[3.6] Xagroth's Storm Brand Elementalist | Beginner & SSF Friendly | Budget League Starter |

Welcome to my guide, Exile.

This guide provides a build for an easy-to-play, budget and beginner friendly Skill, Storm Brand.

Storm Brand has a similar play-style to Totem Builds. You leave a Brand on the ground which attacks the nearest enemies. However, unlike totems, Storm Brand can attach itself to a target, dealing 50% more damage to him, while also damaging nearby enemies and moving to the next nearest enemy after killing the target that it's attached onto. Moreover, because of the way this build is played, it feels more like a spellcaster build, and less of a totem one. So if you have tried totems and didn't like them, you'll most likely not have a problem with Storm Brand.

After picking up all the necessary tree nodes, we will be able to place a maximum of 5 Storm Brands at a time. Reaching the maximum amount of spawned Storm Brands doesn't mean you can't spawn another one. It will just make the oldest Storm Brand despawn. Instead of casting Storm Brand every time we want to clear a pack, we can instead use the Brand Recall skill, which makes all our summoned brands return to our character's location. This can be very useful since it can be used both offensively and defensively.

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About this build

Pros & Cons
+ Very budget and SSF friendly since we don't need any specific/expensive uniques
+ Satisfying gameplay with lots of shatters
+ Capable of running most map-mods and all end-game content with enough investment
+ Fast clear-speed once you get used to using your Brand Recall
+ Very good single target damage with the help of Lightning Spire Trap and War Banner
+ Can be very pleasing aesthetically with the use of the right MTX
- Can not facetank bosses
- Lightning damage can be very inconsistent, meaning that you can one shot 10 packs in a row, and fail to do so for the next 10 (shouldn't be a problem until very high tier maps)
- Shatters can cause your game to lag sometimes if you are playing on a low-end system

Main mechanics of this build
Elemental Overload: Elemental Overload is a keystone passive skill that gives us 40% more elemental damage for 8 seconds when we critically strike with our skills. This does however remove our critical strike multiplier, which means we deal no extra damage with critical hits. The 40% more multiplier certainly makes up for it though.

Dodge chance: this build utilizes the Acrobatics and Phase Acrobatics keystones which give us a 30% chance to dodge attack and spell hits, which makes us a lot harder to get hit.

Shatters: By using Herald of Ice, we get to shatter enemies when they die and thus suppressing some annoying and potentially lethal on-death effects (Corpse Explosion, Porcupines etc.) while also providing that sweet, sweet sound of our enemies shattering into pieces.

Single Target Damage: Storm Brand alone doesn't deal enough damage to bosses on its own. That's why we are using a 4-Link Lightning Spire Trap along with the War Banner skill to melt bosses shortly after their healthbar shows up. This does however require a bit of patience, as some bosses tend to move/jump right after they spawn, rendering our traps useless. Trap placement goes a long way here.

What this build has achieved so far

Easily finished all Labyrinths.

Have done up to Tier 10 maps with no problem, only deaths have been due to syndicate game freezes. Only reason this build hasn't done higher tier maps is map drops. Will post high tier map gameplay ASAP.

Deathless Yellow Elder and Elder Guardians (should be able to also do deathless Red Elder since its mostly a mechanical fight)

Deathless Atziri (Uber Atziri also possible, again, dodging and knowing the boss mechanics plays a big role in end-game bosses)

Easily clears Delve depth 120+, I just place my brands and lightning spire traps and wait for the encounter to finish while I browse my feed on my phone. I may pop a health potion sometimes.

Didn't have to spend more than an Exalt on gear since Storm Brand scales by itself incredibly good. Still on a tabula and 10c weapon.

I don't have to fap anymore because everytime my Storm Brand shatters the whole screen I come a little.

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Path of Building & Leveling

PoB

Here is the WIP PoB with leveling trees and my budget gear: https://pastebin.com/b18m3XhD

If you don't already have Path of Building, you can download it from here.

To import the build into Path of Building, copy the code above, then open up Path of Building, click Import/Export on the top left corner, click import from pastebin, paste the code in the empty field, click import and import again.

