Almost all modern-day slots include wild symbols. In fact, the symbols themselves have been about since the days of mechanical slots and their popularity has never really faded.
Given that no two slots are exactly the same these days, the wild symbols can come in a series of shapes and sizes. They can also come in a wide range of styles too, which means that they can occasionally function and always appear slightly differently with each game.
How do They Work?
Whilst their appearance might differ between each game, the usual way in which they function has remained the same. To put it simply, a wild symbol works as a substitute to help you create more winning combinations.
You can think of it as a cloaked or mystery symbol that can stand in for any other within that game, a bit like the blank square that you can use as any letter in Scrabble.
It’s worth noting that with each of the wilds will not be able to double as scatters, bonuses, or free spins symbols. The reason for this is that, although they are designed to help, they appear quite frequently, which means the likelihood of hitting any free spins or bonus rounds is going to massively increase. Given that these are the rounds that net players the most, it’s only fair that these are excluded.
That being said, they can still prove to be highly valuable additions to any slot game, especially those with high paying symbols in the base game.
We are going to look at the slot, Vikings Go To Hell, which made by the developer Yggdrasil. It’s one of their most popular titles and one that is included across a wide range of online casinos. For this example, we are using BetVictor’s casino, but the game will play the same regardless of which casino site you use.
The easiest way to find specific information on the Wild symbols, or any other symbol for that matter, is by clicking the info box that all online slots will include – it might also be called Paytable or else be denoted by a settings or a table symbol. Here we can see that there are in fact two types of wild for this game; standard wild and sticky wild.
The information states that:
“Wild symbols substitute for all symbols except free spin symbols”
Once you are in the game, this is how it might appear on the board. Note how the wild has been used to turn a non-winning payline combination into a winning one.
As you can see, the wilds have helped create a huge win for this specific game. The example above actually shows both the sticky and the standard wilds symbols that we spoke about earlier, although you can’t tell the difference just by looking at it, but they both can be used for the same winning combination.
Different Types of Wilds
As already mentioned, there are lots of different types of wild symbols. Some are more common than others, and although the basics of each are the same some are also much more lucrative than others. You can check the types of wilds utilised by each slot before you play, so if you have a particular preference you can decide which games to target based on what is included.
Your standard wilds which work as a simple substitution symbol. If you needed to get 5 Lucky 7 symbols in a row to win and your spin looked like this:
7 / 7 / Wild / 7 / 7
…then this would be a winning line with the wild pretending to be that middle Lucky 7 symbol.
You may also find that wilds have a monetary value of their own. As we already know, each symbol on the reels has a specific value, well a wild symbol may also have a value of its own, meaning that the more you get, the more you can win.
You will find that some slots will have several different wilds that are attributed to certain reels. For example, the game might only include wild symbols on reels 1,2, 4, and 5, with the middle reel (reel 3) not having any wilds. This generally makes games harder to win as often the middle reel is the one that connects the most winning combinations.
It could also be the case that certain wilds might have different rules applied from reel to reel. Some wilds may have lower value on certain reels and a higher value on others, meaning that payouts can differ depending on where your wild is situated.
Stacked wilds are where multiple wild symbols can land on top of each other. Most slots are around 4 or 5 symbols high, so you may find that you get 2 or more wilds on top of each other.
Obviously, this can create even more winning paylines than a single wild, so they become very popular as a result.
Stacked wilds can also cover the whole reel for massive wins.
For example, it might be that you get a column of 4 wilds to cover the middle reel, which in turn is going to connect a lot of symbols and lead to a huge number of winning combinations.
Expanding wilds are self-explanatory in that they expand to cover the whole reel when they land, so in effect, one wild becomes many wilds.
These different to stacked wilds because expanding wilds will always expand to cover the whole reel, whereas stacked wilds can stack in as few as 2 spaces on the reels.
Expanding wilds also tend to make up one complete picture that has something to do with the story or theme of the slot, as opposed to lots of the same picture which is what you get with stacked wilds; see the example here.
There aren’t a huge number of games that use expanding wilds and you tend to find that they are more common in bonus games or even free spins round, and again, they lead to big wins when they appear.
We have written about this feature in more detail here.
These types of wilds are ones that are pretty rare, but you can find them on some of the new games on offer within the industry. They are sometimes called Walking Wilds instead.
They work by being fluid and then being able to move about the board to create a bigger win line. In the example below, from narcos by NetEnt, the wild will move across the board from right to left until they are all gone. If more wilds land before the last walking wild leaves the reels then they join the party.
You can see then that this could potentially continue for some time and add a lot of wins to your game.
Again, these can be found in a lot of bonus rounds and work to offer you the highest possible payout combination from the board.
Sticky wilds are symbols that will stick around for future spins and will accumulate on the board. The game that we spoke about previously, Vikings Go To Hell, includes sticky wilds.
You may find these in either free spins or bonus rounds, so if a sticky wild hits the board for one spin, you get the winning combinations (if any) from that spin as normal. The wild will then remain in place for the next spin while all the other symbols change around it, and if any new wilds appear they will be added to the board alongside. The idea is that come the end of the free spins or bonus round you will have accumulated a lot more wild symbols than is usually possible, which leads to -hopefully – a huge number of winning combinations and a big win.
Multiplier wilds will add a multiplier to the winning payline that increases its value by the number denoted. This multiplier will range, but if you get sticky wilds alongside multiplier wilds then winnings can really start to stack up.
In terms of the multiplier that is attached, well this will depend on the game that you are playing. Most common are around 2x-5x, but it can be upwards of 10x for bonus rounds on certain games. The multiplier will be applied to the amount won, so a 2x multiplier on a 100 coin winning combination will pay out 200 coins.
When are Wilds Best Utilised?
The best way to take advantage of wild symbols is to play with slots that have a high number of paylines, such as 243 or 1024.
Since they have an increased number of possible winning combinations it means the wilds are more effective more often. The more paylines that exist the busier a wild can be. That means more wins more often.