The History of Fall of Eagles

Edited by Richard Hucknall

A Story in Extracts, Compiled by Stephen Agar


(Fall of Eagles No.1) 


For some time now I’ve nurtured the idea of running a Dippy zine and I think the time is now ripe for me to take on this new task.  Over the past 3 years I have taken so much pleasure from postal Diplomacy that I feel that I owe the hobby something, hence this publication. 


Very definitely games orientated and almost certainly standard Diplomacy only.  I don’t intend getting deeply involved in hobby politics and merely wish to run games as efficiently as possible. 


Nothing!  I know I cannot match the literary ability of Dolchstoss , the statistical prowess of 1901aat or the readability of Jigsaw, Gummiballs or Leviathan.  What I can offer is a reliable, 3 week turn round zine, competently GM’d, for standard Diplomacy addicts. 

APRIL 1977

(Fall of Eagles No.5) 

This is issue five of the 19th best Dip. zine according to the fifth Mad Policy zine poll.  Yes folks, 19th out of 53 (37 if you exclude sub-zines) with an average vote of 6.1 from a total of 10 voters.  If you haven’t already seen the results, the poll was won for the second year running by Chimaera with the next four places being filled by 1901aat, Jigsaw, Dolchstoß and Rats live on no evil staR.  I have never seen Chimaera but it must be a bloody good zine to beat such strong opposition.  I must admit that I was quite flattered to see FoE as high as 19th after just a few issues, finishing above such established zines as Tots, Gummiballs and Courier.  However the real test will come next year when I hope to have a few issues under my belt. 

APRIL 1978

(Fall of Eagles No.18) 

As you are no doubt aware, the 1978 zine poll results have been published in the latest edition of Mick Bullock’s New Statsman. I was just backing the care out to go to work that morning that the postman appeared bearing New Statsman.  recognising what it was I feverishly ripped open the envelope and opened the zine and there were the poll results on page 2.  A very quick glance showed FOE in 8th place which was just about what I expected.  Driving to the office I started to wake up and tried to recall what I had read during my cursory glance!  What was the zine at No.1?  Surely it was Rhubovia!!  RHUBOVIA!!!  How the hell did that happen – it must be a fix.  Come to think of it there was no mention of Dolchstoss, Chimaera or Ethil the Frog above FOE.  At each set of red traffic lights I groped about in my briefcase trying to find New Statsman without success and it was not until I arrived at the office that I was able to read that I had come 8th in the zine frequency survey.  But where on earth were the zine poll results?  Page upon page of explanations (and excuses!) from Mick, and table upon table of figures relating to the results. BUT WHERE WAS THE NICE SIMPLE TABLE SHOWING THE RESULTS? Then it dawned on me.  In true Mick Bullock style he had jettisoned the old simple table of results that Richard Walkerdine used to show in Mad Policy and had substituted it with numerous other charts all giving different results. 

Some 24 hours later I had digested the information and I’m fairly happy to report that FOE finished 6th, 11th, 10th, 9th and 10th place depending on which table you consult. Well I’m a traditionalist and prefer Richard Warkerdine’s old system which by a happy coincidence happens to give FOE the highest placing – 6th. 

MAY 1978

(Pigmy No.14 – Stephen Agar) 

Fall of Eagles has proved to be the most successful traditional mimeo Dippy zine around – indeed Richard’s just closed his lists, and states his intention never to exceed fifteen games.  The balance of FoE seems about right – the last issue has 18 sides, 11 were game reports – but there’s little of Richard’s own writing which is a pity.  Every issue boasts a Diplomacy article (mostly stating the obvious) and the saga of Oswald P. Turnberry, which you’d either love or hate, but couldn’t ignore.  This zine got hammered by Mick Bullock’s positional system in the Zine Poll, coming 11th,  the 6th which it got in the Actual Votes system seems about right to me.  This is probably one of the best zines to play in, but I wouldn’t sub for the non-games content if I were you. 


