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Brian Stanfield

What makes a complete game "complete"?

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10 hours ago, Hugh Neilson said:

Guess what?  None of these approaches are badwrongfun.

 

 

Why does it always take a near-argument before someone says this?

 

Why is it so damned hard to just keep in the back of our minds "the way I play is the way _I_ play, and not _the_ way _to_ play"?

 

Flat out, I play an edition that's even deader than the current one, yet I am quite happy to sit here chatting with fellow gamers, and participate in discussions on newer stuff as best I am able.  Why?  Well first off, I had to admit to myself that my groups and I are the only ones still doing it the way we do.  :lol:   Clearly, there is more than one way to enjoy this thing.

 

 

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13 hours ago, Brian Stanfield said:

 

So this is the other model I suggested earlier, but nobody has really bitten. It seems like, instead of a bunch of different independent games, we could instead keep the same independent settings, and in those books tweak all the dials and levers to offer the templates, gear, powers/spells, power levels, etc., so it's basically a ready-to-play game supplement to the core rules. This may make more sense in the big picture.

 

 

See, I think how much people want to bite at the idea isn't really relavent. Short of making a deal or proposal to DOJ, this option is the only one I can see us releasing as independent fans. We can do something like this through the Hall of Heroes, but frankly we'd need a license for anything else so... this seems like the most realistic plan.

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11 hours ago, Tywyll said:

 

See, I think how much people want to bite at the idea isn't really relavent. Short of making a deal or proposal to DOJ, this option is the only one I can see us releasing as independent fans. We can do something like this through the Hall of Heroes, but frankly we'd need a license for anything else so... this seems like the most realistic plan.


Well, actually, I am considering making a proposal at some point, which is why I’m testing out some ideas here for the layout and structure. I think a good strong model and a good presentation could work. 

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My thought would be to provide the uninitiated with something they could buy and play without having to invest in the power rules (everything else is easy).

 

It would seek to have a proportion of those that enjoy the game, to want to houserule it to expand the options, drawing them therefore into the HERO fold.  It might be, if you had a suite of such products, people would play a slew of such things and never want to look into the black box.

 

Ultimately it would be an easy step for groups who do not have a HERO afficionado to be able to play a HERO game.

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3 minutes ago, Doc Democracy said:

My thought would be to provide the uninitiated with something they could buy and play without having to invest in the power rules (everything else is easy).

 

It would seek to have a proportion of those that enjoy the game, to want to houserule it to expand the options, drawing them therefore into the HERO fold.  It might be, if you had a suite of such products, people would play a slew of such things and never want to look into the black box.

 

Ultimately it would be an easy step for groups who do not have a HERO afficionado to be able to play a HERO game.

My gut response is "What's the value of HERO if you're not investing in the power rules?", because I feel the power rules are what makes HERO stand out. 

 

21 hours ago, Duke Bushido said:

Why does it always take a near-argument before someone says this?

 

Why is it so damned hard to just keep in the back of our minds "the way I play is the way _I_ play, and not _the_ way _to_ play"?

I can't speak for anyone else, but they way they play impacts the way I play.  No man is an island and all that.  Their fun and ways of having fun directly interact with my fun and my ways of having fun.  That doesn't make them objectively wrong, but my uncontrollable emotional response is that they're subjectively wrong.  That emotional response is the answer to your question. 

It's a fact that my fun would improve if my group changed certain behaviors.  It's also a fact that they have no intentions of doing so because their fun would decrease.  I fully recognize that they won't, but I'd still like it if they did and I still keep trying to find work-arounds. 

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1 hour ago, Doc Democracy said:

My thought would be to provide the uninitiated with something they could buy and play without having to invest in the power rules (everything else is easy).

How 'bout something like the 1st, 2nd, 3rd edition Champions box?  One thin rulebook, one thin booklet of an adventure or two, maybe one thin booklet of additional enemies and NPCs and plot seeds, and maybe some blank character sheets, maybe a (two-sided) location map, with a street corner scene in Campaign City on one side, and a large park in Campaign City on the other side.

