Discipline Priests Unveiled: What Your GM’s Won’t Tell You

I received an email several days ago asking about the bastard brother in the Priest talent trees. Er, I mean the Discpline Priest. By Discipline Priest, I mean 41 points.

Matticus – I’m known as Hawk 99% of the time, but on my off days I join the ranks as Farrow, a now lvl 53 Belf priestess. I haven’t noticed many Discipline priests my level…ever actually. I love it though. I spec’d far into it and am finally starting to go into the holy tree and will put my remaining points there until I’m 70. I was wondering though – is discipline just not a comment way for priests to roll? I was heavy into Holy for a long time but like to solo…discipline enables me to do that easier. I just don’t have it in me to be shadow. Don’t ask me why! I did try it! (dont knock it til you try it)

What is your take on discipline priests? Am I doomed in this spec even though I enjoy it?

Matt’s Note: Hawk also has her own blog which I won’t hesitate to shamelessly plug because I enjoy reading it.

The truth is, until recently, Discipline Priests had no business being in a Raid. One of the recent patches changed that when it was announced that Pain Suppression could now be cast upon any member ony our party.

You don’t have to be a Gnomish Engineer to figure out what that means.

My History

When I was a wee little Dwarf Priest, I leveled from 1-60 as Holy/Disc. In my case, I had no problems at all getting the experience I needed. When TBC came out, I specced completely in Disc so I could get to 70 in a manageable way. I’ve had no experience playing Shadow.

My secret? The server I leveled on was brand new


What Hawk is ding is leveling as Discipline. I wholeheartedly commend her for doing that. The Discipline tree requires… well, discipline to play. You get a ton of stats and your survivability is almost as notorious as a Warlock. I don’t see any problems leveling as Discipline because that’s what I did. Granted, you may not kill as fast as our dark, shadow brethren. But at least you can live.

Raiding as a Discipline Priest

As Healing

Just like in hockey, players in a team have to remain aware of what their roles are and what’s being asked of them to do. You don’t ask a shadow priest to heal your tanks. You don’t ask a resto druid to light up wrath and starfire.

I’ve spoken with several friends and colleagues in the game about Discipline Priests could be slated for. In raiding, you play 1 of 3 possible roles:

  • Tanking
  • Healing
  • Beating the crap out of the boss

Pwyff, a blogger on Gameriot (and friend), sees Discipline Priests as “fantastic panic healers”. True Disc Priests must have Brodeur like reflexes and can bail out your healers if crap hits the proverbial fan.

In other words, like Luongo (or Jesus), Discipline Priests save.

But herein lies the 5200 G question:

If you consistently rely on a Disc Priest to save your healers, what kind of healers are you bringing to a raid? Disc Priests are an excellent crutch and support class to have in a raid, but I think their presence isn’t necessary if you already have outstanding healers. Sure they can Power Infuse your best casters every few minutes at a time. Other than that and Pain Suppression, there isn’t much else.

Disc Priests cannot match the healing output of a Holy Priest, period. If you think otherwise, I expect several WWS reports as evidence.


Don’t even think about it. You’re competing with Mages, Warlocks, Shadow Priests, and Boomkins for cloth gear.

PvPing as Discipline

As a healer

I’ve PvP’ed with my Shaman both against and alongside Discipline Priests

Nothing pisses me off more than seeing a player with that Pain Suppression blue glow around them. I end up spending precious time spamming Purge instead of Lesser Healing Wave, or Shocks offensively.

Nothing gives me greater pleasure than seeing that blue glow around me when I’m at 10% after popping Battlemaster’s Perseverance and a Fel Blossom to stay alive because I’m being focus fired.

They’re a pain in the butt to take down, especially with those stat bonuses. Then they sit behind one of those pillars in Nagrand spamming Mass Dispel, Mana Burn, and Power Infusion.


No. It does’t seem to fit with pre-existing arena team setups. By DPS, I mean a Priest who actively Smites/Mana Burns and the like. I think they’re a reactive class. They cannot ever replace actual DPS like a Warlock or a Mage. If you think I’m wrong otherwise, I invite you to show me. But please do not give me theories or opinions. I do not want to know the maximum amount of DPS a Disc Priest can do under ideal conditions when his opponents are CC’d and there is nothing he’s doing other than spamming. Discussing theory is like discussing experiments in lab conditions. As a student, I know lab conditions do not equate to real life situations. The same should be held true of WoW.

