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Selvala Brostorm - A Primer

Selvala Brostorm is a cheap, fast, and competitive mono green combo deck aiming to kill on turn 3 or 4. A budget version of this list can be found here. The deck is a blast to play with numerous tricky lines and decisions to make.

Selvala does not have the disruptive capabilities that blue and white colors offer, nor does she have the powerful tutoring capabilities that Yisan provides. Without these things, it is difficult to pursue a consistent midrange strategy. However, what she offers is absurd amounts of mana stitched together with a draw outlet. Brostorm is built to abuse all of her abilities as much as possible to slide under stax and midrange strategies with a quick kill.

Selvala is more fragile than the typical UB/x storm decks populating the format. Unlike UB/x storm, this deck is heavily reliant on its general in order to storm off, and is thus vulnerable to removal. The deck runs a solid removal suite for dealing with problem permanents as well as a small package for protection and recovery, both of which can be tuned for local metas. The deck is extremely efficient in its card choices, and there are no dead cards in the deck that do not contribute to the combo. As a result, the deck is flexible to tuning to your personal tastes without crippling its ability to combo or win.

Big ups to RedReveng3 for laying the groundwork for this deck. You can find his deck here: [Competitive] Selvala, Heart of the Wilds. This list and primer was tuned and put together by myself and tw0handt0uch. Our lists are identical at the time of writing, but his list can be found here: Selvala Nought Storm [Competitive].

Selvala Brostorm is centered around leveraging her mana ability to fuel your combo, so getting her down on turn 2 is generally top priority. Her activated ability allows you to generate mana equal to the power of the largest creature you control, putting her in a class with some of the most broken mana enablers ever printed - if you are able to stick a big creature. Towards this end, the list foregoes the higher cmc utility fatties (Regal Force, terastadon, etc.) and opts instead for the most mana-efficient, high-powered creatures available in green’s color pie. Chief amongst these is Phyrexian Dreadnought, which Selvala can use to generate 12 mana while his ETB trigger is on the stack. Having access to such massive, cantripping ritual effects opens the door to big mana strategies (i.e. Tooth and Nail) that would be unrealistic for any other deck on such early turns. When you start supplementing with pump spells and untap effects, the magnitude of mana production becomes absurd.

Two common paths to victory tend to present themselves when piloting this deck. In the first you are provided with an opening hand that has all the necessary combo pieces or sufficient tutors to fetch them. These lines typically involve the more compact combos: Staff of Domination, Umbral Mantle, Tooth and Nail, Weird Harvest, Cloudstone Curio + Wirewood Symbiote, etc. From there, it is just a simple matter of producing sufficient mana with Selvala to cast or tutor the relevant combo pieces and win the game. A typical line might go T1 mana dork, T2 Selvala, T3 Phyrexian Soulgorger, tap for 8, and play Staff of Domination to draw the deck and win.

However, often you find yourself with access to large amounts of mana but without the combo pieces in hand. This is where the fun begins and where the deck gets its nickname. Utilizing green’s creature-based draw spells and your cheap, high-powered creatures, you can kick off a chain of plays similar to “storming out” whereby you draw a chunk of cards, untap Selvala to get more mana, draw more cards, and continue to manipulate your hand and boardstate until you identify a line to victory. When taking this route, you’re often not sure if you will draw into the necessary resources to continue on, leading you to fail or succeed based on the quality of the decisions you make. As you gain more experience with the deck, your skill will improve and you will start to see new paths to victory while seeing them faster. A typical “storm” line might go something like T1 mana dork, T2 Selvala, T3 Phyrexian Soulgorger, Life's Legacy to draw 8, Quirion Ranger, untap Selvala, Ravaging Riftwurm, pump Riftwurm, tap Selavala, Green Sun's Zenith for Great Oak Guardian, tap Selvala, Greater Good to draw 10, and so on until an infinite mana combo is assembled.

