Slowly Growing Deaf: The Struggles of a Small Indie Game Blogger

Slowly Growing Deaf: The Struggles of a Small Indie Game Blogger

What follows is more reminiscent of my personal blogs in the past, so no gaming news or analysis here.

As I grow older and closer to the age of 28, I’ve been able to accept a lot about myself. One of them is that I am very prone to ennui, apathy, boredom, all of the above. I’ve been simmering for a little while, but I couldn’t really put my finger on it. I can tell that my Twitter account isn’t providing the source of excitement that it had afforded me in the past. I can tell that a lot of things in the world are falling apart around us. I can tell that there has been change in myself.

In this blog post, my 210th for this site, I shall explore the past, present, and future of I Can Taste the Mana, and my general experiences in gaming since I started doing this. Hopefully this introspection can help myself (and maybe others) have some clarity about the future.

Beginnings

My @GreenRangerHS Twitter account first tweeted on August 31, 2015, and this blog first posted not long after on September 10, 2015. In my introductory post, I do the basics, like state my name, why I am called GreenRanger, and my intentions. Back then I was a worse Hearthstone player in general, stating that I hadn’t gone past Rank 10 in Ranked, and had only 3 12-win Arena runs. The takeaway is that in the introductory post, I wasn’t sure where the blog would take me. I honestly didn’t think I had aspirations of anything other than “it being fun to do.” Also, I was extremely enthused playing Hearthstone during The Grand Tournament, and enjoying the heck out of Arena, something that hasn’t really changed since.

The Past 2 Years

My blog eventually picked up steam in 2016. Just by sheer volume of blog posts, the higher view averages came by October 2016. But my most successful day was April 1, 2016, when I posted the first “Hearthstone Evolve Chart” on Reddit, and it was a big day.

My Twitter account also grew a lot during this time. I followed more people, got followed by some, and interacted with even more people. Additionally, I lifted my initial reservations of tweeting outside of Hearthstone. I notoriously only interacted with people on Twitter for Hearthstone purposes to discuss Hearthstone. Eventually, this stopped, but I will get back to this point later. Anyways, a great time was had by all.

A lot of other stuff happened of course. Hearthstone grew a bit in their team, and a lot of cards were released. The Hearthstone Arena actually changed since I started blogging. The community has grown tremendously, with podcasts sprouting all over. I showed up on a few podcasts. I played Hearthstone with other people in co-ops and tournaments.

At some point, I thought my blogging would take me to somewhere further up. The gaming industry and esports has grown exponentially since I started blogging. Having played games forever, the idea of having gainful employment in gaming just seemed like a great fit. Of course, the flaw was that I expected the blogging to do all the heavy lifting towards this desire, and there is much more to it than the work.

Present

2017 has not been a high point for me regarding Hearthstone. While I was playing Ranked at a decent rate to begin the year, I definitely have become an Arena-only player nowadays. Ranked play doesn’t appeal to me at all anymore, and I am playing minimal games each month in that mode. I seem to get a 12-win run monthly now, which is great, but I have also had to take breaks from the game due to frustration.

On Twitter, my timeline has become more difficult to follow with enthusiasm. While I blame a lot of this to Twitter modeling themselves into Facebook, people change. People are making Twitter a surrogate for Facebook they formerly used. Basically, the talk about Hearthstone has gone down considerably, and people are using Twitter for other means. It’s not a stretch to put some blame on politics; had the US presidential election had another outcome (or better candidates), Twitter would be a lot less politically inclined as it is now. So it’s hard to sift through my timeline for worthy Hearthstone stuff.

And even when I find worthy Hearthstone stuff, my own problems come in the way. I lack enthusiasm upon seeing Hearthstone content. Content creators need to find ways to prevent themselves from being stale. But frankly with Hearthstone being a slow game in terms of releasing new stuff, it is hard to do that. Further, the Hearthstone network I have been part of doesn’t have much an Arena focus. I definitely still am a fan of Arena, and that is preventing this blog from dying completely. But given how hard it is to find actual Hearthstone stuff on my timeline, coupled with no Arena information, it is hard to stay engaged nowadays.

