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Eternity - Untwinked Bowazon Walkthrough

Discussion in 'Single Player Forum' started by jonnyphive, Mar 7, 2019.

  1. jonnyphive

    jonnyphive IncGamers Member

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    Over the last few months I’ve encountered a few sources of inspiration for making this character, leading me to halt my “Family Sept” for the time being. First, I loved playing my first ever bowazon, Lena the WWS strafer, and second, I’ve read through @Gynli's posts in the Untwinked 99er thread (at least twice) and have really enjoyed seeing the progress with the aptly named “Amazon” currently sitting at level 97 in the charts. In particular I find the idea of taking a character that initially is so weak (untwinked, at least) and turning it into a powerhouse. Finally, my wife needled me about constantly twinking all of my characters, pointing out that it takes the challenge out of the game. She also tried to get me to use the in-game stash only, but I’m too much of a hoarder for that so GoMule stays! And, of course, that UT99er thread just seems too fun to not participate. Thus, Eternity was born.

    My intention is to update this walkthrough thread periodically until I reach the hell Ancients’ Way waypoint, at which point I will end the WT and transfer Eternity to the untwinked 99er thread (a similar format to what @sir_cyclops is doing with Devi). I have no idea if I will ever even get close to 99, but that’s the goal. I just expect that it will take an Eternity to get there (if I ever do). I am primarily interested in sharing thoughts and ideas as I go through and develop this character.

    Starting out, I had a rough idea of my plan for progressing through normal and nightmare at /p8 (except /p3 bosses and /p1 Countess reruns), and at the time of this posting Eternity is actually toiling in Act 1 NM, having executed my plan with success thus far. My first few updates will hopefully come roughly once per week until I catch up to where I currently am in the game, at which point the updates will likely be more sporadic as playtime allows. So, onto the first update!

    [​IMG]
    So it begins…

    Eternity started off with her standard stack of javelins but ditched them as soon as she found a bow. She also found a nifty jewel in the Den of Evil but I stashed it away for my twinking collection.

    [​IMG]
    I’m always looking for more of these.

    Eternity continued on in rather unspectacular fashion, with her damage slowly but steadily rising thanks to Magic Arrow. The low damage on all early-game bows made my strategy quite straightforward: Once I found a 3os Hunter’s Bow, I dropped in 3 chipped rubies and used MA full-time. This setup gave me the fastest attack speed bow to go with the raw damage afforded by the rubies and MA, thus maximizing my DPS. I went with rubies over topazes due to the tighter damage range, Andariel’s vulnerability to fire, and the increased strain on my topaz budget early on due to the potential for magic find armor and helms. This bow easily carried me through the rest of Act 1.

    Once I reached the Black Marsh waypoint, I toned down the players setting to 1 and proceeded to run the Countess until I had a sizeable rune pile ready for Act 2. I wanted enough runes readily available to make Zephyr, 2x Stealth, Malice, and a few other things. This stop didn’t take very long and served me quite well in speeding up the next act. No other notable finds during this foray, although I did find one unique monster that had a name I myself have used in real life recently:

    [​IMG]
    Ah, Soul Eater… the name I have occasionally given one of my children when being particularly loud and difficult.

    One comment Gynli made to someone else in the UT99er thread about starting a bowazon really piqued my interest – focusing on Magic Arrow early on for the raw +damage bonus. Plus, a mana cost of zero and no need for arrows are two very nice bonuses early on. For fun, and because normal difficulty is generally pretty safe/easy, I took this to the extreme, and poured my first 20 points straight into Magic Arrow. By the time I faced Andariel, I had a maxed skill.

    [​IMG]
    Character level 20 = level 20 Magic Arrow. Pretty decent damage for this stage!

    (As an aside, I intend to leave Hell Ancients for level 98, so that leaves me with 3 respecs before then. Once a decent bow is found I will respec Eternity to a strafe/MS/valk/passives zon with enough hard points in strength to eventually wield a Grand Matron Bow. Later when more gear is gathered I will begin optimizing skill and stat points accordingly.)

    Thanks to the strength of this skill relative to the stage of the game I was at, Andariel fell easily and dropped rubbish as usual.

    [​IMG]
    At least the gem was a topaz! The bow was crap.

