|Type:||Hardware - Deck - Cybernetics|
|Game Text:||Provides +2 MU and +2 hand size. Put  from the bank on Cortical Cybermodem when it is installed. Use these bits only to pay for using icebreakers during runs. If you use any of these bits, replace them from the bank at the start of your next turn. Only one deck can be in play at a time. Trash any older decks.|
Of the few decks that seem to be used with any regularity, Cortical Cybermodem is one of the best there is. Unfortunately, it shares a high-income price bracket with a few of the other good decks. Some of its close relatives that merit some attention for comparisons are the Arasaka Portable Prototype, Raven Microcyb Owl, The Deck, and Artemis 2020.
The features conferred by Cortical Cybermodem are equal to the following 3(!) cards: ZZ22 Speed Chip (5 for 2 bits), Zetatech Mem Chip (3 for +2 MU), and MRAM Chip (1 for +2 hand size). Total cost = 9 bits, 3 cards and 3 actions to install, not counting draws. So for two extra bits, you get all these features wrapped up in one card and one action, saving a net of "2" which may be counted as actions or bits. There are three more subtle benefits from choosing Cortical Cybermodem as well:
Compared to Arasaka Portable Prototype (3 bits and +3 MU) for 11 bits and 1 agenda point, (roughly equivalent to Zetatech Mem Chip (5), Corolla Speed Chip (1) and Tycho Mem Chip (5) = 11), Cortical Cybermodem comes out about equal, but for the extra cost of an agenda point. That alone makes Arasaka inferior in terms of cost, though still an excellent card if you can afford it.
The Raven Microcyb Owl seems like a nice compliment to stealth decks (if there were such a thing!) but it is inhibited by the limitations of stealth. Perhaps with the advent of Silent Impact, stealth bits will become more desireable, and thus this deck more valuable. As it is, the 11 bit cost usually puts this card in the store room instead of the Runner stack.
The Deck, which I feel is highly over-rated, does not compare favorably at all with Cortical Cybermodem. The +1 MU is nearly incidental to the outstanding Base Link ability. The drawback here is that the Deck doesn't do anything else. If the Corp isn't tracing you then its wasting space and money. If the Corp is tagging you without traces, such as with City Surveillance, The Deck is equally worthless. If you are using it strictly as trace protection "just in case" you are probably better off with Access Through Alpha. Cortical Cybermodem, on the other hand, is always useful. There are very few stacks which would not benefit from extra hand size, free bits and more MU.
The closest competitor with Cortical Cybermodem is Artemis 2020. For 10 you get +2 MU and 2 non-stealth bits. At these costs it is silly not to spend the extra bit for the increased hand size as well.
Cortical Cybermodem is an excellent card for the simple reason that it only helps your deck. There are no drawbacks other than cost, which a reasonably funded runner shouldn't have to worry about. One Edited Shipping Manifests will almost pay for this card by itself. The Shell Traders is another excellent way of getting cards like Cortical Cybermodem into play cheaply.
Cortical Cybermodem does not have to be installed early to be useful. Allow The Shell Traders to offset the cost of this card, or build up a Broker for a few turns while you go about the business of making money, making runs and becoming established. Then, when you are comfortable, drop the deck in play. The more you run and the earlier you get the card on the table, the more profitable it will become, as the free bits each turn eventually offset the cost of playing the card (6 runs = a net of 1 bit).
Many scoff at the use of decks, but I for one like using them if I have room in my stack. They are also excellent in limited environments where other means of gaining things like MU may be hard to come by. I like Cortical Cybermodem and would recommend it to anyone looking for a card to round out a well-built deck.
Just some thoughts...
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