Crazy For DUEA: Fresh Prince Skull Servants!

Duelist Alliance is fascinating from a competitive perspective, because it introduces three new themes that could all turn out to be tournament-level strategies. As I write this, DUEA is tournament-legal for the first time this weekend, and players across the globe are taking Shaddolls, Satellarknights, and Yang Zings to tournaments hoping that their strategy’s the next big thing. One, or maybe two competitive front-runners in a new set? We’ve seen that before, though most named themes tend to start off pretty slow and build across two or more releases. But three themes exploding out of the gates all at once? That’s unprecedented.

And that’s all very exciting. Don’t get me wrong. Throwing a bunch of brand new decks into the fray’s a cool way to make the statement that the Zexal era’s over and Arc-V’s officially begun. But aside from that? There’s also a whack-ton of crazy going on in Duelist Alliance.

Case In Point…
I’ve written on [ccProd]Skull Servants[/ccProd] once or twice over the years, and they’ve always had a special place in my heart. Something about beating a competitive opponent with a deck that hinges on Level 1 Normal Monsters, especially by “threading the needle” with a single key attacker, is always thrilling. Part of me has always loved hardcore competition: the math, the rigorous playtesting, the teamwork, and of course the prizes – I’ve loved that stuff for over a decade. But part of me also just likes to turn heads, eat the odds, and find new and creative things to do that make my opponents’ jaws drop.

Sometimes, style counts.

So imagine my joy when I first saw [ccProd]Wightprince[/ccProd], the single greatest card ever printed for the [ccProd]Skull Servant[/ccProd] theme beyond [ccProd]King of the Skull Servants[/ccProd] itself. A quick crash course for the uninitiated: the [ccProd]Skull Servant[/ccProd] deck revolves around [ccProd]King of the Skull Servants[/ccProd], a Level 1 Zombie that gains 1000 ATK for every [ccProd]Skull Servant[/ccProd] or [ccProd]King of the Skull Servants[/ccProd] in your graveyard. On their own, that could mean up to 5000 attack points: three Servants and two Kings in the yard, with one more on the field to do the actual attacking. But add [ccProd]Wightmare[/ccProd] and [ccProd]The Lady in Wight[/ccProd], and suddenly the numbers more than double: both monsters have useful effects, and both also count as “Skull Servants” when they’re in your graveyard. The [ccProd]Skull Servant[/ccProd] strategy’s been a slow burn: The Lady was released in Light of Destruction back in 2008, while [ccProd]Wightmare[/ccProd] didn’t arrive until 2010’s Starstrike Blast.

With more [ccProd]Skull Servant[/ccProd] cards to boost up [ccProd]King of the Skull Servants[/ccProd] the strategy had muscle but no real precision: you had to rely on conditional cards like [ccProd]Pyramid Turtle[/ccProd] or Limited stuff like One For One to actually find the King. At the same time it was almost impossible to load your graveyard fast enough to be competitive. Yarding a single [ccProd]Skull Servant[/ccProd] with something like [ccProd]Armageddon Knight[/ccProd] or [ccProd]Lavalval Chain[/ccProd] just wasn’t sufficient, especially as the game sped up from 2012 to early 2014.

But lo! Behold the strategy’s savior, the all-new [ccProd]Wightprince[/ccProd], addressing the three core challenges of the [ccProd]Skull Servant[/ccProd] strategy: when [ccProd]Wightprince[/ccProd] is sent to the graveyard – no matter how it gets there – it yards a [ccProd]Skull Servant[/ccProd] and a Lady in Wight. It also counts as a [ccProd]Skull Servant[/ccProd] itself, so yarding one [ccProd]Wightprince[/ccProd] can boost [ccProd]King of the Skull Servants[/ccProd] by 3000 ATK in one go. Then, Wightprince’s final effect lets you banish it and two more [ccProd]Skull Servants[/ccProd] from your graveyard to Special Summon the King straight from your deck.