Future

I’ve gone full circle to my September 10, 2015 introductory post in that I don’t know where I will go with this blog. It is almost safe to say that any aspirations I had in moving up in Hearthstone beyond this blog is gone. There is just a lot of saturation in the game, and it will take real dedication to separate yourself in order to move up. Kudos to those who are trying, but I am not in the same class.

It is possible that something changes, and I completely fall in love with the next expansion. It is possible that I suddenly become an Arena savant. It is possible I start enjoying myself more often. I am not betting on any of it.

For now, this blog will continue to exist as it is, with my infrequent blogging about Hearthstone Arena. I’ve recently just been writing with numbers from HSreplay.net, and that won’t likely change, given my lack of knowledge outside of Arena.

It is possible that I shift my focus more on Duel Links, the game that I am honestly more invested in now. With some modest success from the podcast and Twitter account, I feel like I’ve had a bigger impact in that community.

Despite the depressing nature of this post, I am proud of this blog. As said, this will be post #210, so the volume is something to be proud of. In a couple months, I should be hitting a 30k view milestone, which is okay I guess for an independent blog such as this. Also, it just gave me an outlet to write stuff and share my passion for Hearthstone.

Thanks to everyone who has visited the blog!

 

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Stream of Consciousness: You Play to Win the Game

Stream of Consciousness: You Play to Win the Game

Card game expansions are supposed to be about trying out new decks and theorycrafting new stuff. Maybe. If that’s fun for you.

In the past, I would do seemingly only do this in Ranked Hearthstone games. I’m not sure if I didn’t care about winning back then. I remember a lot of Reno Rogue games, where I was greedy with fitting in legendaries like Anub’arak. I remember playing a Miracle Mill Rogue. I remember playing a lot of Mech Rogue for Voltron.

Today, a couple weeks after the release of Knights of the Frozen Throne, I found myself playing Pirate Warrior. A Pirate Warrior who never plays the deck, and trades a little more than he ought to. Thanks to hsreplay.net, below is a graphic of my last Ranked Warrior games. I basically started the playing the deck for the first time in 4 months, and seem to take month-long intervals. Yes, I play very little Ranked, and only play Rogue.

pirate warrior.PNG

I guess a switch went off and I decided to hustle some wins. Here were my Ranked games prior to today.

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Besides the meta Evolve Shaman that eats it to Druid, my Rogue games consisted of offbeat stuff like Burgle Rogue, C’Thun Rogue, etc. Besides the low volume and low wins, I just wasn’t digging the “explore fun decks” process. I wasn’t going to keep playing unless I won some games. Prior to touching Pirate Warrior, my Ranked win rate this month was less than 50%. I deleted the Burgle Rogue list I made myself.

I’m not here to complain about Druids. I’m just noting that at some point, I stopped caring about exploring fun decks. The expansion is still young, heck the adventure still has Week 3 to go. Just saying that at some point the concentration of winning took over, and nothing else mattered. And I’m not much of a Ranked player to begin with.

I’ll keep playing Pirate Warrior in Ranked for now. Maybe I’ll be content when I get to Ranked 10. I’m not really enjoying it I would a Rogue deck, but I’ll take the wins.

I can blame the “Information Meta” we can’t leave, and how everyone has access to every single decklist. I can blame pro players from being too good and figuring it out so fast. I can blame my own inability to keep composure after losing. It’s probably some recipe of all of it, and it is loosening my already tepid desire to play Ranked Hearthstone at all.

Contesting the Board: Constructed vs Arena

Contesting the Board: Constructed vs Arena

As part of the Hearthstone festivities leading up to the new expansion, the new Ahune Frost Festival is going on, which focuses on the Arena. Everyone is incentivized to play 3 Arena games (at least 1 run), to get a free card pack. Additionally, all Arena runs start off as 1-0. This is great news in general. Let’s think of the implications this has.

  1. Everyone will play at least 1 arena.
  2. People who have never played arena, or seldom play arena will be coming back.
  3. Unusual drafting choices will be encountered.
  4. Unusual gameplay will be encountered.

I’m going to make a point about #4 in this blog, but yes, these things are mostly true. I’ve played a few arenas in this event, and noticed that players don’t play the board as much as they should. It is a very important arena concept to fight for the board, as the ability to play off the board is not as tenable as it is in constructed, where you can actually choose your deck. Going off what I perceived as wrong arena play, I decided to take a look at some data to confirm this.

