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Mees Brenninkmeijer

Worlds Salt, 10 Lists to Start the New Format With and Thoughts About Playtesting.

Mees takes a look back at Worlds and looks ahead to the 2016 - 2017 Standard format.

08. 09. 2016 by Mees Brenninkmeijer

Hey 60cards readers! Today I’m looking back on Worlds and looking ahead at the 2016 - 2017 Standard format. With my own personal Worlds performance being not that interesting, I’ve decided to write about the new format and playtesting. I’ve also got the list for Jit Min’s very interesting rogue that I will discuss briefly.

With variance being a factor in Pokémon, it’s always hard to judge if you’ve made a bad deck choice or that you were simply facing the wrong decks all day. Seismitoad/Manaphy and Mega Audino perfectly illustrate this point, with Seismitoad/Manaphy being a great underperformer at Worlds while Mega Audino caught everyone by surprise and ended up winning. In my team (Complexity Card Gaming) we always joke about playing Mega Audino if we don’t know what to play, without very serious intention. (If only I had listened!) Mega Audino is terrible against Seismitoad/Manaphy in pretty much every way imaginable: it easily heals most of the damage Mega Audino puts on the board and it has Glaceon-EX and sometimes Regice to make attacking hard for Mega Audino. 

Funnily enough, Mega Audino actually profited of Seismitoad/Manaphy’s perceived popularity, since many Night March decks chose to include Vespiquen which slows down the deck giving Mega Audino a bit more time to set up the double knockouts you need to win against Night March. And with Seismitoad/Manaphy mostly sitting at the lower tables due to Vespiquen knocking them out early, Mega Audino didn’t have a lot of terrible matchups to face. One can easily see how this story could’ve easily flipped if Mega Audino simply faced a lot Seismitoad/Manaphy in the earlier rounds, and the Vespiquen based decks got knocked out by the (in mirror) superior version of normal Night March.

Misjudging the amount of Vespiquen was definitely my biggest mistake at Worlds, as I decided to play Seismitoad/Manaphy and faced 3 grass decks in the rounds I actually played. I wasn’t expecting this many people to play the deck, and I also wasn’t surprised that only Ross made Top 8 with it. I still feel like Vespiquen wasn’t a very rational play, but maybe I’m biased because I like Waterbox. 

One of the Vespiquen decks I DID really like was Jit Min’s unique Stage 1s deck.

Focusing on different Stage 1s that counter other decks in the format has always been a popular strategy, but the last couple of seasons they never really came to full fruition. This can partly be explained by the format being very wide, making it hard to pick the right Pokémon. But it can also be explained by simple lack of effort. Another very limiting factor is your inherently bad Night March matchup with a lot of these decks. When Jit Min first introduced me to Excadrill I laughed at him, but quickly saw the potential against Night March. A lot of decks can’t keep up with Night March because they effectively trade one-for-one, but are worse at Knocking Out a Shaymin-EX than Night March. To solve this problem you need to make sure you can trade two-for-one, or never play Shaymin-EX. Since not playing Shaymin-EX isn’t really a viable choice in a deck that also wants to be aggressive, you have to opt for the first option. There aren’t a lot of cards that can achieve this, since you somehow need to draw an extra Prize off a non-EX Pokémon. Something with Ω Barrage or Δ Plus can achieve this, but sadly Pokémon decided to make these Traits very sparse. Excadrill is able to kill Pumpkaboo and Joltik, which means you can grab two Prizes in just one turn, exactly what you need. The other attackers shouldn’t surprise you, since they are the cookie cutter counters to other popular decks. Vespiquen to deal with Greninja and Seismitoad/Manaphy, Zoroark to deal with Trevenant and Aegislash to deal with Vespiquen/Vileplume. Mew and Druddigon provide cheap Basic attacks for when you have trouble getting out one of your Stage 1s, and Mew can sometimes cover weakness as well. Bronzong is played to smooth out your Energy attachments and keep the deck attacking at all times. 

I’m very happy that Jit Min made Top 32 with this awesome rogue, and I always love seeing what kind of creative deck he comes up with. Thinking outside the box is always a great way to make sure you do well at tournaments, since matchups are such an important factor. This holds true for any tournament, and we’ve often seen a surprise deck take tournaments by storm and later becoming metagame. Sadly, Jit’s deck will not hold up specifically well in the new format, since some of the decks he tries to counter are gone, but the concept of covering weakness with powerful attackers that can be placed in the same deck will always be viable. At the start of the format however, it’s very hard to know which direction the metagame will take, and anticipating on this is a very risky move.

