2021 PDL D2 Jan G1 (188998)

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2021 PDL D2 Jan G1 (188998)

Postby Pete the Great » 26 Feb 2021, 07:59

I drew Germany for this game, in now my second year playing in this tournament. Initial negotiations seemed to go well with all the typical DMZs. I took a hard stance with Russia concerning Galicia and Austria and dangled the Swedish carrot if they played nice. I played the role of the spider with its many strands and even suggested AI try a Blue Water Lepanto, which they initially did with some modifications. I felt if the corners ET could be kept weak, I would stand a chance of thriving in the middle.

Spring 1901 took an interesting turn with France moving into Burgundy, Russia to Galicia and England to Channel , so much for DMZs. This was an intense negotiation period. I was mistrustful of an EG alliance and felt I would eventually be at a disadvantage. France immediately apologized about Burgundy when he realized I was not his enemy (I had forewarned him of England). We came to an agreement of Bur to Bel, and an eventual transfer to me once English centers started to fall. England wanted to convoy his army to Bel, which I did not want. However, I broke my first of several agreements with England at Bel. Russia and Austria was a whole different ball game. I spent more time on their ceasefire then I did corresponding with anyone else. It finally resolved with Gal to Rum in exchange for Swe in 1902. The peace would not last between them, but I tried. I rolled the dice on France and built 2 fleets at the end of 01.

The game settled into FG versus E and RAI versus T until fall 1903. Suddenly the pressure cooker in the east blew up with Austria going after Russia while Italy stabbed Austria. The AI fall out took me by surprise (I thought I had a CT alliance as a back up plan). Luckily the campaign versus England was going well and I decided to march an army to Bohemia in Spring 04. This turned into a lucrative turning point. Both Italy and Austria offered me Vienna as neither wanted the other to have it. Bel transferred to me and Edi fell to my navy. +3 in 1904.

3 new armies appeared, England was in exile in Swe (somehow he snuck his fleet in when Russia wasn't looking, so Russia took Norway with an army). I offered England sanctuary so long as he didn't stir up trouble and supported him there for the remainder of the game as he was a nice buffer. I marched south. At this stage France and I agreed we would need a third for a 3-way. Turkey hanging by a thread or Russia who we could work with, though there were speedbumps. The plan was to take out Austria and Italy and then float the 3-way.

Things went well up to Spring 06, Tri was mine and Ven was about to fall, when a plan was broached to sieze both Bud and Rum in cooperation with Russia, though Ven would need to back burner. I changed up my orders to make this happen as it promised to shorten the war. When the adjudication came out I was livid. Bounce, bounce, bounce went the armies. The one critical support into Bud from Russia did not appear, though he got Rum. This was the straw that broke the camels back. I patched things up with Austria (3 armies) and Turkey (2 fleets) and helped them organize their southern resistance. Both had grest anamosity toward both R and I. I spun my armies eastward into Russia and mobilized my fleets toward Norway. The noose closed quickly on Russia and Italy was in a death spiral exiled to Turkey when the 2 way FG was proposed by Russia and passed.

A great game was played by all. My special thanks to PippiLangKous who was a great allie playing as France.
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Re: 2021 PDL D2 Jan G1 (188998)

Postby Pops2112 » 26 Feb 2021, 11:42

Interesting AAR, @Pete. Thank you.

Looking at the final map as an outsider, I am slightly surprised that Russia proposed, and Austria agreed, the two-way draw. It would be interesting to have their perspective on why it wasn't worth a Survival Alliance, with a possible King-maker strategy available (threatening to crown Germany) to get France on board for a later four-way draw result. Did the two-way draw, prior to Fall 1907 Orders where the 'winners' only had 20 SCs between them, not feel a bit like a game only half-played?
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Re: 2021 PDL D2 Jan G1 (188998)

Postby Pete the Great » 26 Feb 2021, 12:55

In answer to your questions:
* Part of the reason for proposal and acceptance dealt with tournament scoring. At 4 points per SC, Russia was in extreme danger of losing 2 or more centers on the next turn. Turkey's loses would have been further out.
* Personalities played a part. AT were all for seeing RI lose due to things that happened during the game. So I believe they were in a King Maker mind set.
* Both France and I were happy with the outcome. We agreed early on to try for a 2-way, and there was a lot of correspondance daily. Move wise we were entering a mop up phase, so the game felt complete to me.
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Re: 2021 PDL D2 Jan G1 (188998)