    Most surprising of all was that my Rogue survived the fight without anyone tanking and with junk gear. She must’ve just lucked out and avoided any of Andariel’s poison attacks. I finished Act 1 at level ~20.8, having conquered all side areas, killed all Superuniques, and touched all waypoints. This is the highest I’ve finished Act 1 in quite a while, and although I generally aim for level 20 at the end of the act I suspect the Countess reruns bumped me up closer to 21.

    Well, that’s all for the first update. Hopefully it generates some interest, and I would love feedback on the content/narrative. The Act 2 update will have a lot more discussion about gear choices moving forward; I’ve found that considering and prioritizing certain things (such as IAS) can make a big difference in early game bowazon effectiveness. Plus the magic finding game gets going in earnest.
     
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  2. Luhkoh

    Luhkoh IncGamers Member

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    I love it! Really enjoyed the read and will look forward to your posts.
     
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  3. Zyr

    Zyr IncGamers Member

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    Great start, and eager to follow! :)
     
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  4. Kartongen

    Kartongen IncGamers Member

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    Interesting read. I look forward to seeing her progress as my breakfast entertainment. :p
     
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  5. T72on1

    T72on1 IncGamers Member

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    Nice one. Looking forward to the rest.

    Good luck :).
     
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  6. Vildecor

    Vildecor IncGamers Member

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    Nice read! You brought me back to one of my earliest HC amazons that focused on Magic Arrow and Decoy. It's nice to see a level 20 Magic Arrow right out of the gate!

    Looking forward to see how things shape up for the rest of her journey.
     
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  7. jonnyphive

    jonnyphive IncGamers Member

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    Thanks all. Glad to see people are enjoying it. I may move up the Act 2 update to later today as a way to further push some momentum into this thread (and because I have another slow day at work coming up).
     
  8. jonnyphive

    jonnyphive IncGamers Member

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    Upon arriving in Lut Gholein, Eternity first bid farewell to her Rogue mercenary and hired Hazade the Prayer merc. Offensively, my overall plan with bows is to use fast base speed bows (-10 WSM) and rely on raw +damage modifiers to deal damage quickly while hiding behind Hazade (I kept virtually every junky +elemental damage charm for the first ~3-4 acts, for instance - it added up). I then pulled out a rather long shopping list and visited the local vendors (repeatedly) for the following items:

    -2x 2os Breast Plates (Stealth)
    -2x 3os Breast Plates (flawed topazes)
    -2x Full Helms (flawed topazes)
    -MF boots and gloves (>15% each – no strong urge to look for 25% since this isn’t single pass)
    -2x 3os Composite Bows (3x Ith and a utility/shutdown bow – see below)
    -2os Composite Bow (Zephyr)
    -3os Brandistock (Malice)
    -A pike for Hazade.

    Although not all these items would get much use (or any, in some cases), it seemed worthwhile to take the time to stock up. I'm looking at this as long-term as I can; a lot of these items can still have utility at various points down the road and by getting them now I am essentially building up my toolbox sooner than later. The FRW from Stealth, for instance, could be useful for Countess or boss runs later on.

    By the way, why do so many people spend resources on the savage polearm cube recipe early on when any randomly gambled pike (available at level 20) is plenty of power for an A2 merc through Normal? On a similar note, why any armor besides breast plates? The difference in % chance to be hit is negligible between the different early armors, and breast plates don't confer a FRW penalty. They also generally look decent. At any rate, with these new items in hand, a few gear upgrades were in order:​

    [​IMG]
    Ith haxxx: Easily some of the highest untwinked damage one can find on a bow this early.
    Coupled with a fast bow, the raw damage boost from Ith runes is quite potent.

    I also made what I consider to be an early game utility bow:

    [​IMG]
    Knockback, poison, slow – all the “defanging” mods I can easily get at this stage rolled into one item.
    Too bad I never once needed to use this. Still a cute idea, I think.

    Lastly, the merc and I were each given a Stealth armor, although for me it would be swapped out for a topaz’d armor soon enough.

    [​IMG]
    The FRW and FHR boosts were both great early on.

    With this new setup, Eternity and Hazade took the plunge into the sewers in search of Radamant. I began putting skill points into Critical Strike.

    [​IMG]
    It was easy to wear down Radamant while Hazade held off his minions.

    I generally enjoy the Act 2 surface areas, so Eternity headed out into the Rocky Waste with her driver in high spirits. My spirits were lifted substantially more when I had my first ‘big’ find of the game:

    [​IMG]
    Bloodfist! Every mod on them is fantastic, but the IAS will really help open up some options later on.

