Understanding Wild Symbols

As part of our mission to bust that casino jargon, we’re now going to tackle the subject of Wild symbols. These icons appear in the vast majority of slot machines and are beneficial to base games and, on many occasions, additional bonus rounds.

So, let’s get straight on and dissect the wild and consider its many possible functions in an online casino slot game.


The Wild’s Main Purpose

If we think of a regular deck of cards, we should be aware of the saying ‘Jokers Wild’. The humble joker usually lies dormant inside the box but on occasions, it is brought into a game and it can act as another card of the player’s choice.

That is the exact purpose of the Wild symbol in slot machines. If one, two or more wilds appear across a payline, they will match other images and form a winning combination wherever possible.

For example, let’s assume you’re playing one of the many slot games that use letters and numbers from a regular deck of cards as generic, base game icons. On reels one and two, you spin two Aces onto the centre payline. That’s not enough for a cash prize but, if a wild drops in on reel three, it will match those symbols and form a winning combination.

In some instances, the wild can only appear on certain reels but for most slots, it can land anywhere on the grid. It will mostly occupy a single position but there are occasions when the wild can behave a little differently.

Sticky Wilds

Sticky Wilds are occasionally referred to as locked wilds and, like a conventional wild, they will generally occupy only one position on the reels. Their role is to remain in place, usually during a bonus round, and they will literally ‘stick’ to those reels while further spins are played through.

A free spins round is a good time to look out for locked wilds. Often, when a wild drops in on a free spin, it will lock into place and remain in that set position until the round is complete. This pattern is a valuable one for players because the wilds are essentially guaranteed for the duration of the bonus feature and this will increase the chances of matching combinations.

Stacked Wilds

Some casino slot games employ stacked wilds where the key symbols ‘stack’ on top of each other on the reels. In most cases, they will stack to occupy the whole of a reel or, there may be fewer symbols on top of each other.

As always, we recommend checking the gameplay if stacked wilds are an option. It’s possible that the feature may be available on all reels or alternatively, a restricted set of reels may apply. Stacking has the advantage of increasing the chances of a slot win coming in simply because more wilds equals more opportunities to create a matching combination.

Look out for Wolf Run and many other slot machines that carry the Stacked Wild feature.

Expanding Wilds

While a stacked wild can only increase in a vertical direction, an expanding wild is free to multiply in any direction available. In certain cases, wilds can even expand to occupy the whole reel set in order to trigger the slot machine jackpot.

As with the other special wilds on this list, it’s possible that expanding wilds may only appear during bonus rounds but they can also be available in the base game. Once again, there is greater potential for cash wins when expanding wilds come calling.

The Monkey Prince is a great example of a slot game with expanding wilds but there are many similar titles available at Unibet.

Grouped Wilds

A grouped wild is very similar to its expanding counterpart with one very subtle difference. A grouped wild can also occupy a number of positions on the reels but it doesn’t spread during gameplay as an expanding wild can.

Grouped wilds tend to drop on the reels and will then become sticky and won’t increase their positions. Typically, you may see a block of wilds appear so the groups will be formed as a 2x2 or 3x3 symbol. Once again, you can check the gameplay by reading a review or taking some demo spins whenever a grouped wild is in play.

Other Types of Wilds

We’ve covered the main types of wilds that will appear in casino slots but, on rare occasions, others may be introduced into the game. All of these options can increase the numbers of wilds in play and will therefore enhance the chances of winning combinations being formed.

Firstly, we have colliding wilds: This occurs when two wild symbols come together, side-by-side, on the reels. In some cases there will be two different wild images or maybe just one but the main purpose of a colliding wild is to activate a bonus feature such as free spins.

With a replicating wild, the game in question will use a feature that turns a regular symbol into a wild.

Finally, we should mention random wilds: This is another feature that is more likely to appear in a bonus round. Let’s say you’ve landed three scatters and activated ten free spins. For the duration of that round, some random wilds appear with a view to increasing the opportunities for more regular cash wins while the add-on feature is in play.

Exceptions to the Rule

We’ve mentioned that the wild replaces most symbols but there are exceptions. Do not expect the wild to replace scatters or other icons that lead to bonus rounds. This is beneficial to the player because bonus symbols can take you to free spins, pick games, wheel of fortune and other additional rounds so it would not be in your interest for the wild to replace them.

Check out our guide on scatters to learn all about them. These, and other bonus options, are very valuable so they will stay immune from the wild’s powers during gameplay.

How do I know which Symbol is Wild?

Virtually every slot game has a wild symbol employed but there are some very rare exceptions. Some of the older games on Unibet’s list are simple designs with 3x3 reels and just one payline. No wilds exist but these are rare and isolated exceptions.

The vast majority of slots do have a wild but how do we know what it is? In a number of games including Wheel of Fortune Triple Spin it is, quite simply, a square with the word Wild written inside. In other instances, such as the Liger Loot slot, the wild is the game’s logo while other titles feature the main character as the wild.

In rare cases, there will be two different wild symbols in the game. When this occurs, the standard wild is likely to appear in the base game while a second image is employed during a bonus feature. It’s unusual for this to happen but there are games where this phenomenon is used.

This will all become obvious as you play the game but it’s better to identify the wild before we take a spin. We have an extensive set of slot reviews available and the game in question will have a paytable and explanations as to what each bonus symbol means. Alternatively, you can click on demo play and take some free slot spins until the wild becomes evident.

Double the Fun

In some slot games such as Tales of Dr Doolittle, the wild will have a multiplier attached and this can lead to more generous payouts. When the wild comes along to complete a winning combination, it can double the win or, it may climb even higher.

In the Dr Doolittle example that we’ve mentioned above, the multiplier can rise to 5x so there is potential for some very lucrative prize pots. As with all games, check the paytable, read our review or click on the demo button to see if there is a multiplier in play and how it operates.

We have also published a separate guide on multipliers so please head over and check it out for a full rundown as to how these features operate.

Activate Your Wild Side

Now you know all about wilds, there should be no confusion when you head online and take our popular slot games for a spin. When a wild is in play, the possibility of landing a winning combination increases and they can be very valuable symbols.

Other key points to keep in mind include the general rule that a wild will not replace a scatter or any other special bonus symbol. You should also check to see which symbol acts as the wild before taking the slot for a real money spin.

Remember, all of our games can be played as free trial versions simply by clicking on the demo play button. Keep this guide handy at all times and with that option for free trial spins available, you will be confident and completely comfortable with the concept of casino slot wilds.