The new format

The new Standard format is already very interesting, with the demise of Joltik, Pumpkaboo, and Lampent, Seismitoad-EX, and Trevenant, most of the creativity-limiting decks are gone and as a result there are currently a plethora of decks to explore and try out. In the rest of this article I will go over potential decks and how I will approach testing all these decks to see how effective they will be in the upcoming metagame. 

When there is such a large group of decks available you are bound to have what I call “duplicate” decks. Decks that might run different attackers, but basically try to do the same thing in the same way, just with different Pokémon. I like to categorize my decks in the following ways: 

Big Hitters (Decks that can easily attain a one-hit knockout on most cards in the format): 

  • Primal Groudon
  • Mega Rayquaza
  • Rainbow Xerneas
  • Mega Mewtwo

Beatdown (Decks that intend to trade hits with you opponent favorably by healing, knockout prevention, denial, being largely non-EX or other means): 

  • Volcanion
  • Darkrai/Yveltal variants
  • Giratina variants
  • Mega Sceptile
  • Primal Kyogre
  • Mega Audino
  • Mega Scizor
  • Stage 1s

Complex (Decks that do not have a simple strategy or lock decks): 

  • Greninja
  • Mega Alakazam
  • Mew Toolbox
  • Plume variants

Big Hitters are usually strong against Beatdown, as they do exactly what Beatdown is trying to prevent from happening. Beatdown is usually strong versus the more complex decks, since they often feature simple strategies that are hard to counter entirely, they are also hard to disrupt. Complex decks are often well equipped to deal with the Big Hitters, since they focus on taking away the set up needed to score these one-hit knockouts or abusing weaknesses that are hard to cover when your deck needs to be as consistent as possible. 

Next I want to talk about two very influential cards that will define the Standard meta as long as we don’t have Tool removal in our cardpool. Those cards are Klefki from the recently released Steam Siege and Garbodor from Breakpoint. Klefki has the ability to swing the matchup against any deck that relies on Mega Pokémon almost instantly in your favor by denying valuable attacks. The obvious counter to this is Garbodor, which blocks the ability of Klefki and will be a must include in decks that don’t have the option to run a solid non Mega attacker. Some Mega decks of course have outs on this card naturally, either by having a good enough Basic-EX to deal with whatever Klefki is on or by having access to strong non Mega attackers that go well with the deck regardless of Klefki. Garbodor is also a very strong option against most of the complex decks and Volcanion, since they often rely on Abilities as a great component of the deck. Another interesting dynamic in deck building is that because Mega decks themselves can’t really use Klefki very well because of Spirit Links, Garbodor is often dead in the Mega mirror matches, which might make it preferable to just try to deal with Klefki in other ways and save the space on Garbodor for these matchups.  

The only counter to both Klefki and Garbodor that can be used in basically any deck is Lysandre, but that can often screw up your Prize trade, especially against Mega decks that run Garbodor and no other non-EX Pokémon. Escape Rope is another legitimate out against Klefki, if they try to play around Escape Rope they will often end up using two Klefki, which is fine as well.

Hoopa-EX is another big card for Mega decks, as it helps your setup tremendously. In fact, when I was running a Mega Mewtwo deck back at Cities last year, I decided that it was worth playing multiple Hoopa-EX just to make set-up smoother. I feel the same about most Mega decks that will be viable in this format. 

An important aspect for a lot of decks will be Stadiums, most decks are required to play at least some form of Stadium removal to deal with Stadiums that harm them a great deal. For Mega decks Faded Town is a big issue, which means that they need a counter to deal with it, or end up losing the game quickly. For decks that like to run Sky Field, Parallel City is a big issue that needs to be addressed (with you own Sky Field of course). For decks that don’t have their own unique Stadium that helps them I think it’s mandatory to play Parallel City or Delinquent just to deal with all the powerful Stadiums that other decks are able to play. This is especially true for Mega decks, since Faded Town is just too brutal to leave on the field for any prolonged amount of time. Parallel City has the added benefit of either being able to prevent damage or discard your Shaymin-EX you still have on your Bench. With AZ gone, this becomes a more valuable asset that isn’t available in any other form, since even Super Scoop Up is gone.

