How to Play Best as a Warrior in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Updated on May 17, 2016
Dvd Zermeno Perez profile image

I'm David and I'm a video game pro-gamer and reviewer. I love Skyrim its sequel, the Elder Scrolls Online.


In the world of Skyrim, the most common class is the warrior. Everywhere you turn, you'll see warriors or hybrids of the warrior class.

It's easy to play a warrior in Skyrim but less easy to do it well, partially because of the huge number of choices you have to make along the way. Different play styles and preferences make for great variety in the way a warrior can be played. The amount of choice is one of the advantages of this game, but it also adds a level of challenge as well.

You can make any type of warrior just by selecting different gear, skills or attributes. In this article, I will explain the best warrior races and builds for both a pure warrior and some hybrid classes. I'll also discuss gear options and some battle strategies.

Which Races Make the Best Warriors?

In Skyrim, there are many races and every race can be a warrior type character. However, some races make better warriors than others. Here are some of the best races oriented to the task:

  • Imperials: They get a +10 in Restoration Magic and +5 in Blocking, Heavy Armor, Destruction Magic and One-Handed. This race makes good Paladins thanks to the advantage in Restoration magic. They can also be great centurions, spellswords, and battle mages.
  • Nords: Nords get +10 in Two-Handed and +5 in Smithing, One-Handed, Light Armor, Blocking, and Speech. They are the perfect Two-Handed barbarian class with a good combination in Heavy Armor, but they can be also good One-Handed warriors due to their advantage in One Handed, Blocking and Light Armor. The boost in Smithing speeds up and improves the crafting of weapons and armor.
  • Orcs: They get +10 in Heavy Armor and +5 in Blocking, Enchanting, One-Handed, Smithing, and Two-Handed. The great Orc beasts are your best option for a berserk class. Go for a full tank with shield and weapon or a two handed warrior in heavy armor. Either way, Orc warriors can be unstoppable.
  • Redguards: They get +10 in One-Handed and +5 in Alteration, Archery, Blocking, Destruction, and Smithing. A Redguard can make a good weapon master, jack of all trades, battle mage, or foot soldier.
  • Breton: Bretons get +10 in Conjuration and +5 in Alteration, Restoration, Illusion, Alchemy, and Speech. This is a weird class for a warrior since most of their skills are more traditionally geared toward mages or rogues. This magic and cunning can make a Breton the perfect hybrid warrior. They can also be powerful battle mages or spellswords.

A Two-Handed, Heavy Armored Orc.
A Two-Handed, Heavy Armored Orc. | Source

Classes of Warrior

There are many classes of warrior in Skyrim. You can create your own unique combination of skills, attributes, and tactics and be a unique warrior, but there are also some standard classes. You can take the basic of one of these classes and adapt it to your play style.


This common class of warrior has many advantages. It's easy to play but hard to master. They are usually seen with a shield and a sword, axe, or mace, often supplementing the weapons with a type of magic like Restoration or Conjuration Magic for extra support and endurance in the difficult battles. You can combine your One-Handed skills with either Heavy Armor or Light Armor.

1. Heavy Armor type: In this kind of build you will be able to endure a lot of punishment. This is called a "tank" class; you will charge toward battle taking damage but suffering little from it thanks to your shield. You will have a great Health pool and a great Stamina Pool.

  • Offense: One-Handed for damage, Smithing for enhancing your weapons and armor, Conjuration Magic for extra damage support.
  • Defense: Level up Block and Heavy Armor for your main defense. Restoration Magic for health.
  • Leveling: You will need to level up Health and Stamina 50/50.

2. Light Armor type: This build requires a little more experience and skill. You will not have the defense of the heavy armor, so you will need to rely on agility and mobility in battle to avoid damage and power attacks. Your shield is a great advantage in battle, as is your ability to be better at sneaking.

  • Offense: One-Handed for damage, Smithing for enhancing your weapons and armor, Conjuration Magic for extra damage support.
  • Defense: Level up Block and Light Armor for your main defense, with Sneak for maneuvering on the battlefield. Restoration Magic can also improve health and defense.
  • Leveling: You need to level up Health and Stamina 60/40, but if you think that your skill in battle is not good enough then level up in a 70/30 ratio.