Postby PoeticDiplomat » 26 Feb 2021, 13:49

A Russian Tragedy:

I realise that this game is going to generate criticism for the way that I played. And these criticisms will be wholly warranted. Afterall, this has been quite possibly one of my worst games of Diplomacy. This after-action report is therefore an attempt to explain my actions to everyone who has an interest. Hopefully we can all learn a thing or two about how to NOT play as Russia.

Spring 1901 – I was winning until the orders finalised:

As Germany mentioned we all agreed to various DMZ’s. Mine was Galicia, Black Sea, Baltic Sea, Prussia and Silesia. Before the orders process, however, Austria has a sudden change of heart. They want me to abandon our bounce. This and the fact that I easily convinced Turkey not to move to the Black Sea made me suspect an A/T. Instinctively I moved to both the Black Sea and Galicia in order to protect my interests. I also move in a way to take Sweden (pretty standard Russian moves).

Fall 1901:

Germany acts as a peace broker between Austria and I. They allow me to move to Rumania with my army from Galicia (that suits me nicely). I was also mindful at this point that a central alliance might be in play. This paranoia was made worst by Germany bouncing me out of Sweden. To quote my favourite Game of Thrones character: “Enemies to the east, enemies to the west, enemies to the south, enemies to the north”.

Spring 1902:

Bounce in Galicia is resumed. England supports me into Sweden (sign of our alliance blooming). Germany is edgy and moves into the Baltic. Ironically this was something I planned. And I was going to have a witty remark about DMZ’s only being acknowledged on condition of a centre. ALAS! I did not believe it was in my interest to annoy Germany for the sake of my ego. I also move into Armenia to begin the assault on Turkey whilst supporting Serbia into Bulgaria. Italy (a long-term ally in this game) moves into a Lepanto. All is well….

Fall 1902:

Standard Anti-Turkey Season. The only worry was Italy in Apulia. Central Triple nerves begin to creep in as I see Italy supporting Austria in the future.

In the build phase France gets an army in Marseilles. Along with their fleet in the Gulf of Lyon I predict the Italian fall. This marks the first of my many side switches.

Spring 1903:

Normally having a weakened ally is good. I often employ this strategy as Germany. With that in mind, I don’t help Austria and I also enter support for Turkey. Turkey also used a very funny “Olive Garden” phrase which has me in stitches. They played on my humour and it probably helped them survive the game.

This was a bad move for me. Italy blasts me (which is only fair) as we lose ground. And it was also wrong of me to assume that the French were attacking Italy. Bad predictions on my part. I should have kept with the plan to take down Turkey.

I also need to clear something up. Giving England Sweden was planned. My thinking here was that it would allow England to keep their builds, thus slowing down the French. This was again – another bad move.

Fall 1903:

I help Turkey get Bulgaria and Italy get Vienna. Nothing much to say here.

Spring 1904:

Switch sides again as Italy demands to finish off Turkey (whilst we are at war with Austria). To be fair to Italy they and Germany suspect a late Jugg to be in play. Italy tries to support me into Smyrna – it fails. Austria also takes the undefendable Sevastopol from me.

Fall 1904:

Sevastopol is reclaimed forcing a retreat into Rumania. Germany sneaks into Vienna (somehow). France finally begins their assault on Italy. So once again, it is high time I switched sides. Hello again Turkey.

Spring 1905:

I switch sides again. Italy convinces me of the French solo threat, and I tell them to move into the vacant Constantinople. In addition, I support them into Smyrna.

Fall 1905:
Italy believes they couldn’t hold Constantinople (they could have) so I support them into Smyrna. This was a mistake on my part, but I wanted to have a permanent ally. I fail to bag Rumania from Austria and all is going wrong. Italy is also being carved up by both Germany and France.