The utility Supporters took a hit, with AZ, Xerosic, Cassius, and Korrina rotating out. Korrina only has effect on the Fighting decks that might make it into the metagame, but this was one of the best Supporters in the game, so fighting will surely lose some power there. Cassius saw limited play, but is gone for good now. AZ and Xerosic where played in basically every deck last season, and especially AZ was really important to remove Shaymin-EX from your Bench. While this will be less important now that Night March is gone, it also provided a way out of Special Conditions in case you got hit by one. The rest of the Supporter engine has barely changed, which is nice. 

We’ll get one with the different decks I want to discuss. Before starting to get into the different decks I will try to place them into tiers to see how important it is to test them and what you can expect to be more popular than others. Tier list

Tier 1:

  • Volcanion
  • Greninja
  • Mega Mewtwo

Tier 2:

  • Mega Rayquaza
  • Primal Kyogre
  • Mega Scizor
  • Darkrai/Yveltal variants
  • Vespiquen
  • Mega Sceptile

Tier 3:

  • Rainbow Xerneas
  • Dragon variants
  • Primal Groudon
  • Mega Audino
  • Mega Alakazam
  • Mega Gardevoir

Tier ?:

  • Mew Toolbox
  • Plume variants

The Tier ? is there for decks where I don’t really know how good they will be until I test them, it’s hard to see how well they will hold up and can be built in multiple ways to deal with the metagame.

Volcanion seems like a very good deck, it’s fast, does a lot of damage and has a great non-EX attacker in the little Volcanion. The list is fairly simple with some less obvious choices in Max Elixir and Sky Field. Sky Field is great for making sure you are able to get the full four Volcanion-EX in play, and as a way to remove Shaymin-EX or Hoopa-EX from your Bench by over Benching and discarding them when your opponent counters your Stadium. Max Elixir is to fish out your fire Energy from your deck faster and make it a little bit easier to hit with Volcanion-EX earlier. Volcanion-EX is a great attacker and it’s also the reason we put such an emphasis on retreating with 3 Float Stone, another way to counteract his negative effect when he attacks is to use Pokémon Ranger. The rest of the list is simple enough, and the most notable card that I left out for now is Entei. Entei is a great asset when you play versus Mega Rayquaza, but I figured the matchup shouldn’t be too bad and if it is we can always change this later. Flareon-EX provides you a late game finisher that only needs cards on board, and doesn’t require you to draw Fisherman out of N to take a knock out for the game. 

 

Greninja only loses the XY Greninja from the rotation but that’s not the worst now that Night March is gone. The build itself shouldn’t surprise you too much, it’s pretty much identical to what we saw do well at the past Worlds. Perhaps the only exception here is the double Lysandre, which is in there to painfully grab Garbodor twice to knock it out. Garbodor is a big issue for this deck and Greninja doesn’t have a good counter to it. Still, even with Garbodor up you can still make plays, and 80 for one is still fine in most cases. Especially when you pair this with Bursting Balloon you can still do two-hit knockouts on most Pokémon-EX. All in all it really depends on what is paired with Garbodor and how fast it hit’s the board. If it turns out mostly Mega decks will use Garbodor, it could be worth it to try out Faded Town, to give you some compensation against Mega decks when you cannot use your Abilities. 