 

Include everything that was in the 1st Edition, except for the parts that no longer exist in 6e (such as Elemental Control), change whatever point costs and rules need to be changed to conform to 6e (such as no longer having figured characteristics), and include whatever newer game elements are most likely to be needed and there is room to fit.  Include a few sample PCs, showing how they are built.  Include a few sample enemies, and a run through of a sample combat.  The setting is based on the real,modern-day world, with superheroes added.  That's all you need to start playing.

 

Leave out Background Skills and Perks (unless there's room for them).  Leave out the more complicated powers like Duplication and Multiform.  Leave out VPPs.  Leave out any complicated Advantages and Limitations.  Include a line somewhere that if they want to build more complicated characters with more options and other kinds of powers, buy the two-volume 6e rulebook.

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1 hour ago, Gnome BODY (important!) said:

My gut response is "What's the value of HERO if you're not investing in the power rules?", because I feel the power rules are what makes HERO stand out.

 

We don't have to sell Hero to people who have played Hero for years or decades, like those of us on these boards.  But it is clear we are not a big enough market to keep a business making Hero product afloat.

 

Hero as a game design tool can allow the construction of a game Powered By Hero, which (hopefully) demonstrates that the system itself is elegant and fun, and that the construction rules are balanced (as they were used to build all components of the game or games).  So we end up with three pools of buyers/gamers:

 

 - those who like these specific games, and will buy them (either one specific game, or multiple games using the system in different settings, genres, etc.), and support materials for them, into the future;

 - those who like the game, but want to tinker with it, so they buy the System rules for the sole purpose of tinkering with existing games; and

 - those who are introduced to Hero System and want the whole system to build their own games (maybe even games that are marketed and attract more gamers to Hero).

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30 minutes ago, PhilFleischmann said:

How 'bout something like the 1st, 2nd, 3rd edition Champions box?  One thin rulebook, one thin booklet of an adventure or two, maybe one thin booklet of additional enemies and NPCs and plot seeds, and maybe some blank character sheets, maybe a (two-sided) location map, with a street corner scene in Campaign City on one side, and a large park in Campaign City on the other side.

 

Include everything that was in the 1st Edition, except for the parts that no longer exist in 6e (such as Elemental Control), change whatever point costs and rules need to be changed to conform to 6e (such as no longer having figured characteristics), and include whatever newer game elements are most likely to be needed and there is room to fit.  Include a few sample PCs, showing how they are built.  Include a few sample enemies, and a run through of a sample combat.  The setting is based on the real,modern-day world, with superheroes added.  That's all you need to start playing.

 

Leave out Background Skills and Perks (unless there's room for them).  Leave out the more complicated powers like Duplication and Multiform.  Leave out VPPs.  Leave out any complicated Advantages and Limitations.  Include a line somewhere that if they want to build more complicated characters with more options and other kinds of powers, buy the two-volume 6e rulebook.

 I think I suggested this sort of thing a while ago in this thread.  Though i can see the differences, in that I wanted a reprint of 2nd Edition Champions Boxed Set, with dice and a few other items, all in time for the 40th Anniversary of Hero next year., and you seem to be using 6E rules, but presented mostly in that 2nd Edition Boxed set style.  Hell update Viper's Nest and Stronghold, and put those in the box for 6e and that might work.

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34 minutes ago, PhilFleischmann said:

How 'bout something like the 1st, 2nd, 3rd edition Champions box?  One thin rulebook, one thin booklet of an adventure or two, maybe one thin booklet of additional enemies and NPCs and plot seeds, and maybe some blank character sheets, maybe a (two-sided) location map, with a street corner scene in Campaign City on one side, and a large park in Campaign City on the other side.

 

This is certainly very doable from a purely logistical perspective. The work required wouldn't be excessive, the cost wouldn't be prohibitive, and it would be a nice shout-out to the past. It would also do nothing, IMO, to move the needle away from the current marketplace indifference towards the system/brand.

