How Do Wild Symbols Work?

If you want to play online slots it is important to learn the rules that govern different slot machines and to be aware of the functions of the different icons on the reels. One of the most important symbols found in slot machines is the wild symbol. Wild symbols serve the same function as a Joker does in card games: it is a bonus symbol and can be used as a substitute for other symbols in order to complete winning combinations. The basic premise for the inclusion of a wild symbol in slot games is that it completes combinations that would not have been possible without a substitution: it turns a losing combination into a winning combination and adds an additional element of excitement to slot machines.

The Origin of the Wild Symbol

Wild and scatter symbols were introduced to classic slots to allow players more chances of forming winning combinations and thus to add to the thrill of the casino game. In the majority of classic and video slots, the only symbols that cannot be replaced by a wild are the scatter or bonus icons. The scatter icon, as the name suggests, can be scattered anywhere on the reels and does not have to fall on an active payline to produce a win for the player. Bonus icons trigger bonus features, and are not commonly found on classic slots, but are often used in video slots.

Modern Video Slots and Wild Symbols

Changes in technology have dramatically altered the nature of slot machines. Today, video slots have much in common with video games: images on the reels are no longer static, but burst into life when winning combinations are made; movie and television themed online slots include clips from the shows or films they are based upon; other slot machines tell their own unique stories through the use of animated narrative sequences. The function of the wild symbol has correspondingly evolved.

In video slots, the wild symbol captures the theme of the slot game and it is often represented by the slot machine’s logo. Both Thunderstruck 2 and Immortal Romance, for example, make use of wilds that are represented by their logos. Wilds are often part of winning combinations and for this reason the wild icon is commonly animated and comes to life when it forms part of a winning combination.

Another exciting aspect of the wild symbol is its use as a multiplier. Many online slots that contain wild symbols multiply any winning combinations that are formed with the use of wilds. When more than one wild is used to form the winning combination, the multipliers will be added to each other and this usually entails major wins for the player.

The evolution of the wild symbol can most clearly be seen in the context of slot machines’ bonus rounds. The scatter symbol is most often used to trigger second screen bonus rounds and free spins rounds, but some slots also use the wild symbol for this purpose. Many second screen bonus games are characterised by special varieties of wilds, such as stacked wilds, expanding wilds, trailing wilds, random wilds and many more. These types of wilds are discussed in more detail below.

Special Types of Wilds

Wild Symbol

Stacked wilds refer to a group of wilds that are stacked on top of each other and cling to each when the reels spin. Stacked wilds could potentially turn the entire reel wild and in slot games that add multipliers to wild winning combinations, stacked wilds provide some serious wins. Examples of slot machines that make use of stacked wilds include Deck the Halls, Girls with Guns, Break Away and Lucky Witch.

Expanding wilds feature in various video slots’ second screen bonus games. As the name suggests, expanding wilds stretch out to turn other icons on the reels wild too. Often entire reels turn wild with games that make use of expanding wilds. The Dark Knight Rises, Girls with Guns, Playboy and many other slots employ this variety of wilds. Trailing wilds are in a sense similar to expanding wilds and refer to wilds that leave a visible trail when the reels spin; if this trail touches other symbols it sometimes turns them wild too. In addition to the types of wild described above, there are many other types of wilds and casino software companies continue to introduce new varieties of wilds that are unique to specific slots.

In the Dark Knight Rises, for example, the Batman bonus stage features heat seeking wilds. These wilds can split in two, causing winning combinations made up of 6 of a kind. In Immortal Romance, during Sarah’s bonus round, the Wild Vine feature mimics the function of wilds: players can select an icon that then functions as a wild and serves as a substitute for other symbols during the bonus round.

Are Wilds Found in Low or High Variance Games?

The answer to this question is that wilds form part of slot machines that offer both high and low variance. Wild symbols increase players’ chances of forming winning combinations and as such, some slot machines that feature wilds are low variance. Low variance slot games seldom provide players with major jackpots, but players can expect to make many small wins regularly. High variance games, on the other hand, do not offer regular small wins, but when you do hit a jackpot, it is usually much larger than the jackpot found on low variance games. Slot machines that add multipliers to wild winning combinations often pay out huge sums of money when the jackpots are hit and are thus high variance. The Dark Knight Rises is such an example, where the possibility of landing a 6 of a kind winning combination means the player can bank on a major jackpot.

Which Wild Do You Prefer?

If you want to play slot machines that feature wild symbols at an online casino it may be a good idea to play a few games in the demo mode before you play for real money. Playing in the free mode gives you the chance to learn the rules of the game and to test out different slot games and see what type of bonus features you prefer. If you are playing a casino game that makes use of wilds, scrutinize the paytable before you start to play and find out whether winning combinations formed with wilds are multiplied and what function the wild symbol plays in additional bonus games.