That suddenly makes the [ccProd]Skull Servant[/ccProd] strategy fast and consistent. The core gameplan becomes much more sustainable, because the value of all the cards interacting with [ccProd]King of the Skull Servants[/ccProd] is higher. [ccProd]Armageddon Knight[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Dark Grepher[/ccProd] suddenly load three [ccProd]Skull Servants[/ccProd] to the graveyard instead of one, and each effectively becomes a search cards to Special Summon the King. [ccProd]Zombie Master[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Masked Chameleon[/ccProd] can make similar plays, and The Lady In Wight finds herself protecting a monster that’s more worthwhile.

So What’s The Plan?
There’s a lot of fancy stuff you can do with this strategy, but I happen to think winning with a [ccProd]Skull Servant[/ccProd] deck is really its own reward. With that in mind my goal is simple: I want to resolve Wightprince’s effect two to three times and score two damaging attacks to win. While it is possible to get a [ccProd]King of the Skull Servants[/ccProd] up to 9000+ ATK and swing for game in one shot, it’s much more common to make an early attack for a couple thousand, then follow up against a cleared field or a smaller monster to win the duel. While dominating competitive opponents with a [ccProd]Skull Servant[/ccProd] deck might seem like a tall order, breaking it down into “use [ccProd]Wightprince[/ccProd] a few times” and “attack twice” makes it seem much more approachable; it’s really not as tough as it seems.

This deck went through a ton of revisions as I attempted lots of bell-and-whistle builds to see what would work and what wouldn’t. [ccProd]Dark Grepher[/ccProd] was theoretically good for its ability to yard in-hand [ccProd]Skull Servants[/ccProd], but in the end I found the discard cost was simply too difficult in a deck that already wanted to run [ccProd]Summoner Monk[/ccProd] and [ccProd]One for One[/ccProd] (not to mention the simple risk of basic dead draws when you play Normal Monsters). [ccProd]Zombie Master[/ccProd] suffered the same problem: I found I was just throwing away too many cards, or I’d hang back and effectively accept [ccProd]Zombie Master[/ccProd] as a dead card for turns on end.

[ccProd]Masked Chameleon[/ccProd] could unlock Synchro plays and Rank 4’s, while Kinka-byo could create Rank 1 opportunities. Bother monsters can revive a used [ccProd]Wightprince[/ccProd] for an immediate, powerful Summon and then an activation of the ‘prince’s effect, but both were often dead in the early game, or simply sub-optimal when they were live. On paper, recurring [ccProd]Wightprince[/ccProd] to make Synchro and Xyz Summons with Chameleon and Kinka-byo sounded great. In reality, those cards weren’t helping me score the two damaging attacks I needed to create wins, and they weren’t necessary to trigger [ccProd]Wightprince[/ccProd] two to three times per game.

I even tried Dragon’s Mirror for [ccProd]Dragonecro Nethersoul Dragon[/ccProd]! The idea of banishing two Zombies for one big, adaptable monster was appealing, but this deck already banishes so many cards for [ccProd]Wightprince[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Mezuki[/ccProd] that I found Dragonecro just never took priority over those other option.

It’s important to note that in order to fit a lot of those cards that wound up proving sub-par in testing, I’d played slimmer numbers of cards that I’d feared would become dead draws in the early game. While I resigned myself to running three each of The Lady In Wight and the basic [ccProd]Skull Servant[/ccProd], because you really want to make those three [ccProd]Wightprince[/ccProd] activations if you can, I was skimping on [ccProd]Wightprince[/ccProd] and [ccProd]King of the Skull Servants[/ccProd] themselves. Several of my builds only ran two of each, operating on the idea that I’d prefer to search them rather than draw them. That wound up being the case for [ccProd]Wightprince[/ccProd] quite often, but it wasn’t true for the King. That card’s great, and you’ll often win by Normal Summoning a copy and then searching out a second from your deck via Special Summoning. By cutting the more fancy mid-game cards I found a bit more room for traps, plus space for a third [ccProd]Mezuki[/ccProd].

The result? A streamlined build that’s disciplined, restrained, and still totally awesome because it beats your opponent to death with [ccProd]Skull Servants[/ccProd].