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54 minutes ago, Hugh Neilson said:

We don't have to sell Hero to people who have played Hero for years or decades, like those of us on these boards.  But it is clear we are not a big enough market to keep a business making Hero product afloat.

 

Hero as a game design tool can allow the construction of a game Powered By Hero, which (hopefully) demonstrates that the system itself is elegant and fun, and that the construction rules are balanced (as they were used to build all components of the game or games).  So we end up with three pools of buyers/gamers:

 

 - those who like these specific games, and will buy them (either one specific game, or multiple games using the system in different settings, genres, etc.), and support materials for them, into the future;

 - those who like the game, but want to tinker with it, so they buy the System rules for the sole purpose of tinkering with existing games; and

 - those who are introduced to Hero System and want the whole system to build their own games (maybe even games that are marketed and attract more gamers to Hero).

But what's the draw of a system Powered By Hero instead of a system Powered By GURPS, or Powered By Fate, or Powered By Powered By The Apocalypse , or Powered by D20? 

HERO's not the only point-buy fish in the pond, and GURPSers will avidly proclaim their point-buy is better for not-supers.  Every system's going to label itself as "elegant and fun".  Every game's going to proclaim it's "balanced".  Every toolbox is going to vomit half a dozen genres it supports onto the back-page blurb. 

What makes HERO better

 

My answer is the powers system.  If that's not put on display, I don't see any reason somebody would pick HERO over GURPS or another competitor. 

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2 hours ago, Gnome BODY (important!) said:

My answer is the powers system.  If that's not put on display, I don't see any reason somebody would pick HERO over GURPS or another competitor. 

 

Currently?  They don't.

 

We have evidence that it turns people off.  If people can't get through it to the elegant game system underneath... 

 

...we end up where we are right now.

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2 hours ago, Gnome BODY (important!) said:

But what's the draw of a system Powered By Hero instead of a system Powered By GURPS, or Powered By Fate, or Powered By Powered By The Apocalypse , or Powered by D20? 

HERO's not the only point-buy fish in the pond, and GURPSers will avidly proclaim their point-buy is better for not-supers.  Every system's going to label itself as "elegant and fun".  Every game's going to proclaim it's "balanced".  Every toolbox is going to vomit half a dozen genres it supports onto the back-page blurb. 

What makes HERO better

 

My answer is the powers system.  If that's not put on display, I don't see any reason somebody would pick HERO over GURPS or another competitor. 

 

It is not going to sell because it is Powered by Hero.  It is going to sell, if it sells at all, because it is a good game, and players and GMs enjoy it.  If they enjoy GURPS, or d20, or Savage Worlds, or playing video games, more, then they will buy those games.

 

It's not labelling it as "elegant and fun", "balanced" or anything else that will make it sell.  It will sell if people play it, like it and want more.  They are not currently buying the "build your own power" system.  They have to want to dig through that design system because they have seen what it can do, they like it and they want to learn to use it to build their own games.  Us telling them "hey, it's great - it's elegant, fun and balanced, reverses hair loss and makes your teeth whiter" is not going to sell the system.  Playing the system sells the system.  Right now, they are daunted by the Wall of Words, and will not play the system, so we need to front load that work so they can play a game without a Doctorate in Hero-ology.

 

And if some of them are happy just playing the game(s) Powered by Hero, not tinkering at all and not wanting to build their own game - well that's fine too.

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12 hours ago, Brian Stanfield said:


Well, actually, I am considering making a proposal at some point, which is why I’m testing out some ideas here for the layout and structure. I think a good strong model and a good presentation could work. 

 

Oh, well fair enough then! Good luck!

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18 hours ago, zslane said:

Out of curiosity, what is the ultimate goal of this proposed "product"? What does it seek to accomplish in the grand scheme of things?