In the bottom of the Skill Tree you should be able to choose between 11 different skill trees. One for each Act and one for endgame.

For leveling:

1. Get Freezing Pulse from Targleigh as a reward for killing Hilock. Link it with Arcane Surge. Make sure you keep Arcane Surge at level one. If you get a notification that Arcane Surge is ready to level up, just right click it instead of left click to make it go away.
Check the vendors for a B-B-G wand (as in, Blue-Blue-Green sockets, all linked). If you can't find one, keep checking every once in a while. Vendor items change everytime you level up. Finally, buy Explosive Trap from Nessa. This will help with single target damage.

2. Level with Freezing Pulse until you get Frost Bomb from Targleigh as a quest reward. Link Frostbomb with Arcane Surge (and onslaught if you have one).

3. Buy Added Lightning Damage from Nessa after you get the Lower Prison waypoint and link it with Explosive Trap.

4. Take Flame Dash from Targleigh reward later on.

5. Use vendor recipe to make a +1 to socketed lightning Gems wand.
You can do this with an Iron Ring, a green gem (doesn't matter which one), a magic wand (you can upgrade your white wand by using a transmutation orb on it) and an orb of alteration.
First, sell the iron ring + a green gem to a vendor to get a topaz ring.
After that, sell the topaz ring + a magic wand + an orb of alteration to a vendor to get the +1 Wand.

6. After getting to the ship graveyard, you should be able to buy Blade Vortex from Nessa. Blade Vortex makes it a lot easier to kill bosses but you may not be able to equip it yet. I personally like to get level 12 and a +30 to dexterity node on my tree before I get to Marveil in order to kill her easier. You don't have to do this. You can equip Blade Vortex later. It just helps with single target.

7. After killing Marveil and getting to Act 2, we can buy and start using Storm Brand. Link Storm Brand with Increased Lightning Damage (which we had socketed to our Explosive Trap) and Onslaught, if you have one. Socket your Arcane Surge with Flame Dash.

8. After killing Fidelitas and taking the Baleful Gem, go back to town and get Herald of Thunder as a quest reward from Greust. After that, buy Herald of Ice and Brand Recall from Yeena.

9. After killing the Weaver, go back to town and get Faster Casting as a quest reward from Silk. Then buy another Faster Casting gem from Yeena. Take Lightning Damage out of your Storm Brand links and place Faster Casting on it instead. You can now link Blade Vortex with added lightning damage.

LEVELING GUIDE TO BE CONTINUED, WIP.

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Ascendancy and Pantheon Powers

Spoiler

Ascendancy in order of importance.

Shaper of Desolation [Normal Labyrinth]: The major node makes our Storm Brand's lightning damage able to chill, shock and ignite, which would normally be impossible since lightning spells are only allowed to shock. The minor node gives us increased elemental damage and 5% chance to chill, shock and ignite.

Beacon of Ruin [Cruel Labyrinth]: The major node makes our shocks from our hits increase damage taken by at least 20%. The minor node gives us another 5% chance to chill, shock and ignite.

Pendulum of Destruction [Merciless Labyrinth]: Major gives us 75% increased area of effect for 5 seconds and after that 75% increased elemental damage for 5 seconds. This effect is consecutive which means it never turns off. Every 5 seconds we swap between increased elemental damage and increased area of effect. Minor node gives us some cast speed and elemental damage.

Mastermind of Discord [Eternal Labyrinth]: Major node helps us penetrate 25% of our enemies' lightning and cold resistance while having both herald of ice and herald of thunder active. It also increases the effect of heralds and makes them have reduced mana reservation (which means that our mana pool becomes bigger).
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Pantheon

This is mostly up to you and depends on what content you are doing but most of the time I prefer the following:

Soul of the Brine King [Major] - Prevents Stunlock which can be very annoying and deadly

Soul of Ralakesh [Minor] - Helps a lot with labyrinth traps.

