Pokémon GO Halloween Event Confirmed

Pokémon GO Halloween Event Confirmed

Pokémon GO Halloween Event Confirmed

Bob McFadden

Starting this week, Pokémon GO will host its first-ever holiday event. From October 26 to November 1, this Halloween event will allow you to channel the trick-or-treating spirit of the season. Candy will be handed out in increased proportions, and spooky species of Pokémon will spawn at an increased rate. You wanted a special Halloween event, and you got it! (Everything we asked for, and more!)

The amount of candy obtained by catching Pokémon will be doubled during the event. Usually, capturing a wild pocket monster nabs you 3 candy for the corresponding evolutionary family. During the event, this candy reward will be doubled to six. In addition, transferring a Pokémon to be, erm, “taken care of” by the Professor normally gets you one piece of candy corresponding to the type of Pokémon that you transferred. During this event, the reward for transferring Pokémon will be doubled to two! Similarly, you will get twice the amount of candy that you normally would by hatching eggs! Hatching eggs already provided the most candy out of any individual action in the game, and this upcoming week they will be even better!

But the most intense boost, as far as candy goes, is with Buddy Pokémon. While all of the other boosts double the usual reward, Buddy Pokémon will provide FOUR TIMES the normal amount of candy. The official Pokemon.com site reads, “Buddy Pokémon will award Candy four times faster than they usually do.” This means that, while it previously took 400km of walking to obtain enough candy to evolve a Magikarp into a Gyarados, over the course of this event, it can be done with a much more manageable 100km!

Candy isn’t the only Halloween-themed bonus of the event, as there will also be an increase in specific types of spooky Pokémon! Expect to see Zubat, Golbat, Gastly, Haunter, Gengar, Drowzee, and Hypno out in much greater numbers leading up to All Hallows’ Eve. And while Zubat appearing more commonly gives me cold-sweat-flashbacks to spamming repels in various dark caves throughout my handheld Pokémon journey, the prospect of catching more Ghost-types excites me greatly. The Hex Maniac badge is considered by many to be the most difficult type-specific badge to complete, which makes it even more crucial to get up and GO throughout the holiday.

Don’t miss this fun chance to catch more Pokémon and collect more Candies in Pokémon GO leading up to a happy Halloween. Scare up some friends, grab your buddy and enjoy this spooky, fun celebration with us!

Happy Halloween!

Luke Cage is Coming

Luke Cage is Coming

Luke Cage is Coming

Bob McFadden

The Marvel Cinematic Universe became a cultural phenomenon with its feature films, but these works are frequently criticized for repeating the same formula every time, for having pitifully underdeveloped antagonists, and for putting the importance of crazy airport action sequences above storytelling and character development. Agents of SHIELD came along with the opportunity to dive deeper into its storytelling, as it would put out more hours of content than all of the previous installations of the MCU combined by the end of its first season. Unfortunately, the show initially fell victim to many of the same criticisms, and both expectation and viewer-ship waned.

It wasn’t until Netflix came along that the live-action story-creating potential of this universe was realized. The Marvel Netflix shows have been an interesting and largely successful experiment so far. While they are certainly created for a different breed of audience, with much more violence and mature themes than would be profitable on the big screen or permissible on broadcast TV, it is undeniable that they are carefully crafted works of art in their own right. And on Friday, September 30th, we will all be able to binge-watch what may end up being the most fun show to come out of Marvel TV so far.

The Netflix series includes a throwback to Luke Cage’s classic costume, including the tiara.

The Netflix shows are definitely hard to stop watching. When one episode ends, it doesn’t matter if it is three in the morning, you watch as your cursor mysteriously drifts itself towards the “next episode” button, leaving your body barely aware of what is happening as you continue to dive deeper into the season. Each episode ends leaving you wanting and needing more. Hopefully, Marvel TV is able to maintain a high level of quality, even with their push to get more and more of these series out more quickly.

And more than I was with any of those series, I’m excited to see Luke Cage. Daredevil takes his job way too seriously, and Jessica Jones carried the burden of some very serious subject matter, but Luke Cage is literally unbreakable, so it should be a good time, right? (I mean, yeah, he was seriously injured when he got shot in the head in Jessica Jones, but… he got better!) Luke Cage avoids the Daredevil problem by being reluctant to take on the role of a superhero, much different from Matt Murdoch who is addicted to it. And he avoids the brooding problem of Jessica Jones by… music!