Fresh Prince Skull Servants- 40 Cards
Monsters: 21
3 [ccProd]King of the Skull Servants[/ccProd]
3 [ccProd]Skull Servants[/ccProd]
3 [ccProd]Wightprince[/ccProd]
3 [ccProd]The Lady in Wight[/ccProd]
2 [ccProd]Wightmare[/ccProd]
3 [ccProd]Mezuki[/ccProd]
2 [ccProd]Armageddon Knight[/ccProd]
2 [ccProd]Summoner Monk[/ccProd]

Spells: 13
3 [ccProd]Book of Life[/ccProd]
2 [ccProd]Reinforcement of the Army[/ccProd]
2 [ccProd]Creature Swap[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Burial from a Different Dimension[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]One for One[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Foolish Burial[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Dark Hole[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Book of Moon[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Allure of Darkness[/ccProd]

Traps: 6
1 [ccProd]Torrential Tribute[/ccProd]
2 [ccProd]Breakthrough Skill[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Bottomless Trap Hole[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Solemn Warning[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Compulsory Evacuation Device[/ccProd]

Extra Deck:
2 [ccProd]Lavalval Chain[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Number 101: Silent Honor ARK[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Evilswarm Exciton Knight[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Abyss Dweller[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Number 80: Rhapsody in Berserk[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Gagaga Cowboy[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Number 50: Blackship of Corn[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Daigusto Emeral[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Leviair the Sea Dragon[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Wind-Up Zenmaines[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Slacker Magician[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Ghostrick Dullahan[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Number 31: Embodiment of Punishment[/ccProd]

Your early game is all about loading your graveyard. You want to use [ccProd]Armageddon Knight[/ccProd], [ccProd]Lavalval Chain[/ccProd], and [ccProd]Foolish Burial[/ccProd] to yard [ccProd]Wightprince[/ccProd]; doing so means prepping your graveyard for [ccProd]King of the Skull Servants[/ccProd], and thinning sub-par cards from your deck so you don’t have to draw them. There are lots of bad draws in this strategy, but you shunt them into the graveyard with astonishing speed. [ccProd]Summoner Monk[/ccProd], [ccProd]One for One[/ccProd], and [ccProd]Reinforcement of the Army[/ccProd] make it happen: you’ve got a grand total of eleven cards that get [ccProd]Wightprince[/ccProd] to the graveyard or the field, and that means a 64% chance of opening with a graveyard play Turn 1 going first. You’ll also have an 82% chance of opening with at least some form of [ccProd]Wightprince[/ccProd], even if you have to Normal Summon it. Note that those numbers only spike by a few percentage points if you go second; I found this deck really wants to go first to get set up and dodge effect negation.

Note that if you can pull off a [ccProd]Summoner Monk[/ccProd] play in the early game you’ll be in an especially good position. You’ve got a 19.5% chance of making that happen in your first five cards, and with two different Level 4’s to go with it there are two different ways to make the play: Special Summoning [ccProd]Mezuki[/ccProd] lets you make recoveries and bigger pushes later on, while searching out [ccProd]Armageddon Knight[/ccProd] builds your infrastructure faster.

You’ll generally prefer [ccProd]Armageddon Knight[/ccProd]. The ability to Summon it, use its effect to bury three cards via [ccProd]Wightprince[/ccProd], and then repeat the play by overlaying for [ccProd]Lavalval Chain[/ccProd] to yard another [ccProd]Wightprince[/ccProd] is huge. That move thins a total of seven cards from your deck and sets you up for a 6000 ATK [ccProd]King of the Skull Servants[/ccProd]. If [ccProd]Lavalval Chain[/ccProd] survives to use its ability a second time, you can kick a grand total of nine [ccProd]Skull Servants[/ccProd] to the graveyard by Turn 2, which means you can banish three to bring out [ccProd]King of the Skull Servants[/ccProd] and immediately start looking for win scenarios. Monk’s risky, but it can create very fast wins.

I rarely play heavy recursion lineups, because recursive cards can be rough to draw in the early game; you can’t activate [ccProd]Mezuki[/ccProd] or [ccProd]Book of Life[/ccProd] if you’ve got nothing in your graveyard to revive. But again, this strategy moves so quickly in setting up its graveyard that testing proved triple [ccProd]Mezuki[/ccProd] and triple [ccProd]Book of Life[/ccProd] to be the correct decision. Often a second King is all you need to score a win, and certain scenarios may demand an extra Level 1 on the field to play around your opponent’s monsters with Rank 1 Xyz, so all the revival power is a tremendous boon.