This kind of build is a full barbarian type. They have a big advantage in battle because of heavy damage blows and power attacks. These warriors tend to use Heavy Armor because they lack the blocking ability of a shield, but they are not defenseless.

They can still block some attacks, but this is rare in battle. Definitely level up the Heavy Armor tree as fast as possible without ignoring the Two-Handed tree. Because mobility as a behemoth is your ally, leveling the Heavy Armor tree will help you in reducing your Stamina consumption.

  • Offense: Smithing upgrades and Two-Handed are your main sources of damage.
  • Defense: Heavy Armor is your main defense. You should also use Restoration Magic for health support in difficult battles and between battles.
  • Leveling: You should level up Health and Stamina in a 50/50 first. When you reach 200 in your Stamina, then 70/30.

Two-Handed weapons are great for powerful attacks.
Two-Handed weapons are great for powerful attacks. | Source

Battle Mage

A battle mage is a powerful build that in the right hands can destroy everything. This build is a difficult one to master, relying on a magic/combat mix while avoiding all possible damage to the self. When your spells run out of Magicka, then your faithful weapons are ready for battle, unleashing power attacks.

Battle mages are known for being masters of both arcane power and physical combat. Personally, I prefer to play One-Handed with a spell in the other hand, preferably Destruction or Conjuration. Some builds also recommend having a dual-wielded spell at the beginning of combat, but this is up to your play style.

  • Offense: One-Handed and Destruction Magic are your main damage sources. Use Smithing for upgrades in weapons, and always try to have the best one-handed weapon available.
  • Defense: Use Heavy Armor as protection, Restoration Magic for support, and Enchanting for extra boosts to your armor and weapon.
  • Leveling: This build requires a leveling up in Health/Stamina/Magicka in a ratio of 30/30/40. When you reach 200 points in Magicka then swap the balance to 40/40/20 or 50/30/20.

A battle mage can choose to fight with a sword in one hand and a staff or spell in the other.
A battle mage can choose to fight with a sword in one hand and a staff or spell in the other. | Source


A great build for a Holy Knight of Justice, this type is a defensive tank that also deals a surprising amount of damage. There are four different builds in the paladin type: 1: Dual Wield, 2: Shield Wall/Centurian, 3: Two-Handed, and 4: One-Handed/Spell.

1. Dual Wield: This build allows you to deal lots of damage over time, but, without defense, you take heavy damage from enemies. Dual-wielding magic gives great support to your weaponry and makes for a fun playing style. Remember to keep upgrading so you have the best gear, weapons, and enchantments. This build combined with high skill in Heavy Armor and expert mobility can create chaos on the battlefield.

  • Offense: Use Destruction Magic with a focus on dual-wield spells, with One-Handed as a backup. Smithing and Enchanting should also be leveled up for extra damage, protection and Health/Stamina saving.
  • Defense: Heavy Armor is your main defense, with Restoration Magic to protect you and keep up your health.
  • Leveling: Points in Health/Stamina/Magicka should be leveled up at 50/30/20

2. Shield Wall/Centurian: This build is mainly focused on defense, leaving the damage at a minimum. Leveling up Block and Heavy Armor will allow you to block unlimited damage. It's an easy, fun way to play, though it can take some time to do serious damage in battle. Consider it a slow but strong option.

  • Offense: One-Handed with shield. Keep upgrading your weapon, since this is your main source of damage. Use Smithing and Enchanting to boost your weapons and armor.
  • Defense: Level up Block and Heavy Armor, and feel free to do some Restoration Magic for backup.
  • Leveling: Your points in Health/Stamina/Magicka should be leveled up at 50/30/20.

One-Handed Warrior with Shield
One-Handed Warrior with Shield | Source

3. Two-Handed: A pure paladin in strong blows and power attacks. This build sacrifices some defense in exchange for extra damage. Because your weapon is two-handed, it takes longer to switch between weapons and spells, which can make the battle a little tedious because of the time wasted. That's why this build relies more on causing damage than defense, though it still uses Restoration Magic for support.

