Self-modifying Code

Self-modifying Code 0[credit]

Memory: 2 • Strength: -
Influence: 3

2[credit], [trash]: Search your stack for 1 program. Install it. (Shuffle your stack after searching it.)

"Make sure you tell the source code which executable you want it to compile into. One time I left my rig for a couple of minutes, and when I came back all of my files had been replaced with cat vids." -The Professor
Illustrated by Lili Ibrahim
Decklists with this card

Creation and Control (cac)

#46 • English
Startup Card Pool
Standard Card Pool
Standard Ban List (show history)
  • Updated 2020-03-11

    NISEI Uprising Release Notes [NISEI Rules Team]

    This card is a reprint. Has anything changed about how Self-modifying Code works?

    No. We cleaned up this card's wording by removing the redundant directions to pay the install cost and to shuffle after the search, but those are still required parts of the ability. We felt that players would enjoy having a version of this iconic card with clean and concise text, so we opted not to include the frequently-used "(Shuffle your stack after searching it)" reminder text in this case.


Commonly referred to as 'SMC'.


  • can tutor for any program, including non-icebreakers
  • can be used midrun to tutor a program needed to break a just-rezzed piece of ice


  • can be difficult to have available in mid-late game
  • Can be expensive to pay full install cost of an expensive breaker + 2

Notable interactions

  • Leprechaun is the perfect place to install this, as the MU cost of programs is irrelevant to Leprechaun
  • can also be installed on Djinn, and then used to install a breaker (installing the breaker elsewhere, not on Djinn)
  • Clone Chip can be used to install this, then immediately use this to get the program you need - effectively turning Clone Chips into extra SMCs - this can even be done mid-run
  • with an installed and sufficiently loaded Datasucker, SMC can be used to fetch a Parasite and destroy an ice on facechecking it, before its subroutines fire - this technique is known as 'Parasite bombing'
  • including single copies of efficient one-use breakers like Deus X and Sharpshooter is powerful with SMC able to fetch them exactly when needed
  • As a 0 program, it can waste Kate "Mac" McCaffrey's program install discount
    • However, it can be used during the Corp turn to get Kate's discount a bonus time (since the discount is once per each player turn)

Final Thoughts

  • a faction-defining card for Shaper, it fits into many, many different Shaper decks
  • Clone Chip very frequently pairs with it, to get the same instant-install effect from the heap
  • it is an interesting contrast with Test Run
    • SMC shines as a way to safely facecheck ice, but can require a large amount of credits on hand to pay ability cost, install cost of breaker, cost to boost breaker, and cost to break subroutines.
    • Test Run on the other hand shines as a way to affordably break a rezzed ice this turn, as it lets you to temporarily install any breaker without paying its install cost - perfect with Femme Fatale
(Up and Over era)
One other thing that can be done is fetching Atman and tuning it to break the ICE you're currently encountering. This can be cost prohibitive (credit-wise, this costs 2 for SMC, 3 for Atman install, the strength of the ICE to tune Atman, plus 1 per subroutine) but similar to Femme Fatale it solves the problem of that specific ICE permanently. The case to use this over Femme is that it's actually cheaper against ICE with strength 5 or less, there's no influence cost, and Atman can use the efficient break it provides on multiple different pieces of ICE; Femme is a better option against ICE with strength 6 or more or if the corp has a number of low power Sentries. Of course, if the influence for D4v1d can be afforded it covers the holes Atman leaves at the higher end of the spectrum quite neatly. —

This is the card that got me to continue playing Netrunner.

When I first started I would be too scared to run, patiently trying to get all my breakers out and all set up so I didn't get hit by nasty ICE. The corp would win while I was puttering about.

After learning that lesson I would face-check ICE early and often. Pressure the corp! Make things happen! The corp would win after I slammed head first into a Komainu, Janus 1.0, or something else spicy.

It felt demoralizing back as a beginner. Too slow and the corp wins, too hasty and the corp wins. This card helped bridge that gap for me and get me into playing seriously. It was that little boost or crutch that eventually I didn't need anymore. Now, I see it as a combo piece, something that increases consistency, or something that 'draws' a card from your deck.

My current favourite use is out of Kabonesa Wu: Netspace Thrillseeker - Use her ability to summon SMC, then use that SMC to install whatever you need. Effectively bypassing the remove from game problem of her ID ability for the simple cost of 2. A lot of people consider Rezeki a pretty good card; would you pay 2 more to guarantee it's installed turn 1? That's what Wu can do with Self-modifying Code.

(Uprising era)