Note that [ccProd]King of the Skull Servants[/ccProd] has its own built-in revival in the face of battle, and while it’s a powerful defensive trick, it’s also the basis of a classic [ccProd]Skull Servant[/ccProd] combo: [ccProd]Creature Swap[/ccProd] [ccProd]King of the Skull Servants[/ccProd] to your opponent; watch it shrink to 0 ATK when it checks their graveyard instead of yours; then swing over it for damage. When the King hits your graveyard you can bring it back with its ability, and if your opponent only had one big blocker that you Swapped away, the King will often swing for game. That combo’s better here than it was in previous versions, since your King is larger, you have more revival fodder, and you can adapt the play to accommodate an in-hand [ccProd]Wightprince[/ccProd] to force its effect.

Making It Stick
Note that while this build doesn’t run [ccProd]Forbidden Lance[/ccProd] or [ccProd]Mystical Space Typhoon[/ccProd] in the Main Deck, there are several precautions that can help you outplay your opponent’s defenses. [ccProd]The Lady in Wight[/ccProd] is huge, for her ability to hit the field off [ccProd]Wightmare[/ccProd] and then fend off all spells and traps that would keep you from winning with [ccProd]King of the Skull Servants[/ccProd]. While she’s valuable in conjunction with [ccProd]Mezuki[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Book of Life[/ccProd], remember that it’s always important to banish one copy of The Lady when you [ccProd]Wightprince[/ccProd] for the King, so you can bring The Lady to the field later on with [ccProd]Wightmare[/ccProd]. Note too that problem-solvers like [ccProd]Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer[/ccProd] are invaluable, allowing you to eliminate a card from the field off of [ccProd]Summoner Monk[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Mezuki[/ccProd] plays to force through a kill shot. [ccProd]Breakthrough Skill[/ccProd] gets the nod over [ccProd]Fiendish Chain[/ccProd] for its ability to handle [ccProd]Artifact Moralltach[/ccProd], which would be a big concern otherwise; monster effects are the King’s one big weakness.

[ccProd]Number 31: Embodiment of Punishment[/ccProd] was one of the most unexpected cards I wound up playing. This deck often wins by pressing over an attack position monster, but you can’t do that if your opponent decides to be jerk and keep everything in defense position. In the past, that was a classic way to beat niche strategies that would try to win with single, massive monsters. But that’s not possible anymore, at least not here. If your opponent tries to wall up, you have more than enough Special Summoning power to field two Level 1’s alongside your [ccProd]King of the Skull Servants[/ccProd]. Overlay for [ccProd]Number 31: Embodiment of Punishment[/ccProd], and its effect can force all those monsters into vulnerable attack mode. Since your opponent rarely expects to lose when they’re sitting behind a wall of monsters, it’s surprisingly effective.

While I chose to go with a very focused build of this strategy, all the possibilities I mentioned earlier are viable… in moderation. A teched Kinka-byo, [ccProd]Masked Chameleon[/ccProd], or [ccProd]Zombie Master[/ccProd] can certainly work in the right metagames, and I’ve had some good results running [ccProd]The Dark Creator[/ccProd]. As long as you keep your spell count up there’s room for some personal flair, and the Extra Deck’s highly customizable. You could even experiment by cutting down on [ccProd]Wightmare[/ccProd]; while it does some very useful things, I’m at a point where I’m not longer certain it’s an absolute must-run.

I doubt this strategy will be storming Regionals and Championships any time soon, but for a competitive local, [ccProd]Skull Servants[/ccProd] could really turn some heads. This deck’s an absolute blast to play and it can take wins from the most popular strategies in the current format. It’s outrageously fun, and I’ve had some of the most memorable games of my dueling year with it. Give it a shot yourself and let me know what you think down in the Comments!