  • Offense: Use Destruction Magic supplemented by Two-Handed weaponry. Don't forget to use Smithing and Enchanting on your weapons and armor!
  • Defense: Heavy Armor will help your defense, but don't spend too many points on it. Use Restoration Magic to keep up your health.
  • Leveling: Your points in Health/Stamina/Magicka should be leveled up at 50/30/20.

4. One-Handed/Spell: In this build you rely on a weapon/spell combination. Normally you swap between Restoration and Destruction Magic while dealing damage with your enchanted weapon. This is a fun play style but difficult to master. It's similar to the battle mage, but a little more complicated due to the required knowledge of Smithing, Enchanting, spells and weapons.

  • Offense: Level up your One-Handed and fight with a weapon in one hand and a spell in the other. Destruction and Conjuration Magic are your friends, as are Smithing and Enchanting. Make sure to have the best weapons and armor possible!
  • Defense: You don't have a shield, so Heavy Armor and Restoration Magic will be your main points of defense.
  • Leveling: Level up Health/Stamina/Magicka at 30/30/40 and when the Magicka reaches 200 points then swap to 50/30/20.

Heavy Armor is essential to a paladin's defense.
Heavy Armor is essential to a paladin's defense. | Source


This build is focused on full damage with no defense. This type of build usually includes Light Armor for mobility and for a boost in Sneak, but I have seen some builds with Heavy Armor. I prefer Light Armor for the lore.

In Skyrim, berserkers traditionally fought almost bare-handed, and it's extra fun to fight in such a traditional style. This build consists of dual-wielding one-handed weapons, wearing armor, and moving around the battlefield delivering mortal blows.

  • Offense: One-Handed is your main source of damage. You'll have a one-handed weapon in each hand, so level up those skills and get ready to do double damage.
  • Defense: Use Sneak in combination with Light Armor or protection and mobility. You can also level up Restoration for emergencies. Level up Smithing and Enchanting to keep your armor and weapons top-notch.
  • Leveling: For this build balance you must level up Health/Stamina in a ratio of 60/40.


As a warrior, you can have any companion at your side. There are many companions in Skyrim, but I will list the ones I consider most suitable for a warrior.

  1. Lydia. The first one to fight with you in your journey, she is especially valuable in the first mission. She can specialize in Two-Handed weapons for extra damage or in Shield and One-Handed for tanking.
  2. Erik. You must fulfill a quest in Rorikstead before being able to fight alongside him. He's specialized in Two-Handed weapons, which is perfect for damage over time.
  3. Aela. You can find her in Whiterun with the Companions. She's a warrior with great archery skills, perfect for ranged support.
  4. Cicero. The funniest companion, Cicero is famous because he's silent and deadly. Specialized in Sneak, he can deliver mortal strikes against your foes in battle. SPOILER: he's available in a series of quests in the Dark Brotherhood. You must let him live if you want him as a companion.
  5. Barbas. The dog follower. Find him outside of Falkreath, where you will begin a quest for a Daedra Lord. If you don't finish the quest given by the Daedra, then you can keep Barbas as an invincible dog.
  6. Marcurio. The famous and intelligent AI wizard of the game, this companion can be found inside the Bee and Bard in Riften. He's perfect for magical support, and he has the highest AI in the game, saving you some weird and awkward moments.
  7. J'zargo. A powerful Khajiit with an amazing dual casting in Destruction Magic, J'zargo is also able to wear Heavy Armor, making him a powerful battle mage.
  8. Mjoll the Lioness. A real barbarian and immune to death, she is a perfect companion for any warrior. Beside her, you can destroy any enemy no matter how powerful, strong or big. Mjoll is the best companion in my opinion, closely followed by Marcurio and J'zargo.

What Class do you play?

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Questions & Answers


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      • profile image

        Skyrim Pro 2 weeks ago

        Tempest, "hi, i had a question about making new armor. i have iron heavy armor and it's not cutting it how do i make better armor and weapons" Ypu can either Levle up your smithing or you can find the armor. To level up smithing fast, there is a trick. It will take a while but it is worth it. You will need to make a ton of iron daggers.