Again, the only thing I know of offensively is Power Infusion, Mana Burn, and Mass Dispels. Healing and DPSing roles aren’t that far off from one another.

I know somewhere in here I’ve pissed off many readers. Good! Because anger breeds reaction and discussion. I want to know your experiences and thoughts about Discipline Priests. Specifically, I want to know from readers who are:

  • Priests who raid as Disc
  • Priests who PvP as Disc
  • GM’s who have Disc Priest raiders (and why)
  • Guildmates of Disc Priests
  • Anyone who has ever been in contact with a Disc Priest in any way shape or form (playing alongside or against

Over the next few days, I hope to compile the most insightful comments into a future blog post about what other players think about Discipline Priests. I want to get some community feedback and start involving more. I’m hoping for some feedback from GMW, Kirk, Ego, Kestrel, Karthis, Phaelia, Megan, and Galadria/Vladvin others that I’ve no doubt forgotten due to lack of memory.

Who knows? Perhaps Discipline Priests will earn the respect and prestige that Protection Paladins now have. After all, 10 months ago we were laughing at the idea of a Prot Pally. Now we beg them to come tank our runs.

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About Matticus

Matticus is the founder of World of Matticus and Plus Heal. Read more of his columns at WoW Insider. League of Legends player. Caffeine enthusiast.


  1. Interesting topic, though I find it a little ironic that you dismiss disc-heavy DPSers while embracing disc-heavy healers. There was a thread not too long ago on the WoW forums by Soulcorruptr (very respectable priest guy) about how he smited a whole Kara run with a disc/holy build. You may find it interesting. I’m not trying to champion disc-heavy DPSers; I just found it neat that he seemed to pull it off.

    As for disc-heavy healing, I tried it and didn’t find it my cup of tea. It shines when paired with a holy priest complement, and that I didn’t have in my guild at the time. The healing mechanics allow you to be a bit more spam-heal-happy, potentially making up for a lack of paladins in the raid (as that seems to be their thing). For the big heals, I agree: holy priests are where it’s at.

  2. MK: Valid points. But I just can’t find any substance in disc heavy DPSers because I’ve played with one in Kara, and he just couldn’t pull his weight. There’s gotta be a certain gear config hes gotta wear and then hes in there competing against other DPS casters in terms of gear.

    I don’t see it working at least in the 25 mans because its not that they’re bad. It’s that there’s another better class.

  3. “I don’t see it working at least in the 25 mans because its not that they’re bad. It’s that there’s another better class.”

    I think that summarizes how I feel about disc priests are healers, in general. As a raid leader, I wouldn’t say no to them, but given other options for healers they would (sadly) be my last choice.

    I was just pointing out the disc DPS thing as I found it an interesting thing to read about. 🙂

  4. Disc has definately changed to the PVP tree—previously before, the PVP choice was always Holy/Disc hybrid (28/33/0) which nabbed Blessed Resilience from Holy, and Imp. Mana Burn/.5 Mass Dispel from Disc.

    Now it’s about PI, PS, and most importantly Focused Will (which beats out Blessed Resilience in terms of being reliable).

    I have a twinked out LVL59 Disc Priest and I run WSG, AB, AV with 2 Mages for obvious synergy. PI does wonders for them when we are getting a flag back or assaulting a node, PS can save someone when we’re running the flag or defending an objective.

    From the healing aspect in PVP, Disc Priest is the art of healing without healing. If I dispel spam on a target, that’s X less DPS he’s not going to pump out as usual when stripped of buffs. When I Fear->chain Mana Burn a target, an empty bar saves me thousands of damage I would otherwise have to heal through. If I’m sticking to mostly instants like Dispel/Shield/Renew, I also then get alot more mobility, which means kiting, and if I’m kiting, that’s X DPS that someone else isn’t recieving (and I don’t have to heal).

    If I’m straight up tanking, I have the tools and outs to survive as long as possible while the rest of my team mops up—again, a tanking Priest as bait (kill teh healers!!1) takes all potential incoming DPS and funnels it through a manageable filter—like you said, Disc Priests are a pain to get down. How is this different from a DPS class being focus fired? When an Elemental Shaman is assist trained, he doesn’t put out the same level of DPS if he wasn’t being harassed. When a Disc Priest is focus fired, well, chances are his “DPS output when not harassed” isn’t all that much different. Put the 2 together and I’d rather have the Priest do the tanking while the Shaman is free to DPS, not the other way around.

