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Before the world drinks itself silly again for St Patrick's Day - we've investigated the surprisingly strong link between the holy...
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While the classic slots of old relied upon three symbols matching up across the reels- with just one win line displayed, video slots now more commonly adopt a five reel layout; featuring stunning graphics, animated video introductions, and exciting bonus rounds. And to really set themselves apart from the competition? Players love nothing more than a Wild.
But what exactly is a Wild? What different types of Wilds are out there, and how do they work? To help you recognise your Sticky Wilds from your Colossals, your Expanding Wilds from your Walking ones; here is your complete Wilds Guide.
In theory, a Wild works much like a blank Scrabble piece; mimicking the symbols closest to it to create a win. In reality, Wilds work differently on many games, but all have the potential to change a losing game into a winning one.
Here are some of the most common examples of Wilds out there, currently used among NetEnt’s video slots:
GAME EXAMPLE: Spinata Grande
So, you’ve seen Colossal symbols, right? Symbols which typically take up a section of the reels and take up the place of either 4 symbols (2×2) or 9 symbols (3×3)?
Colossal Wilds are much the same, in size at least and, in Spinata Grande, these monstrous wilds are depicted by a giant skull. Only appearing during free spins rounds, the Colossal Wilds substitute for all other symbols (except for Colossal bonus symbols), and create massive wins for players as a result.
GAME EXAMPLE: Pyramid: Quest for Immortality
Released in November 2015, Pyramid: Quest for Immortality adopted a different layout to most traditional slots- creating a pyramid shape rather than the usual 5×3 layout. Besides its unusual set-up, Pyramid: Quest for Immortality also features a unique set of Wilds- Wild Generators.
If you spin the reels and make a winning combination which include any of the top symbols on rows 2, 3 or 4, these symbols will convert into Wild symbols for the avalanche feature (where the symbols which created a win disappear from the reels and others drop into their places). If these Wilds then create further wins, they will stay put on the reels for another avalanche.
Sticky Wilds are a players best friend. In video slots such as Stickers, Attraction and Lucky Angler, when Wild symbols appear on the reels and create winning combinations along bet lines (which you, of course, benefit from), the Wilds also ‘stick’ and remain where they landed on the reels. A free spin is triggered and, if further Wilds appear, they too will stick and free spins will continue; any and all winning combinations adding to your total funds in the process.
Why have one wild when you can have, well, many. If you opt to play NetEnt slots Sparks and Thief, you’ll soon see an example of Expanding Wilds. Expanding Cloning Wilds (as they are also called) appear in either the 2nd or 4th reel of the game and, as well as expanding up to 2 places vertically, also duplicate the symbol to the right of Wild stack and mirror it on the left- effectively creating a Colossal Wild.
Symbol Substituting Wilds do what they say on the tin. When they appear on the reels during both regular game play and free spins rounds, the Wild symbols can mimic any of the symbols on the surrounding symbols- to create the highest possible combination win. This is an example of the standard Wild symbol.
In a similar fashion to Colossal Wilds, Stacked Wilds take up more space on the reels than standard symbols. Most commonly, Stacked Wilds will run vertically and create a larger number of potential wins for players.
In NetEnt’s Dracula, these Stacked Wilds only appear in the centre reel during free spins rounds, whereas in Steam Tower, Stacked Wilds can appear at any time during the game and, when a Stacked Wild covers an entire reel- 10 free spins are instantly triggered.
The Walking Wild feature is rather a unique one. Appearing in NetEnt games, Invisible Man and Jack and the Beanstalk, when Wilds pop up on the reels during a game, you will get a re-spin. As this happens, your Wild will ‘walk’ across one place to the left. So long as a Wild symbol still shows on the reels, the re-spins will continue, and more winning combinations will be formed.
As you might expect, the way Random Wilds act can be hard to predict. In games such as Zombies, the only thing you do know about Random Wilds is that they can pop up during any spin where no Stacked Wild appears. Bar that, they’re a rule unto themselves, and Wilds can appear on as many as 6 symbols at once to create winning combinations.
GAME EXAMPLE: Fisticuffs
NetEnt went all out when creating boxing-themed Fisticuffs, and created unique Wilds in the process. Straight Wilds can run vertically down reel 3 alone, while Diagonal Wilds can crop up across reels 2 and/or 4. If the Diagonal Wilds appear while there is a Straight Wild in play, the Straight Wild will punch the Diagonal Wilds across the reels- transforming any symbols touched by the flying symbols as they move across the game into Wilds.
As if that wasn’t enough, the boxing feature is then triggered, giving players even more opportunities to win big.
GAME EXAMPLE: Wonky Wabbits
The game may be all fluffy bunnies and stitched fabrics but, Wonky Wabbits is very serious about its Wilds. Along with Stacked Wilds, the game also features Wild Duplication. If a Wild shows up in one spot, a delightful rabbit will burrow its way through to another position and convert that symbol into a Wild too. He’s quite the clever fellow too, as the symbol chosen for duplication is based solely on the win that could be created.
In theory, Wilds could eventually cover 14 out of the 15 symbols when playing Wonky Wabbits- with the remaining symbol deciding the amount of coins win overall.
Albeit considerably different, both the Creature from the Black Lagoon and Eggomatic NetEnt games, are slots with a story behind them. Triggered by the worsening health of the ‘creature’ in the former, and the capture of a special ‘egg’ by a rooster in the latter, Spreading Wilds do much the same regardless of the game they feature in, or how they’re started.
Wherever the Wilds appear, neighbouring symbols will also become Wilds (how many varies from game to game) and, with a little luck, winning combinations are formed.
GAME EXAMPLE: Lights
A game-specific variation on Random Wilds. NetEnt’s Lights features Floating Wilds. During both standard game play and free spins mode, fireflies drift across the reels; randomly selecting between 2 and 4 symbols to convert into Wilds. The random nature of the placement of the Wilds means that wins are not assured, but they are a regular occurrence, and add a little excitement to the game.
GAME EXAMPLE: South Park: Reel Chaos
In South Park : Reel Chaos, each of the programmes characters has a feature attributed to them; Cartman has Stacked Wilds, Kenny has a Multiplier, Stan has Multiplying Free spins, and Kyle creates Overlay Wilds.
We won’t go into the story behind them (there are evil hamsters involved) but, basically, Kyle can zap Overlay Wilds anywhere onto the reels- covering between 3 and 5 symbols over with Wilds- which then combine with the neighbouring symbols to, hopefully, create wins along any one or more of the bet lines.
GAME EXAMPLE: Secret of the Stones
Much like Stacked Wilds, in games such as Secret of the Stones, entire reels can be covered by Wild symbols- maximising the opportunities of creating winning combinations along win lines when playing the slot.
Anything touch by a Golden Wild really does turn to gold. Golden Wilds typically turn up in the centre reel on games and can form multiple wins at once (as it acts as numerous symbols at once). Best of all, wins created in conjunction with a Golden Wild are usually subject to a 3x or 4x multiplier before being added to your winnings.
GAME EXAMPLES: Frankenstein
Linked Wild symbols can turn symbols on adjacent reels into Wilds. In Frankenstein, Linked Wilds take two different forms; Lightning Wilds which appear during main game play on reels 2, 3 or 4 and spread across the reels to form wins, and Fire Wilds- which again appear in reels 2, 3 or 4, but only during free spins rounds.
Just the fact that we’ve had to create a Wilds Guide goes to show that they’re far from predictable but, as well as reading through all the above info, the best way to get a feel for the special features in each of the aforementioned games is to play them. Click the slot names above and you’ll be able to play slots for free on each game’s review.