  1. Adam Stachowiak says:

    I’ve been playing Skull servants for a while now. Back before Wightprince was announced it was sort of a Skull Piper thing, using Mystic piper to make my hand so big that I had to ditch skull servants at the end phase, but now that Wightprince is a thing, my deck is looking not too dissimilar to your version.

    Here’s a few things that I’ve noticed in my use of the deck.

    in my experience, Mathematician > Dark Grepher/Armageddon Knight, since it can send Mezuki, though since you’re using Summoner Monk to make Armageddon searchable, it’s kind of debatable which is better.

    Your use of NO. 31: Punishment is actually really clever, I would have never though of that, but why no Photon Papilloperative?

    I’m also running Debris dragon, since he can grab Lady in WIght for a Black rose, so you can then Mezuki out a King for game. You can also grab Wightprince with him to make Reincarnation Dragon Samsara if for no other reason than to re-use Wightprince’s effect again.

    oh, and Plaguespreader is pretty great, since you can make Mist Bird Clausolas to make your opponent’s monster lose it’s attack, or Revived King Ha Des to mess with stuff like Hands, Yang Zings, Shaddolls, etc.

  2. Pasquale Crociata says:

    My one complaint in your build is the full suite of Mezukis.

    How do you access it and get it into the grave? Foolish and Monk seem to be the only good ways. And if you draw it, it’s not gonna be live for awhile. I ended up cutting all of mine, because him being an Earth hurt him a bit in the end. That’s half the reason I felt zombie master is the right way to go with Mezukis. It allows you to send Mezuki, to grab Mezuki and make Lavalval Chain. Without Zombie, I think Mezuki at 3 is a lot!

    But style points for Wights. <3 I love this deck.

  3. Nice deck Idea. I think skull servants are really unappreciated.

  4. Alex Trotter says:

    i still prefer to SkullSworn build but thats just me i like the concept you have going on here but i have no idea why you wouldnt max out wightmare that thing is really powerful for this deck

  5. Yeah, Mezuki was a tough call. I can’t remember if I mentioned it in the article, but that card was at two in this build for a long time before going to three. At the end of the day it just became such a good mid-game draw and such a closer, as well as a Rank 4 enabler off a Normal Summon and a Special Summon effect, that I wound up liking three copies of it.

  6. Nice! The possibility of using Debris Dragon for Lady actually totally escaped my notice. I’m definitely going to experiment with that.

    Photon Papilloperative was in the initial build, but I found two things: there were no instances where I wanted a Photon Papilloperative where Punishment couldn’t do the job at the time, and Punishment was generally easier to use anyways. With no need for Papi, it got the axe.

    You zeroed in on the precise reason for Armageddon Knight over Mathematician: one offers the Summoner Monk combo and the other doesn’t. Mathematician is fast becoming a huge card right now, but it just doesn’t have the synergy to create the big plays I want here. I think if I was going to run a slimmed down monster line with more traps I could see running Mathematician, which might be the right call if we see more Veilers seeing play in the future, but for now I was happy with the Summoner Monk call. We’ll have to see what the shape of competition looks like in a few weeks.

    I wasn’t thrilled with Plaguespreader Zombie. It just really underperformed and felt too low in utility.

  7. Thanks!

  8. Adam Stachowiak says:

    Jason Meyer another thing I’m not quite understanding, you mentioned how you wouldn’t want to draw into the skulls (with the exception of King, and Wightmare) but you chose to run 3 of each, and only 2 wightmare? wouldn’t it make more sense to run 3 King, 3 Wightmare, and 2 of everything else (maybe 3 prince if you want to be able to draw into him for discard stuff/mill him)?

  9. Nope. As noted in the article, I started off running several of those cards in 2’s and Wightmare at three, then changed those decisions after substantial testing. Drawing Lady and the Normal Skull Servants isn’t an issue because you thin them out of the deck so quickly, and having the third Prince activation allows you so much more freedom it’s ridiculous.

  10. Pasquale Crociata says:

    Jason Meyer I’ll have to try it out. I may go 2Mezuki 1 Zombie Master though =). Partially for Mezuki revivals of Master and Zombie pitching Mezukis. It sounds nicer in my head.