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Gem/Skill setup

Spoiler

Storm Brand:



Storm Brand is our main skill of course. Has an above average clear speed and can clear a whole screen without Inpulsa's, due to the skill being able to reattach itself to nearby enemies and our Herald of Ice explosions.
Faster Casting enables our Storm Brand to get more casts per second and greatly improves our DPS.
Controlled Destruction reduces our critical strike chance, but gives us a huge 42% more elemental damage buff. Don't forget, Increased elemental damage is additive with other increased damage sources, more elemental damage is multiplicative over your overall damage. This is why this gem gives us a huge DPS boost.
Hypothermia makes it easier for us to chill and then freeze enemies in order to then shatter them with the help of Herald of Ice (will get to this later).
Ice Bite also helps us to freeze mobs easier and gives us a chance to gain a frenzy charge after killing a frozen enemy. Frenzy charges help by increasing our DPS by giving us increased attack damage and cast speed for each frezny charge.
Lightning Penetration is pretty self-explanatory, it penetrates lightning resistance and gives us an okay amount of increased elemental damage. If you don't have a 6-link, remove this gem, as it's the least useful one and we already gain enough penetration from other sources.
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Lightning Spire Trap:



Lightning Spire Trap is what helps us with single target DPS. We can throw a maximum of 3 traps. This amount can be increased with shaper/elder items that give +to maximum amount of traps placed. Each trap needs 8 seconds to recharge. You should be very careful with the trap placement on bosses that move around much.
Controlled Destruction has already been covered above.
Elemental Focus gives us more elemental damage but prevents us from applying status ailments with Lightning Spire Trap, which is no problem at all.
Added lightning damage further increases our Lightning Spire Trap damage. You could potentially use Advanced Traps instead, but I have not tested that yet.
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Cast when damage taken setup:



This is your classic CWDT setup. After taking a certain amount of damage, CWDT will then trigger the socketed spells. In this case, we are using Immortal Call, which makes our character invulnerable to damage, and Warlord's Mark which curses the enemies around us and makes us able to leech more life and mana from them. Warlord's mark can be replaced with Increased Duration but I personally prefer WM. WM can give us endurance charges that get discharged everytime we proc our Cast when damage Taken and increase its duration anyways. A level 20 Increased Duration gives us 75% more duration on our Immortal Call, a single endurance charge gives us an 100% increase in duration.

Cast when damage taken should be kept at level 2, Immortal call level 2 and Warlords mark level 3.
We keep CwDT low level to make sure it procs as often as possible. We keep the other two skills low level too, because a level 2 CwDT can only proc linked skills that require level 40 or lower.
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Brand Recall Setup:



Brand Recall makes all our spawned brands return to our character's location. This gives us great control over Storm Brand and is what makes the skill offensive and defensive.
Arcane Surge gives us more elemental damage, increased cast speed and mana regeneration everytime we use Brand Recall. We keep it level 1 because a max level Brand Recall costs 16 mana and a level 1 Arcane Surge needs the linked skill to use up at least 15 mana. This is to make sure Arcane Surge procs everytime we use Brand Recall.
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Curse on Hit setup:



This combination of skills makes our Herald of Thunder curse enemies with Elemental Weakness everytime it hits an enemy, greatly reducing their elemental resistances, making us deal more damage to them.
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Additional skill gems:



These gems should be used wherever you have a free slot open.

Herald of Ice makes enemies explode, dealing AoE damage to other enemies around them everytime we shatter an enemy (which is almost always). This helps a lot with our clear speed and can also be very aesthetically pleasing with the use of an MTX.
War Banner gives us increased area of effect and adrenaline, which increases our damage. The way we use war banner is, we activate it, charge it up by killing enemies and when it reaches 50 stacks, we reactivate it and get a huge increase of DPS for a short while. This is best used along with Lightning Spire Trap. Place the Traps, wait for the boss to spawn and activate War Banner to instantly melt most bosses.
Flame Dash is our generic caster movement skill. Most people use it along with Faster Casting. I personally do not mind the cast time of Flame Dash so instead of Faster Casting, I use my last gem slot for Portal.
Portal is a huge quality of life as you don't have to pick up any portal scrolls anymore. But then again, it's personal choice.