There is a little glimmer of hope. France and Germany offer to deal me in on a three-way-draw. This is good for me (they offer me Sweden which has been England’s for quite some time). And it is also good for them (it ensures they have an Eastern Power to balance them). I am worried though that they won’t stick to this three-way-draw. So that is playing in the back of my mind. Still. Time to do another side switch.

Spring 1906 – The defining season:

As the Kaiser pointed out above – “Bounce, Bounce, Bounce”. I do get Rumania and, in my head, “this is fine”. After all, my agreement with Germany was that we would both have Budapest and Rumania respectively by the Fall season. The reason I do this is because Italy pressured me, saying that it was the only turn they’ll use to support me into The Black Sea. Additionally, I thought it was best I lock down Rumania first. My duty is too myself after all. I do think Germany may have been too harsh on me here. Alas. I get that the two powers could no longer trust me after this move.

Fall 1906:

Yeah. Germany moves on me. Ouch. I do try desperately to recruit Austria to stop this two-player-alliance. And Austria don’t take my offer to support them back into their home centre of Vienna.

England and I also hatch a daring plan to get me into Denmark. In the spring of 1907, they move into the Baltic Sea and I move into Sweden.

Spring 1907:

Moves with England come to fruition, but it was not enough. Austria again wouldn’t take Trieste like I presumed they would. Worst still they were trying to attack me. This allows Germany to move even closer to me. And of course, they weren’t going to turn those troops around if Austria hadn’t committed an assault this season. Austria is either committed to a three-way-draw or they are in the process of king making. Either way, I don’t want to lose all my centres to see what the outcome of that will be. Because Austria is fully committed to France and Germany in some capacity, I call for a draw.

France and Germany win. What am I doing to take my mind off this game? I’m going to have a large tub of ice cream tonight whilst watching a Cronenberg movie. My drought with Russia continues.
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Re: 2021 PDL D2 Jan G1 (188998)

Postby PippiLangKous » 26 Feb 2021, 14:17

I agree with Pete on the 'answers to the questions'.

The game started rocky for me. When I saw I was playing France, I had a silly preset in my mind of joining forces with England, having had recent success in the set-up twice. With the initial messages out, I got a vibe that the one playing Germany would be a better partner for me than England was. I made a mistake not trusting my instincts and moved to Burgundy, only to see Germany kept word and England entering the Channel.

When Germany accepted my olive branch, that mistake turned in my favor. With England trusting Germany, I could take Belgium and leave Brest open, as I trusted England would take the bait of the German support offer into Belgium. If Germany was trying to get back at me for breaking my word in spring, it would have been game over, but with Germany and England gunning for me I'd be dead in no-time anyway, so I took the gamble and ended up with 3 builds.

I'm at a bit of a risk repeating everything Germany already mentioned after this moment, as we worked rather fluently together from this point onwards.

I got scared a bit by Italy's move to Tys in Spring 02. After his move to Tunis I could focus on England again, thanks to a detailed de-escalation plan from Italy. I had no intentions in making an enemy out of Germany, so it was always clear to me that the right path forward 'post-england' would be Italy. I leaked an Austrian message offering me help against his then-ally Italy to keep Italy invested in his eastern front. Thought I had made a mistake of moving to early into the Mediterranean, but for reasons unknown to me Italy decided not to defend Tunis when he knew I was coming for him.

From that point on I think F/G became an unstoppable force. Germany and I were looking for a third to get to a three way split. Germany was in favor of Russia, I preferred Turkey, as Russia seemed to be all over the place with his decisions. However Italy and Russia almost killing off Turkey took that option off the table.

In my personal opinion Russia should have gone with the 3-way alliance, but I understand why he didn't. Speaking for my self, I was truly pursuing a three way draw, and had not plans to stab this third in the end game. I feel Germany was in it the same way.

I do believe eventually Germany and I would have managed to find a 17-17split 2-way-care-bear-draw. But there was always the risk that Germany would develop much faster than I did seeing how thinly spread the Russian northern forces were, so I was happy to accept the draw early.