      • profile image

        Tempest 9 months ago

        hi, i had a question about making new armor. i have iron heavy armor and it's not cutting it how do i make better armor and weapons

      • profile image

        Zneg 12 months ago

        I play a warrior typed character. I'm currently level 76, donning light armor (either dragon scale or deathbrand) and usually dual welding with axes and maces, though sometimes I use my powerful mace and then a bound sword in the other hand which helps level 1 handed and conjuration at the same time (I've heard it disputed but it seems 1 handed levels faster based on how many hacks and slashes you throw, which is why it can be advantageous to wield one weaker weapon and have your over powered mace ready in case you need to Finnish an enemy off fast because you're running out of health.

        When I first started playing warrior style I did the heavy armor and two handed warhammer thing which worked really well. Light armor and one handed weapons seemed really weak. Eventually when I maxed out smithing, enchanting as well as heavy armor and 2h, I decided to switch play styles just for the sake of leveling my character more, so I crafted the strongest light armor and 1h weapons I could. It was kind of difficult at first as I wasn't killing everything instantly at first, but it made the game a challenge again which I enjoyed. Eventually as my 1h and light armor skills improved I found that I was actually far more powerful than I was with my warhammer, and much faster as well. The armor cap is the same for light armor and heavy arnor, so eventually it doesn't make a difference which you wear, except light armor has the bonus of weighing less (though there's is a perk in heavy armor that makes it completely womeightless too-but you have to invest in two worthless perks to get to it).

        At this point my 1h mace and axes deliver almost 400 damage along with bonus damage dealt through enchantment. Sometimes (in level restoration I just have the close wounds spell in one hand and a mace in the other.

        I guess it comes down to preference in the end but imo its worth it to go the light armor and 1h route. Also if you have the dragonborn Dlc you can get deathbrand armor and two awesome 1h swords, blood scythe and soulrender, which are the best found weapons I've come across in the game (windshear is another good one but imo all the other weapons that can be bought, found or rewarded pale in comparison to anything you can craft and enchant yourself).

        In short, through lots of trial and error I've found that what has worked best for me is to invest all 5 perk points into the first slot in 1h and light armor, and to make sure you max out smithing and fill out all the perks there, and then to max out enchanting and fill out the tree until you can get the perk that allows you to put two enchantment on armor and weapons.

        Furthermor, maxing out block is really easy and fast and it can be fun to play with a shield sometimes so is advise that too. Lastly, though its more of a stealth type skill in terms of offense, leveling archery is really useful, especially early on when your melee combat skills aren't that powerful because you can weaken enemies or reduce the amount of enemies you might encounter that might otherwise over power you. Anyway, that's my two cents.

        In the end, Skyrim is an awesome game and there are so many different ways to make your character a murderous machine of death and decapitation.

      • profile image

        Lucas 16 months ago

        Though Two-Handed delivers the most damage, I still prefer One-handed/Shield. I get maxed out on One-Handed and Heavy Armor for protection, but not so much on Block (Only up to Elemental Protection), added with Resist Magic on ring, necklace and shield, as well as elemental resistance on shield and boots, and you're good to go against powerful dragons on Master Difficulty. Orc race isn't a really crucial factor to me because we're Dragonborn, we can always use Shouts to our advantage, such as using Slow Time (3 words) to insanely slow down time by 90%, allowing the Dragonborn to deal alot of damage over short time.

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        Berserk 19 months ago

        I like to play like the berserk, picking up redguard, leveling up alchemy and smith as fast as I can so lI can craft good gear for me. I prefer light armor, and leveling for me is 30/70 for health and stamina. This makes it look like a thief or assassin build, but the fact is I have lots of potions to spam, lots of carry weight to carry them around, and my armor is way past the armor cap, like 800+ on light armor. I can soak up a damage too while only spamming power attacks on two swords. Also getting a sneak to 100 and having shadow warrior makes it easy to just pick apart my opponents one by one. Going to sneak, vanishing for a second, doing a silent roll behind and enemy and slicing a throat. Very hard to do, but ver y satisfying when you kill 30 30 bandits in a close combat without practically taking dmg at all because of some strong health regen potions and enchantments

      • profile image

        Op 21 months ago

        What did you mean when u said redguards are good foot soldiers

        I'm new at skyrim and read a little abt some charater and about redguards it said that they are reluctant to work for any organization and prefer to be freelance adventurers

      • profile image

        Orcs4Life 3 years ago

        Anything that Melee's should go Orc on this game. People really are sometimes clueless to how overpowered the Racial skill is. Berserk not only makes you hit INSANELY harder it also gives you an INSANE buff to your defenses.

