Spinal Modem

♦ Spinal Modem 4[credit]

Hardware: Console
Influence: 2

+1[memory unit], 2[recurring credit]

You can spend hosted credits to use icebreakers.

Whenever there is a successful trace during a run, suffer 1 core damage.

Limit 1 console per player.

Illustrated by Gong Studios
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What Lies Ahead (wla)

#2 • English
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Spinal Modem is a dramatically underrated console.

Recurring credits

2 can be more ICEbreaking power than Desperado provides: you'd need to make at least three successful runs on a turn to gain more credits than the 2 Spinal Modem provides. it provides those credits up-front, too, so you can start running with fewer credits in your pool. In comparison, Desperado requires you to have enough credits to complete the run in the first place.


is a little tight for use as a console in an Anarch deck, so you'll probably want to include other cards that provide memory. Dyson Mem Chip is a perfect complement to Spinal Modem: not only does it provide the extra memory that you might want, but it provides the you'll want to defend against traces.


Note that you only suffer brain damage for traces you lose during a run. This puts the console's drawback almost entirely under your control! If you're worried about traces then run more selectively until you're rigged up and can break tracing subroutines. Almost all tracer ICE are sentries, with the exceptions of Viper and Viktor 2.0. So once you install your killer, most traces from ICE simply won't occur in the first place.

(The Source era)
You know who loves this console? Gingerbread. —
The issue I've always had with trying to make a deck using this console, is Anarchs don't have a decent breaker suite that goes well with this. The fixed strength suite is probably more dependant on Datasucker tokens than credits, and Grimoire is just better for that. Plus, with the release of Faust, most Anarchs are not breaking ice with credits. —
Now that Data and Destiny is out, Resistor is a Barrier Tracer. Also, TMI is a barrier that has a trace on rez —

The problem with Spinal Modem is not trace ICE. It's with effects that add a trace on access, like, Ash 2X3ZB9CY, Manhunt, Bernice Mai and Self-destruct.

Brain damage is manageable, actually, unless the corp is actively trying to flatline the runner. Some flatline decks even attempt to inflict brain damage, in which case this console can become a liability.

(The Source era)
The card says "Whenever there is a successful trace during a run, suffer 1 brain damage." The key word there is during, Manhunt says 'the first time the runner makes a successful run' that it's in fact occurring AFTER a run has taken place. A run is successful when you access a sever, thus ending the run. I would think that you wouldn't take brain damage from upgrades like those. —
that's not exactly true. a run is successful when the runner decides to access and not jack out after passing all of the ICE. then Manhunt triggers, before access. the run idn't over until after access has completed, so Manhunt definitely does trigger during a run, not after. —
From the most recent version of the "Timing Structure of a Run" chart, found in v2.1 of the FAQ: —
^ "4. The Runner APPROACHES the attacked server. "4.2 The Runner decides whether to continue the run. "4.4 The run is conidered to be SUCCESSFUL. "4.5 Access cards, then go to [5]. "5 The run ends." Manhunt triggers after step 4.4, so nothing has been accessed yet. Same as Ash and Bernice Mai. Self Destruct is a curiosity, but according to its text, the trace from it occurs during a run. Immediately after the trace concludes the run ends unsuccessfully, since the server no longer exists. —

I always keep wanting to add this card, but I always keep seeing "trace during a run suffer 1 brain damage" and then instead of , then I go right back to Grimoire and 3 instead of 4 and I am right back to my 6th core set. If this was 2 or I would say DONE! but it misses the boat by that one factor.

Sucks cause it's so cool. I would call this a style card and that's all.

(The Source era)