    Stuff like this doesn’t translate that well into raiding 25mans unfortunately.

  5. Thuenderman on Velen says:

    I am the healing officer in my guild which is just at the point of clearing Kara every week. After 2.3 I switched to Disc and have yet to go back. I can heal any heroic as well as Kara with my current build. I love the added utility PI and PS add.

    I will say that I would think this build wouldn’t work without a healthy +healing. Mine is around 1725 self buffed without consumables. Disc healing focuses less on spirit than holy does and more on pure +healing (no improved death or spiritual guidance) and gear (the whitemend set boosts healing by your int not spirit).

    I will note that my role in Kara is not main tank or even off tank but spot healer (except for certain fights like Curator and Prince where my Gheals are needed) since we run with a Holy Paladin and Restro Druid as well (though it worked just as well when we subbed in a Holy Priest). I agree with what you said about Disc Priests being great panic healers but I don’t see that as a negative thing for the other healers. Even when I was Holy I was the spot healer who filled in the gaps that appear as fights vary. I would say that I am able to fill that role even better now.

  6. MK: Again, I agree with you. There appears to be better options than a Disc Priest in either a Healing or DPSing role. But I would rather stack a Healing Disc Priest than a DPSing one (by a slight hair).

    Megan: Thank you for your input! You know, somehow I can foresee Blessed Resilience shifting from the Holy tree to the Disc tree in a future patch.

    Thuenderman: I was wondering when I’d see a healing Disc Priest come by and drop his 2 cents =). I’m interested to see how this translates into 25 mans. You’ve got a solid +healing base and it looks like you’re doing an excellent job in Kara. I’d like to hear about your experiences when you hit the 25 mans.

  7. I wish that I had something meaningful to contribute to this discussion, but my Priest was levelled to 60 2 years ago. My baby Draenei Priest is only 30. We have no Discipline Priests in our guild. I do find this discussion interesting, however, as I think my Priest could very well become a raiding alt for me once she’s hit 70, and I haven’t 100% for sure decided on Shadow or Disc DPS spec, yet!

  8. Matt – thanks for creating the post! I’m loving all the input from other players. I don’t feel like such a black sheep now. Granted, since I do enjoy playing my priest as Disc – I probably wouldnt switch if everyone said it sucked. Its just “how I roll” lol, but I do appreciate reading everyone’s input as well as your own. A lot of valid points and things to go over.

    Farrow for the win!

  9. If Blessed Resilience ever got put in the current Disc tree, Priests would be unkillable.

  10. I found disc to be great for levelling. IIRC my first 5 talent points went into 2/2 Healing Focus & 3/3 Imp Renew, then disc all the way up to Pain Supp (Reflective Shield rather than Force of Will), then back to holy up to Searing Light & Imp Healing. Now I’m pretty much cookie-cutter 23/38/0 I miss the solo-survivability I used to have, but then again I don’t tend to solo as much as when I was levelling up *shrug*

  11. PriestOfOne says:

    I’m a DISC+Shadow priest. I switched from shadow to DISC+shadow when I hit 51. I was constantly running out of mana when I solo. I decided to switch to DISC for the mana reductions for instant spell and the extra 10% mana. Not to forget the extra shield and reflective shield. I have never looked back since then.

    I have yet to raid but did a lot of pug instances. I had no problem healing in Azeroth but was in a shell shock when I heal in outland (RAMPS and BF). However, after a few run of RAMPS, I regain my footing as a healer and have no problem in healing outland since then.

    One thing I do notice is when I compare with a shadowpriest, I always outlast them in terms of mana whether I’m dpsing or healing. However, I have not had a chance to compare with holy priest.

    I think the DISC build is like jack of all trade, master of none. I can see the point of not bring a DISC build to a RAID only if the tank is a weak point in the RAID. I had tough time healing tank when they are not properly geared or not the proper build. In a way, you would not want to bring a fury or arm build warrior to a RAID.