We get to have swagger. A compelling hero and compelling villains. We spruced it up a little bit and added some music but it was going to be fun either way.

Cheo Hodari Coker

Luke Cage showrunner

Cheo Hodari Coker, the executive producer and show-runner of Luke Cage, cites music as an enormous source of inspiration for the show. Coker, who is most well-known as the writer of the 2009 Notorious B.I.G. biography, tells fans to prepare for “the Wu-Tangification of the Marvel universe.” We can expect this to start right from the first few moments, as Coker personally wrote the first two episodes of the series. Each episode of Luke Cage is named after a Gang Starr song, and the season plays out much like an album, with episodes instead of tracks.

Season 1 Episodes

  1. Moment of Truth
  2. Code of the Streets
  3. Who’s Gonna Take the Weight?
  4. Step in the Arena
  5. Just to Get a Rep
  6. Suckas Need Bodyguards
  7. Manifest
  8. Blowin’ Up the Spot
  9. DWYCK
  10. Take it Personal
  11. Now You’re Mine
  12. Soliloquy of Chaos
  13. You Know My Steez

Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Younge are responsible for the show’s musical score, and if the trailers are any indication, Luke Cage will breathe and bleed hip-hop. So far, trailers have included tracks such as an Isaac Hayes rendition of “Walk On By,” (which was sampled by the Wu-Tang Clan); Ol’ Dirty Bastard‘s “Shimmy Shimmy Ya”; Miike Snow’s “Heart is Full (remix)” featuring hip-hop duo Run the Jewels; and Nas’ “Made You Look” from his 2002 album, God’s Son.

On September 26, 2016, the final trailer for Luke Cage dropped, and somehow made the show look even cooler. The Wu-Tangification increases with a Method Man cameo, as the member of the Wu-Tang Clans surreally swaps hoodies with Luke Cage after Cage gets holes shot in his. This newest trailer, released yesterday, can (and should) be viewed, right here next to this text.

Not everyone in Harlem is bulletproof; Pops seems to pull an Uncle Ben.

The official trailer above includes Night Nurse, or Claire Temple (played by Rosario Dawson). We have seen her before in Daredevil and Jessica Jones, and she seems to be acting as the string that currently links all of the Netflix series together. (Much like Phil Coulson did for the early MCU.) Claire will probably have her most significant arc yet in Luke Cage, as her comics counterpart was primarily associated with Luke Cage. It’s funny that we will see the nurse the most here, as she shouldn’t have much healing to do. Hopefully she meets a better end than Coulson in the Avengers. (Just kidding, it has already been confirmed that she’ll be popping up in Iron Fist next year. Don’t worry.)

While on the topic of the cultural tone, it goes without saying that Marvel’s first series led by a black hero lead comes at a time where it provides a welcome relief from some of the images prevalent in the media today. Hundreds of pieces have already and will continue to be written by people much more qualified than I to speak on the subject, but it goes without saying that an unscathed black man sporting a bullethole-ridden hoodie is a powerful and inspiring image for many. “The world is ready for a bulletproof black man,” said executive producer Cheo Hodari Coker.

This is a show that celebrates black culture rather than apologizing for it. It takes place in a Harlem that actually looks like Harlem, instead of trying to filter it through a whiter lens. Mike Colter, the actor who plays the role of Luke Cage, noted “We’re just trying to tell a story. We have no agenda. But I hope the black community can feel good about the series.”

Power Man comes along to join the MCU in just a few days, to break a dude’s hand into powder with his face. Tune into Netflix on September 30th!

The official synopsis for Luke Cage is as follows: In this groundbreaking new series, audiences will witness the evolution of Luke Cage (previously introduced in Marvel’s Jessica Jones) after he has relocated to Harlem and is in the process of picking up the pieces following his failed relationship with Jessica Jones. Like the preceding Marvel series on Netflix, Marvel’s Luke Cage is a gritty, action-packed drama, grounded in the real world with heroes who focus on saving their neighborhood and have their feet firmly planted on the ground.

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Where the Heck is my Buddy Update?!

Where the Heck is my Buddy Update?!

Where the Heck is my Buddy Update?!