Being a sort of successful deck during Cities last year, this deck got much, much better because Night March has left the format, a particularly unwinnable matchup for Mega Mewtwo. This deck is pretty straightforward, you simple attach a bunch of Energy to one-hit knockout your opponent’s Pokémon. Mega Mewtwo-EX’s damage output is dependent on the total Energy both active Pokémon have attached, which makes it have an often high base damage against many of the hyped Mega Pokémon we will see next season. Mega Mewtwo-EX does 190 for 6 Energy total, and 220 for 7 Energy total, which often means that with either 3 or 4 Energy you will be able to score a one-hit knockout against basically any-EX in the format. On top of that, the Basic Mewtwo-EX has a very useful attack in Damage Change, which allows to swap the damage between Mewtwo and your opponent’s Pokémon. This is a huge swing in momentum and some decks have a lot of trouble to deal with Mega Mewtwo-EX’s high HP. Being able to heal this damage and swing it back at your opponent is a Tool that affects the way your opponent approaches knocking out Mega Mewtwo. To counter Mega Rayquaza we also include Parallel City, but if that doesn’t turn out to be popular I would think a 3/1 split would make more sense, although Parallel City is always useful to remove your own Shaymin-EX or Hoopa-EX. I would like a seventh Psychic Energy, but decided the only card I want to remove for it is Mega Turbo, and in essence those both count the same toward your total Energy count. If you have trouble getting Energy in the discard pile, consider cutting a Mega Turbo for another Basic Energy. If you consider cutting Garbodor, I would urge you to use the space for at least one Hex Maniac! A good card that you can run in place of Garbodor is Zoroark, which provides you with a strong non-EX attacker. Its added bonus is that it provides easy retreating with the Float Stones in your deck. If you wish to try out this build you should swap the Garbodor line to a Zoroark line and cut one Float Stone for a Hex Maniac. If you wish to run the most pure build of Mega Mewtwo, you can fill up the space of Garbodor and Float Stone with Escape Ropes, an extra Lysandre, Hex Maniac and possibly the fourth Trainers’ Mail.

Mega Rayquaza doesn’t change too much compared to last year, it loses Battle Compressor, which makes getting the turn one Mega Turbo a bit harder and Sacred Ash, which makes recovering from your Stadium getting removed or replaced by Parallel City much harder. Thankfully, we still have Super Rod, but the difference between 3 and 5 is often noticeable and annoying to deal with. The premise of the deck is still the same, hit for a lot very quickly, in the past lists have seen stuff like Keldeo-EX/Darkrai-EX/Seismitoad-EX to complement the deck and provide another Bench sitter. Manaphy-EX is nice for providing free retreat, giving you a bit more flexibility. Another option is Magearna-EX, but there aren’t a lot of attacks that carry some kind of crippling effect so it doesn’t seem too practical for now. The swap would be a very easy one though, just remove Manaphy-EX and replace the Basic Energy to the correct color. We have Escape Rope in here to deal with Klefki, as this deck doesn’t really have a counter for that except for simply out speeding the opponent and finishing the game with some well-timed Lysandres. This is also why we run a Captivating Poke Puff, which can play down easy to knock out Pokémon-EX so that we don’t run out of easy Prizes before we’ve collected all six.

Being pretty much forgotten last format, Primal Kyogre-EX is still a huge tank that has Rough Seas available and now also Manaphy-EX to make switching around much easier. This could elevate the deck towards a more prominent spot in the metagame. However, due to its enormous Energy requirement, Primal Kyogre-EX is very weak against anything that can easily take a knock out. The high count of Professor’s Letter is to help with the double attachment option you gain from Alpha Growth. Double Colorless Energy may seem a bit weird in this deck, but being able to get rid of Shaymin-EX and easily retreat Hoopa-EX is worth its inclusion. To deal with Klefki, this deck is able to use the Basic Kyogre-EX to either sleep your opponent’s Pokémon to slow them down for a turn or to simply knock out something with the second attack. While this attack cost might seem steep, don’t forget Primal Kyogre-EX’s attack moves Energy to your other Pokémon, making this less of a problem. Vespiquen should be this deck’s biggest problem, but with the release of Karen in about a month, even that might be manageable if you include it. Other possible inclusions for this deck are Regice and Articuno, but I’m unsure how much value these cards hold in the new format, so I’ve decided to hold off on them for now. 

While this deck doesn’t seem very strong at face value, I’m sure everyone remembers how annoying constantly getting your Energy removed is. With Enhanced Hammer being gone, I suspect people being less averse to running special Energy, which you can punish very well with Mega Scizor. To deal with Basic Energy you run Crushing Hammer and Team Flare Grunt, which will make it hard for your opponent to keep a lot of Energy on board. The bottom of this card is interesting, as fire weakness makes it pretty much impossible to beat Volcanion, but psychic resistance is great against Mega Mewtwo. Garbodor is included so that you have even more of a lockdown going on, and to deal with Klefki, which can be very devastating because you already have such a low damage output. Cobalion is a cute tech that can close the game for you, or buy you a turn in the early game versus more Basic oriented decks.

