Being a look back at cards from the Star Trek CCG, and what I thought of them back when they were fresh and new... in EPISODE order. But wait, the Enterprise-A last week was the end of the movie! Where are George and Gracie?! Well, would you believe their pic wasn't taken from the movie itself?
PICTURE: That's a beautiful shot of the whales with sunlight peeking through the water's surface, made all the better by the Neutral black border, which matches the dark depths of the ocean. It's not strictly from Star Trek IV though. It's from a "Making of" documentary called "From Outer Space to the Ocean", no doubt something they didn't use in the film but was part of the image bank supplied to Decipher by Paramount. The documentary aired on television when the film came out, but it can now be found on the DVD, leading to my mentioning it here. A majestic 4.4.
LORE: Yeah, ok. Pretty standard stuff. Species, genders, habitat, Gracie's pregnancy... A 3.
TREK SENSE: Obviously, the biggest problem here is that the whales are a personnel card. A ship might well be modified to carry the biggest personnel of all, as we saw in ST IV, but shuttles? How about having them accompany Away Teams? Or finding themselves captured and in a Brig somewhere? It's ridiculous. That said, at least they're Animals, so they can't go around staffing vessels, using equipment, etc. Not only being native to the 1980s (Cetacean Institute), but having no choice but to report there at least makes them a little more "grounded" (if you'll pardon the expression) in their own habitat. You won't have whales reporting to any old facility. Splitting the skills between the two of them only seems strange since you'd think both sing - the ability that nullifies The Whale Probe - but scientists believe only males sing (not sure the movie knew this, though). Still, hey! Where's the Music skill!? The fact that Gracie is pregnant does mean that she deserves the second skill - points for the promise of repopulating the oceans with humpbacks. Since whales become extinct sometime in the 21st Century (probably early on), bringing them to any point in time after that, including Montana Missile Complex, nets you the points. Attributes are an odd mix. That the whales are identical is fine, though there would probably be differences between the genders (anyone know of any relevant research?). Integrity is always difficult to gauge in Animals, but 6s would seem to fit the humpbacks: they were friendly, but mostly concerned with their family's survival. Their Cunning is the highest of any Animal, actually matching that of the dumbest humanoid personnel (Mr. Homn, Batrell, Danderdag). I don't have a problem with their getting 3s, even if I do question those humanoids getting the same. Strength may seem absurdly low for such impressive creatures. After all, one hit from a tail and you'd probably be out for the count, but what they have in brute strength, they lack in battling ability. During a battle, they're probably in a tank. But if they are, why do they have Strength at all? This one doesn't have a satisfying answer. The skills make sense, but George & Gracie just don't make for a convincing personnel card. Problems could have been avoided by making the card an Event or Incident. Efforts to make it work do float the score up to 1.9.
STOCKABILITY: George & Gracie have one real purpose, and that's being part of the Star Trek IV round-the-corner strategy. How's that work? You report them to the Cetacean Institute time location (they, in fact, download there), then bring them forward in time, somehow, to get the 15 points. You don't "score" them though, they are "worth" points while on Earth, so you must keep them there, alive. If you manage this until the end of the game, those 15 points get you to 100 from 85. You might want to have Dr. Gillian Taylor around to keep the whales out of personnel battles, but once she herself is dead, the whales would be next. Bringing them forward to Montana Missile Complex instead of Espionage Mission could also protect them from marauders, since they'd have to time travel off the main spaceline to kill your 15 points. If The Whale Probe has been released though, having them in the "present" means they'll nullify the dilemma when it gets to Earth. That may be good or bad depending on who released the Probe and which direction it's going in. The fact George and Gracie nullify the dilemma isn't enough to recommend making them part of your mission attempts though. They have no regular skills, ANIMAL being useful in very few cases (whales eat Palukoos and Voles apparently), can't staff ships, can't use equipment, and don't even have good attributes (though they have the equivalent of 12 INTEGRITY). Or do you think having both genders in the same card is a bonus? That's what Beverly and Will are for. The 15 points aren't too hard to get, but do require a level of card commitment that may not be worth it in the end. The whales' lack of versatility also plays a part in my giving them only a 2.
TOTAL: 11.2 (56%) And I'm an animal lover!