Bob McFadden

“The buddy system is being released right now!” Is what I told people literally over three days ago.

So, we’ve all been playing it all weekend, right? Still no. As far as my phone is concerned, my app has been up to date for weeks.

On September 10, Niantic made the following announcement about an update to Pokémon GO:

Trainers,

Pokémon GO is in the process of being updated to version 0.37.0 for Android and 1.7.0 for iOS devices. Below are some release notes and comments from our development team.

– Implemented Buddy Pokémon: Trainers will now be able to choose one of their Pokémon to be their buddy. A Trainer can earn Candy for their Buddy Pokémon by walking a certain distance.
– Made it easier to select smaller Pokémon on the screen.
– Fixed an issue where Eggs would sometimes hatch without displaying the animation.
– Improved performance reliability when a device switches networks to no longer cause the application to hang or stop updating.
– Pokémon GO Plus support
– Minor text fixes.

We continue to focus on eliminating bots and scrapers from Pokémon GO. Rooted or jailbroken devices are not supported by Pokémon GO. Remember to download Pokémon GO from the official Google Play Store or iTunes App Store only.

The Pokémon GO team

Niantic

So, what is the Buddy System? As the update says, it enables Trainers to “choose one of their Pokémon to be their buddy. A Trainer can earn Candy for their Buddy Pokémon by walking a certain distance.” Every player can choose or remove a buddy Pokemon at will, and can pick whatever of their Pokémon to stand by their side in the Trainer screen at a given time.

The Buddy System isn’t EXTREMELY effective, but it is still a cool addition. The candy provided will be very useful for training your favorite Pokémon. In addition to stardust, it takes 193 candy to get a Pokémon from level 30 (wild max) to level 40. It takes 68 candy to get a Pokémon from level 20 (egg max) to level 30.

The announcement on Pokemon.com hints that there are even additional benefits, outside of candy. One purely-sentimental benefit is that you can now pick a Pokémon that you are excited to journey with, and specifically make them stronger. This increases the bond between a Pokémon and Trainer in a way that did not previously exist in this game.

If you want your starter Charmander to train into a Charizard, now you can work to do it! However, if you’re exclusively using the buddy system, you have to walk 375 kilometers in order to gain the candies necessary to evolve a Charmander into a Charizard. And even though Magikarp kicks out 3 times as much candy per kilometer walked, if you want a Gyarados you will still get even more of a workout with 400 total kilometers! Neither of these compares to the 625 km needed for Dratini to Dragonite though, which is the worst that it currently gets. (This makes sense, though, as Dragonite is the highest CP Pokemon in Gen 1, other than Mewtwo. Dragonite can go toe-to-toe with Mew or any legendary bird and still come out on top.)

 

Sounds cool, right? So why did Niantic tease us and then forget to actually release it? Well, it isn’t really as simple as that. They did begin the release roll-out exactly when they said that they would. Niantic pushes out an update to Android and iOS at the same time. Android releases it according to the link in the paragraph above, but iOS has this whole process that it has to go through that can sometimes make it take up to 48 hours longer. But if it makes Apple users feel any better, the Google Play Store still doesn’t have the update for most users, anyway.

The reason that we are all still waiting is because of the bugs.

They initially set this roll-out to a very low percentage to make sure there weren’t any significant bugs released to the wider audience. There were bugs, though. Including blatant formatting errors in the appraisal feature, significantly increased load times and crashes, but most significantly, egg hatching and buddy “finding” seem to be affecting each other in an unintended way that gives you an extra buddy candy if you hatch an egg at the same time. Unfortunately, they are probably getting rid of this as we speak.

The new update also adds the Buddy System and fixes some issues as described in the official announcement above, and that’s cool. It even added the Pokémon GO Plus support that Nintendo has been waiting for. (An update that will immediately benefit some players who already have the device in their hands, due to an accident where some GO+ boxes were shipped out early.) But as always, each new update seems to add a new flavor of instability and bugs. Each update to this game has somehow CHANGED the game-play experience, but rarely has it only improved it.

 

Of course, the APK file was available online almost from the minute the rollout began, and is available for anyone who is feeling impatient and wants to download it right now. But many users are somewhat wary of Niantic’s warning in the announcement above to “Remember to download Pokémon GO from the official Google Play Store or iTunes App Store only.” …Why would they specifically point that out this time?