Methodology

  • The morning of the Ahune Festival, I went to hsreplay.net to find target usage of a few cards. Because I was aware that the hsreplay data would be contaminated by non-Arena players entering the game, I intercepted the data just hours into the event.
  • I decided to look at spells and what they targeted, for Ranked Standard and Arena. I picked some popular spells that do damage to both minion and hero. I did not get every card, since I was strapped for time.
  • I looked at a few minions that have target effects, for Ranked Standard and Arena. Part of the Arena is playing for tempo (to fight for the board), and not worrying about value. Again, I was strapped for time, so only picked a few.

Examples

Spells

Frostbolt

  • Opponent hero tgt in Arena = 4.02%
  • Opponent hero tgt in Ranked = 18.02%

While there is a spread of 14% here between the formats, this was likely a bigger chasm when Frost Lance existed. Frostbolt also has more utility on minions, as it prevents one turn of damage. The 4% in Arena speaks to it being used for early board control.

Flame Geyser

  • Opponent hero tgt in Arena = 4.96%
  • Opponent hero tgt in Ranked = 17.65%

Flame Geyser has a slightly smaller difference, likely because it just does 2 damage. That likely isn’t much to go face with, and it best equipped for small minions.

Fireball

  • Opponent hero tgt in Arena = 21.12%
  • Opponent hero tgt in Ranked = 44.61%

Here we have an over 23% spread. Fireball is one of the most effective face damage spells for the cost. Mages can play off the board better in Ranked.

Firelands Portal

  • Opponent hero tgt in Arena = 8.65%
  • Opponent hero tgt in Ranked = 29.26%

Firelands is more a board control tool given it’s cost, and it shows in the difference here. Burn Mages in Ranked still go face with it a lot, despite the heavy cost.

Kill Command

  • Opponent hero tgt in Arena = 19.91%
  • Opponent hero tgt in Ranked = 29.35%

Back when Hunter was actually good at going face, this might have been a much bigger difference. Now, Hunter has to fight for the board more often, as it struggles to survive in Ranked.

Swipe

  • Opponent hero tgt in Arena = 9.45%
  • Opponent hero tgt in Ranked = 6.12%

Here we have reverse splits, as Arena Druids go face with Swipe more often than Standard Ranked Druids. I can’t really explain this, except I know that Druid is the most popular class in Standard. It could be torn by Jade Druid vs Aggro Druid, and how Swipe is employed in each deck.

Minions

Golakka Crawler

  • No tgt in Arena = 93.72%
  • No tgt in Ranked = 72.58%

The Arena has been starved for solid 2-drops since the shift to Standard format, and the reduction of staples like River Crocolisk and Bloodfen Raptor. Golakka Crawler, a tech against Pirates, also has less fewer Pirate targets in Arena than Ranked.

Houndmaster

  • No tgt in Arena = 11.09%
  • No tgt in Ranked = 4.54%

Houndmaster is rarely played as a 4-mana 4/3, as it is a pretty bad tempo play. This 7% different probably just accounts to it being less likely to get Beasts on the board in Arena.

Crackling Razormaw

  • No tgt in Arena = 20.45%
  • No tgt in Ranked = 7.72%

Unlike Houndmaster, Crackling Razormaw is fine being a 3/2 2-drop. I do find the 7% Ranked tempo play being a bit low, which might owe to how important adapt is for Hunter. It is also possible they just play some 1-drops or hero power instead of holding the board.

Rockpool Hunter

  • No tgt in Arena = 83.37%
  • No tgt in Ranked = 15.56%

Again, this speaks to how important 2-mana 2/3’s are in the arena. Murlocs aren’t prevalent in arena, and there is no reason to run this card outside of Paladin in Ranked. This big split isn’t really surprising at all.

SI:7 Agent

  • No tgt in Arena = 5.65%
  • No tgt in Ranked = 8.63%

And we end at SI:7 Agent, which has the 3-mana 3/3 occurring more in Ranked. This is interesting but understandable. Miracle decks typically lack minions, so there is sometimes no other option. And Rogue is a board-control class in either format, so it is played just like that. Arena Rogues could be a bit more greedy with the value, as they have more minions at the disposal. Still, I think this is a very low percentage for both formats, I would’ve expected it to happen 10-20%.