 

16 hours ago, Hugh Neilson said:

 

We don't have to sell Hero to people who have played Hero for years or decades, like those of us on these boards.  But it is clear we are not a big enough market to keep a business making Hero product afloat.

 

Hero as a game design tool can allow the construction of a game Powered By Hero, which (hopefully) demonstrates that the system itself is elegant and fun, and that the construction rules are balanced (as they were used to build all components of the game or games).  So we end up with three pools of buyers/gamers:

 

 - those who like these specific games, and will buy them (either one specific game, or multiple games using the system in different settings, genres, etc.), and support materials for them, into the future;

 - those who like the game, but want to tinker with it, so they buy the System rules for the sole purpose of tinkering with existing games; and

 - those who are introduced to Hero System and want the whole system to build their own games (maybe even games that are marketed and attract more gamers to Hero).

 

To be honest, @zslane, I'm testing the waters here a little bit. When High Rock Press suggested rebooting Danger International two years ago or so (only to lose it in the production mix) I was excited and intrigued. Now it looks like it's on the back burner, or no burner at all since it's not been mentioned since. What I'd like to do is find a new way of presenting the HERO System material in a way that is different from it's current Champions/Fantasy HERO Complete model, since those don't really change anything to solve the problem of reaching new eyeballs, not simply repackaging what everyone on these boards already has anyway. Hugh outlines my loose goal pretty well.

 

I realize that this is a bit of a bold move, but I look at what Ron Edwards is doing and think, "Hey, why can't I do that?" Admittedly, he's gone way adrift of the HERO System rules, and he also has the clout to do such a thing with the blessing of DOJ. But it's not a sustainable model for DOJ. I'm curious how to create a new model, and I may try to do something as bold as to present it as such. It's really just an exercise for me right now, but something I've been stewing on (as many of us have) for years. Someone has to take the lead, and though I don't have the credibility of some of the current writers, they all got there by starting somewhere themselves. I may start by publishing my current Pulp HERO campaign to Hall of Champions to give some indication of my competence. 

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2 minutes ago, Brian Stanfield said:

Someone has to take the lead, and though I don't have the credibility of some of the current writers, they all got there by starting somewhere themselves.

 

More and more I am convinced that you are right about one thing: someone has to take the lead. We need a Kevin Feige producer type to spearhead the effort and be the singular creative visionary. This whole business of working it out by committee will lead absolutely nowhere, as the last years of debate over this subject can attest to.

 

This person, armed with the conviction that they have the answer for success, needs to take their ideas and show the rest of us how right they are. I would do this myself except I have only the strength of my convictions; I don't have the time, money, or talent to turn what I believe must be done into reality. If I had the money, I would retire and make this my new mission, but last I checked I still haven't won the Megabucks lottery.

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16 hours ago, Gnome BODY (important!) said:

But what's the draw of a system Powered By Hero instead of a system Powered By GURPS, or Powered By Fate, or Powered By Powered By The Apocalypse , or Powered by D20? 

HERO's not the only point-buy fish in the pond, and GURPSers will avidly proclaim their point-buy is better for not-supers.  Every system's going to label itself as "elegant and fun".  Every game's going to proclaim it's "balanced".  Every toolbox is going to vomit half a dozen genres it supports onto the back-page blurb. 

What makes HERO better

 

My answer is the powers system.  If that's not put on display, I don't see any reason somebody would pick HERO over GURPS or another competitor. 

 

14 hours ago, Chris Goodwin said:

 

Currently?  They don't.

 

We have evidence that it turns people off.  If people can't get through it to the elegant game system underneath... 

 

...we end up where we are right now.

 

Yup, @Chris Goodwin pretty much knows where I'm coming from. My previous post traces some of my thinking, and @Hugh Neilson does a good job of outlining the challenges I'm facing. There's plenty of evidence that the people who are already playing are going to continue to play what they prefer in the ways that they already prefer. There's also good evidence that new people aren't picking up HERO System because it's like drinking from the fire hose, and who is going to invest a year of solid study to get the system mastery that it would take to even begin to design a game that others may want to play?