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Items

Armour


First of all I want to say this. Uniques are not the best items. A lot of people come from Diablo 3 where the best items are legendaries and set items. This is not the case with Path of Exile. The very best items will almost always be good rares, except for some build-enabling uniques.

In PoE, you should always prioritize survivability over damage output.
If you find yourself dying over and over too many times, its because your resists aren't capped, your life pool is too small, or both.
Always check your resists on your character tab (in-game key is "c") and search for items that can help you cap them. Same goes for life. A good guideline to follow is 250 life per Act. So by Act 10 you should have around 2500-3000 Life.

Due to our build not requiring any certain uniques, we can focus on getting good rare gear with +life and +to elemental resistances.

We may not need any uniques, but we can definitely use some to improve our character.

Some examples would be:

Inpulsa's Broken Heart - Increases our damage if we have shocked an enemy recently (which we do pretty often) and increases our effect of shock. Shocked enemies receive more damage and with Inpulsa they will receive even more.

Loreweave - This is a more defensive option for your chest slot. It increases all your max resistances by 1-3%. Which means that instead of the 75% cap, we have a 76-78% elemental resistances cap. This helps mitigate a lot of elemental damage and can in some situations prevent us from dying.

Weapon & Shield


This build can be played with a staff, two wands, or a wand and a shield.

Two wands provide the most damage, but a shield provides more sustain.

For wands, I would recommend searching for the following stats:

% increased lightning damage
% increased spell damage
% increased cast speed
adds # to # damage to lightning spells

Here is a link to some cheap starter options that you can buy from other players.

For shields, any shield with a good amount of elemental resistances and life should be fine.

If you have capped resists and a good life pool without a shield, then you can buy Magna Eclipsis, assuming you have the currency for it.



This item is great for two reasons.

First and foremost, it gives +2 to level of socketed gems. That means that we can socket our Brand Recall setup in this shield and increase its maximum level from 6, to 8. This is a big quality of life since it reduces the cooldown time of Brand Recall and we can use it more often, instead of having to spawn new brands. Later on in the game when we have enough currency, we can use a level 3 Empower gem in our Brand Recall setup to further increase the maximum level of Brand Recall and reduce its cooldown even more.

Secondly, when we equip Magna Eclipsis, we gain an elemental shield which protects us for 1000 elemental damage. Whenever this effect goes to 0, it can recharge to 1000 after not taking damage for some time.


I will likely add more recommended items as time goes on.

Flasks

Flasks should not be underestimated since its what saves you in 9 out of 10 near-death situations. There are many debuffs that enemies can apply on you like curses, bleeding, shock, freeze, etc. Furthermore, flasks can help you quickly regenerate health and mana over time, or even instantly. They can also help you cap (and overcap) elemental resistances in case you have trouble buying gear with good resistances (in a trade league) or can not find any (SSF).

Flasks, like gear, can be crafted to fit your build/playstyle.
Before crafting any flasks, you should first make sure they are normal rarity (grey, no mods on them) and use 4 Glassblower's Baubles on each flask so that they reach 20% quality. Quality helps by increasing the duration of our flasks, and makes it easier for us to have a near 100% uptime on them (assuming you kill mobs fast enough to refill flask charges).
If the flask isn't normal quality when you find it, you can use an Orb of Scouring on it to reduce its rarity to normal. If you can not find any Glassblower's Baubles, you can get them for 8 Blacksmith's Whetstones each at some gear vendors in each Act's town.
There are many debuffs that we should try to get rid of with the use of flasks, but the most important ones are those of Freeze removal & immunity, Bleed removal & immunity and curse removal & immunity.