Winning with Selvala is composed of three phases:
  1. Generating infinite mana
  2. Drawing the deck
  3. Kill loop
The deck runs many ways to generate infinite mana in order to make up for the lack of ease in assembling pieces. All of these combos can also be done with Priest of Titania instead of Selvala given enough elves on board.
4 Power Creature on Board

5 Power Creature on Board

6 Power Creature on Board

7 Power Creature on Board

8 Power Creature on Board

9 Power Creature on Board

Other

After assembling an infinite mana combo, you typically draw the deck by flickering a fattie and drawing off Selvala's EtB trigger. However, other available outlets are:

Note: If you are using Great Oak Guardian or Umbral Mantle to assemble infinite mana, you will need an outlet that does not rely on Selvala's draw trigger.

Once you have infinite mana assembled, you need to actually end the game. This is done with recursion loops. A recursion loop ("loop", for short) is a sequence in which you play a spell one time (for example: Beast Within, Primal Command, etc) and then recur it from the graveyard to your hand by playing Eternal Witness or by some other means. If you have a way to return Eternal Witness to your hand, then you are back at the beginning of the loop and can do it again.

At it simplest, the full recursion loop is: Play a card, play Eternal Witness recurring that card, and then bounce Eternal Witness back to your hand.

The easiest means of bouncing Eternal Witness is Termur Sabertooth, but Cloudstone Curio could also be used, or even Primal Command to shuffle Eternal Witness from your graveyard into your library and then draw it again.

Other than the complex loops described below, all other mentioned loops can be assumed to be simple loops. For example, looping Somberwald Stag refers to casting it, having it fight a creature, killing Stag if it didn't die, recurring it, and repeating.

Win Loops

Primal Command loops are one of the primary ways to win once you have infinite mana.

Necessary cards:

Looping:

  1. Remove all of your opponents' creatures with a creature removal loop.
  2. Loop Primal Command. If your opponents have relevant stuff in their graveyards shuffle them into their libraries with the third mode. Then you loop the second mode to put all noncreature permanents they have on top of their libraries.
  3. If you have not already drawn your deck, you can loop the fourth mode to get your creatures and then do so.
  4. Play all your creatures.
  5. There are some optional steps. You can put all your lands into play. You can make infinite tokens as well.
  6. Shuffle some cards into your library with the third mode of Primal Command. You can cast pump spells or cast tutors and fail to find in order to get cards in your graveyard if needed. This is so you don't draw yourself out on your next turn and keeps you safe from an unlikely Thought Scour too.
  7. Pass turn. Your opponents will, in all likelihood, do nothing consequential and pass. On your turn swing with your board to kill your opponents, using your infinite tokens or infinitely pumped creatures with Great Oak Guardian

Memory Jar loops are another primary way to win once you have infinite mana and have drawn your deck. This loop wins in the same turn, unlike the other two, so some pilots prefer it. I would like to stress that this does not make it better than the other loops. The "soft" wins do practically guarantee wins as well, and are not worse. In some situations it may be better to use this loop, though. I usually use the regular Primal Command loops as this one is complicated to execute, usually without any gain for doing so. It requires careful execution as your opponents will see every card in their deck, and you could leave yourself vulnerable to cards like Faerie Macabre. If an opponent runs Faerie Macabre, this loop is annoying to execute, and easy to mess up.

Necessary Cards:

  • Memory Jar
  • Primal Command
  • Autumn's Veil
  • At least 7 cards that do not draw that can be put in your graveyards, such as instant/sorceries that do not draw cards, or pairs of permanents and corresponding removal.

Looping:

  1. Before looping, cast Autumn's Veil
  2. Then to begin looping, cast Memory Jar
  3. Get at least 7 cards that do not draw you cards into your graveyards. This can be casting pump spells or removal spells on your permanents, or whatever else as long as the cards do not force you to draw cards.
  4. Use Primal Command's third mode to shuffle your graveyard into your library.
  5. Activate Memory Jar
  6. Recur Memory Jar and Primal Command
  7. Repeat until your opponents lose from drawing themselves out.

Beast Within loops are another way to close out the game. If you have access to Primal Command, the Primal Command loop is usually just better, but Beast Within loops serve as an effective backup loop, and a main loop if you do not run Primal Command. Thus for the rest of this description, I will assume you do not have access to Primal Command.

Necessary Cards:

Looping:

  1. Loop Beast Within to destroy all your opponents' permanents.
  2. Optionally, kill the tokens with a creature removal loop.
  3. You can then make infinite tokens.
  4. Cast Green Sun's Zenith and fail to find in order to put it in your library.
  5. Pass turn, and then on your next turn then swing to kill your opponents.