 

@Gnome BODY (important!): As for GURPS, just as few people play that these days as HERO System, although the marketing machine of Steve Jackson Games keeps it going. God help us if they release a 5th edition of GURPS, because it'd probably bury HERO System for good. But the other systems you bring up are clearly more viable these days. Fate and Fate Accelerated are very popular these days, and draw in new gamers all the time. It's funny that you mention Powered By the Apocolypse, because that's sort of the model I was thinking of when I started this thread. PBTA games are introduced so frequently, and are bought and played so consistently, that I think it stands as a good model for today's market. Each game using PBTA as the toolbox is its own game, and presents the rules in its own way, making its own assumptions about how to apply the rules, etc. PBTA has a proven track record that it can power new game generation. HERO System likes to boast that it could do such a thing, but it simply doesn't. Champions isn't a game: it's still a game genre and a toolbox of rules, but there aren't any decisions made that are required in an actual gamePBTA always has a handful of new games being played at conventions, and has a very strong online presence (from what I can tell) with a new generation of gamers who want rules-light games that can be learned and played in a weekend. My contention is that HERO System should be like that.

 

Now, I'm with you in spirit about the Powers. That's what makes HERO System what it is. But the marketing says that we can use those Powers to build anything without actually showing us what those things could be. Unless of course you buy a genre book, a setting book, perhaps an enemies book and and equipment guide, etc. This is the exact opposite of what DOJ should be doing, yet it's been the model for almost 30 years now. It's time to rethink what the HERO System is about. And I'm rethinking things for the future by re-visiting the past games that were "one book games" in the '80s. The Powers were in the background, and sorta bled through at times in something like Justice, Inc. with the weird talents and such. But they were great applications of the HERO System without simply being a rehash of the same set of rules with a new genre spackled over them.

 

I don't want to presume to lecture anyone on the value of the game, or the history of HERO System or anything like that. As has been pointed out, we all have our ways of playing the game. But we are experienced HERO players here, and can actually pick the rules up and make the games we want to play for ourselves. We seem to forget that new people just cannot do that yet. So we need to be able to show them how it is done. This is most definitely for players who are new to the HERO System toolbox, and we teach them by not exposing them to the toolbox. We show them a game that is complete in and of itself, presented in one book, and playable as quickly as possible. This is not going to be a superhero or fantasy genre. It just isn't. We'd have hit that market if it was going to work.

 

So I'm imaging a game that has mass appeal, that sparks the public imagination and taps into a cultural trend. It may not be the sexiest application of the HERO System, but I think a modern adventure game based on action movies is a great inroad. We don't have to teach the Powers, but we can show how all the equipment, weapon and vehicle lists were made with the Powers, although the builds themselves should be saved for an appendix and sidebars. People who don't care, won't care no matter how much we try to teach them the powers. People who do care will have enough leads to go look up the rules themselves and build their own stuff if they want to.

 

This is just a thought experiment for now, but hopefully not a vanity project like Champions Now is. I want it to be viable, and potentially have a convention/market/online presence. That can only happen with a complete gestalt shift for how the HERO System is presented to new players.

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10 minutes ago, zslane said:

 

More and more I am convinced that you are right about one thing: someone has to take the lead. We need a Kevin Feige producer type to spearhead the effort and be the singular creative visionary. This whole business of working it out by committee will lead absolutely nowhere, as the last years of debate over this subject can attest to.

 

This person, armed with the conviction that they have the answer for success, needs to take their ideas and show the rest of us how right they are. I would do this myself except I have only the strength of my convictions; I don't have the time, money, or talent to turn what I believe must be done into reality. If I had the money, I would retire and make this my new mission, but last I checked I still haven't won the Megabucks lottery.

 

I'm right there with you, but I'm perhaps in more of a position where maybe, just maybe, I could spend some time and money to work on some of this stuff. As you say, it really has to happen, and someone has to take the lead and convince DOJ to take the plunge. But I really am serious about this, and would like to work on it as a long-term plan. Even if it only turns out to be a game for me alone, it would be a fun experiment. Maybe it could bear some fruit.

