StarCraft

The Ultimate Tychus Technical Recruiter Build (Nikara is sleeper OP!)

Howdy folks, for the last few weeks I've been playing SC2 Co-op using Tychus. I was a platinum league player in WoL and I haven't touched the game since then, I have to say all the stuff they've added to the game in the last 10 years is really cool. Co-op is a fun mode, and Tychus in particular is an awesomely designed commander, he is strong enough to give the player many options that are all viable. I have done a lot of searching around to find out what other people are doing with him and what people generally regard as his strongest options. I am writing this post to contribute to that discussion, and to illuminate an aspect of Tychus that I believe has been overlooked and under-explored. To do that, I am going to explain the build that I am using and the choices that I made with the unit composition and customizations. I use this build against every enemy unit composition on Brutal, and on every map except DoN. I did my first Brutation last night (here are the results, my ally was a level 281 mastery Zeratul), and you can check the replay file here if you want to see the build in action.

My preferred setup for Tychus is Technical Recruiter (p1) with the following masteries:

  • Shredder grenade cooldown – obviously
  • Outlaw availability – This is a significantly better value over the tri-outlaw upgrade improvements for this build. With p1 in particular, most of the team's damage is going to be coming from abilities, which are not affected by the tri-outlaw upgrades. The third and fourth characters are much more important to add on as quickly as possible, and mastery points in outlaw availability can completely offset the penalty from p1.
  • Medivac cooldown reduction – I do not find Odin to be very useful with this build. It moves very slowly, and the ability can only used once for the entire duration. I typically never summon Odin unless I need to resurrect Tychus. Increased overall mobility is a MUCH more significant improvement to the team.

The Rattlesnake Trap

One of the most widely agreed upon beliefs amongst Tychus players is that Rattlesnake is a much better choice for a healer than Nikara, since he also contributes significantly to the team's overall damage output. Contrary to this, I intend to demonstrate that Nikara not only contributes more to a team's overall damage output than Rattlesnake, but is a strong enough pick to justifiably take as the second outlaw on the team. This will be the longest section of the post, as it's the part I'm actually most excited to discuss.

There are two ways that Nikara contributes to damage. One is simply with a 125% multiplier for ALL damage output from your other outlaws, including ability damage. This ability that was added in December of 2019 seems to have gone completely unnoticed by the community, as even the few posts that I have read which acknowledge the change seem to imply that it wasn't enough to make her viable. To put this bonus into perspective, I am going to use the example of a typical early game composition comparing Kev and Nikara in the second outlaw slot, and then demonstrate throughout the rest of this post how Nikara scales up throughout the game much more effectively.

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At around the 7 minute mark, I typically have +2/+2 upgrades, two outlaws on the field, and no gear purchased.

  • Tychus has 22 damage weapon with a 0.3 cooldown, for a total of 73 DPS.
  • Rattlesnake has a 48 damage weapon with a 1.5 cooldown, for a total of 32 DPS. (for the simplicity of the argument I am leaving out the Armored bonus).
  • Adding Nikara's bonus to Tychus gives me an extra 18 DPS just from his weapon, which is already more than half of the damage output added by Rattlesnake's grenade launcher. This is extra DPS that can be applied to aerial units, which Rattlesnake can't hit.
  • Additionally, Nikara boosts the damage of Tychus' base level grenade by +19 damage, for a total of 94 damage. The value of this extra damage alone can potentially outweigh Rattlesnake's grenade launcher, as it brings a large number of different units within one-shot range that would otherwise survive the shredder grenade. When Tychus gets his grenade damage gear upgrade, Nikara boosts the damage to 156, which is enough to instantly kill a large variety of units, including roaches and zealots.
  • The itchy trigger upgrade even further increases the value disparity in Nikara's favor, since it will apply to Tychus' damage but not Rattlesnake's.

I have left the 15% bonus attack speed from the beacon from this analysis because the reality is that there are several much more desirable things to spend minerals on at this stage of the game – tychus's two grenade mods are usually better, and adding the third character is also a higher priority. The fact that Kev needs multiple upgrades to be compared to base level Nikara is yet another point against him.

The other ways that Nikara contributes to damage are more subtle – by allowing you to pick exclusively squishy characters for your squad, maximizing their value, and increasing their mobility. Since all of Nikara's heal effects are flat values instead of percentage based, she favors units with low health pools (in this same respect, Nikara makes you a much better co-op ally since you are better able to keep your ally's units alive with the healing burst). And since none of the outlaws have unique damage reduction effects, every unit has effectively the same survivability when they are targetted by Nikara's beam. When Crooked Sam is regenerating nearly 20% of his health per second, it turns out he can face-tank just as well as Cannonball in most circumstances. The extra life sustain offered by Nikara effectively eliminates the need to micro your units to keep them alive, and therefore increases their DPS uptime. When a unit is never required to move out of the way of the enemies' damage, then they are also continuing to apply more damage.