        The racial skill alone makes this the one true melee class to play. It will save your ass agains overwhelming odds every time. Pump that difficulty up to Legendary and then laugh as your Orc still slaughters and shrugs off pain.

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        Randell 3 years ago

        Hey I'm currently building an argonian warrior build with light armor, one handed, restoration, block and smithing with archery for the dragons.

      • Dvd Zermeno Perez profile image

        David Zermeño 3 years ago from Mexico

        Hi Randy, thanks for reviewing my Hub, the leveling up ratio means the proportion of every 10 levels, for example 4 level in Magicka, 3 level in Stamina and 3 levels in Health.

        Depending on the class is the ratio, obviously if you're playing with a pure warrior, you must focus in pure health and some stamina, but if you're playing as a battlemage, then you must be pretty equitative, like 30/30/40 (3levels in health, 3 levels in stamina, and 4 levels in Magicka). I hope this has been helpful.

      • profile image

        Randy 3 years ago

        What do the ratios of Health/Stamina/Magicka mean? (Like 30/30/40)

      • profile image

        Lena-brb 3 years ago

        I love this game! I am currently playing as a warrior and it's a lot of fun. This is a great hub! Very informative!

      • toptengamer profile image

        Brandon Hart 3 years ago from The Game

        I recently finished the game as an Orc with One Handed/Shield Combo with Heavy Armor. I think I may restart the game as an Dumner Battle Mage. Do you think this will be a good race for this class?

      • Dvd Zermeno Perez profile image

        David Zermeño 3 years ago from Mexico

        I really love the orc in heavy armor, with dual weapon (For me, dual wielding axes) It's actually quite amazing I must say.

        Thanks for reading and the feedback Frank :)

      • profile image

        frank garza 3 years ago

        im a orc with heavy armor and mace with destruction magic also archery and smithing and enchanting with everything onehundred very deadly class indeed

      • Dvd Zermeno Perez profile image

        David Zermeño 3 years ago from Mexico

        That was lucky jajaja If you're using a PC game, then you should try to mod it, It's amazing, I'll be making a modding Hub for immersion, and lore friendly content.

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        vampire mage 3 years ago

        I beet the ebony warrior at level 80 but i had help my game glitched and i could use mist form without being a vampire lord

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        Mao Nyghtstorm 3 years ago

        I tend to focus on Heavy Armor and One-Handed the most, along with some skill in Smithing. Right now, I'm a level 33 Altmer Were, with the added bonus of full Ebony Armor, an Ebony War Axe, and the occasional use of a Restoration Spell. My Heavy Armor and One-Handed are the highest, so I'm more of a Tank than much else, but I can be of some use as a Support Class if need be.

      • Dvd Zermeno Perez profile image

        David Zermeño 3 years ago from Mexico

        you my friend, made the perfect choice: BATTLE MAGE is and awesome choice to add some fun to your game. I will be writing a Hub about modding Skyrim in the PC version to add better graphics, resolutions, weapons, armors, etc... I'm already doing it, wait for it and you'll will see all the potential in skyrim with a modded game.

        Thanks for reading.

      • Dvd Zermeno Perez profile image

        David Zermeño 3 years ago from Mexico

        Totally agree with you, the battle mage is the best class in the game, and If you know how to mod your game is AWESOME.

        I plan to write another hub about modding Skyrim and the different styles that you can add to you old game. (Only for PC saddly)

      • Cyrellys profile image

        Cyrellys 3 years ago from Montana

        Great write up! But missed the stats on High Elf. I'm a High Elf Battle Mage with an enchanted sword in the right hand and either conjuration, destruction (fire), or restoration magic in the other. Became Archmage but my ebony armor is just as good as the AM outfit because I have my smithing and enchanting so high. I'm running without blocking and have only a critical few one handed skills developed. I've been using battle strategy instead of mundane or magical shields. I make the most of my shout collection to improve the whole strategy. I'm using magic in the 500s and health and stamina in the 250s. I always keep the potion for extra stamina and a spare ring that boosts stamina on hand for when I have more loot than can normally carry. If I run over before a dungeon finishes I stash the loot in a box and go back for it when it finishes. Sell the low stuff and keep the good to improve it, and keep all the specials for displays in the houses. I just recently got dual enchanting...totally cool feature to put two spells on one item.