So while you wait your turn in this sluggish roll-out, let us offer some consolation. This time around, it didn’t turn out to be their best update. Some users are already complaining that this is a really crash-prone build, and they are reverting back to old versions. So don’t cry into your pillow too hard because you don’t have it, yet.

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What Happened to the Pokémon GO Plus?

What Happened to the Pokémon GO Plus?

What Happened to the Pokémon GO Plus?

Bob McFadden

At time of writing, it has been two months to the day since the Pokémon GO app was released to the general public. As Pokémon GO mania continues to decline and an army of potential customers disbands, Nintendo still hasn’t made its cash grab with the GO Plus wearable device. What happened to the Plus? When is it coming out? And most importantly: is it even worth it?

The exact moment that Nomura crapped his pants.

Back in June with our coverage of E3, we got our first hints of a Pokémon GO release date when Shigeru Miyamoto gave the expected July release timetable for the Plus wearable. Niantic Senior Project Manager Tatsuo Nomura felt the need to clarify, “So, we’re talking about Pokémon GO Plus right?”, which gave off the impression that the wearable might come out before the app, as the latter obviously wasn’t ready for a July release. Miyamoto even verbally agreed, saying in Japanese, “Yeah, we’ve gotta get this first” as he held his hand to the GO Plus on his lapel. Later on in the demonstration, there was at least a little tension in the room as Miyamoto decided to entirely forgo his translator. He looked straight at the nervous Niantic employee, addressing him directly in English for the first time. Responding to Nomura’s hesitation about a July expectation, Miyamoto declared “We are ready now” as he held up his operational GO Plus device.

So where is this thing? We saw it working perfectly an entire business quarter ago, and as Nintendo’s stocks have been thrown into chaotic ups and downs by the excitement surrounding this newest mobile craze, you would think that they would be eager to get it out ASAP.

They are eager to get it out ASAP. And oh, how eager they are. But the Nintendo/Niantic tensions continue. The app isn’t ready to handle the GO Plus, yet. So while Pokémon GO’s gross revenue soars past $440 million and continues to add over $4 million a day, Nintendo is not licking its lips and counting piles of money. Instead, they are left to sit on the sidelines and watch as their main business opportunity with this game slowly and pitifully has the air let out of it.

In response to some speculation that the delay was instead due to an increase in production in order to meet high demand, a Nintendo representative clarified in a statement: “The delay is due to the preparations for the Pokémon Go application update in order to optimize Pokémon Go Plus. In order for us to offer new experiences to play Pokémon Go with Pokémon Go Plus with a quality level high enough to satisfy as many people as possible, we decided that it is necessary to take enough time for the completion. We ask for your understanding.”

Everyone say it with me: Nintendo is ready. Niantic isn’t.

But you almost have to feel bad for Niantic, a tiny company suddenly thrust into the spotlight of national media coverage with its minuscule and ragtag team of developers. Suddenly expected to handle server strain that they had not anticipated for years, even based on the most optimistic predictions. Meanwhile, the gaming community assumes its usual stance of complaining that they should add literally every possible update that same day. “Why hasn’t Niantic added this? It would be such a quick fix!” As if any change is easy under the watchful eye of over 60 million users that will call for the end times if it isn’t perfect. As if careful planning and group-deliberation wont be a crucial part of every blink and sneeze moving forward.

So, the Pokémon GO Plus wearable was set aside while Niantic ran around trying to set out fires.

The first fire to put out was disgustingly frequent app crashes and server downtime. When the craze was at its peak, the game was actually at its most unplayable. Once Niantic was able to get the game going, their attention immediately went into the second fire that had cropped up: responding to the shaming media criticism about the app. There were widespread claims of the game being dangerous to users and passerby alike, as the news latched onto any story about Pokémon-GO-related stabbings, robbery, accidents, trespassing, etc. These same exact everyday happenings wouldn’t even make the news on an ordinary day, or would be dismissed with a toneless one-sentence report. But the second that you could tie Pokémon into it, people were sure to tune in at ten. Niantic attempted to dip criticism as they bowed to every request to have an unwanted Pokéstop or Gym removed. They also lathered on a plethora of safety warnings and reminders to: stay alert, obey trespassing laws, not play while driving, and stay in safe areas. The third fire involved removing cheaters from the game, who had run rampant through the game using GPS spoofers to Catch ‘Em All way faster than intended, impossibly dominating Gyms to the chagrin of those playing fairly. It was at this point that Niantic actually expressed frustration that they had to spend time putting out all of these fires when they could be using that time to develop the game and move forward.