Of note is that you can execute this loop without Green Sun's Zenith if, instead of drawing your entire library, you leave some cards in, which may sometimes be the right play.

Other Loops

in order to remove opponents creatures, there are a few cards you can loop. The most common will be just looping Somberwald Stag. If you run a card like Pounce, you can also just loop that. Without access to those you can still remove creatures by looping Mouth of Ronom, described below. Without access to any of these you can still just use Beast Within to replace them with tokens, and then make infinite tokens for yourself.

Note that cards like Somberwald Stag and Pounce do not let you kill your own creatures. For that you will need to loop something like Mouth of Ronom, Beast Within, or Phyrexian Dreadnought.

Mouth of Ronom can be looped to kill creatures. You can also use this with all of your lands to put them all in play. Without access to Greater Good this can still be done for all lands not in your hand.

Necessary Cards:

Looping:

  1. Discard relevant lands in hand. You can do this by sacrificing Birds of Paradise to Greater Good to draw 0 and discard 3. Without Birds of Paradise, you can do this by casting cards like pump, using Primal Command to shuffle them into your library, and then sacrificing another creature to Greater Good to draw then discard. This step is only needed once.
  2. Sacrifice relevant lands in play using Crop Rotation and failing to find.
  3. Shuffle your graveyard into your library with Primal Command.
  4. Genesis Wave your library into play.
  5. You should have your lands in play untapped. You can leave them as such or to loop a land, you can use it and then repeat.

The deck as a few cards that are capable of winning on their own, similar to Doomsday piles in UB/x. These lines are worth learning as they come up reasonably often. All lines assume that Selvala is tapped at the start of execution.


Starting Mana Required: 10
Board State: Elf in play
Steps:

  1. Fetch Temur Sabertooth and Woodland Bellower
  2. Fetch Wirewood Symbiote with Woodland Bellower
  3. Generate infinite mana with Symbiote and the Elf
  4. Bounce and replay Bellower to fetch Duskwatch Recruiter  

Starting Mana Required: 12
Board State: 2 Forests in play
Steps:

  1. Fetch Woodland Bellower and Great Oak Guardian
  2. Fetch Eternal Witness with Bellower
  3. Tap Selvala again
  4. Recast Tooth and Nail off Ewit
  5. Fetch Temur Sabertooth and Quirion Ranger
  6. Untap Selvala with Ranger and tap her again
  7. Flicker Ranger with Sabertooth
  8. Untap and tap Selvala again
  9. Flicker Guardian twice while tapping Selvala in between (Sabertooth is a 10/9 now)
  10. Flicker Ewit to recast Tooth and Nail
  11. Fetch Wirewood Symbiote and anything else
  12. Generate infinite mana with Symbiote and Ranger
  13. Recast Tooth and Nail to fetch Phyrexian Dreadnought to flicker and draw deck

When playing with Weird Harvest, you should only cast it when you intend to win with it. Watch out for flash creatures that your opponents could fetch - most notably Snapcaster Mage, Aven Mindcensor, Venser, Shaper Savant, and Notion Thief.
Note: All Harvest lines can start with 4 extra mana to fetch and cast Dosan the Falling Leaf for protection before starting the combo.


Starting Mana Required: 10
Board State: 1 Forest in play
Steps:

  1. Weird Harvest for x=5
  2. Fetch Phyrexian Dreadnought, Temur Sabertooth, Phyrexian Soulgorger, Wirewood Symbiote, Quirion Ranger
  3. Play Ranger, then Dreadnought
  4. Untap Selvala with Ranger and tap her for 12 mana
  5. Play Soulgorger and Symbiote
  6. Untap Selvala with Symbiote to make more mana
  7. Play Sabertooth and go infinite with Symbiote and Ranger
  8. Flicker Soulgorger to draw deck

Starting Mana Required: 11
Board State: 1 Forest in play, Dreadnought in graveyard or exiled
Steps:

  1. Weird Harvest for x=4
  2. Fetch Temur Sabertooth, Phyrexian Soulgorger, Wirewood Symbiote, Quirion Ranger
  3. Play Ranger, then Soulgorger
  4. Untap Selvala with Ranger and tap her for 8 mana
  5. Play Symbiote
  6. Untap Selvala with Symbiote to make more mana
  7. Play Sabertooth and go infinite with Symbiote and Ranger
  8. Flicker Soulgorger to draw deck