(Fall of Eagles No.25) 

Back in February 1977, FOE arrived onto the unsuspecting Dip. scene in the shape of a hideous free issue one.  Looking back on that first issue I’m amazed that issue two ever saw the light of day let alone issue 25.  Hell, it was BAD. In fact some months later I was a so embarrassed by it that I destroyed all spare copies.  If such an issue one was produced today it would stand no chance in comparisons with the zines of today.  Despite this poor issue I was suitably encouraged.  Other zine editors made encouraging noises and subscriptions began to roll in much to my satisfaction.  In retrospect, FOE was launched at the right time; several of the more established zines were folding and there had been no newcomers for some time.  The only competition I had was from the revamped Ethil the Frog and that was aiming for a slightly different readership.  With the help of a couple of orphaned games the mailing list reached about 40 after 2 or 3 issues and everything appeared rosy. 

Between issues 10 and 20 it grew in all directions.  Size, games, contents and subscribers, and eventually reached 20+ sides, 15 games with a circulation approaching 100.  Clearly this rapid expansion could not continue if I hoped to keep my sanity.  So I decided too keep a max. of 15 games and not to openly seek new members.  New players and subscribers were, and still are welcome as long as I am not inundated with them. 

FOE was conceived as a purist Dip. zine with the emphasis on regularity, reliability and good GM’ing but there is one point on which my attitude has changed.  Piggott’s law of fanzines states that a zine is published solely for the benefit and satisfaction of the publisher and 25 issues ago I disagreed with this.  Although I still maintain that I am providing a service to the hobby, 18 months of publishing have convinced me that the main reason I sit down and produce FOE every four weeks is because I enjoy it.  When I don’t enjoy it anymore that I shall fold.  A responsible fold I hasten to add. 

Mistakes?  There have been plenty.  Perhaps the worst one was a stupid house rule regarding 1901 NMR’s which ruined game 3 to a large extent.  Still we learn from our mistakes don’t we.  I prefer to look on the brighter side and to review the successes.  Apart from the regular gamestarts and the pleasant things that players have said about the way the games have been run, there have been my series of opening strategy articles for novices which to my surprise proved so popular that all back issues are sold out.  Virgil Quyll (who still remains anonymous) had a mixed reception with his Oswald P. Turnberry saga, and Jotto and Intimate Diplomacy have both proved successful and well worth running. 

Where do I go from here?  Presumably on to issue 50 if I can last that long!  The way I feel at the moment I have no doubts that about late 1980 I shall reach that target.  Issue 100?  Well it’s a long way off isn’t it and very few zines have reached that goal. 

For the statisticians, 16 regular Diplomacy games have been started (17 if FOE 19 starts this issue) and two orphans have been adopted.  Of these, five have been seen through to their conclusion resulting in two outright wins (for Russia in both cases) and three multi-player draws. 

APRIL 1979

(Megalomania No.15 – Chris Tringham) 

In Fall of Eagles No.30 Richard Hucknall is obsessed by its own survival and “seniority”.  Well, not obsessed perhaps, but he appears to have just realised that FOE is now well on the way to the half-century and truly established.  The last few issues have been more chatty and hence enjoyable, and have pushed it up in my estimation to my fifth favourite. 


(Greatest Hits No.66 – Pete Birks) 

Since I always vote FOE higher than it appears in the Zine Poll, I must be prejudiced by the exemplary way in which the game in which I’m playing has been run.  FOE has hardly ever been late, the games has never suffered a misadjudication or needed to be held over, and no “emergency” games-only issue has been produced within my memory.  Richard has the advantage, of course, of a steady job, but such an achievement is nevertheless staggering to me, and probably to all other zine editors.  So far as I know, no other zine of “normal” size has managed this level of efficiency since Fifth Column (even The Tinamou has its ups and downs) and with 15 games this is very impressive.  There are also long (and readable) editorials, letters and a bit of chat.  No shortage of press either.  I am always amazed that it isn’t in the top three of the Zine Poll.  What am I missing which can be criticised? 


