At Unibet, one of the things we like to do is jargon-bust. In fact, we’ve produced a handy guide to some of the more common terms used at the slots and at the tables but at times, we need to go more in-depth.
This time, it’s the turn of the ‘Scatter’ to come under the microscope. We see this term used extensively at the online casino slot machines but what, exactly, does it mean?
The Value of the Scatter
One of the problems with reading casino guides and slot reviews is the fact that the majority will assume that you already have a full understanding of industry jargon. The word scatter is used extensively but it’s such an important part of slot machine play that it’s vital to fully understand its function.
Firstly, the scatter is a very valuable part of any slot game. It is a special symbol that will, in the vast majority of cases, lead you into a bonus section. This could be Free Spins or perhaps a Wheel of Fortune or Pick Game.
This is where big money prizes lie so it’s clear that we should get to know the scatter each time.
In the base game of any slot machine, cash wins are triggered by lining up matching symbols across a payline. They have to be aligned, otherwise a win will not be paid.
A scatter is so called because the symbols do not need to match along a fixed line. As long as a minimum amount (usually three), fall into view, the bonus will be activated. Therefore, they are literally ‘scattered’ across the reels.
Identifying a Scatter
Before playing any slot game, it’s clearly going to be useful to understand which symbol is acting as the scatter. In some cases, it can be a special image that relates to the theme of the title or, it could possibly be the game’s specific logo.
Other symbols are simply marked as ‘scatter’ as they are in Siberian Storm or, in the case of the Pied Piper slot, the word ‘bonus’ will appear. On very rare occasions, an icon will play a dual role: This is the case in Monopoly on the Money where the classic ‘Go’ sign is both the wild and the scatter.
Don’t worry if that sounds like a lot of information: It’s easy to read up on our slot reviews and to identify the scatter before you take a spin. Alternatively, you can click on demo play and enjoy our slots on a trial basis. Take as many free spins as you like and it should soon become evident as to which symbols are scatters for each of our slot games.
How Do Scatters Work?
Now we have an understanding as to the scatter’s role in a slot game, it’s time to take a look at their precise function. The exact functionality may differ, depending on which title you’re playing with but we can certainly look at some exact case examples to show you the general way in which they operate.
In the spirit of fairness, we’ll take a game at random and in this case, it’s Doctor Love from NextGen. This is a popular title among Unibet’s account holders and it’s an entertaining slot with tons of fun cartoon graphics.
The scatter in Doctor Love is a symbol showing a Love Meter. We need at least three of them to land, anywhere on the reel grid and the free spins round will be set in motion. If we land exactly three Love Meters, 10 free spins will be awarded but this sum will increase if more scatters fall into view.
In this particular Doctor Love game, four scatters triggers 15 spins while the maximum of five love meters leads to 20 spins. That’s a good example of what you can expect and other slot titles will follow a similar, if not identical pattern.
In other slot games, a fixed set of free spins will come in no matter how many of the special symbols will land. One point to check on here is whether those free spins can be retriggered. Many slots will add more spins if the scatter requirement is met during that bonus round.
A free spins feature is the most common result when the necessary amount of scatters drop in but this point isn’t guaranteed. Potentially, there could be different bonuses such as a Wheel of Fortune spin or a Pick Game where players are asked to select an image to win a prize.
There are lots of different options beyond those standard free spins and, as we are about to see, things can get very complex at times.
Let’s take a look at Koi Princess which is in Unibet’s top five list of most popular slot games. It’s a fun title that mixes a common oriental theme with a Manga flavour but, perhaps the reason behind its popularity is a complex set of bonuses.
Some of these bonus features are triggered at random in the base game but when the scatter gets involved, things start to get very interesting indeed. The Scatter in this case is marked very clearly with the word ‘Bonus’ so it’s virtually impossible to miss.
When players see three of these scatters appear on the reels, the feature will activate but things work very differently to what we’ve seen so far. The next step is to spin a wheel at the bottom of the screen and this will select between four potential bonus rounds.
Round One is called Sure Win Free Spins and will activate ten free spins with certain wins each time. Round Two is Wild Reels Free Spins where ten free spins land with reels one and five turning completely wild.
Alternatively, players may be rewarded with Round Three which is referred to as Bonus Wheel. As you’ve guessed, it’s a wheel of fortune game which can return slot wins or it can activate either of those two free spins rounds. Finally, Round Four is Coin Win which awards a quick cash prize.
As we’re starting to see, Scatters can lead to very different bonuses. Virtually no two slots are alike and that’s why there are literally thousands of titles currently available.
Do All Casino Slots Have Scatters?
While the vast majority of online slot games employ a scatter, this isn’t the case in every single title. Some of the older games on Unibet’s list can be quite basic and simply involve lining up wins across a single payline.
Then there are slots like Wild Wheel: This has bonus rounds but, as the name might suggest, these rely on wild symbols to land rather than scatters. Other video slots are based on card games such as Three Card Poker. These follow the rules of the original game to an extent and as such, there is no need for a scatter to be employed.
So, there are instances where a slot game doesn’t have a scatter but these are very much the exceptions rather than the rule. It’s tough to put an exact number on this but we would suggest that over 95% of the slot games listed at Unibet have a scatter symbol in place.
Wilds Versus Scatters
Scatters are often mentioned in the same sentences as Wild symbols and the two will occasionally get confused. We have issued a separate guide to wilds which you can access from this link but here is a comprehensive summary regarding the difference between the two.
Hopefully we’ve now given you a full rundown as to the meaning of the word ‘Scatter’ when it appears in slot machines. In terms of the Wild, this is another important and potentially valuable symbol when it does land.
The Wild can be multifunctional but in general, it has one main aim and that is to substitute for other images on the reels and to make a winning combination wherever possible. Let’s say, for example, you’re playing one of the many slot games that uses generic playing card symbols as the lower paying icons. Sphinx Wild and Golden Colts are just two such titles but there are hundreds available.
You spin the reels and two Aces appear in a row along a payline: That’s not enough to trigger a win but, if a Wild has spun in to make it three in a line, you will land a cash sum. Similarly, if four Aces appear and a Wild makes in five in a row, the maximum prize relating to that symbol is yours.
Please be sure to read our guide to wilds to understand their full potential but that is their basic functionality. As one final point to remember, a wild will rarely, if ever, replace a scatter. If you like, you could say that a Scatter is a sacred symbol and now you can head off to the slot machine section at Unibet with a full understanding of its meaning and importance.