Starting Mana Required: 11
Board State: 2 Forests in play, Symbiote in graveyard or exile
Steps:

  1. Weird Harvest for x=4
  2. Fetch Temur Sabertooth, Phyrexian Soulgorger, Elvish Pioneer, Quirion Ranger
  3. Play Ranger, then Soulgorger
  4. Untap Selvala with Ranger and tap her for 8 mana
  5. Play Sabertooth
  6. Flicker Ranger to untap Selvala and make more mana
  7. Play Pioneer and go infinite with Pioneer and Ranger
  8. Flicker Soulgorger to draw deck


Starting Mana Required: 14
Board State: 8 power creature in play
Steps:

  1. Summoner's Pact for Eternal Witness
  2. Ewit Pact to hand and Pact for Temur Sabertooth
  3. Play Sabertooth and flicker Ewit for Pact
  4. Pact for Quirion Ranger
  5. Play Ranger to untap and tap Selvala for mana
  6. Flicker Ewit to Pact for Wirewood Symbiote
  7. Go infinite with Symbiote and Ranger

Starting Mana Required: 15
Board State: 6 power creature in play
Steps:

  1. Summoner's Pact for Eternal Witness
  2. Ewit Pact to hand and Pact for Temur Sabertooth
  3. Play Sabertooth and flicker Ewit for Pact
  4. Pact for Quirion Ranger
  5. Play Ranger to untap and tap Selvala for mana
  6. Flicker Ewit to Pact for Wirewood Symbiote
  7. Go infinite with Symbiote and Ranger

Starting Mana Required: 23
Board State: 2 Forests in play
Steps:

  1. Summoner's Pact for Eternal Witness
  2. Ewit Pact to hand and Pact for Temur Sabertooth
  3. Play Sabertooth and flicker Ewit for Pact
  4. Pact for Great Oak Guardian
  5. Tap Selvala for mana
  6. Flicker Guardian twice while tapping Selvala in between (Sabertooth is a 10/9 now)
  7. Flicker Ewit to Pact for Quirion Ranger
  8. Play Ranger to untap and tap Selvala for mana
  9. Flicker Ewit to Pact for Wirewood Symbiote
  10. Go infinite with Symbiote and Ranger

The deck can consistently produce a turn 3 or 4 kill when uncontested, so you are happy to race any deck that wants to race. The matchup is excellent versus low-interaction combo decks like Animar, Soul of Elements, Prossh, Skyraider of Kher, and Maelstrom Wanderer. You have a good chance of beating them to the finish line, and competing combo decks will lower the odds that Selvala eats spot removal from the remaining players. B/G midrangy decks like Jarad and Meren that develop slowly are also favorable. While they are ramping into their value engines, your engine flat out wins. However, if the game goes long, they will value you to death, so tutor aggressively to make sure that does not happen.

As with all storm type decks, there are some staxy rocks and bears that make Selvala cry. Ethersworn Canonist, Rule of Law, Linvala, Keeper of Silence, Cursed Totem, Leovold, Emissary of Trest, Notion Thief, Gaddok Teeg, Aven Mindcensor, and Phyrexian Revoker all ruin your spicy plans. Your mitigation plan is often the same: use creature tutors to chain into Treefolk Harbinger for Lignify, Crop Rotation into Mouth of Ronom, “deer punch” them with Somberwald Stag, or blow up a stax piece with Reclamation Sage or end step Nature's Claim. Do not be afraid to bide your time, sculpt your hand, or just draw your way out of it. Others at the table will be looking to get rid of the hate cards too, so be ready to pounce when the opportunity presents itself.