    If you look at the holy tree, the really helpful highest tier talent that you can use the most is Spiritual Healing. Empowering Healing is nice but it really depends on your style of healing. I personally like to renew, spam FH unless it is necessary to GH. Therefore, I the added bonus of from Empowering Healing is a lot less attractive.

    On the other hand, I dont rely on PI nor PS because of the cool down. However, Inner Focus I do use. I use IF at the beginning of the instance and when rebuffing. In a crunch I would use IF with PoH. As for talent, Enlightenment is probably the highest tier in DISC I would go.

    If you have a good tank then a DISC build is more than sufficient. Otherwise, you are better off with a holy build. I know, I tried to heal tank with less than 6k HP in RAMP. You watch the tank’s HP spike not sure what will happen whether the tank will survive the next hit or not.

    I’ll probably respecc to DISC+Holy (35/26) to get the added bonus for the Holy tree. It will be tough giving up Spiritual Tap and Mind Flay but PW:Death will have to do.

  12. Calandris says:

    I lead a Kara raid and I am a the norm holy/disc build, I DPSed in Kara the other day as a backup healer. 2 regular healers and me. My DPS wasnt bad but any other DPS class in equivilent gear to mine would be better. I also found that I went OOM often..much more often then healing. Ive looked a the Disc tree and I wouldnt want them as a healer or a DPSer. As we all know skill is greater than spec…but given the same skill, ill choose the better spec for my raid.

    Given a disc priest with skills vs a holy one without, Ill choose the person with skills.

    PS-I know nothing about PVP so I wont comment on it.


  13. PriestOfOne and Calandris: Thank you both for your input. I will definitely include snippets of your insight into a future post.

  14. leveling or farming = shadow + improved spirit from disc
    shadow priest is great in raids aswell thanx to vampiric embrace and mana regen abilities.. the only thing shadow priest needs to learn is to controll his aggro rate.. as shadow dmg generates a lot of it..

    healing ur guild in raids = holy (improved spirit can also boost raid so there always should be a priest with impr spirit in ur raid)

    pvp – especially arenas = 41 or more points in disc is a must. reduced mana cost of dispell and mass dispell + reduced casting time of mana burn + reduced mana cost of instant casts (as ull be using them most of the time on arenas and i mean renew+shield+pom combos and psychic scream and sw:p for rogues and simple dispell as ull be mainly dispelling ur mates and foes – these are all instant casts)

  15. Ouch…sorry to be so slow in responding, Matt. 🙁

    When I started my Priest, I decided at Level 1 the only reason I was going to be a priest was to heal. Period. So I basically never soloed Osprey; every point I got went to enhance my ability to heal.

    Fortunately, right around the time I hit 70, I also discovered Priest blogs (Ego & Kirk, specifically, then yours shortly after I started my own). I had a decent template, but it’s much better now–and it’s definitely a Holy build.

    However, a very, very good friend and former guild mate was also building a priest, and his was Disc/Holy specced. Not sure how deep into Disc he went, but I do know he did a helluva job healing Shadow Labs on our first Guild clear–one of our greatest milestones to date.

    From that time on, I’ve had considerable respect for the Discipline tree, and while I’m not (yet) raiding myself, I certainly have no qualms taking my hunter into any 5-man with a Disciplined healer.

  16. Trollin’ said, “If Blessed Resilience ever got put in the current Disc tree, Priests would be unkillable.”

    I don’t really see this as a bad thing. 😉

  17. PriestOfOne says:

    Just Respecced to DISC+HOLY. It was hard to let go Spirit Tap and Mind Flay but I had to do it.

    By switching to DISC+HOLY, I have upped my holy damage quite a bit. I have upped the holy damage by 15% + 10% to 35% of my Spirit. Compared to Shadow DPS, I dont think it is that far behind espeically if I get Power Infusion.

    My healing also benefitted as well. Shorter casting time and a bit more healing as well.

    Overall, this is the utility build that will benefit any instance/raid run.

    I’ve also had a chance to compare with a Holy Priest. I think the DISC+HOLY has slight edge when it comes to mana. If I dps, Holy will have better mana management but if I heal, I will have a slight edge due to the reductions in the DISC tree offers.

  18. A Disc priest really has no place in end game rading. They can’t heal as well as a Holy priest nor dps as well as a spriest (not that dps is the primary reason your bring a spriest).