    Although I was really enjoying the improved performance of the Ith bow, once I got the Horadric Cube I went and cubed up my Tals and Rals (thanks again, Countess!) into an Ort and made Zephyr.

    [​IMG]
    In the end, this little bow would end up carrying me a lot further than I would have liked.

    I switched back and forth between the two bows to see which I liked more, and Zephyr won out easily. Since monster resistances were still pretty low at this point in the game, the 1-50 lightning damage largely offset the high max damage on the Ith bow, and the 25% IAS allowed me to jump from 12 FPA to 10 FPA. Add on the 25% FRW and AR bonuses and it was no contest. Although Bloodfist would’ve allowed the Ith bow to fire at 11 FPA, it didn’t do noticeably more damage and lacked FRW. Plus, I wanted to stack up lots of MF for most of normal to try and get some more nice items, so being able to avoid wearing Bloodfist without taking an IAS hit was another perk (9 FPA on a -10 WSM bow requires 37% IAS, so Bloodfist offered no benefit here. Might as well wear the MF gloves for the time being).

    As I continued through Act 2, there were a few more green and gold drops, including Snakecord, Hsarus’ Iron Stay, and Vidala’s Barb (what a garbage bow! Even with the set bonuses…), but this was clearly the second highlight of the act (found in one of Tal’s tombs):

    [​IMG]
    27% MF, +68 AR – hard to beat this for an early game bowazon looking for shiny new toys.

    The tombs were uneventful overall, though, with Hazade proving a durable tank behind which I could stand and plink away through doorways.

    [​IMG]
    I’m not hiding! Just… keeping my distance.

    I fought Duriel at level 28 with the following skill distribution: 20 Magic Arrow, 6 Critical Strike, 1 Decoy, 2 pre-reqs. I wanted the Decoy available for the Duriel fight but to be honest it didn’t help much. It could take 1, maybe 2 hits before poofing, so I resorted to a lot of kiting to bring Duriel down safely. I resurrected Hazade once or twice but Duriel seemed much more interested in me than him, so he didn't do much in this fight one way or the other.

    [​IMG]
    Something useful from Duriel? Front page news right here.

    The Hawkmail went into the stash for now, but it will likely see use later to help keep Hazade upright. CBF really allows for much more consistent leeching in the face of chilling enemies.

    And that does it for Act 2! Some very nice finds that open up some real possibilities later on. Getting a non-weapon source of IAS early in the game is nice as it opens up the possibility of using a higher base damage Zephyr while only slowing my attack speed by 1 FPA. For reference, -10 WSM bows hit 10 FPA at 22% IAS (37% for next breakpoint), whereas 5 and 10 WSM bows hit 11 FPA at 27% and 35% IAS, respectively. The Bloodfist would do nothing for a 0 WSM Zephyr bow, however (20% IAS for 11 FPA and 37% IAS for 10 FPA). Based on this, I planned to keep a sharp eye out for a 2os Long War Bow moving forward. If I end up desperate for more IAS, I can always farm normal Meph for Sigon’s 3-piece.

    Also, can you tell that Zephyr is the only decent early-game bow RW? Next up is Edge, but even that has a utility component due to its %ED only coming against demons (edit: and undead). Might be nice in a Razor Bow at 9 FPA, though.

    Thanks as always for reading. Although I am in A1 NM at the moment, any discussion about strategy moving forward is always interesting so if you disagree with my character development so far, let me know!
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2019
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  9. Maltatai

    Maltatai IncGamers Member

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    Good luck! Nice nagelring. Reading this makes me very nostalgic. But shouldn't there be, say, another amazon joining the walkthrough to add opportunities for character development and personal drama?
     
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  10. MizzouFTW

    MizzouFTW IncGamers Member

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    Awwww yesssssss! Love me some walkthrough posts. Following this bad boy.
     
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  11. SlashRox

    SlashRox IncGamers Member

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    @jonnyphive this has been a very enjoyable read thus far, keep it coming! Is this a softcore character?

    And high five to your wife for getting you on the untwinked train :) I hope she covinces you to let go of the extended stash, it makes the game even for challenging and fun!

    Hoping Bloodfists and Nagelring are just a taste of what is to come on the matter of drops
     
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  12. jonnyphive

    jonnyphive IncGamers Member

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    Really appreciating all the comments; thanks for the support everyone!