To craft flasks follow these steps:

1. Find the flask base.
2. Make sure it's of normal rarity, if not make it normal by using an Orb of Scouring like I mentioned above
3. Use 4x Glassblower's Baubles
4. Use a Transmutation Orb on them to make magic rarity
5. Use Alteration Orbs until you get the Prefix listed below. A prefix on a flask is the first word (for example "Experimenter's Silver Flask of Adrenaline")
6. After you get your prefix go to your Menagerie by using any waypoint and clicking the Menagerie button. Go to the blood altar, put your flask inside and use one of the flask recipes to add one of the following Suffix mods to your flask: of Heat/of Staunching/of Warding
A suffix is the two last words of a flask (for example "Experimenter's Silver Flask of Adrenaline")
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This flask is what will be saving us most of the time. Instead of using a regeneration flask, I have opted into using an instant one, because sometimes regeneration isn't as quick as we would want it to be.
For our Divine Flask we want the following:

Prefix: Seething
Suffix: of Heat/of Staunching/of Warding (Either one)
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This flask gives us incredible mobility by greatly increasing our movement speed.
For our Quicksilver flask we want the following:

Prefix: Alchemist's
Suffix: of Adrenaline (this can not be added with beastcrafting, if you find yourself unable to get it, just use one the following) of Heat/of Staunching/of Warding
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This is another defensive flask. It gives us increased evasion rating and creates a smoke cloud upon activation that makes enemies have difficulty hitting us.
For our Stibnite flask we want the following:

Prefix: Chemist's / Experimenter's (personally prefer Chemist's)
Suffix: of Heat/of Staunching/of Warding (Either one)
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This flask increases our DPS by giving us more cast speed, and increases our mobility by giving us increased movement speed.
For our Silver flask we want the following:

Prefix: Chemist's / Experimenter's
Suffix: of Heat/of Staunching/of Warding (Either one)
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This flask gives us some chaos damage based on our elemental damage and helps us leech life. Very good DPS boost. You can get this item by using the trading site and buying it from another player, or by killing Atziri in the Apex of Sacrfice map.

This is a unique flask. It can not, and doesn't need to be crafted.

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Playstyle & Mapping

Playstyle

You want to always have all your brands spawned and your war banner active.

Spawn a new brand everytime you see a small pack of monsters.

Use your brand recall on big packs of monsters in order to bring all your brands to your location and clear the whole screen.

Get used to using your flasks every 4-5 seconds. If you crafted them the way I mentioned in the flask section, you should have 90-100% flask uptime.

For bosses, spawn all 5 brands when you enter the boss room and carefully place your Lightning Spire Traps. After the boss (hopefully) triggers the traps, activate your war banner in order to place it down and get huge momentary DPS boost. After that run around for 1-2 seconds until the boss melts and collect your loot (obviously endgame bosses and guardians will not die that fast, especially on the Elemental Overload version of this build).

Things to aim for before Maps and Map mods we should not run

Make sure you have at least 3500-4000 health and capped elemental resistances (Resistances cap at 75%).
You could start mapping with around 3000 if you have taken the nodes Acrobatics and Phase Acrobatics early. This is to make sure you don't get one shots by mobs/bosses.

Make sure you have read the flask section and have all needed flasks with the right suffixes.

This is not as important but having the recommended Pantheon powers helps.

Map mods we should avoid:

No leech: Makes us unable to leech mana and life. This is impossible to run unless we swap one of our flasks for a mana flask and play carefully. Would not recommend running.

Chance to avoid Elemental Ailments: This map mod makes it harder for us to shatter and explode packs which means that its possible for us to flame dash into a pack, use our Brand Recall and the pack doesn't instantly die, which could lead to us getting one shotted. Most of the time not a problem, experiment for yourself and see if you are comfortable running it. I've personally never had any problems with this.

Elemental Equilibrium/Enfeeble/Monsters have increased lightning resistance: You should be able to run these mods 90% of the time but if by any chance you find yourself dealing little to no damage to monsters on maps that have these mods, avoid running them until you get a better weapon. Again, this has never been a problem for me and I started mapping with a 4-Link Storm Brand setup and blue weapons.

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Changelog

21.03.2019 - Added Playstyle, Mapping and Flask sections.






When I get the necessary items I will also add a PoB tree for the critical version of the build, which should have less defenses but a lot more damage.