    Priests typically have a hard enough time getting into end game raids because they simply do not stack well. To think that a subpar raiding spec is going to get in in any case other than a serious healing shortage is foolish.

    Disc spec is a pvp spec, it has no place in end game pve.

  19. You’re wrong about Disc Priests not being able to raid, who can keep a tank up better than a Priest with PI up casting greater heals? Or better yet, if your tank has tons of agro or fights like Netherspite, you cast PS on the tank and he won’t die for 8 seconds. Cast PI on a team member who stupidly pulled agro lowering his threat by 5%. A disc priest with 18-19 points in Holy should be able to heal most if not all raids.

  20. I’ve been raiding both Holy and Disc now in Naxx 10-man. I fell in love with both. Holy has the pure raw healing power: when I respecced to Disc my Flash Heal immediately did 1k less healing. And yes, I sometimes wished in yet another heroic that I had more aoe healing as a Disc.

    However, having said that, I can recommend always bringing 1 Disc healer to a raid. As far as utility goes, PS isn’t even the best: Disc excells in shielding (huge PW:Shields, and Divine Aegis procs), direct healing (Penance), and mana preservation (Rapture). Apart from that, you have Grace which reduces damage on a tank for another 3%.

    Translating this in 2 recent Naxx encounters I expierenced both Holy and Disc (same spellpower) here’s the difference:
    On Patchwerk, Disc reigned surpreme, doing an HPS I couldn’t get with Holy overall on the fight, apart from reducing the spike damage with the abilities named above. Not mentioning the security of not even being close to OOM the entire fight.
    If you go past frogger to your next objective, Grobbulus, Disc felt like having a bucket of water to try and put out a forest fire. That is definitely the Holy playground.

    So to sum it up, Disc is usefull when you actually need MT healers, mostly in 25-man raids. When you need that steady flow of HPS over a 10 minute fight, with some extra damage spike reduction. Apart from that Holy outshines Disc (as you expect in the name of the tree).

  21. Lolheal ( Auchindoun) says:

    All intentions aside, a disc priest is a very poor healer. They heal for 1-2k less per heal at level 80 then holy priests, their critical heals aren’t spectacular either. They don’t have that guardian spirit to save your tanks that are dying. Neither do they see the days of 30k critical heals that you would see with those guardian spirits unless you have a holy priest in raid with them.

    Moreover, you should understand your role.


    You need to be alive, you need to heal and you need to show the other people that you deserve to be their target. You are that thorn in the side of your enemy. 5 people are needed to take you down. But, you don’t stop there, you can be up on the top of the damage charts ( not likely ) and killing blows! Think I am crazy? I thought it was too, but I did it my first BG at 80.


    What does a disc priest do for PVE? Well, we all know that person who thinks its fun to take aggro off the tank. A little pain suppression will find him at the bottom of the aggro charts for a little while. A tank is taking mass damage during a Heroic bosses berserk? Pain suppression. Need some quick health? Pennance. Your array of different healing and quick reaction spells makes you more versatile than your Holy counterpart, but you aren’t as strong of a healer. Your healing will need to be at the top of its game, or you better have a good tank, because you won’t be getting those heals off at the same rate and strength as before.


    Want to be the best healer on your server, healing your main tank trying to down Arthas the first time? Don’t go disc, because it just doesn’t happen that way.

    Want to finally get the title from arena PVP that you always wanted? Find a great partner or two and you will see your rating sore into the 2000’s.

  22. Anyways, I’m sure there hasn’t been much going about on this page for a while, but i feel like i would like to state my opinion. I’m not extremely knowledgeable, and no, i don’t generally understand too much of what is going on. But I would agree that Discipline healers have an excellent role as a serious raid healer.

    Ok, I figure it goes like this. With the increases in shield strength granted by current talents, a disc priest shield is worth anywhere from 3500-5000 damage mitigation, combine this with the glyph of Pw:shield, which heals the target for 20% of the shields total mitigation (mine happens to heal 1k, so my shield must be around 5k itself) when you take into account that this is an instant cast spell, that when combined with current disc talents, can be cast every second, granted you target someone who isnt under the effects of weakened soul, this is equal value to a 6k healing spell, only instead of the healing going to waste on an over heal, you basically have increased the health of the target by the amount shielded, until broken.

