Wild symbols have been in existence for almost as long as slot games themselves. They act like jokers in a deck of cards – when you’re one icon short of a win, Wilds will jump in to save the day. More often than not, they’ll also form winning combinations of their own, and frequently come with one or more extras attached. Read on to familiarize yourself with different types of Wild symbols and the variety of benefits they can deliver.
The basic function of a Wild symbol, as mentioned above, is to act as a substitute for other game icons and thus help create winning combos. In the majority of slots they’ll be able to perform this task for all except Scatters and other special symbols serving as triggers for various bonus rounds. Wilds normally appear randomly, and in some games they’ll only land on certain reels. Checking the paytable before you start spinning will tell you how Wild functions in a particular slot.
The most common extra a Wild icon will come with is a multiplier. Multiplying Wilds will boost each win they help create, usually by x2 or x3. Some games feature more than one Wild symbol and offer higher multipliers when both participate in a winning combo, as is the case in RTG’s Bubble Bubble 2.
These three types have one thing in common – they all occupy more than one reel position. Stacked Wilds appear as individual Wild symbols piled on top of each other, usually filling up the entire reel and further enhancing your chance to win. Art of the Heist from Playson features Stacked Wilds which appear only while spinning for free, while in Game of Thrones by Microgaming they’ll also help during the base game.
Expanding Wilds will initially land as a single icon and then spread to occupy all positions on the reel. Although the result is same as with Stacked Wilds, visual effect is a bit different. You’ll find these in The Dark Knight Rises by Microgaming, iSoftBet’s Paranormal Activity and DJ Wild from Elk Studios, among others.
Wilds can come grouped in other ways than simply stacked on top of each other. One example is 2×2 Wild symbol which appears during a special feature in Wild North by Play’n Go, and another 3×3 colossal Wilds in NetEnt’s Spinata Grande. Guns n’ Roses slot from the same developer features Appetite for Destruction Wild – a kind of a grouped Wild shaped like a cross which can land randomly to cover up to 5 positions.
Sticky Wild symbols, also referred to as “locked” and “frozen”, maintain their position on the reels for more than one spin and thus increase your chances of completing multiple winning combos. In Yggdrasil’s Bicicleta, each player icon landing in free spins mode has a chance to turn into Sticky Wild which will stay on the screen until the bonus round ends, while the Wild Reel feature changes all symbols on a randomly chosen reel into Sticky Wilds.
Shifting Wilds could be considered to be a variation of sticky Wilds as they stick around for multiple spins, though not in the same position. These will usually move horizontally and potentially contribute to winning combinations until “falling off” the reels. You can experience this kind of Wild behavior in Taco Brothers from Elk Studios (called Running Wilds), and in Pinocchio by BetSoft. The latter plays in three different worlds, and while in the Workshop Gepetto symbol triggers the Wild Scroll feature which makes the scroll move from right to left while re-spinning the reels, in the Classroom this feature is triggered by Books and makes Wild Scroll move down the reel.
Duplicating or Replicating Wilds have the power to transform regular symbols into Wild icons. When a Wild symbol lands on the reels of NetEnt’s Wonky Wabbits, it will get duplicated to the position that creates the highest possible win. In Santa’s Wild Ride by Microgaming, Trailing Wild creates a trail of Wilds as it slides down the reels during the free spins feature. Treasure Fair from 888 comes with Exploding Wild which appears only on reel 3 and does two things: adds 2 to 4 Sticky Wilds anywhere on the reels and grants 1 to 3 re-spins. Giant’s Gold by WMS plays with a main reel set and a colossal reel set, and each time 4 Stacked Wilds appear on the main one, they’ll transfer to the corresponding reel on the colossal set and make it go fully bonkers. Jungle Books from Yggdrasil feature several realms, among which Mowgli world which offers Spreading Wilds creating 1 to 2 extra ones in random positions.
Randomly added Wilds will usually appear during special features, such as Poseidon Free Games in Playtech’s Age of the Gods: while you’re spinning for free, lightning shoots from Poseidon’s trident to transform up to 5 symbols into Wilds on every single free spin. In iSoftBet’s Paranormal Activity, a random Demon symbol will add extra Wilds during Demon Free Spins, while Lost Vegas offers randomly triggered Zombies Free Spins with Zombie stacks infecting reels to turn single Wilds into Stacked ones.
In the previously mentioned DJ Wild slot, the main Wild icon is randomly replaced by Smoke, Fire and Confetti Wilds expanding vertically, or Strobe and Lazer Wilds which will expand horizontally to cover 2 symbols.
The Invisible Man from NetEnt features Colliding Wilds, with Police Wild appearing on reel 1 and moving one place to the right with each re-spin, and Griffin Wild landing on reel 5 and moving one position to the left; when the two merge, they’ll activate free spins. In Romeo and Juliet by Pragmatic Play you’ll see a similar kind of action, with the two lovers moving to meet and create expanded Wild on reel 3.