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Help For Emergo


Welcome to the network Emergo server. The rules of Emergo are below. The commands are the same for all pbmserv games.

Rules of Emergo

(Copyright (c) Christian Freeling and Ed van Zon)

Note: If there's mention of "men" and "pieces", a man is single, while a piece consists of a number of stacked men. If the difference doesn't matter, a man may also be referred to as a piece, for instance 'the number of pieces on the board'.


If a player has no legal move he loses the game. This may come about either by being eliminated or being blocked completely.

This diagram shows the board, which is initially empty.

     1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   
     |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   
 A -                 .                   

 B -             .   .   .               

 C -         .   .   .   .   .           

 D -     .   .   .   .   .   .   .       

 E - .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   

 F -     .   .   .   .   .   .   .       

 G -         .   .   .   .   .           

 H -             .   .   .               

 I -                 .                   

  Ohs (Ohs) inhand: 12
  Eks (Eks) inhand: 12

  • There are two players, 'black' and 'white'. Each initially has twelve men 'in hand'.

  • A piece is a column of one or more men, composed in one of the following ways:
    • All white
    • White with black prisoner(s)
    • All black
    • Black with white prisoner(s)

  • The top man of a column determines its owner. The top men together are called the cap.

  • Players move, and must move, in turn. White moves first. A 'move' may be:
    • Entering a man.
    • Entering the shadowpiece.
    • Moving a piece.
    • Capturing one or more men.

  • There are two phases: the entering phase and the movement phase.


  • Capture is obligatory and has precedence in both phases.

  • A player captures the top man of an opponent's piece on an adjacent square, by jumping the piece with his own piece, taking the top man along under it, and landing on the square beyond, which must exist and be vacant for the capture to take place.

  • Majority capture takes precedence: if the capturing piece can continue its course in a similar fashion in any direction except a 180o turn, it must do so, taking care beforehand to establish the route that brings the maximum number of captured men. If there are more than one way to meet this criterion, the player is free to choose.

  • In a multiple capture the capturing piece may visit a square more than once as well as jump a piece more than once!

The capture of a single man reduces the number of pieces on the board by one. Since there is no mechanism to increase the number of pieces, a game of Emergo is always 'spiraling upward', that is, the number of pieces steadily decreases while their size increases.

The Entering Stage

  • Entering is only allowed on vacant squares. If the player to move cannot make a capture, then entering a man has precedence over moving a piece. He may not enter more than one man, unless his opponent has all twelve men on the board, in which case he must enter his remaining men as one piece. This piece is called the shadowpiece.

A player may still have several men in hand while his opponent has all men on the board. This is always the result of one player entering while the other must capture. It is not at all unusual: creating a large shadowpiece is a very valid strategic goal, particularly for black.

White may not, on his very first move, enter on the central square (e5). Apart from that there's only one condition for entering a man or the shadowpiece alike:

  • Entering may not force an opponent into making a capture, unless the entering player is already being attacked by his opponent.

This is the key rule governing the entering phase! As long as my opponent does not attack any of my pieces, I may not put the piece I enter under attack. If he attacks one of my pieces, however, he releases me from the above condition.

The MovementStage

If the player to move cannot make a capture and does not have any men in hand, he must move a piece to an adjacent square. There are no restrictions except that the square must be vacant.

Emergo Links

Christian Freeling's MindSports Arena site has more information on Emergo, including complete rules, strategy hints, example games, downloadable Java tutorials, and graphical online play.
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