Down the Hatch: My Time With Hearthstone in 2016

Down the Hatch: My Time With Hearthstone in 2016

You know, I had plans to compile a bunch of stats from the year that explicitly stated how well I played Hearthstone. Then my regular computer stopped working, and the Decktracker on this one didn’t record a whole lot of games, so there you have it.

Last year, I wrote a post at the end of 2015, stating it was the year I became an Arena player. This goal was reaffirmed in 2016, where I mainly stayed in the Arena while enjoying Hearthstone. But, I guess in 2016, I began to play more Hearthstone, and Constructed/Ranked Play. Let’s talk about 2016 in Hearthstone for me.

Hearthstone Screenshot 01-01-17 08.46.35.png
Wins and levels as of 1/1/17

Arena

My Arena average stands at 4.83, which means that my overall wins per run was short of 5 as well in 2016. I did get the Lightforge Key (12 wins) 7 times in 2016, putting me at 11 Lightforge Keys overall. There was a bit of diversity in classes this time, as I got my first 12-wins with Shaman, Warlock, Hunter and Druid. The Hunter run was also my first non 12-2, as a 12-1 run.

2016 saw the first changes made to the Arena ever, with the rebalancing initiative. I would like to see more done to recognize the Arena and players in the future, though I am not particularly looking forward to any drafting synergy changes, which I feel would promote less transparency. For now, I will likely continue approaching the game with this Arena mindset.

Hearthstone Screenshot 10-06-16 23.08.53.png
My most recent 12-win had Deadly Fork doing just enough to win.
Hearthstone Screenshot 08-15-16 00.07.48
12-1 Arena feat Pantry Spider

Constructed/Ranked

Having the Decktracker stats here would be great, but whomp whomp. I won something like 51-53% of Ranked games. I can say that I got Rank 5 only once in 2016, achieved by either playing Reno Rogue or when Shaman was the new hotness. I started the year brushing Rank 10, but ever since the Rank 5 breach, I have been regularly ending seasons around Rank 6 or 7. This inability to muster a little extra effort to get a golden epic reward rather than a golden rare card epitomizes where I hit my limits in Ranked play. I would very much like to get Legend some day in 2017, but the inability to get to Rank 5 on a regular basis highlights my general inability to play Ranked.

Hearthstone Screenshot 06-01-16 08.16.10.png
I need to get more of these

I don’t play much Wild, but I did play mostly Wild in November 2016, when I was completely done with the Standard meta. I hit Rank 10 there as a high. Otherwise, I head to Ranked Wild as a playground to complete quests and earn some easy Ranked wins in the same action.

On the Golden Hero front, nothing happened in 2016.I got Golden Valeera in April 2015, and haven’t gotten another one since. This is something I don’t put priority in at all I guess.

This Blog

I blogged all year about Hearthstone mostly, and I am not sure if I reaped the rewards from it. I know the amount of traffic blogs get have a bit of variance, so no idea “how well I did.” But, I blogged a lot, a lot of people (relative term) read stuff. While I am not the best Hearthstone player, I do have a lot to say on the blog!

I have a concurrent blog going on Creators, but haven’t had the time recently to double-post things. Will hop back on that blog soon.

Hitting 10,000 views was a bit of a milestone for me, and I ended the year with 11,468 views.

2016views.PNG
2015, the year I blogged crap

I have mentioned it before, but I got huge spikes in my views from Hearthstone Reddit. Surprisingly, 2 of my best posts in the year were about Diablo 3 and Syphon Filter. Maybe I should blog about other games once and a while.

2016posts
Master of Evolution still doesn’t have a future.

Nothing really new in my blog audience. I do get a kick out of a single view from random countries/territories/isles now and then. I will achieve the ultimate country achievement if North Korea some day registers. Hearthstone is taking over the world.

2016countries.PNG
Probably a better gauge of English-readers across the world.

This blog is run by myself and I don’t get paid for it. Everything is “organic” (I hate myself already for saying that). So, most of my views come off various search engines and spikes on Reddit.

2016referrers.PNG

Other Things

I did appear in the Top Deck Kings Podcast as a guest once, that was a good experience. I have thought about Podcasting in the past, but it is something I haven’t gone into, as I don’t feel I bring anything new to what is already out there.