The "increased mobility" might be even more of a head-scratcher. I have read a lot of complaints about Nikara walking headfirst into danger too often (I still lose her sometimes, I get it), but it turns out that her legs are actually one of her greatest assets. Rattlesnake's revitalizer beacons are stationary, and you only get one every 20 seconds. What's worse is that since it can be destroyed, you typically can't deploy it ahead of your team. These qualities aren't an issue for things like burning down objectives, but they can be if you are trying to push deep into a base quickly or defend a lot of ground. When Rattlesnake's beacon is on cooldown, he is contributing very little with no heals and his very modest damage output. Since Nikara's heal gun moves to wherever the team is, and the buff from Burst is applied directly to the units, you have much greater freedom in your movement while benefiting from the extra healing and damage.

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I did fall into the "rattlesnake trap" when I first leveled Tychus up, and stayed there for a little while before I prestiged him. When I was leveling p1, I started taking Nikara just as an experiment to see how she performed with the reduced cooldown. Then as I was using p0 to level through p2 (lone wolf=no fun), I tried switching back to Rattlesnake, and was amazed at how much worse it felt after I was so certain that he was the better choice. What I realized was that playing with Nikara had significantly changed the way I play Tychus, basically, to constantly be engaged. Aggressively moving Tychus to the front line and never moving him away. Rattlesnake's heal is not sufficient for Tychus to face tank on the front lines, and requires a fair amount of downtime to regenerate the team after taking heavy damage.

In conclusion, I don't think that Kev is a useless unit. The extra damage against armored units and structures that I have neglected to mention is not negligible. But now I do believe that he is only a better choice than Nikara in select few situations, which is backwards from how it appears on the surface. He gets additional bonuses to his damage as he adds gear upgrades, but at every stage of the game I can always point to something else that Nikara would be doing better, either by virtue of being such a better healer, or by adding more to the other outlaws' damage.


Third Outlaw: Nux

Adding Nux as the third outlaw gives you the ability to delete entire armies in an instant. Purple Storm can be used as a follow-up to the vaccuum grenade to guarantee a kill on any unit that survives the initial blast. Nux is the reason this team can work without Sirius for AA – it doesn't matter if Amon rolls in with an entire fleet of carriers, three button presses will delete them all in seconds. Nux's team cooldown reduction from his ultimate gear massively increases the value you get from Nikara's healing burst and Tychus' grenade. The extra 25% damage from Nikara's healing burst is a massive bonus on the purple storm, and it's so easy to keep uptime on the buff that it might as well be considered permanent, since any storm he casts while he has the buff will have the extra damage for the entire duration. Hopefully by this point you can see the crazy inherent synergy these three characters have with each other.

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Fourth Outlaw: Crooked Sam

The fourth and final essential crew member is Crooked Sam. After the Tychus-Nux wombo combo, the only thing that is ever left standing are quest objectives and really massive threats like hybrids. Sam is the natural solution, and EVEN FURTHER benefits from the +25% ability damage that Nikara provides, AND Nux's cooldown reduction. The team synergy is really reaching preposterous levels at this point.


Other build info

The highest priority gear choices are Tychus 1&2, Nux all the way to ultimate, Nikara 1&2 depending on how threatening Amon's minions are, and Sam 1&2. You don't need a fifth character. I'll typically take Sirius after I have all four of the previous upgraded to ultimate, but adding him doesn't usually feel like it makes a huge difference, the four core units of this team have an answer to everything, and as waves grow larger, it just gets harder to find places to even put down the warhound turrets. And you don't even need to invest in further upgrades at the engineering bay – I typically stop after +2/+2 as that is the last one that makes sense to me from a value perspective, and by the time you have every gear upgrade purchased, it's too late to make a difference. I build two early engineering bays and get +1/+1 and start +2/+2 before I hire Nikara, as the first 5 minutes of the game are always fairly peaceful so I feel it's a better use of the time to prioritize the few upgrades that I do want. Once +2/+2 is finished, I will research the itchy triggers and fixer detection. Itchy triggers add more damage than +1 attack, so it would be smart to upgrade first, but I prefer early armor upgrades over getting detection out by the 5 minute mark (rarely necessary), and the timing that the upgrades finish is easier to manage if attack/armor and the tri-outlaw upgrades are matched with similar types. You can get Big Red Button as a final upgrade, but I just don't use Odin unless I need to resurrect Tychus, so I typically ignore it.

Thank you if you have read to this point, I hope you feel like you've learned something, and I hope that you give this build a try. Good luck and have fun!

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