Good old dark, being around for Basically 4 years and the premise of the deck has barely changed. Good Basic attackers that are quick to be charged but also the flexibility of multiple attackers and options. In this variant I have opted to go for the more brutal approach, focusing on Darkrai-EX with Max Elixir to potentially deal massive amounts of damage. The psychic resistance is nice against Mega Mewtwo, especially because you can keep most of your Energy on your Bench. Klefki is clutch to deal with less favorable Mega matchups, especially Mega Rayquaza, which is also the reason we play Parallel City. Reverse Valley is otherwise your preferred Stadium. Ninja Boy with Umbreon is a cool surprise that can swing any Mega Matchup right around, and Ninja Boy is in general a welcome addition to this deck, because we have a lot of different attackers for different situations. I’m worried about this deck’s Volcanion matchup, which might warrant inclusion of Garbodor. For now, I want to keep testing the deck without Garbodor, because I like the simplicity of this deck consistency-wise.

Without Battle Compressor, Vespiquen is a lot less appealing that it was before, but it still has its place in the metagame. Build without the idea of setting up one-hit knockouts quickly, Raichu is there to provide some type coverage and making it easier to stream attackers. Klefki is a new Tool for this deck against Mega Pokémon, but it also provides Pokémon that can easily be discarded, since you can attach Klefki to an Unown or different Klefki to discard it immediately. Against Mega Pokémon this deck packs some heavy hate, with the earlier mentioned Klefki, but also three Faded Town to increase the damage output you sometimes lack. It’s also there because you need a Stadium to counter Parallel City, which can reduce your damage even further and seems as it could be a popular choice. The matchup against Volcanion is problematic, but Raichu can take some of the early damage with Vespiquen dealing with the bigger threats later. Sadly there is no water Pokémon you can splash to deal with this matchup better, and Garbodor isn’t very appealing because of the engine you run and probably not as effective against Volcanion because you have such low HP and weakness. 

Mega Sceptile has never seen any real success, despite having a very effective type and awesome trait. Against decks where Mega Sceptile-EX doesn’t get knocked out in one hit, you can keep it running for multiple turns by simply retreating and using the attack to heal back up and keep your attachments going. Ariados provides you extra damage over time, which can easily turn three hit knock outs into two hit knock outs. Energy Retrieval is to keep your Energy flow steady without scarifying too much space. Virizion is a good attacker to close up, providing some much needed hard hitting potential. 

I either rank the other decks I’m going to discuss here either so low that it’s not worth looking into, or the deck is just too generic to build a specific list for. That’s not to say these decks don’t have potential, it’s just that this potential is very limited and I wouldn’t want to invest too much time into those. 

Xerneas

Both Rainbow Force Xerneas and Xerneas Break are interesting cards, from theorizing some of the potential builds for Rainbow Force I’ve come to the conclusion that the deck is just a bit too fragile. The Energy cost is hard to manage without some form of acceleration, and both-EXP. Share and Max Elixir don’t feel very optimal in the deck. Furthermore, if you opt for the build that simply plays a lot of types with Sky Field, you’re gonna have a hard time returning to your original amount of damage after your Stadium is countered, let alone if this happens with a Parallel City. You can run the new dual types to mitigate this effect somewhat, and that seems to be the preferable build. Sadly most of these dual types are evolving Pokémon, which reduces the speed of the deck a great deal. If you want to try this out, I would recommend a build with Galvantula, Bisharp, Mew and Volcanion-EX. 

Trying Xerneas Break at all seems unneeded, this card is basically a copy of Darkrai-EX, but with worse stats and it needs to evolve. Perhaps this card can used at some point, but I don’t think that’s right now.

Giratina

Giratina and the other Dragon cards still have the best Energy card in the game (Double Dragon Energy) but have a hard time utilizing this value and winning because of it. Although Giratina-EX’s Ability is very strong against Mega Pokémon, simple too many of them run Hex Maniac or Garbodor right now to really put a dent in them. And Pokémon Ranger has further dismissed the usefulness of Giratina-EX’s attack. Perhaps a build based on Mega Rayquaza (dragon type) is better suited for the current metagame. The most interesting concept is one running Reshiram and a bunch of different dragon attackers, where you use Ninja Boy to swap in the preferred attacker right away, charged and all.