Thanks Pete for the great partnership, and for your forgiving nature :) It felt like I was allied and at war with the entire map at the same time, with you referring to yourself as Austria more often than Germany, and calling me Italy, calling Italy Turkey and vice versa. One of the challenges this game was triple checking who you were referring to ;)

@PoeticD: enjoy the ice cream!
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Re: 2021 PDL D2 Jan G1 (188998)

Postby PoeticDiplomat » 26 Feb 2021, 16:42

PippiLangKous wrote:
@PoeticD: enjoy the ice cream!


The bowl just get x2 bigger knowing that you two were never going to stab me :cry:

I enjoyed reading the perspective of the Western Powers all the same. You two played the perfect game. It was the right blend of aggression and care-bare. I do think you two would have got the 17-17 split. France was keeping up their bounces. On top of that it appeared that you could swap centres once Germany ravished through Russia. As a neutral you can make the argument that the game ended prematurely. But as Russia - I SAVED MYSELF.
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Re: 2021 PDL D2 Jan G1 (188998)

Postby Oxmeister » 26 Feb 2021, 16:45

I had the same reaction as Pops2112 when I first saw the board and result, but the explanation on here put it in context.

There's nothing more dangerous in diplomacy than 2 players who are committed to each other to the extent that they're willing to forego stabbing at the death and they both believe in each other to honour this. The scoring system would seem to enhance neighbour alliances because players in Russia's position have a cost/benefit decision to make when assessing whether they think the 2way will indeed go all the way, and a good neighbour alliance can exploit this incentive/dilemma to extract the draw points component from an otherwise essential 3way partner, even if that's a bluff.

It's hard to know whether it was the right call without being in the game, but well played to the 2 drawers nevertheless.
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Re: 2021 PDL D2 Jan G1 (188998)

Postby jdt36 » 26 Feb 2021, 18:05

Great reads thus far. I was Italy. I've played my fair share of diplomacy, but this was my first PDL and my first ever tournament game. Excellent play by all (mostly). This was a fun one, but it was also exceedingly, unendingly frustrating. Here goes...

It has been my experience that Italy is in an impossible position without a strong eastern ally. My strategy was a common one and very simple: Italy and Turkey are nearly always naval powers and essentially cannot coexist amicably. So my plan was to destroy Turkey at any cost before the western triangle resolved, ensure Rus and Aus kept their southern fleet builds to a minimum (fairly straightforward), and turn in time to face the inevitable onslaught of the French or English navy.

Of course as Eisenhower liked to say, planning is everything but plans are worthless, and this very quickly proved to be the case.

Lepantos are interesting, but I believe the true key to a weak Turk is an A or I fleet in Greece in 01. So I prioritized getting one of our fleets there over the usual take of Tunis. It wound up being mine based on how the orders played out. I still think this may have been the right play, but it did come back to bite me later...

Germany intervened in eastern affairs immediately. Pete played my personal favorite German tactic: be aggressively pro-Austria in 01 by taking a hard stance with both Italy and Russia. I admired the tactic but it was terribly unhelpful for me. Germany proposed the blue water lepanto variant to Aus and I, which dramatically favors Austria. I proposed a few modifications to Aus and we eventually agreed.

We had numerous CT discussions which I considered an interesting plan B option, BUT we had a big problem, unbeknownst to Ger, from the outset. Perhaps a diplomatic blunder on my part. I inquired a bit too strongly about Austria's plan for F Tri in 01 and spooked them. It was clear from the tone of our comms that Austria mistrusted me from this point onward, and that mistrust only grew and grew. I was unconcerned about border security as an A attack on I is suicidal, but I knew we would be completely unable to work together effectively beyond the first few turns.

Which brings me to Russia. My only remaining option. My best option. My desired (!) option. Oh Russia. You were a friend. You were a fun participant at the game table. You were an eager and prolific communicator. I would gladly, enthusiastically even, play with you again! But you were simply an atrocious ally this game. Constantly shifting directions and terribly unreliable. Our relationship was my best chance at salvation and simultaneously my downfall.

Our strategy was again very simple - eliminate either A or T, then the other. It didn't really matter which order, but one had to go down quickly. And yet Russia insisted on switching from propping up T to propping up A each turn, both pushing them into each others arms and allowing them both to survive far too long. Long enough for the western triangle to resolve, and this was our ultimate downfall and drove the result of the game.