I would be happy to answer any questions. Constructive criticism appreciated.



My guide was written with Enki's Arc Elementalist guide as a template. So credits to him for that.


Last edited by Xagroth on Mar 28, 2019, 8:51:17 AM
Last bumped on Apr 14, 2019, 7:07:27 PM
I am using a modified Vowel's stormbrand build from last league but the addition of Faster Casting gem from your guide made it so much more enjoyable to play. It seems to help kill bosses easier. I am using self found gear and still in a 5l, about to complete Atlas and red Elder. Thank you for the suggestion.
"
Feydaleth wrote:
I am using a modified Vowel's stormbrand build from last league but the addition of Faster Casting gem from your guide made it so much more enjoyable to play. It seems to help kill bosses easier. I am using self found gear and still in a 5l, about to complete Atlas and red Elder. Thank you for the suggestion.


You're welcome. And I should add that Cast speed is additive with % increased brand activation frequency and not multiplicative, which means that stacking cast speed and picking more cast speed on your tree would benefit your DPS a lot more than picking % increased brand activation frequency.

tl;dr: Cast Speed > % increased brand activation frequency

Last edited by Xagroth on Mar 23, 2019, 5:58:36 AM
very nice build guide! would love a leveling section so i can do the very fast levelings :D
Thank you so much. Awesome guide. I was lost because the other guides are 3.5 and I was branching out of the posted tree. U r0x0r!
Your skill tree has Alira selected on a Elemental Overload build?
Really nice build, I am following your guide atm.

A bit confuse about the Eclipsis shield. What gem should I put on it, Brand Recall or Immortal Call?

Thank you.
Hello, I am starting Synthesis following your guide and I thank you for it. I am a bit confused about something. Why are you using "Adds # lightning damage to attacks" on your items (visible in PoB)? Which skills use attacks? Thank you.
"
panndemic wrote:
Hello, I am starting Synthesis following your guide and I thank you for it. I am a bit confused about something. Why are you using "Adds # lightning damage to attacks" on your items (visible in PoB)? Which skills use attacks? Thank you.


Hey there, glad you're enjoying the guide.

The "Adds # lightning damage to attacks" doesn't provide any DPS.
It just happened for the items to have it at the time that I purchased them. These are very basic 1c league starter items that I can not be bothered to swap out for better ones since I can do all content with ease and I prefer saving currency for other things.

Spell damage to attacks/increased spell damage/ increased lightning damage would be better options.

Good observation, thanks for the question.
"
Xagroth wrote:
"
panndemic wrote:
Hello, I am starting Synthesis following your guide and I thank you for it. I am a bit confused about something. Why are you using "Adds # lightning damage to attacks" on your items (visible in PoB)? Which skills use attacks? Thank you.


Hey there, glad you're enjoying the guide.

The "Adds # lightning damage to attacks" doesn't provide any DPS.
It just happened for the items to have it at the time that I purchased them. These are very basic 1c league starter items that I can not be bothered to swap out for better ones since I can do all content with ease and I prefer saving currency for other things.

Spell damage to attacks/increased spell damage/ increased lightning damage would be better options.

Good observation, thanks for the question.


Glad you answered. You have like 4/5 items with the same modifier "Adds # lightning damage to attacks" and I was convinced you did that on purpose.

Very decent guide overally, still WIP I believe so I am eagerly waiting for additions.

I am at level 82 and still very far from reaching your current damage (I only get 1800 damage per hit on Storm Brand (in game GUI) - you seem to have over 20000 on PoB, don't know it they are the same thing).

This is why it confuses me more, since I somehow expected for those modifiers to do some improvements.

I suppose there are many more things to take into account. A big thing would probably be to have level 20, +20 quality gems, which I don't have yet.

I am still learning the game, as it is my first character where I get into mapping.

Thank you and keep up the good work.

Edit: I imported my character on PoB and I get numbers similar to yours. I was a bit in the fog there.
Last edited by panndemic on Apr 6, 2019, 6:36:13 PM

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