I also have an experimental YouTube account where some videos of gameplay and analysis are found. That hasn’t gotten much traction, and I am not interested in being a streamer, so that’s that. Another thing that I did this year!

Oh yeah and don’t forget the time I predicted Am’gam Rager.

am'gam.PNG

2017

Here’s to 2017 in Hearthstone. I look forward to all the neat stuff that will come out. I sure hope I am still enjoying the game and blogging by this time next year. We never know what will happen, but I fully intend to keep playing this game.

 

Mana Milestone: 10k Views

Mana Milestone: 10k Views

While I woke up this morning cold, sneezing, and covered with tissues and snot (allergies are the worst), I remembered to check my phone to not miss an important milestone for this blog. And I happened to catch it at the right time:

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10,000 views is not a big deal for any mainstream site, as they probably get that many views in a matter of hours. But this is something that I am proud of, given I get my views through my own self-promotion and getting SEO hits on search engines. The other hilarious thing about my blog is that I got 16% of my views on one day. As much of a wasteland Hearthstone Reddit is usually, I owe them that one. Thanks for reading about Master of Evolution, a card that Shamans don’t play because they have better options.

Anyways, I want to thank everyone who reads my blog or has come for a look. While most of my views come from the Western world, people from all over the world (I mean all over) have come by, all united by the interest in Hearthstone. Thanks to everyone on Twitter, who I talk Hearthstone with. Thanks to all my fellow game bloggers on WordPress.

I don’t have a lot exciting going on in my life, but this blog is something I enjoy doing. Talking and thinking about Hearthstone gets my juices flowing, and I try to share my thoughts here. While I am also posting on the Creators blog (https://creators.co/@GreenRanger), where there are editors working on my posts, this will still be my go-to site for posting anything. Moving forward, I expect to delve into Mean Streets of Gadgetzan completely, and I also might write about other games now and then. I recently realized that I have a lot to talk about Diablo I.

Anyways, thanks for getting me to 10,000 views. I look forward to keep talking Hearthstone with everyone.

One Year of Mana

One year ago, I decided to resurrect my blogging hobby that had gone on and off for years. Unlike previous boring personal blogs, I decided to solely focus the blog on the game Hearthstone. And here we are.

All-time stats

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My overall stats are funny. I guess I blogged fairly regularly every few days through the year. I had just over 8,400 views and 6,950 visitors. I had a few days of high-view outliers, where my blog was advertised on Hearthstone Reddit, and my site traffic was on fire.

Top 10 posts

Post Views
Master of Evolution – A Bright Future 3238
Home page / Archives 1535
Hearthstone vs Magic Duels 706
Pick Your Poison: The Dilemma of 3 Bad Arena Choices 244
Grinding Tools 193
On the HearthArena Fallout 151
My Top 10 Cards from Whispers of the Old Gods 121
Enter the Shadows: Diablo 3 Patch 2.4 115
Tentacles for Arms, Throwing Everyone for a Loop 108
The Most Annoying Minions in Hearthstone 99
Miraculous Revival -What’s Next for Miracle Rogue? 96

As alluded above, most of my views came from a few days. My pre-Old Gods release post of Master of Evolution stats in transforming minions was prefaced by a post I put on Hearthstone Reddit. It became a front page post, and the rest is history. My next highest posts were put on Reddit by strangers. “Hearthstone vs Magic Duels” is a post that seems to keep giving, and is useful in introducing people to both games. “Pick Your Poison” was a post I really enjoyed writing, about drafting bad arena cards. “Grinding Tools” is an admittedly lousy post that just describes what decks I played for a season. The post about ADWCTA and Merps leaving HearthArena was a bit of Hearthstone drama that will help explain that incident. The Old Gods Top 10 list was a bit generic, but very enjoyable and though-provoking to create. My sole post on Diablo III was also one of my highest-viewed posts. Other posts rounding out the top 10 include a commentary on the horrible Tentacles for Arms, a list of annoying Hearthstone minions, and theorycrafting Miracle Rogue after Dog’s usage of Tomb Pillager.