  • Regal Force - A solid option for pure card draw on a body but inefficiently costed and slow. Can only reliably draw 2-4 cards. You do need 1 creature in the deck with draw power, but Duskwatch Recruiter fills that role nicely.
  • Hunted Troll and friends - Troll has a very nice power/cmc ratio at 8/4 but 4 cmc is an awkward spot for your plan. Ideally you drop Selvala Turn 2 and follow with a fatty but Selvala requires G to activate, so in order to utilize Troll on turn 3 you will need 5 mana available.
    EDIT: We have added Hunted Troll back to the deck. It is still an awkward fatty for the above mentioned reason, but we felt we needed 1 more fatty and troll is the best option remaining.
  • Chrome Mox/Mox Diamond/Lotus Petal - Probably the most obvious omissions, the fast mana rocks were in the list for a long time and would seem like auto-includes for any fast combo deck or cEDH deck in general. The reasoning behind leaving them out is as follows: virtually all fast combo decks have the tools to recover or outright win from the early card disadvantage of the fast mana rocks. For instance, ramping into an early wheel, Necropotence, or Ad Nauseam. The only other competitive mono-G list, Yisan, offers generous card advantage in the command zone. On the other hand, Selvala will rarely draw any cards before she is ready to combo off, so the card disadvantage can be crippling - extensive testing proved this to be the case. The most important early game goal is to drop Selvala by turn 2 and hit 4 mana by turn 3. The elf package, along with other cheap ramp, is sufficient to achieve this in most games.
  • Noxious Revival/Regrowth - These powerful recursion spells are commonly found in fast combo lists to recover lost pieces or re-use tutors. However, they tend to be dead draws in the opening hand. We opted for a tutorable, creature based recursion package of Eternal Witness and Skullwinder which can be pitched to Survival of the Fittest, boost devotion, act as fodder for Natural Order and Eldritch Evolution, and create bounce loops in the end game using Temur Sabertooth or Cloudstone Curio.
  • Sylvan Library - Another shocking exclusion of what is typically considered the best card advantage and unconditional draw piece in green. However, in Selvala it causes awkward sequencing in the early game and does not help when storming out. Testing identified the preference of mana dorks on turn 1 to attempt a combo on turns 3 or 4. If you draw both a dork and Library in your opener, there is never a good time to take advantage of Library without delaying your combo turn. We respect that you may need to see this for yourself to believe, but take some confidence that we both arrived independently at the same conclusion during our testing.
    EDIT: After further testing, we have decided to put library back in the deck. If there is a more powerful one-shot card draw spell, we may end up cutting library for it. Library has its uses for grinding out when your opponent stops your gameplan.
  • Seedborn Muse/Bane of Progress/Duplicant/Craterhoof Behemoth - These are powerful tools for a midrange strategy; unfortunately we do not have the luxury of toolbox pieces and silver bullets. In order to keep her combo engine performing fast and lean, we chose to keep our removal package tight, cheap, and focused - there is no room for 6 cmc removal. Muse can accelerate Yisan to victory, but Selvala has no way to take advantage of the mana. Craterhoof is a well known finisher, but Selvala offers combo engines that double as win-cons, freeing up that slot for tools that are more relevant early game. TL;DR: We are not Yisan.
  • Terastodon - A very strong Natural Order target, but that was really the only time we found ourselves casting the big elephant. Most times when he is accessible outside of NO, we would rather spend 8 mana to feed our combo / storm engine.
  • Homeward Path - Losing Selvala to a Gilded Drake is absolutely devastating. However, that is the only card that this is useful for. Selvala is extra hungry for forests to synergize with the Ranger duo and Utopia Sprawl, so we opted for basic forests instead of impairing the deck to counter a single card. That said, if the drake is prevalent in your meta, feel free to add Path back to the deck.
  • Fetchlands - The utility of fetches are well understood for their thinning abilities and shuffle synergies. In Selvala, you do not need color fixing and fetches can hurt you if you open with Elvish Pioneer or if you are facing down Blood Moon, Root Maze, Thalia, Heretic Cathar, Aven Mindcensor, or Stranglehold. The minor deck-thinning is not worth the draw backs.
- Remember that Selvala triggers whenever any creature enters the battlefield. The ability only checks power on resolution. You can pump a creature in response to draw a card. Also of note is that when an opponent resolves a creature, the Selvala trigger can be responded to before they get a chance to cast a sorcery. - Priest of Titania is capable of producing similar amounts of mana as Selvala under certain circumstances. You may be able to sneak her onto the field and execute similar combo plays if the commander tax gets too high or if Selvala is trapped by a Gilded Drake or Lignify. Yisan, the Wanderer Bard is your third backup plan and can synergize with untappers to assemble the necessary pieces. Remember your Yisan “double tap” tricks.
- If you can, play your untappers (Quirion Ranger, Wirewood Lodge, etc.) prior to casting Phyrexian Dreadnought. This allows for tapping Selvala twice before the sacrifice trigger resolves and sends Dreadnought to the graveyard.
- It’s usually best not to play your land for the turn until you actually need to. While storming off, you often draw into Cradle, Nykthos, or Wirewood Lodge, which provide valuable ritual effects mid-combo. The exception would be if you expect Daze, Spell Pierce, Flusterstorm interaction.
- Hold your important combo pieces (Staff, Mantle, Curio) in hand until you are ready to combo out and win. The chances that both Selvala and your combo piece will survive a full turn cycle if you pass the turn in a competitive pod are very low.
- The deck features some creatures that may be unfamiliar to pilots because their utility is so niche. If you start your turn with Sheltering Ancient or Phyrexian Soulgorger on the field, don’t forget to pay their upkeep costs or savvy opponents will make you sacrifice.
- Remember that Selvala’s ability can work on herself. If you can’t access a fatty, you may be able to use the pump spells to boost her power and proceed with the combo.
- A turn 1 Crop Rotation can land a turn 2 Selvala by fetching Hickory Woodlot.
- When storming off, be conscious of bouncing Great Oak Guardian with Temur Sabertooth. The cat cannot bounce itself, so if its power gets too big you won’t be able to use Selvala as a draw outlet. - Great Oak Guardian and Umbral Mantle grow Selvala while untapping her. This means you do not necessarily need a fattie to go off. Given sufficient starting mana, she will get large enough to go infinite.
I've linked a fantastic mulligan guide to the deck written by maynardferguson. It contains 25 hands with interesting decisions and explanations. Note that the list he is using is very close to the primer but not exactly the same. Nonetheless, the thought process should still be helpful to new and maybe even experienced pilots.

