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Patriotic Eagle: IOTM Overview

2023-06-30 // IOTM Overview

For one brief shining month in the 2023 Standard Set, TPTB put on their fancy Reds, Whites, and Blues and made the most patriotic IOTM of all time. A sparkling show of blustery patriotism from our country's finest. This guy's even more patriotic than the Garbage Fire, which automatically named itself after U.S. politicians! What a country, what a life. Let's dig in.

General Summary

The Patriotic Eagle is a familiar. For core familiar function, it serves as a 100% starfish, recovering your MP every turn by damaging the monster you're fighting. It also serves as a Sombrero, with its slightly-better formula for statgain.

But, as with all IOTM familiars in modern memory, the eagle's true power features are barely connected to the core familiar powers. There are three special skills the Eagle can cast, on varying cooldowns. The longest cooldown lies with the Eagle's ability to Pledge Allegiance, giving users an all-day effect based on the zone the skill is used in. This effect can be hit by soft green echo eyedrop antidotes, so with clever play and a few Penultimate Fantasy Airship turns, speedrunners can get 2-3 shots a day. The various pledges can range from 50% meat to 30% item to 100% initiative; there are a lot of decent use cases for it, and it's relatively easy to route a useful buff in if you're careful. Visit this spreadsheet for a view of all possible buffs in each available game zone.

The next longest cooldown lies with Red, White, and Blue blasts. This one is more like a distant cousin of the Fourth of May Saber's "saber friends" usage -- it does a similar thing (2 "forced" subsequent fights with the given monster) but does so completely differently. While the saber implementation forces the monster to appear as a semi-superlikely encounter that doesn't even give you a new orb prediction, RWB Blast simply banishes every monster in the zone until you encounter two more of the current monster. It also comes with a counter -- "Everything Looks Red, White, and Blue", a little play on the yellow/blue/red ray cooldown effects. It lasts for 50 turns after you cast it, so you get a good handful of charges even in a super-low turncount 2-day run.

Finally, there's (what I consider) the most powerful and flexible of the Eagle's skills. I refer of course to Patriotic Screech, a brand-new type of banish. Instead of banishing a specific monster, it banishes all monsters of a certain phylum from appearing in the game for 100 turns. Instead of a 50/daily cooldown, this one has an internal familiar cooldown; your eagle is ready to screech again after 11 turns or free runs after you've done your first screech. Two small limitations on Patriotic Screech:

  • You cannot banish in no-banish zones; this respects monsters you otherwise can't single-banish
  • If a zone is a monophylum zone, like the Hidden Apartment Building, screech will still banish everything but it will end up un-banishing everything if there are no remaining valid monsters for the user to encounter

So, yeah. Weird familiar! What kind of cool stuff can you do with it? Quite a lot, actually.

Speedrun Applicability

At its core, I'd say a good 80% of the eagle's power is localized in the power of the phylum banish. It's the kind of tool that requires a good deal of planning and thought to use, and if you use it wrong, it can hurt you a bit -- the fact that it can undo banishes in certain zones is something to be wary of. In KOL, if you banish -every- monster in a zone, they all come back -- that means that banishing, say, Undead monsters before entering the Defiled Nook means you can't banish the Party Skeleton (the only monster that doesn't give Evil Eyes).

But if you use it right, Patriotic Screech is massively helpful in basically every portion of your run. The core idea of KOL speedrunning is to fight the monsters you want to fight and find any way possible to skip the monsters you don't. Similar to how the Red-Nosed Snapper allowed you to modify the combat choices the game gave you (giving you boosted dudes, boosted undeads, etc), the Eagle lets you take a much more surgical approach to cleaning your combat selection vector one phylum at a time over the course of your run and ensuring you only get the exact combats you want.

To wit, here are a selection of powerful phylum banishes:

  • Banishing DUDES will remove monsters you don't necessarily care about from: The Black Forest (goes from 2/5 to 2/3 useful monsters), Twin Peak (becomes 100% trimmers), the Red Zeppelin (if you bypass Glarks, it turns the zone into a full no-whammies zone) and Whitey's Grove (goes from 2/4 useful to 2/3)
  • Banishing BEASTS will remove non-ideal monsters from: the Penultimate Fantasy Airship (just one, but everything helps in this massive zone) and the Palindome (3/7 dudes to 3/4 dudes)
  • Banishing UNDEAD will remove unwanted baddies from: the Haunted Wine Cellar, the Haunted Library, the Haunted Boiler Room, and the Pyramid's middle chamber (at one monster banished apiece, in a set of 5 three monster zones)

Of note, due to the Eagle's phylum banish being (relatively quickly) rechargable, it has a unique usefulness late in your run as well. One of the big advantages Seal Clubber has over other classes is that late in the run, Clubbers still have a banish available with Batter Up. Eagle ensures that no matter where you are in your run, you can still spin up a banish for just 11 turns/freeruns worth of familiar usage. This is helpful in many ways -- it means dramatically improving the Palindome is extremely easy, banishing at least the Tomb Servant from the pyramid is easy, et cetera.