My Fleet to TyS did spook France early, as Pippi noted. I admit I did not see this coming, I was merely taking my Tun neutral a bit later than usual. This was a grave tactical error. I did somehow negotiate a detailed 'de-escalation' plan with France that worked out, but it was bound to be short-lived. I was running out of time to pry the Turk out of their shell.

I spent some time trying to split the F/G relation, but this was clearly a fools errand. Their relationship was tight, and kudos to you both for assembling it. I do believe that both of you had exceptional solo opportunities at various points with a well-timed stab, but sadly for me this was a weak and unconvincing argument. For example, had I been Germany I would have gotten pretty nervous when France stepped into Ion. The German fleets in Nwg and Nth would have made me a very nervous Frenchman. But I digress...

Supporting Germany into Vie was a mistake, but I'm not sure it was terribly consequential and probably was inevitable regardless. It was certainly better than allowing Austria to regain strength.

So I decided to double down on my efforts to eliminate the Turk. I knew my home centers would fall, so I tried hard to delay a French fleet in Ion as long as I could. I was hoping that if Rus and I moved quickly enough, I could turn to face France soon. But we did not move quickly enough and the idea of Turkish and French fleets squishing me in the middle was a certain path to a sure loss. So I decided instead to climb in to the cozy turkish corner shell, home centers be damned, and attempt to cling on for dear life to the finish.

I figured that if I could hold the three turkish centers (plus or minus greece), I'd have enough ships to blockade the corner for good even without any additional builds. I knew I'd be able to convince Russia not to attack me from behind (the French will solo you madman!) and perhaps we'd have a F/G/R/I 4-way result. So I set to attempting to arrange a semblance of a R/I eastern stalemate line. (As you said Poetic, yes I could have taken Con, but it was more important to get my fleets into rough position to be able to move into EMed, Aeg, etc.).

I haven't said much about the Turk. Turkey, you were a lovely neighbor! Our comms were wonderful. I apologize for my endless hostility. One interesting development came near the end where a figured T/I could form a unified navy of 5-6 fleets and hold even better than I could alone, perhaps even holding Ion and perhaps seeking a 5-way draw! Interestingly, Germany proposed the same idea to me as I was discussing it with Turkey. Unfortunately there was just too much mistrust and not enough time left to architect this solution effectively. Turkey I was genuinely interested in assembling this, we just kind of ran out of time to get it together. My apologies to crossing you yet again at the end there, I just couldn't see a way to actually make it work.

As I said repeatedly in the public press, I do believe this one ended prematurely. There should have been one or two eastern balancers. I think as Russia fell I could have perhaps been that balancer with a bit of luck. But in the end, the scoring system led me to conclude that holding the three Turkish centers was likely to be my best result and it was in my best self-interest to accept the draw rather than play it out further.

My dear Russia, we could have had it all!

I think Germany played this one masterfully, well done Pete. My sole comment is that you could have easily pushed for the solo - you were well across the traditional stalemate lines, Russia was clearly going to crumble in the north and the French fleets were fully committed to the Med. And it was low risk, as you likely would have landed in the draw regardless. But you weren't wrong to play it the way you did and it worked out very well for you. My hearty congrats to the two winning countries, you played this very, very well.

And I am most pleased that I won't draw Italy again this tournament!
Last edited by jdt36 on 27 Feb 2021, 10:48, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 2021 PDL D2 Jan G1 (188998)

Postby Pops2112 » 26 Feb 2021, 18:29

Very informative reading. Thank you to all contributors. You may have seen I am also playing in PDL D2 this year. I am in Jan G2 (#188999), which continues, so I say nothing here about what is happening there. But I will say, having never played tournament Diplomacy before (in person or online), that it is interesting and helpful to see the impact of tournament points for losing on end game attitudes written up like this by the 'minors' in this one. I look forward to playing with you all in one or more of the later PDL rounds.
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Re: 2021 PDL D2 Jan G1 (188998)

Postby Makleveh » 26 Feb 2021, 19:49

Yikes, these are some tough acts to follow. I will strive to do my best.