We feel Selvala has shown herself capable of competing in ultra-competitive EDH metas. Selvala represents a new and relatively unexplored storm-esque style of play in mono green. The combination of explosive speed, redundant and interchangable combo pieces, and intricate technical lines of play make Selvala a joy to pilot. The skill ceiling is very high and Selvala is a deck that will almost certainly continue to improve over time; it has open ended synergies with green creature tutors, untappers, undercosted fatties, and pump spells, all of which are likely to see print in the future.

More importantly, the deck sits around $600-$700 at the time of this writing, with a budget version with close to the same performance sitting around $250-$300. This makes the deck a fantastic option for people looking to delve into the competitive side of EDH along the likes of Edric, Sidisi, and Yisan.

This primer represents many hours of testing, tweaking, searching, and collaborating, but we in no way feel that Selvala is solved. We hope this primer has been helpful and look forward to seeing where the deck sprouts from here. If you liked the primer, show your support by giving us an upvote

Suggestions

Updates Add

Cuts:
Concordant Crossroads
Scroll Rack
Hickory Woodlot
Mutagenic Growth

Adds:
Skullwinder
Primal Command
Chrome Mox
Uncage the Menagerie

More gas cards have been printed in the recent sets, and scroll rack is no longer needed. Primal command replaces scroll rack as a way to perform infinite mill with memory jar by shuffling the graveyard into the library to refill and recurring primal command with eternal witness.

Crossroads has been cut as it's not very good pre combo turn. To replace it as a backup, skullwinder has come in as a secondary eternal witness. It's also just solid to rebuy a draw spell.

Hickory woodlot has been ok for the greedy lines but is quite awkward at times. Chrome mox has come in to replace it as a way to still achieve turn 2 selvala.

Lastly, mutagenic growth has always been decent, but uncage the menagerie is a pretty solid tutor that can get you a 4 mana phyrexian dreadnought as well as any other combo piece with sufficient mana.

Primer has also been updated with a mulligan guide written by maynardferguson

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Date added 2 years
Last updated 6 months
Legality

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 2.46
Tokens 5/5 Wurm, 3/3 Beast
Folders To Build, Take Note, Selvala, Selvala, Heart of the Wilds, EDH, cutthroat fun, EDH Resources, Other people's crap to look at, Other, Green Deck, See all 158
Top rank #1 on 2016-11-05
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