    @Maltatai Thanks for dropping in! The problem is that now that I know the master of D2 storytelling is watching this thread I can't even hope to compete in the character development and personal drama departments... plus I'm also pretty weak with creative writing generally. Hence, fairly technical (but hopefully still interesting) reporting is the name of the game for now. By the way, I've loved all your untwinked zon threads. Always a fantastic read.

    @SlashRox This character is in fact softcore although I am trying to keep her safe and keep the deaths down. I just don't have the time to start over every time I make a mistake! Although having played hardcore a few times I absolutely love the adrenaline rushes those NDEs cause. Drops have been relatively hit or miss so far overall, although one act boss's quest drop was almost too good to be true. You'll have to wait a little while to hear about that, though. ;)
     
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  13. Zyr

    Zyr IncGamers Member

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    Nor should you try. Certainly @Maltatai is A master of D2 storytelling, but it ain't a competition, no one else can tell YOUR story, and every post of yours I've read has been of great interest and value to me. Please keep on doing what you do so well!
     
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  14. jonnyphive

    jonnyphive IncGamers Member

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    @Zyr Thanks - very glad you appreciate the posts! I'll certainly keep posting in my own style. The bigger challenge is finding consistent playtime.
     
  15. Maltatai

    Maltatai IncGamers Member

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    Don't worry, character sidestories tend to grow on you, just wait and see...;)

    Also +1 to what Zyr said, very well put. Besides, it's not like I have omitted in-game discussion theory-crafting outright rambling in any way either. I particularly like that you take the time to highlight the early game ups and downs and considerations. I always find the end of normal trying for weapon-dependant characters and none more so than for the archers.

    Can normal Mephisto drop rare razor bows? Javazons can get lucky with a rare war javelin on occasion but I am too lazy to recall if bows are as available. I also vote for keeping the points in magic arrow for the major style points. Do you absolutely have to have both strafe and multishot?o_O:D
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2019
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  16. Zyr

    Zyr IncGamers Member

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    Indeed!

    For me personally, the answer is, "Yes, but not too much of either."
     
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  17. jonnyphive

    jonnyphive IncGamers Member

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    @Maltatai Yeah, I was starting to get a little bit desperate toward the end of Normal looking for bow upgrades. I had very poor weapon drops for quite a while but got lucky eventually. I don't think Mephisto can drop Razor Bows but I could be mistaken - I know Diablo can drop Skystrike, but I don't know about most early exceptional items from normal Meph.

    I'll probably stick with just strafe for quite a while after respeccing, to build up the P&M skills more (plus I find strafe more useful while questing), and eventually may settle on just Multishot or Strafe, but in my last bowazon I actually found a lot of utility for having both skills available. We shall see - it will be a tough choice as I progress further, and future discussion in this thread will hopefully help me make up my mind. :D I agree with @Zyr; I could probably get away with 5-10 in multishot and 1-20 in strafe, so there's quite a bit of flexibility there depending on +skills.
     
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  18. jonnyphive

    jonnyphive IncGamers Member

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    Time for another update! Act 3 went by pretty quickly so this update won’t be particularly detailed.

    The main change in Eternity’s gear for Act 3 was swapping out Stealth and a FRW circlet for a 2x flawed topaz Full Helm and a 3x flawed topaz Breast Plate. Progress was steady enough, and Hazade sturdy enough, that I decided to fully commit to magic finding for the time being. In addition to the helm (26%) and breast plate (39%), I also had the Nagelring (27%), a 14% MF magic ring (+AR, I believe), and gloves, boots, and an amulet at around 15% each, adding up to roughly 150% total MF - not bad for this stage of the game. As you would expect, green and gold drops picked up noticeably compared to Act 2.

    Act 3 started off smoothly enough, with some decent MF/dual resist gloves dropping in the Spider Forest (or Great Marsh). Later in the game, if I don’t need IAS from the glove slot, these could be useful.

    [​IMG]
    I’ll save these for later.

    My favorite drop of the Act came shortly thereafter: a rare amulet boosting MF, life, and resists. Hard to beat this combo of mods this early in the game.

    [​IMG]
    Very nice amulet; this will probably be worn for quite a while!

    As stated in the first post, I am clearing all dungeons while progressing through the game, as they can be fun and challenging side areas that sometimes yield nice drops. Case in point, I collected my first Manald Heal in the Swampy Pit. There’s no need for mana leech with Magic Arrow, but it may prove useful later on.

    [​IMG]
    A good roll - 6% mana leech should be plenty to sustain strafing with a decent bow.