(Fall of Eagles No.48) 

Oh joy – second place in the Zine Poll! Quite honestly it was higher than I’d expected.  I had estimated a position about 5th and would have been disappointed to finish much lower, but 2nd really did exceed my expectations.  Despite all this euphoria I’m fully aware that FOE is not the second best UK zine of the moment.  It may well be the second-most efficient, or second-most reliable, or second-most best GM’d. But second best zine it certainly isn’t. What the poll does show is that you like a regular, reliable and well GM’d zines and not a lot more. 

You’ll find a complete summary elsewhere within this issue and if you don’t already know it was won by Pete Birks with Greatest Hits. 


(Fall of Eagles No.50) 

Issue 50 of FoE and as good a time as any to take a look at the state of the hobby and compare it with how it used to be 3½ years ago.  It’s a fast changing hobby and zines generally have a fairly short life; indeed only Greatest Hits, Chimaera, Puppet Theatre News, The Tinamou and Courier survive from that day to this.  Courier I’ve never seen but I think it’s fair to say that the other four form the back bone of the hobby as I see it. 

Back in 1977 when FOE was launched, the hobby was still very much dominated by the NGC, Dolchstoss  and Richard Sharp.  Leading zines of that time that are no more were 1901 and all that, Jigsaw, Mad Policy, and Leviathan.  The second series of Ethil the Frog was just beginning.  Diplomacy was still very much the dominating factor although other games (D&D in particular) were starting to make their impact.  Since then many of the old personalities have disappeared from the scene or taken a much lower profile and games other than Dip. have taken a much greater part in the hobby.  Zines have come and gone; new “names” have emerged, many of them vanishing into obscurity as quickly as they appeared.  The overall effect of these changes is that we have a very different hobby today. 

II still miss Dolchstoß very much – undoubtedly the best UK zine ever.  I miss the bygone personalities, the disagreements and the feuds.  The hobby is comparatively dull without the likes of Sharp, Willis, Taylor, Haven et al. to entertain us.  Piggott, a master of the art of annoying people with his vitriolic outbursts, is now taking a very low profile indeed, while Booth & Bullock have great difficulty in drumming up a good mud-slinging feud.  Quite frankly the hobby is not as interesting as it used to be.  Or am I growing old? 

What of the future?  Will there be 50 more issues of FoE?  I confess I don’t know.  One thing is fairly certain – with spare time in the future likely to be much less than in the past there will certainly be a change of schedule in 1981.  It’s probably an even money bet that FoE will see issue 75, but odds on issue 100 appearing I anticipate to be much higher.  This issue will be a big one and I don’t promise to produce anything as large again until about issue 100. 

MAY 1981

(Fall of Eagles No.57) 

I’ve now been in this hobby for over seven years and have been publishing for more than four.  During this time the hobby has changed a lot and I no longer find it as enjoyable as I used to do.  This is due to many reasons and I could fill many pages explaining why but I don’t intend to.  Suffice it to say that I became involved because I wanted to play postal Diplomacy, and I started publishing because I wanted to run games of Diplomacy. 

Although I still enjoy playing the game, and the Diplomacy aspect of this zine, I am finding the surrounding hobby to be less and less of an interest.  In effect I don’t want to publish pages and pages of editorial, letters, chat and hobby news unconnected with the game of Diplomacy just to tie in with the expected hobby norm.  So from here on FOE takes on an even narrower profile.  In future it will be come even more of a vehicle for running Diplomacy games.  Any additional content will be limited to letters and articles on Diplomacy itself, with hobby news and chat being very restricted indeed.  In effect I intend taking the zine away from the mainstream and onto the periphery of the hobby. 

Before anyone starts saying that my decision is the prelude to a fold, let me say that this is very unlikely indeed.  In fact I would wager that I’ll still be playing in and running Diplomacy games when the majority of zines that are around today are dead and gone.  It is the hobby I am losing interest in – not the game. 

So, after some 12 months of considering the future of FOE, I believe I have made the right decision.  To those of you who don’t like my new ideas I can only apologise and suggest you find other zines to suit your taste.  To those who wish to play Diplomacy the way I wish to run it, and who enjoy reading about and discussing the game, then I think you’ll find FOE of the future to your taste. 