 

It seems like anniversary editions of some of the old games could be an interesting option . . .

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I think a lot of the problem is whining and laziness - on the part of gamers and potential gamers.  As reflected in some of the posts above.  "I don't want to have to spend a year studying the system in order to begin playing."  Back in pre-4th days, when my regular D&D group decided to try Champions (and we never went back), it took us at most a week or two to learn the system, create our characters, and set up a "module" to begin playing.  Don't give me this "year of study" crap.  "I don't want to have to get a Ph.D. in Hero to play."  It's not brain surgery, folks.  You learned to drive a car, you learned to do your job, you've probably learned to do a lot of things that were never going to lead to anything fun.  If you put the effort in, you'll find that your brain is not full - there's still plenty of room in there.  And you can have a lot of fun.

 

I've encountered this attitude with other games - even board games that are at least an order of magnitude simpler than any RPG.  And I've seen the same attitude with respect to things that have nothing to do with games at all.  Some people have to be dragged, kicking and screaming to try anything new.

 

All that being said, I sadly have no idea how to overcome this problem.  But it might help to at least acknowledge it.  All new things, no matter how good they are, need to be gotten used to.  And some of them need to be learned, and maybe even a little bit of work might be required.  Everything worthwhile in life requires some work.  Do we try to reduce the amount of work required, or do we sell the idea of the work being worth it?

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19 minutes ago, PhilFleischmann said:

I think a lot of the problem is whining and laziness - on the part of gamers and potential gamers. 

 

Excuse me.  Did you perhaps mean to say something like "...a lot of the problem is that gamers these days have jobs, and mortgages, and parents getting on in years, and kids ready to go to college?"  

 

Is "laziness" really what you're going with instead?

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23 minutes ago, Chris Goodwin said:

Excuse me.  Did you perhaps mean to say something like "...a lot of the problem is that gamers these days have jobs, and mortgages, and parents getting on in years, and kids ready to go to college?"  

 

Is "laziness" really what you're going with instead?

Nope.  I didn't mean that at all.  A lot of gamers who play D&D and Pathfinder and all the other games that are selling well also have jobs and mortgages and parents and kids.  Likewise with everyone else that takes the time for any other hobby, golfing, fishing, music-playing, woodworking.  People find time for their hobbies, regardless of all the other stuff they have to do,.

 

EDIT:  Don't take it personally.  I'm not talking about anyone here.  We here have all put in the work to learn the Hero system.  We have all taken the plunge and tried something new, whether we came from some other system that spoon-fed us, or if we had never played an RPG before.  And presumably, we are all glad that we made this decision and put in this work.

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49 minutes ago, PhilFleischmann said:

If you put the effort in, you'll find that your brain is not full - there's still plenty of room in there.

 

This phenomenon applies to many things in life that we think we want to learn/do, whether it's for fun or self-improvement or whatever. For instance, I want to be a good musician, but it turns out I don't really have a passion for it, and consequently I don't carve out the necessary time to truly learn and master any instrument. But I know from past experience that for anything I am really, really interested in I somehow magically manage to find the time to dig really deeply into it.

 

So I don't believe it is a matter of lack of time, but a lack of interest. And even when there is a stated interest, very often it isn't strong enough to sufficiently motivate. I don't want to play with people who are only half interested in the game; I only want to play with people who are as passionately fascinated with the game as I am.

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4e was roughly 1/5 the volume the numerous "rules books " (vol 1&2, skills, martial arts, APG 1&2) are, and if I recall, most of us paid 40 bucks or less for it.  And we were much younger, and most of us at a point in our lives when time was not a rare and precious thing, but there for the taking. 

 

As it is, Narosia is roughly the size of 4e.  I got mine last month, and have yet to find the time to sit down and read it.  :(

 

 

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