    Always on the lookout for interestingly named mobs, I came across a familiar foe guarding the Gidbinn:

    [​IMG]
    Soul Eater – we meet again. That frosty aura will merely slow your demise. Now get out of my face!

    Even in Normal, the abundance of poppables in Lower Kurast tends to surprise with green and gold pretty regularly.

    [​IMG]
    Nokozan Relic. The first of many, I’m sure.

    I spent quite a bit more time in the Sewers than normal. My standard strategy is to drop down from the Kurast Bazaar, and work my way around the edges until I find the stairs down. Strangely enough, for the first time, I found the stairs in the middle of the Sewers.

    [​IMG]
    How common is this Sewers Level 1 map layout? In all my years I cannot remember ever seeing this.

    Most of the “formerly civilized” areas of Kurast were forgettable, but the Council did take a while to kill. Ismael Vilehand decided to drop Cathan’s Seal along with Khalim’s Flail.

    [​IMG]
    I’ll keep it for completeness (like all S/U with this character), but I doubt it’ll ever see much use.

    Although Hazade survived Ismael, he was soon felled by Hydras and rather than resurrecting him, I opted for the lazy option and spent the next five minutes sniping down the remaining council members between pillars in their little fortress.

    [​IMG]
    Slow, safe, and steady. Hydras don’t do squat for damage in Normal so only one or two potions were needed for this fight. The council members could have done some real damage in melee, but unfortunately for them their AI just isn’t smart enough to walk out a door.

    After killing the Council and reviving Hazade, it was down to meet Mephisto. And this is where I almost restarted the character out of anger. Mephisto was nearly dead when Hazade hit the floor and I had run out of mana (and pots) for decoys, so rather than take the 30 seconds to resurrect Hazade and/or restock potions, I decided to tank the rest of the battle. "How much damage can that icy ball of death really do?" Whoops. This is where I suffered my only death to date, and it was extremely frustrating as I was trying to keep this gal alive as long as possible. In the end I decided that if I was just going to delete the character, I might as well have been playing hardcore from the beginning, and there was a reason I wasn’t, so I “pressed Escape to continue”, revived my merc, and finished off Meph with an extra edge to my arrows.

    [​IMG]
    Next time we fight, Lord of Hatred, you will not experience even a momentary victory.

    The drop was disappointing, as neither the gloves nor the belt were of any use. Other finds from Act 3 included the Skewer of Krinitz, Vidala’s Snare, Cleglaw’s Tooth, and The Dragon Chang. As mentioned at the top, a pretty uneventful Act. I’ve been keeping my eyes out for a better 2os bow for a Zephyr upgrade, but no such luck. The Zephyr Composite Bow was definitely starting to feel a little weak by the time I got to Travincal. Those hefty mobs in Act 4 will take quite a few shots to bring down. At least my chance to hit is staying nice and high with Magic Arrow, though.

    What else to touch on... oh, right, stats and skills. I have been keeping Strength and Vitality roughly equal, with Dexterity staying out in front and by an increasing margin. I am generally adding points, 5 at a time, to STR, DEX, VIT, DEX, repeat. I was level 32 (I think) upon leaving Act 3, and I spent my skill points on D/A/E to work toward Valkyrie, and started on Pierce.

    Well, that’s all for now. Here’s to hoping for some more excitement in the next Act! As always thanks for reading.
     
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  19. Maltatai

    Maltatai IncGamers Member

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    This is why I don't play softcore. Dying still hurts and might make a character unplayable, emotionally-wise. This mental virus has for me in fact spilled over into several other roleplaying games that can be saved and loaded from any point.

    Good for us readers that you found the motivation to continue. One could argue that for a softcore character to have a full experience of the game she should die at least once. The walkthrough continues to deliver.
     
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  20. jonnyphive

    jonnyphive IncGamers Member

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    @Maltatai I definitely know what you mean. That death at Meph was far more painful for me than it was for character progression. It took until near the end of Normal for me to feel fully invested in her again, to be honest.

    Glad you're still enjoying the walkthrough. Act 3 was hard to report on because there weren't any real significant changes in gear, drops, or tactics, but that's not too uncommon at that stage of the game. The Act 4 update unfortunately won't be much more exciting, but things really do start to pick up again after that. I'm just staggering the updates, even the boring ones, so I stay out in front with my progress and can avoid longer lag periods in my reporting for as long as possible. Limited playtime and all that.
     
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