Bashni, Lasca, Stapeldammen and Grabber all set column checkers on a substrate of a known game. Emergo does not. Emergo started unfolding itself when Ed van Zon showed Christian Freeling the beauty of Stapeldammen and Christian Freeling got the impression that there was another, potentially better game hidden inside. He felt that an initial setup, a direction of play and promotion were features referring to one another, but were not inherent in the basic game principle. Occam's Razor if you like.

That basic principle is the interaction of a decreasing number of ever higher stacks that always start out at their strongest, but are ever weakening by involvement in captures. A dance of fighting columns leading to its own conclusion by their steady growth and shifting composition alone.

A continuously decreasing number of guards capping a continuously increasing number of prisoners will eventually make any strong piece a liability with too many prisoners and too few guards.

So he felt that the game should start with an empty board, a pit rather than a track, and the men would be entered one by one with capture still having priority over entering.

A technical problem appeared. At face value, a player could at an early stage start feeding an opponent's man, later potentially freeing that stack with an overwhelming advantage. After some meditation, a solution in form of rule in the opening protocol appeared: one may not enter a man in such a way that it can be captured, unless the opponent has just attacked one of one’s own pieces on the board – meaning that the opponent would have to capture on his next move anyway. If this sounds complicated, there is an easy version: in the entering stage you may not 'feed', unless you're being attacked. This rule fits the mechanism like a glove.

The full rules can be found here. Important aspects of the rules are: the game consists of the opening in which pieces are entered, and the main game. During the opening, no movement without capture is allowed. Capture takes precedence over entering, and majority capture is a must at all stages of the game, including the main game. At the end of the opening, one player may hold more than one remaining men in his reserve. These men are entered in one move as a stack called the 'shadowpiece'. Then movement starts. A man can move on an empty field in any of the four directions. The goal is to capture all stacks of the opponent. Blocking (stalemate) is not a win, but a draw.

Important strategic tips: the opening is a most important phase of the game. Ideal play is still open to research, there are important guidelines however: it is an advantage to be the first one to move after the opening. Hence, White should refrain from capture. When White captures, he cannot enter, and after that the initiative after the opening falls to Black. Instead, he should try to lay out a feeding pattern for the main game Black, on the other hand, may try to attack and capture White’s stones in order to throw a monkey wrench into the feeding lines.
Another benefit is that Black may gain a shadowpiece, i.e. a stack without having to feed and capture in the first place. A bad mistake for either player is to attack the opponent just before his last opening move. The opponent will be allowed to place his last piece on any field that is good for him, and one’s next move will be the forced capture, passing the initiative to the opponent.

Emergo differs considerably from other forms of column checkers. Majority capture is a tactical motive shaping many combinations. Tall stacks are less likely to backfire than in other games because not only is stalemate rated as a draw, but movement is not restricted to one direction, which gives them more freedom to manoeuvre.

Hexmergo was the obvious transfer of Emergo to a hexagonal board. The game is somewhat flawed by its own combinatorial richness, which gives the first player to move after the entering stage a winning strategy in correspondence games. Trial and error will more often than not result in finding a knock-out combination right from that point onwards. And clever play by white in the entering stage will usually result in securing the first move after the entering stage.
At the same time it must be said that white has less of an advantage in over the board play because the advantage relies on trial and error. In live play it is easy to see the beginning of a combination, up to and including a sub-goal such as liberating a particular piece if need be, but it may be very difficult if not impossible to read it through to the end.