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"Elementary, My Dear Wilson!"
- Famous Netrunner Stacks -
#1: Psycho Tycho

by Jens Kreutzer

The name "Psycho Tycho" induces fear in all but the most hard-boiled Runners - this Corp concept is aptly named because of its speedy avenue to victory, finishing Runners off like a psychotic killer if they don't do something about it fast. This speed (the deck wins by turn 5 most of the time, but a turn 3 win is possible) puts an enormous psychological pressure on the Runner as he or she sees the game slipping away, which might also be alluded to by the term "Psycho Tycho".

Originally designed by people such as David Liu, the deck's potential was quickly realized by players all over the world (such as Brandon Charnesky, who took first place at Origins '98). In nothing flat, Psycho Tycho decks became a pest. Most Netrunner players frown upon the deck a bit nowadays; while it's innovative and extremely strong in competition, it isn't very difficult to play and no fun at all to play against. A positive side to the deck is that you can build it without any rare cards, so newcomers to the tourney scene might be forgiven if they try their luck with Psycho Tycho once or twice, just to get the feel for it. But more and more players prefer to design their own strategies rather than being copycats. What's more, there are several Runner stacks out there specifically designed to beat Psycho Tycho (a bit more on that below). Maybe the deck's days are numbered - in the German Nationals, not a single player used it.

The strategy of Psycho Tycho decks takes the fast advancing of agendas to the limit, exploiting the combo Tycho Extension, Project Consultants, and ACME Savings and Loan. As soon as the first Tycho Extension is scored (either by slow-advancing it behind cheap Ice in the early turns, or by saving bits and scoring it out of hand with Project Consultants), you can win in one turn if one Tycho, one ACME, and one Consultants are in your hand. You install the Agenda, then install ACME and rez it - which nets you the 12 bits you need for the Consultants. That ACME also costs you an Agenda point is irrelevant, because the two Tychos give you one point more than you need to win. The synergy of these three cards is almost uncanny, which is why time and again players have been tempted to call for bans, restrictions, or "errata".

This trio forms the core of a Psycho Tycho deck, but apart from that, there are many variants. Most decks use lots of cheap ice like Filter and Data Wall to keep out the Runner in the early game, but some also include more expensive ice cards to fall back on if the game goes longer. Card drawing is important to get the winning combo as soon as possible; that's why Annual Reviews find their way into Psycho Tycho decks very often as well. You might even play "Euro-style", using a couple of Euromarket Consortiums to combine card-drawing ability with more room in HQ to hide the agendas. Some devious Corps even go for a sprinkling of Tag 'n' Bag.

This is what a very basic Psycho Tycho deck might look like (50 cards):

    5 Tycho Extension
    5 ACME Savings and Loan
    8 Project Consultants
    8 Annual Reviews
    10 Filter
    10 Data Wall
    4 Efficiency Experts or Accounts Receivable

You'd probably like to exchange the Efficiency Experts for even more Project Consultants and ACMEs, if you have the cards, or increase the number of bit-gainers so that you can fast-advance the first Tycho by accumulating 12 bits by turn two. Experiment until you find something that works for you.

A Runner who dares to face Psycho Tycho has to realize and exploit its weaknesses. Usually the Corp is hoping that the Runner will need a couple of turns to get icebreakers installed - afterwards, the cheap ice won't present much of an obstacle. ACMEs are easily trashed, and without them, the Corp is seriously slowed down. Moreover, Tycho Extension is a danger as well as a boon: Just like the Corp, the Runner only needs to score two of them to win. Thus, if the Runner gets a couple of bits and Corrosion/Codecracker going in the first turn, all it takes to snatch victory from the Corp are some All-Hands and Rush Hours.

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