Most popular countries

world map.PNG

Country Views
United States 3648
Canada 491
United Kingdom 474
Germany 436
Australia 304
Brazil 261
France 204
Singapore 197
Netherlands 169
Sweden 147

Not surprisingly most of my viewers come from the United States. Being a popular game on the EU servers, a lot of European or “Western” countries show up as top views. Brazil and Singapore have some reach as being slightly different countries, but show the Hearthstone passion in those countries. The blog has reached computers through the world, including the Faroe Islands, Seychelles, Curacao, and even a country called “European Union!”

Top referrers

Referrer Times
Reddit 2614
Google 2411
WordPress 199
Twitter 147
Bing 123
Google Images 98
Yahoo 50
DuckDuckGo 41

Not surprisingly, Reddit was the top source of referrals to my page, given the front page advert. A slew of search engines and social media outlets WordPress and Twitter chipped in. I even got a view from someone in a cave using Dogpile.

The future

I will keep up the blog so as long as I am obsessed with and keep playing Hearthstone. It has allowed me a great outlet to vent all my Hearthstone-related thoughts. Thanks everyone for reading!

The Liebster Award – Responses

The Liebster Award – Responses

Yesterday, I was nominated for The Liebster Award, an award given by bloggers for bloggers. I am extremely humbled for this recognition. The nomination was sent by Particlebit, who does an awesome job himself writing about all things games, and very cool game reviews.

The basic rules of the Liebster Award is to mention the award and blogger who nominated you, and to propagate the award to other bloggers and post questions for them to answer. Unfortunately, my blogging network is actually quite small, as I haven’t done too much exploring on the blogosphere. Also most of my interactions with my gaming persona are through Twitter. Thus, this post will just be responses to the Liebster Award questions from Partclebit. Maybe I’ll have a bigger blogging network someday!

  • Favorite video game console?
    • Most of the gaming in my life has been done through computer, but my favorite console is definitely PS1. PS1 was the first console I ever owned, so there’s that. A really memorable game series I played on PS1 was Syphon Filter 1-3. Final Fantasy VII – IX were also played at various times on PS1.
  • Favorite game on LEAST favorite console?
    • This is a tough one, as I have only ever owned a couple of consoles ever, so it would be definitely a game I played with a friend at some time. I’ll go with Super Smash Bros Melee on Gamecube, being my least favorite console. Melee was a super fun game that I played quite a bit in high school and college. I’m sure there are plenty of great games on Gamecube, but I had to nominate a random console I don’t really like! Maybe I don’t like the way Gamecube looks? I don’t know.
  • What was the last movie you saw in theaters?
    • I just saw Warcraft last weekend.
  • How long have you been blogging?
    • My first blog was through Xanga, which was done when I was a freshman or sophomore in high school, so about 12 or 13 years ago. I’ve taken breaks now and then from blogging.
  • Why did you start blogging?
    • I originally started blogging just to start an online diary on my daily life, and to provide my views on current events, politics, etc. This blog is the first one where I actually have a true focus (Hearthstone), and I did it to successfully fill a void in my life. I really wanted to talk about Hearthstone!
  • Who is your favorite Pokemon?
    • I’m loyal to the original 151, as those are the ones I know by heart. I’ll go with Gengar, who always has a grin on his face and just looks like big, spiky, badass, purple ghost.hqdefault.jpg
  • How big is your gaming backlog at the moment?
    • I devote an hour or two to Hearthstone every day. I am also currently juggling games Heroes of the Storm, Borderlands 2, and Duelyst.
  • What are you doing when aren’t playing a game or working?
    • I honestly don’t have too many hobbies or am very tired from work. I do enjoy working out at the gym and watching tv. I am also working on a book, something I have worked on sporadically for at least 2 years. I also have a very strong interest for baseball, especially in sabermetrics. I spend a bit of time watching baseball on tv or online, or just like reading analysis posts.
  • What is one interesting, unique fact about yourself most people don’t know?
    • I don’t listen to her music, but I share a birthday with Taylor Swift (12/13/89).
  • Eat pizza with your hands or with a fork?
    • I’m from New Jersey, where pizza is exclusively eaten with hands. Also, a lunchlady in elementary school drilled it in our heads once, saying “this is America, you eat pizza with your hands!” I can see value in eating deep dish pizzas with utensils.
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“Fortunately, pizza exists!”