JUNE 1982

(Dib Dib Dib No.19 – Tom Tweedy) 

Fall of Eagles: Edited by Richard Hucknall.  Without any doubt one of the best Diplomacy zines in the hobby.  Richard has the (well deserved) reputation of also being the hobby’s best GM.  If you take your game of Diplomacy seriously and you’re not particularly interested in other postal games, then this is the zine to get and play in. 

JULY 1982

(Dib Dib Dib No.20 – Tom Tweedy) 

This has certainly been a depressing month and a depressing issue for me.  nothing I do, or try to touch, seems to work out right.  Didn’t I do a nice review of Fall of Eagles last issue?  Didn’t I happen to mention that Richard Hucknall would take some beating as a Diplomacy GM? Didn’t I? DIDN’T I?  And what happens? Richard decides to tell the world that he’s folding the zine!  Bloody diabolical I call it.  Every zine that I put up above the rest, that I always enjoy receiving, seems to do this to me.  I’ve said before, it really is depressing when a zine, never mind a major one, is seen to fold. Blast that Hucknall! 

Mind you, when all said and done, Richard is going to fold FOE down slowly.  Probably taking about two years (more than the life of some zines).  And will probably see Dib and maybe some other zines out!  But that’s not the point; it’s his springing it on me that I object to..  There, now that I’ve got that bit off my chest, I can sit back and watch Richard’s interest pick up again when he finds his games dwindling down to one or two. 

JULY 1982

(Greatest Hits No.99 – Pete Birks) 

Well, it’s been running down for some time now, but Richard has finally cancelled most trades and taken that long sad and finally depressing sink into obscurity and death.  At its best one of the best.  Still well produced to a reduced time-schedule, and one of the finest folds since 1901aat.  But, in terms of comparison with “live” zines only worth 4 out of 10. 

JUNE 1983

(Fall of Eagles No.82) 

It is now a year since I decided to fold FOE, and I suppose that games permitting it will last for approaching another year.  So how do I feel about it now?  Well, I’m glad I made the decision when I did as my interest in the hobby has waned a hell of a lot during the last year. My interest in playing Diplomacy has also decreased drastically resulting in a definite lack of success in my games; although I’m not entirely certain as I suspect that my lack of success may have led to my decreasing interest! 

But it is the way the hobby has developed over the last few years that convinces me that I no longer belong.  When I see the proliferation of the “game” Finchley Central around many zines today, I shudder to think that I am associated with the same hobby.  Fantasy role-playing games I can tolerate, and even appreciate what attracts people to play them, but I fail to understand the attraction of the utter silliness of Finchley central.  If you’ve never heard of the game then I certainly don’t intend to enlighten you.  Once upon a time I would recommend the hobby to my friends, but now I feel that should they come across the stupidity that seems to prevail nowadays I would be acutely embarrassed. 

Another thing to note in the change in the old order is that the UK Diplomacy Zine Poll has now changed so much that a European zine that doesn’t run a game of Diplomacy could win!  What a farce!!

For nearly 10 years I have been involved with this hobby, but over the last three or four I have seen it deteriorate fast.  I dread to think what it will be like by 1987, but by that date I may well not be around to see the infantile element saturating the hobby. 

MARCH 1984

(Fall of Eagles No.91) 

It was back in February 1977 that issue 1 of FOE hit the streets.  At the time I was happily married to Carole, Jonathan was two years old, Nellie was a three year old Old English Sheepdog, and we had a goldfish called Tomsk. Seven and a bit years later and Tomsk has long since departed to that great aquarium in the sky, Nellie is a ten year old lady with arthritis, Jonathan is nine, and somewhere along the way Jane (now aged six) turned up.  Oh, and I’m still happily married. 

During those seven and a bit years I have churned out 91 issues of Fall of Eagles, and quite frankly I’m glad that this will be the last.  I apologise to you for the fact that this final issue is on the small side but quite honestly I just can’t summon up the enthusiasm any more.  Unfortunately my enthusiasm for both playing postal Diplomacy and the hobby in general is at a very low ebb, and so I shall only be maintaining links through Ode and Dolchstoß. 

To all of you I’d like to say a big thank-you; and I’ll send you all a copy of Fall of Eagles issue 92 when I restart in about five years time!! 