    This would mean that the priest has an instant cast spell, as cheap as, and more powerful than a holy priests flash heal. The only drawback is the 15 sec weakened soul downtime, even so, this ability can’t be ignored as extremely useful. along with such, with current Disc. talents, a disc. priest provides a CONSTANT 3% damage reduction to an entire raid as long as shields are cast within 20 seconds of each other, 3%, not a big deal right? But it adds up quickly.

    Now, i wouldn’t replace a holy priest with a disc priest if i could only have one, but as a healing support disc priests are absolutely wonderful, a disc priest is the O-SHIZ healer, who can respond Quickly with very potent instant cast abilities that a powerful, long casting skill just cant match up to. The lack of AoE healing capability seems to make everyone undermine the usefulness of the disc priest.

    Keep in mind, we don’t have circle of healing, but we still have Prayer of healing, which with the innate increased spell haste disc. get, can still be very useful if used correctly. Yes, overall, holy is much much better at healing a large crowd, their PoH and PoM being much more powerful than the average disc. priest, but even so, the Disc. priest has the Potential to match the strength in both spells by Divine aegis procs, granted these are only occasional, unlike a holy priest spell, if you do heal them all the way, the shield would be more valuable because it isn’t a wasted overheal, it’s a shield.

    I raid holy, and i admit it, it’s much better suited to keep everyone alive, but i would very very happily accept a disc to help me, I don’t think people understand, just because a recount chart shows them way below you, it doesn’t mean they arnt keeping everyone alive as well as you are.

    Give them little shieldy guys some credit.

  23. Sorry to post again.

    I actually don’t recall the date I started playing, but it was shortly after the release of the Burning Crusade. I’ve heard many things about how useless the disc priest used to be, and I’m so glad of the changes I’ve heard they made. My first 3 characters were ALL priests, I have this inborn need to support (even though i have a very low tolerance for people)

    First undead, then troll, then N-elf (which i finally stuck to)

    I chose my first priest as a night elf because the DoT Racial priest skill appealed to me (boy was i disappointed when they removed the racial spells) And i leveled as a pure holy priest, often playing alone. I in fact, did not even attempt playing a shadow priest until i had enough talent points to go right into shadowform, it was an amazing discovery, i never knew playing could be so simple.

    And then i discovered discipline…. Awsomeness in priest form. It provided the survivability holy just couldn’t provide, and it let me be an effective healer. Disc is a wonderful leveling spec because it allows versatility, you can fill any role, making it easy to get into groups, and it was also very nice because I didn’t have to respec to change roles (I didn’t have the money anyways)

    The disc. spec was…. ok at higher levels, but it lacked any real appeal for a long time. Then PENANCE which renewed my love of disc priests once more.

    However, it became increasingly difficult to keep up as a healer as dungeons became more difficult and demanded much more from me, I went holy, and the ride was once more smooth….. then disaster stuck, a patch went through that reduced mana gain through spirit by.. 40% was it? suddenly being holy just wasn’t an option, OOM was inevitable.

    the bright side to this reg reduction from spirit. Disc got a SERIOUS overhaul, it’s usefulness shot up so fast, and it was a solid mana regeneration spec as well, more mana for more healing. I stayed as a disc priest until I got 2-3 pieces of tier gear that ONCE AGAIN made holy a more beneficial spec for healing.

    I believe that discipline spec is very good for trying to get to where you can be an effective holy priest. Cause until you get that mega spirit gear, holy isn’t going to be an easy ride.

  24. Lawd reading this priest have change so much. Yet we remain the same. You can not compare a disc priest to any healer class. You gotta weigh in the facts that they have damage reduction and absorb damage abilties. Disc priest are a key to alot of raids. PVP as disc its simple as pie if your partner is half good at dps you will surely have the upperhand. Disc priest are monsters in raids and if u dps with one ill lol at you. Just go shadow like i have. I can put out over 4.5k dps on single target with ease. I recommand that you really dig into the priest class and play it as long as i have. I played it since wow beta. I know the priest class damn good and can tell you this blizz beefing classes to just match what we can do. For love of the priest class i recommand some of you get a clue and do better reserch…….


  1. […] weeks ago, I asked for reader input about Discipline Priests and their role in end game raiding and PvP action. Here’s a piece of what others had to say about the […]

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