      • profile image

        NathaN 3 years ago

        Magiknight for the WIN!!

      • SimilarSam profile image

        Sam 3 years ago from Australia

        Warrior has always been an awkward class to me in Skyrim, tried to start one once or twice but really couldn't stick with it. Great guide nonetheless, maybe I might have to try pull off a battle mage.

      • Jared L Rice profile image

        Jared L Rice 3 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA

        I've been playing as a two-handed Breton and I've done well, except for the frost trolls! Man, I cannot figure out a way to take these guys down before they level me. Any advice on equipment, or armor that may make this task a bit easier?

      • profile image

        Angry Singer 3 years ago

        I like to play 1 handed mace with sheild and just go inssane with blocking:)

      • profile image

        YN 3 years ago

        I use archery, no armor perk, basic sneaking perks and smithery/enchanting/alchemy to build strong armors and weapons, and also to boost archery. I one shot pratically every thing without being noticed

      • Dvd Zermeno Perez profile image

        David Zermeño 4 years ago from Mexico

        Ninja class---deathly in the proper hands indeed.

      • Dvd Zermeno Perez profile image

        David Zermeño 4 years ago from Mexico

        Actually that's the best part of this game...YOU CAN DO ANY CLASS YOU WANT!! You only need a little bit of imagination and accept than maybe sometimes you're going to end with a bad balanced class and you will have to start all over again.

      • Dvd Zermeno Perez profile image

        David Zermeño 4 years ago from Mexico

        Nice combination...I created a Wood Elf SNIPER class, it's awesome actually.

      • Dvd Zermeno Perez profile image

        David Zermeño 4 years ago from Mexico

        I prefer using resto magic for the later options in the Restoration tree, with the fast healing and the stamina boost...but If I'm playing a two handed, magic is not an option actually.

      • profile image

        Juggernaut 4 years ago

        I've taken a liking to a warior with heavy armor, one handed and shield, smithing, and alchemy if I run into a tight situation, in my opinion, having a ton of potions is better than using restoration

      • profile image

        Anonymous 4 years ago

        I have archery, one handed, blocking, restoration, and light armor, I'm a wood elf

      • profile image

        5ilver 4 years ago

        I was in the whiterun jarls quarters when i picked a master lock (stroke of luck) and stole the elven blade and i decided to use magic in my left hand. i wear a strange armor combination. and that's my class

      • profile image

        Dovakhiin 4 years ago

        i use a ninja class 100 sneak with every perk full light armor a sword and a dagger and sometimes archery

      • Dvd Zermeno Perez profile image

        David Zermeño 4 years ago from Mexico

        Warriors abilities and Archery are a really cool combination in the right hands, I personally prefer a Warrior/Magic Wielder it's so fun but it's a challenge if it is your first character.

        You should stay with one build only, make a decision about what type of weapons are you going to use. Good Luck and happy leveling.

      • profile image

        SaaZ 4 years ago

        Im a Dual Wield warrior with Heavy Armor, but i use Steed Stone so i can carry a light armor and a bow and be some kind of hybrid

      • profile image

        Thorvald 4 years ago

        Nice write up thanks. I am playing a Nord Warrior that does 2 handed and 1 handed w/ shield when he has to + archery restoration and destruction. Am only lvl 17 I gonna run into trouble with this build later?

      • Dvd Zermeno Perez profile image

        David Zermeño 4 years ago from Mexico

        Nice Class...I might add it in the next review of the content :) Thanks for your help Brutish Lemon, thanks for reading.

      • profile image

        Brutish Lemon 4 years ago

        On my other profile, I'm a skirmisher, using archery, one hand, heavy shield, smithing and alchemy and light armor.

      • profile image

        Brutish Lemon 4 years ago

        I'm a brute/barbarian with , light armor, two hand, and archery, with some extra skills like smithing and alchemy


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