This is the last few lines of the last issue of Fall of Eagles and I feel I should say something monumental!  But what?  It is a chapter in my life that I have enjoyed and wouldn’t have missed it for the world, but I am glad it is now over.  So I think I shall end with a big thank-you from myself, from Carole, from Jonathan and Jane, not forgetting Nellie the dog.  

Think of me when you read of Notts County’s latest result!! 

MARCH 1984

(Perspiring Dreams No.43 – John Dodds) 

Richard Hucknall’s zine, Fall of Eagles recently folded after 91 issues.  The fold was not widely commented upon for the zine had been slowly running down for two years and had been little more than game reports for most of that time.  But to those of us who joined the hobby in 1978 and 1979 the passing of this zine is of particular significance, for with it goes a major part of the hobby of that time.

Fall of Eagles  was always a players’ zine.  It had no pretensions to be anything but the most reliable Diplomacy zine in the British hobby with the best GMing.  It was never a particularly attractive zine, being poorly printed and with no real efforts made in its layout, but to its subscribers that didn’t matter – as long as FoE (as it was affectionately called) kept to its schedule, all was well with the hobby.  And FoE did keep to its schedule.  For most of its life it was produced four-weekly; for its last months it appeared every five weeks, but it was never late.  Whilst other zines had the occasional hiccough, FoE stuck relentlessly to its timetable; from 1977 to 1984. 

Fall of Eagles was perhaps at its peek between issues 25 and 50.  For two years its issues were of a uniformly high standard.  A typical issue in that period might be about twenty pages long and consist of game reports from around fifteen Diplomacy games, a letter column discussing aspects of the hobby, an article or two based on the game of Diplomacy – often written by the editor – and a short editorial.  Occasionally there would be a quiz; one of the most popular topics for this was a set of hypothetical GMing problems where particularly confused situations abounded. 

One feature of Fall of Eagles which seems strange today, but was quite usual five years ago, was its single minded concentration on Diplomacy.  True there was the occasional game of Jotto, and a brief flirtation with a game called Company Boss in its early days, but from 1979 onwards hardly anything found its way into the zine which wasn’t connected in some way with Diplomacy.  Film reviews were unheard of; politics only crept into the zine once – in the month of the 1979 general election – and the only major book review was that of Richard Sharp’s “The Game of Diplomacy”. 

You may think that this preoccupation with a single aspect of our now multi-faceted hobby would have made FoE seem dull, but far from it.  Richard Hucknall could spread light on the most obscure aspects of the game in a most interesting way.  He also was a great expositor of less original features of Diplomacy.  I don’t think that even Richard himself would claim to have contributed much to Opening Theory, but his series of articles identifying and justifying each country’s early options has rightly been regarded as a classic, and is often reprinted. 

But it was the games which were the primary feature of Fall of Eagles and it was in these that Richard took the greatest pride.  Each game was excellently run and mistakes were almost unknown.  Occasionally a demonstration game would be set up with seven well known players who would permit Richard to comment on the game as it progressed.  Richard’s GMing was famed for its accuracy and he won many awards as “Best GM”, however one aspect of the zine which remained controversial throughout its life was its houserules.  FoE had the strictest houserules I have ever seen.  they were always rigidly adhered to, to the letter and any loophole in them could be exploited to the full.  Richard enjoyed and encouraged dirty tricks in Diplomacy.  He was not of the school that thought that the game was essentially one of persuasion by gentlemanly debate; he encouraged players to cheat each other, to engage in deceit and never to miss an opportunity – whenever it arose – to get one up on a rival.  This was not a philosophy which won favour with everyone, and those opposed to it were often fiercely critical, but Richard stuck to his beliefs and they were generally respected. Fall of Eagles was acknowledged to be one of Britain’s best Diplomacy zines for several years.  It was second in the Zine Poll in 1980 and its subscription list included most of the hobby’s finest players.  Though its death has been lingering it has been a highly responsible fold, with the zine ceasing only on the conclusion of its final game – one would have expected nothing else from its editor.  Thank you, Richard – you have given us all a great deal of pleasure.