But the fires seem to have turned to hot coals. Niantic is now adding new content with the widely-appreciated appraisal system and the upcoming buddy system. So Niantic should be able to get the Plus going soon, right? The last official word was broadcast on Nintendo’s official Twitter, stating that the GO Plus would be out in September. It is September now, so it must be coming soon.

 

But should we even care? Is the little dongle even worth it? And that, my friend, is where the real question lies.

The wearable device was announced in America at a price of $35 USD. Many fans cried out that this price was too high for its limited function. But if you feel like that is bad here, that equates to: $40 in Italy and Canada; $45 in Germany, the Netherlands, and Spain; $50 in France, the UK, and Singapore. Due to foreign product import taxes/duties, this means up to $85 in Brazil (with shipping and taxes), and $90 in places like Pakistan.

The price anywhere: “Too Much”.

But that hasn’t stopped people from buying it. The item has sold out several times in the first few days it was available back in June. Stores like GameStop shut down pre-orders entirely as it completely overwhelmed their expectations. It seemed that, even before the game was out, many people were eager for a device that helps you to not look at your phone as much while playing.

 

As for the small amount of things that this wearable device does do, you can read my report on it from back in May. But for today, I think it might be more relevant to point out the things that the device does not do.

It does not have a rechargeable battery. This was the deal-breaker that prevented me from pre-ordering. I have literally no desire to ever go to the store to buy those weird little disc batteries at any point in my life.

The device provides no additional functionality. The app does not include a pedometer, as some have assumed. It will do nothing to enhance distance tracking. From what has been publicly advertised about the device, you will currently still need to have your app open for it to work at all. So in the game’s current state, you will pretty much still need to be holding your phone in the other hand, ensuring that the screen stays on the app. Both the phone and the dongle will vibrate simultaneously when a Pokémon is nearby. All of this can already be done without the dongle.

In reality, you will have LESS functionality with the GO Plus, with more to carry. The app gives you no experience bonuses with the throws, doesn’t let you use berries, only lets you throw the standard Pokéball, and most shockingly, you’ll only be able to throw a Pokéball using Pokémon GO Plus if you’ve caught the Pokémon before. The device doesn’t even let you add new Pokémon to your dex.

Some were excited about the device because they thought that it would allow them to stay connected to the Pokémon world all the time with less of a battery drain. This is not immediately true. There are questions on whether it will cause more or less battery drain than simply having the app open, as your phone will now constantly have to stay connected and send notifications to the device via Bluetooth any time you get close to a Pokémon or Pokéstop.

So, when is it coming out? Soon™.

Does it matter? No.

Individual Values in Pokémon GO

Individual Values in Pokémon GO

Individual Values in Pokémon GO

Bob McFadden

On August 23rd, 2016, Pokémon GO players in the United States received an update that added the appraisal feature to the game. This is the first in-game feature that allows direct insight into the Individual Values of a Pokémon. If you are wondering exactly how this new feature works, or even what Individual Values are, then keep reading!

In their official announcement of the update, Niantic described the new feature as follows:

Trainers will now be able to learn about a Pokémon’s attack and defense capabilities from their Team Leader (Candela, Blanche or Spark) to determine which of their Pokémon have the most potential for battle.

Niantic Labs

What they mean by “a Pokémon’s attack and defense capabilities” is that particular Pokémon’s Individual Values. Each Pokémon has unique Individual Values for Stamina, Attack, and Defense, which is a number from 0-15 for each stat. This is what makes it so a Level 24 Caterpie is not equal to every other Level 24 Caterpie. Some Caterpie are just better than others from the moment you catch them.

Individual Values are one of the most significant lesser-known aspects of the game. There is even an entire Reddit page dedicated to studying and analyzing them at /r/PokemonGOIVs. This new update will bring these values closer to the forefront, but the basic concept is that if you have a Rattata that has 15 in each of these three IV stats, you are a max-Level trainer, and you have Powered Up this Rattata until the arched bar was completely full, you would actually have the highest-CP Rattata in the world. You would literally have a top percentage Rattata. No one else could ever get higher than that.