  11. I really can’t express how much I wound up hating Zombie Master, which is kind of the problem. It just eats cards I regularly found I did not have. Though there could be something to be said there for Mathematician over Monk plus a Zombie Master? I don’t know. I kind of love the insane number of possibilities for this deck.

  12. I really found it to be disappointing, actually. I may test a version that doesn’t run it at all.

  13. Pasquale Crociata says:

    Yeah. I feel you. Before I gave Doug my WightAbyss deck I was running 3 Mezuki and 3 Zombie. So when I sent it to him, he asked me why I had so many Rank 4s =)…And it was because I cut all copies of both cards.

    I feel your pain on Zombie Master, but man, it’s SO tempting with Mezuki. Only time will tell whats the way to go.

  14. The one thing I didn’t get to explore is a Zombie Master / Recurring Nightmare build. Which was low on my list of priorities since it seemed slow, but still looks increasingly fun the more I sit here NOT building that deck.

  15. Alex Trotter says:

    how did you find it disappointing it gives you so much advantage especially with wightprince banishing effect plus if you run allure which is a given you banish a skull servant or a king

  16. It’s dead in the early game and I frequently found it to be irrelevant even when it was live. ATK bonuses that didn’t matter, Lady plays when Lady wasn’t needed, and so on. You’re generally not banishing King of the Skull Servants, for a number of reasons, and that makes Wightmare a more narrow card now in this faster build, than it was in previous versions before Wightprince was released.

  17. Alex Trotter says:

    I suppose

  18. My favorite build has always been the Magical Merchant monster mash build focused around Quickdraw Synchron, Debris Dragon, and Boss Chaos Monsters and Dark Simorgh. However, with my main win condition of Debris Dragon at 1, the play of Debris into Beast of the Pharaoh to black rose and get back a zombie doesn’t work as well. I really like the look of this build, and if I play Skull Servants at a local some time, I’ll probably end up with something like this. 3 Mezuki does seem overkill without a mass mill engine like the Magical Merchant I play (with only 3 spells), so I’ll probably replace one or two of them with something else.

  19. Steve Kinate says:

    I think a way to incorporate Armades into this deck with some combination of Masked Chameleon or Emergency Teleport/Recover would add some value. Armades is an amazing card right now, putting the brakes on Shadolls or forcing out their Sinister Shadow Games early so you can then negate the effect with Breakthrough Skill or Forbidden Chalice before the damage step. Also stops any recruiters and hands from having their effects activate, as well as any battle stoppers or hand trap shenanigans.

    I just hate the restriction on Masked Chameleon. I would need a way to be able to summon KotSS and Armades the same turn. Is their another way to get him summoned easily with a 1 card investment at this time, or is Chameleon/Wightprince into Armades the best option?

  20. Ben Boudreau says:

    I’ve played with Wightprince since it was first put into Ygopro. Btw, you only need two Wightprinces. Why? Because you can use just two to get all 3 copies of Lady in Wight and Skull Servant to the grave. And, if you need to put Lady in Wight on the field, you are down one Wightprince’s utility.

    Also, I still use 3 Wightmares. It’s useful for getting back your Kings and making utility plays.

  21. Mitchell Radziuk says:


  22. Jonathan Lemuel Swarnapati Tuuk says:

    Thx, at first didn’t think that skull servant could be that dangerous. I mean, skull servant just going to get op-ier from time to time, isn’t it? Anyway, thanks for the construct you made ^_^

  23. ARman Arenas says:

    thoughts on Kuribandit here?

  24. Gabriel Champagne says:

    In my skull servant build I was playing 1 wigthmare and 2 mezuki to put 3 magical merchant wich I find to be the must in this deck. Ditching monster to the infinite till you pick a spell or a trap card, with a nice spell setup you often pick something like book of moon or monster reincarnation or one for one wich often allow to play a fast king of skull servant.

  25. You know why i always love your deck article Jason?
    Because you always bring an underated cards into unpredictable insane deck, and you did it again this time ^_^
    Win over some of my friends with this deck, and love their jaw-dropping face when they saw a skull servant card with ATK 6000 in front of them.

    Good work, can’t wait for your next crazy but good article like this again.

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