Primal Groudon

While traditionally between both Primals, Primal Groudon saw more play, the tables might have turned with the rotation. Primal Groudon was always the go to Omega Barrier trait, the value of this trait has worsened now that not that many decks try to ruin your set up, but rather power themselves as part of their gameplan. Also, with Korrina leaving the format, Primal Groudon loses an important Tool in setting up, and Korrina was especially suited for the slower playing style of Primal Groudon. Furthermore, Focus Sash, which turned Primal Groudon-EX into a massive tank so that you could almost always grab 4 Prizes with very little risk is gone. This basically invalidates the old Primal Groudon deck we know. Perhaps a build with more focus on Carbink Break is what you need, incorporating a faster playing style into the deck. 

Mega Audino

Mega Audino is another deck that just doesn’t make the cut for me anymore, while it was great at Worlds being the only deck that could realistically stand up to Night March, that matchup is now gone and other Mega decks are now better equipped to deal with the metagame. Nevertheless, this can’t be forgotten and it pains me to put it this low. A build very close to that of the Mega Mewtwo deck is probably preferred, as Garbodor is a very strong option in the current metagame. The Bench damage is still very good, and that could also warrant the use of Yveltal to hit the crucial 110 damage on Shaymin-EX. The other Yveltal can also provide Energy acceleration, although Mega Turbo is fine as well. 

Mega Alakazam

Mega Alakazam never saw any play last year, but I had good hope for it this season, especially with Mega Mewtwo being a strong option in the current format. Sadly, most of this hope disappeared when I realized that Dimension Valley has rotated and is no longer possible to use in the Standard format. Without the reduction on the attacks, they simply don’t deal enough damage to be worth investing in. Furthermore, the weakness also works the other way around against Mega Mewtwo, which makes it easy for to score some easy damage on you, giving you minimal advantage of your low Energy cost. While Wobbuffet can disrupt your opponent greatly, there isn’t too much focus on Abilities. And speaking about Abilities, Garbodor shutting down your main damage, and not being able to effectively counter this is especially painful. 

Mega Gardevoir

Mega Gardevoir seems like an obvious counter to Mega Mewtwo decks, but is sadly very weak in other matchups. With Sacred Ash gone there isn’t much to take Pokémon in larger quantities from your deck. Maybe this deck will gain more traction when Karen is release, but I want to wait exploring this deck until we are able to use Karen in our decks. Positives include low Energy cost and having a dual type, although the main advantage here is the psychic typing. Dragon isn’t a very popular deck right now, but it never hurts to have multiple types covered. I’m also not sure which Pokémon you want to use to discard, but stuff like Jynx comes to mind because it provides a cool effect before inevitably being discarded by Mega Gardevoir-EX’s attack. Even with something like Sky Field being an option, this deck will never really be able to score one-hit knockouts on a large part of the format, since you don’t want to lose because you Benched yourself with the attack. A cool advantage you gain from Mega Gardevoir-EX’s attack is the ability to discard Shaymin-EX easily, which makes taking cheap Prizes hard for your opponent. 

Even more...

For now, I don’t want to touch on the Mewbox and Vileplume decks that are possible, because we simply don’t have enough knowledge of the format to see how these will develop. If they seem good enough, I will definitely write about them in the future, but I think it’s wise to focus on more conventional decks right now. If you’re dead set on Vileplume because you are a vile person (sorry, I couldn’t let this opportunity for a pun pass by) I would advise starting with Vespiquen/Vileplume, although the deck seems really hurt by Battle Compressor leaving the format. 

Going first 

With regards to testing, I would advise everyone to adopt a system where you go first exactly 50% of the time, as this brings down the variance in your testing by quite a bit. Reason being that going first is very important in the current format, as not attacking turn one is less of a hinder, but evolving first plays a much bigger role than what we are used too. If you want to play best of threes, I would advise you to keep track of how much you went first and whether or not you won/lost these games. Do the same for games where you go second. It will probably surprise you how favored you are when you go first, which puts 2-1 victories in best of three in a different spot than how you would usually see them. 

With that, I would like to conclude this article and wish everyone the best of luck with testing, if you are trying out a deck that I didn’t name, please share it in the comments and I will be happy to try it out. After all, no idea is a bad idea so soon in the format, where we wish to try and get a good feel for the format. I could also be terribly wrong about some of the tiers, so please don’t take them as a hard line, but more of a guideline.

-Mees

[+21] okko


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