I drew, as you all know, Europe's punching bag, Turkey. "This is fine," I told myself "at least I'll probably end the game with my home centers."

Part 1: Cautious Pessimism

Now, like all diplomacy players, I have my 'Bag of Strategies'. You know, the one or two go-tos that immediately come to mind when you see the color of your pieces. For Turkey, I call mine Middle School (where noone wants to be your friend and you hang out in a corner by yourself) and High School (where you have one great friend but suddenly one spring they stab you in the back). I like integrating my life experiences in my game. Anyway, opening messages went well. I felt like Russia and I hit it off well, agreeing that a Juggernaut would be fun, obvious, and might just work. Austria was anti-Russia and Italy was anti-Italy. With no warning bells going off in my head, I figured I could open to the Med and if the diplomatic pressure against RT was too great, build a F CON and push back into the Black Sea.

In what historians would later describe as 'a series of things which didn't work', it didn't work. Russia, with what he presented as good reasons, opened to the Black Sea. We decided to spin it as RT tension, don't look over here, totally not a Juggernaut, and despite my misgivings, I thought it was an honest bump in the road we could work out. But you didn't vacate the Black Sea and I knew I'd been had.

Part 2: Circle the Wagons

One build and three enemies later, I was more or less surrounded. So I dug deep into my bag of tricks and somehow decided my best course of action was to talk about my cat in the public press. Surprisingly, this paid dividends down the road, but how far would that road would I make it?

At this point, I went full janissary. I petitioned everyone but England, who was in dire straights as well (Note to self, make a Sultans of Swing pun here. That's good stuff) and got back lukewarm replies. Except from Russia. I'd like to think I sent the message which shaped the date of the East, but he agreed to work with me with a few conditions. I'm not sure if he had plans to betray Italy in the long run or what, but hey, second chance. I got Bulgaria back, got a build, and then Austria took Rumania. Maybe the RIT orders were leaked to Austria, or maybe Austria got a lucky guess. We'll have to wait for Austria's AAR to find out!

Part 3: Absolut Chaos

FG was now obvious and the timer was visible and counting down. There were multiple recipients on every message sent about ways to halt the advance from the West but there needed to be cooperation between the AT and RI blocs and there was none to be had. Germany approached me about being the eastern balancer for a 3way draw, but I had doubts I would last that long, though I fed him any information he asked for.

I do my best to reply to all post I get- silence usually more telling than a reply, however half-assed it may be. However, I ignored a few messages proposing tactics that I felt were not genuine. I regret it, and it left a sour taste in my mouth, but the bridge with RI was burned.

Episode 4: A New Hope

Russia had posted a 5 way draw including (rightfully) all players except myself and England. I countered with a 2 way ET draw, just for yuks. Surprisingly, it got traction, as the players united around their love of good sportsmanship, anonymous internet polls, and my cat. Unsurprisingly, if failed in the end.

Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back

The game at this point was wrapping up. I got out of the way of Italy as they dashed for the corner position. I sent flattering messages to France and Germany. I issued multiple support orders for units to hold in Bulgaria. While I had no doubt the outcome of the game would involve France and Germany splitting the win, I was just spiteful enough to vote for the 2 way so that Italy didn't benefit from nearly wiping me out.

This was my first PDL and my first tournament played in a non-f2f setting. It's a different animal. My traditional strengths, if you'll permit it, involve unorthodox tactics and long-winded diplomacy preventing fellow players from getting a good read on the table.

Episode 6: The Wrath of Khan?

As it was my first time, I believe, playing with everyone, I'd like to thank you all for permitting me my various sins. It's a game and sometimes people lose sight of that. Everyone here was, to the best of my knowledge, gracious in victory and defeat.

Russia: I would have loved it to have worked out. I enjoyed talking with you and your grasp of the game.

Italy: It wouldn't have worked out, and by the time that it might have, the rift was too big. Again, I enjoyed talking with you and maybe next time.

Austria: We didn't gel right away, but sticking to our guns in the mid and late game paid off.

Germany/France: Great game, I'm not an opponent of sticking with what works, especially in a game of distrust. I wish the cavalry was a little quicker though!

England: We were 2 votes short. 2 votes!
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