-140 after 3 turns of energy attach. It also has a decent matchup against Chandelure thanks to psychic resistance and spread damage to take out the Dodrio/Vileplume and weaken Chandelures so you can one-shot them with power claw regardless.

    That said, it was much slower than Machamp variants are, and hitting for 120 was dangerous sometimes for fear of deck out. I ran a couple Flower Shop Ladies I think. But overall it was a pretty solid deck. Free retreat on Pupitar was also a nice touch :) It meant Larvitar starts could be retreated and evolved at an appropriate time. It also meant you could bring out Pupitar in-between turns after getting knocked out, and find out your draw before you decided on turn order.

    Definitely an option I'd look into for a Ross.dec looking for a Chandelure counter. it's biggest problem in this metagame is probably Cobalion and any big fighting types. But as much as I like to run fighting types, they're not common :P Definitely worth a try!

  9. The Tyranitar in a Ross is something I once think about. It's true that you hit for weakness and Resist Chandelure. Tyranitar is a Stage-2 Pokémon so it's quite hard to get in play, especially in a Trainer Lock. Without getting a Reuniclus in play, Resist and massive amount of HP won't help you enough most of the times. Spreading is nice, but Chandelure may play Blissey that heals those damage counters. Burn+Confuse is also a nasty without a Reuniclus in play.

    About a Steelix, I gave a 4 prize lead to one Zekrom deck at the tournament. The deck runs usually a 3-4 Zekroms and some Tornadus/Thundurus. The Zekroms usually hit for Outrage on first turn which does only 20 damage. Then I hit for 30 damage since I don't want to receive extra 70 damage. Then they attack for Bolt Strike. Next turn Zekrom is KO'd. So one Zekrom will hurt you 140- damage (Special Metal or two helps a lot). Those Clouds can hit twice for 80 damage which is total 160 damage before getting KO'd. Spreading a ~600 damage to the bench isn't easy task to do. But a few Seeker and 130 HP dragons in play helps a lot. I managed to keep the damage away and Blisey helped quite much in this match up. I probably could have won this game without a Blissey even I had to give 4 prize lead.

    It's true that either Chancey or Blissey can be in prizes. You can usually get about 2-3 prizes until you need/want the Blissey line out. So if either of those two gets on the prizes, there's decent chances to draw it before you need it. Blissey line is quite helpful against a Kyurem decks, too. I have found a Blissey a really helpful partner. I'm not saying that it's needed but it really helps in certain situations.

    TL;DR: Steelix is pretty good. Blissey is worth of two spots. Tyranitar sounds fun but is Stage 2.

    This is just my point of view.

    PS: I got some room for my tech by removing all of the Collectors, LOL. Pichu and Communication fetched every Pokémon I needed in every game. ;D

  10. Great discussion guys! Maybe I should open a forum to my blog or something, lol :D

  11. I have been playing this deck with Machamp as tank. It is a super difficult deck but has amazing synergy with terrakion. Since zpst / Magnezone Elektrik are very popular decks, retaliate is a superior early game tank. Fighting tag the couple energies on terrakion and you now have a fully charged Machamp. running 1 Kyurem 1 Terrakion and 1 Reshiram covers most weaknesses of top decks and also act as meat shields while you set your machamp up. All in all Machamp works wonders in tandem with terrakion and from my experience shuts down zpst and gives you a favorable matchup against magnezone elektrik.

  12. SidewaysDaze: I'm very glad to hear that someone is really running a Fighting heavy Ross.dec out there. I guess it really works in a Lighting heavy metagame. Have you every thought about Landorus even though it has only 110 HP since I guess it still stands very well against Lighting decks?

  13. Could be, energy lines killed me today in my city championship. Played a couple magnezone and couldnt hit any energy to start. I will attempt landorus tomorrow

    1. I see, let me know how you did if you added the Landorus!

  14. I played this deck with regigigas ex and it's really good!It also works well because of the 4 dce that I run.And if regigigas gets knocked out there is always terrakion and shaymin ex to get u back in the game!


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