Beyond the screech, you have two relatively minor speedrun benefits, although they are certainly vectors for turnsave if you're trying. The pledge buff is solid -- in modern Standard, we get pretty close (if not over the mark) for the 850% combat initiative needed to guarantee a modern zombie every turn in the Defiled Alcove, but you can make that process a heck of a lot simpler by getting the initiative pledge. (Not to mention the value that'll exist when our standard set cycles and we need to drum up more initiative again). The 50% meat is a relatively minor bonus, definitely less than a turn saved on the Nun's war sidequest, but that's a quest where every bit helps. And 30% item is just generically very good, and puts you ever-closer to passively capping all the 30% drops that require 234% item drop in a run.

As for the red, white, and blue blast? This one is a bit harder to use successfully. The fact that it only generates two copies of the monster in question is a bit annoying, and the way it works (by banishing all non-blasted monsters) can actually cause some anti-synergy with other skills. For instance, if you have a phylum banish active that hits the RWB Blast monster, you will end up with a zone where everything is banished, which undoes -every- banish and ensures you won't be guaranteed to hit the RWB Blast monsters. Still, there are a few places where RWB Blast is useful. A handful of note:

  • Red Butlers, where you really want to hit 3 or so. If you combine this with some goose drones and phylum banish the 3rd butler, you can avoid encountering Herrings and Snappers, who do not progress the Red Zeppelin zone
  • In the Defiled Nook, you don't want to hit a party skeleton, and you'd prefer not to banish it. RWB Blasts can be used to ensure you have an evil eye monster up in the zone and waiting for you.
  • It actually works reasonably well for pygmy shamans, allowing you to hit the 3 you need to get thrice-cursed and banish the last one to return the zone to accountants + lawyers afterwards

All of this is great, and (to a clever ascender) enough to wrest a significant amount of turn-save value out of this IOTM. But there are a handful of IOTM synergies that really empower the Eagle above and beyond the clear power it shows on its own.

2023 In-Standard Synergies

  • There's a massive amount of synergy with the Book of Facts skill "Recall Habitats". With Recall, you can turn a free fight into a native fight in any zone, but it is subject to the same level of rejection and queue selection that the game naturally does within zones. Enter the Eagle. If you visit a zone with a ton of same-phylum monsters (like, say, the majority-bug Desert, majority-dude Copperhead Club, or the entirely-beast Ratbat Burrow), you can use patriotic screech and one more banish to ensure that your habituated monster will be guaranteed to show up.
    • This features an amusing sub-synergy with the Miniature Crystal Ball (2021) -- if you create a zone that's guaranteed to be your monster, you can guarantee that the 5 habituated combats turn into 6 with one prediction from everyone's favorite fiddly orb.
  • Patriotic Screech also (currently) has a significant synergy with every sniff in the game. Because extra copies from sniffs are processed after banishes, in mono-phylum zones, if you sniff one monster and use screech to phylum banish the zone's phylum, you will get nothing but the sniffed monster. This synergy requires either Transcendent Olfaction (one of your 3 charges a day), Nosy Nose (which requires you to use the familiar to encounter your guy), or Monkey Sniff (the skill you get after using 4 of your 5 wishes from the Cursed Monkey's Paw). Fair warning: there's some scuttlebutt that this interaction might be patched in the coming year, so don't buy the eagle -solely- for this interaction. But still -- it's a powerful tool, and can be used to ensure you get 20+ extra Green Ops Soldiers per run by phylum-banishing Hippies with a sniffed GROP once GROPs are naturally within the war pool (which occurs at 400/1000 war progress).
  • If you use a banish, you can use RWB blast to effectively cheat a zone into the one-monster zone using the trick mentioned above. Due to how RWB Blast works (ie, banishing all monsters except the current monster), if you use a banish (like Feel Hatred (2021), Show Them Your Boring Familiar Pictures (2021), Bowl a Curveball (2022), Monkey Slap (2023) or Batter Up) on the monster you've RWB-blasted, and you've olfacted something else in the zone, you can ensure that the only monster you get is the olfacted/sniffed monster. As above, there's at least some chance this gets nerfed if they (reasonably) refactor the banish/sniff code to work in a (slightly) less obviously bizarre way.

Overall Rating

We'd rate the Patriotic Eagle a tier 1 IOTM, with 7-15 turns saved daily in your average speedrun (and don't ask me to count it up, because it is hecking HARD to tabulate where your turnsave comes from with this one). It's a bit less "obvious" than IOTMs like the Book of Facts, where there's extremely clear turnsave. But the power of an always-usable banish that takes just 11 turns or runs to charge is amazing, and the monster copying + buffing functionalities give a little extra comfort to runners. (Not to mention the sombrero statgain, which is useless in modern standard to a runner who has everything, but always quite meaningful to a runner who lacks the leveling tools one has in full-shiny KOL!)

Article contributed by Captain Scotch