As such, these values are key for securing that last little competitive edge in Pokémon GO battles. Many tools have been created to uncover these IV values. My old favorite was PokéAdvisor, which actually logged into your Pokémon GO account and showed the exact IVs for all of your Pokémon, but that website has now been shut down for violation the game’s terms and conditions. Alternatives have been made, but I am wary of using them, because they could possibly lead to my account being banned. However, since we know the formula for CP, (which takes Base Stats, Level, and Individual Values into account,) we can reverse-engineer the CP calculation, to be able to find out the possible IV values for a Pokémon who has that CP value.

Many great IV calculators are available online, created for this purpose. (A treasure trove of them can be found with a quick Google search.) The negative side of these calculators is that there are usually multiple possibilities that could give us that CP. Before, with these basic IV calculators, the closest that you could get to revealing the Individual Values of your Pokémon was a range of possible IV values. But now, with the new appraisal feature, you can see which of the three values is the highest in-game. And because of this, you will frequently be able to quickly narrow it down to the exact IVs without having to spend Stardust to Power Up the Pokémon.

There are 4 different IV ranges revealed by the new appraise feature, based on the total number of IVs that a Pokémon has out of the possible 45: About 0-50% Perfect, 51-66% Perfect, 67-80% Perfect, and 81-100% Perfect. This overall percentage is the first thing that they say, after a brief introductory sentence. Each team leader has a slightly different way of revealing these values. The way that they say them adds a little bit of character to these team leaders. Candela, in particular, seems a lot more positive and kind than I had previously imagined. All of their statements are found below.

0-22:

Instinct: Overall, your Pokémon has room for improvement as far as battling goes.
Mystic: Overall, your Pokémon is not likely to make much headway in battle.
Valor: Overall, your Pokémon may not be great in battle, but I still like it!

23-29:

Instinct: Overall, your Pokémon is pretty decent!
Mystic: Overall, your Pokémon is above average.
Valor: Overall, your Pokémon a decent Pokémon.

30-36:

Instinct: Overall, your Pokémon is really strong!
Mystic: Overall, your Pokémon has caught my attention
Valor: Overall, your Pokémon is a strong Pokémon. You should be proud!

37-45:

Instinct: Overall, your Pokémon looks like it can really battle with the best of them!
Mystic: Overall, your Pokémon is a wonder! What a breathtaking Pokémon!
Valor: Overall, your Pokémon simply amazes me. It can accomplish anything!

It will then tell you what its best attribute is, out of its Attack or HP or Defense, or potentially a tie. This tells you which of the three stats has the highest IV value. Then, it follows with a phrase that reveals the specific value of that particular stat.

0-7

Instinct: Its stats are all right, but kinda basic, as far as I can see.
Mystic: Its stats are not out of the norm, in my opinion
Valor: Its stats don’t point to greatness in battle.

8-12

Instinct: It’s definitely got some good stats. Definitely!
Mystic: Its stats are noticeably trending to the positive.
Valor: Its stats indicate that in battle, it’ll get the job done.

13-14

Instinct: Its stats are really strong! Impressive.
Mystic: I am certainly impressed by its stats, I must say.
Valor: It’s got excellent stats! How exciting!

15

Instinct: Its stats are the best I’ve ever seen! No doubt about it!
Mystic: Its stats exceed my calculations. It’s incredible!
Valor: I’m blown away by its stats. WOW!

Finally, the team leader will sometimes make a comment about the size of the Pokémon. As far as anyone has been able to tell, (and it’s pretty certain we would’ve known by now,) a Pokémon’s size has absolutely no correlation with its strength or abilities in any way. The only thing that currently takes size into account is the Fisherman badge for Big Magikarp, and the Youngster badge for Small Rattata. The usefulness of this particular part will pretty much just be for memes.

Anyway, I am so excited for the new appraisal feature. It is actually my favorite addition to the game so far. I stayed up until the early hours of the AM last night, going through every single one of the 500 Pokémon that I had in my box, checking all of them to see if they would take Blanche’s breath away. I have now Favorited every single one who did so. Excited to build up a team of extraordinary little beasts. Anyway, until next time, Train On!

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