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Wild Symbols in Slot Games

Wild symbols act just like the Joker in card games: it can be used as a substitute for other symbols in order to complete winning combinations.

The slots game has dramatically changed due to the advances of technology and new systems. Today, video slots are a lot like video games.


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The idea behind the inclusion of a wild symbol in slot games is that it completes combinations that would have never been possible without it. Wild symbols can turn losing combinations into a winner and it also adds the element of more randomness, excitement and anticipation to the slot machine. In the majority of classic and video slots, the only symbols that can be replaced by a wild are the scatter or bonus icons.

What do Wild Symbols do?

Various Combinations to a Wild Symbol

Wild Symbols Slots
Many of the second screen bonus games are characterized by special varieties of wilds, such as stacks, expanding wilds, trailing wilds, and many many more.
  • Stacked wilds are a group of wild symbols that are stacked on top of each other and stick when the reels spin. These wilds could potentially turn the entire reel wild and in slot games that add multipliers to wild winning combinations, stacked wilds provide major wins for the player.
  • Expanding wilds will trigger and be shown in some of the better slot game bonus features. As the name suggests, expand the wilds to stretch out to turn other icons of the reel too. Often entire reels turn wild with games that feature expanding wilds.
  • Trailing wilds are, in a sense, similar to expanding wilds but they refer to wild symbols that leave a visible trail when the reel spins, if the trail touches other symbols it will sometimes turn them into wilds as well.
  • Random wilds are precious in any slot game as they give you the edge in creating winning combinations. As the name suggests symbols will randomly transform into wilds, the method of which varies from slot to slot.
    Examples of slots with random wilds:
    Immortal Romance – Microgaming, The Dark Knight – Microgaming, Johnny Spectre - Microgaming
  • Multiplier wilds These symbols serve a dual purpose. They substitute for other symbols and add a multiplier to your payouts form winning combinations. Landing a few of these on a single spin could mean a spectacular prize for you.
    Examples of slots with multiplier wilds:
    Dead or Alive – NetEnt, Game of Thrones – Microgaming, Mega Moolah - Isis
  • Sticky wilds These symbols address the short-lived benefit that wilds often offer. When they appear, they will stay on the reels for subsequent spins, creating exciting possibilities for winning combos.
    Examples of slots with sticky wilds:
    Jammin’Jars – Push Gaming, Dead or Alive II – NetEnt, Starburst – NetEnt
  • Moving wilds are like mobile sticky wilds. They stay on the reels for subsequent spins, bouncing around to different positions, creating random chances for winning combinations.
    Examples of slots with moving wilds:
    South Park – NetEnt, Frozen Inferno – WMS
  • Straight/diagonal wilds The name given to these wilds describes how they will be positioned when they appear on the reels. Straight wilds run vertically down reel 3. Diagonal wilds only appear on reels 2 and 4. In NetEnt’s Fisticuffs slot, when these two symbol types appear close enough to each other, they can transform adjacent symbols into sticky wilds, simultaneously becoming sticky themselves for a subsequent re-spin.
    Examples of slots with straight/ diagonal wilds:
    Fisticuffs - NetEnt
  • Shifting wilds are essentially the same as moving wilds. Once they appear on the reels, they remain in view for subsequent spins, while shifting from one random position to another.
    Examples of slots with shifting wilds:
    Egyptian Emeralds – Playtech, Dolphin Cash – Playtech, Robin Hood: Shifting Riches – NetEnt
  • Transferring wilds Slot games with multiple sets of reels will normally feature Transferring wilds. When one of these symbols appears on one set of reels, they will be transferred/copied over to the other sets of reels. These symbols will typically appear stacked and as part of a bonus feature, appearing as symbol stacks.
    Examples of slots with transferring wilds:
    Bruce Lee: Dragon’s Tale - WMS, Fire Queen – WMS, Kiss – WMS
  • Walking wilds are an enhanced version of shifting wilds. When these symbols appear on the reels, they will travel from one end to the other, generating respins and potentially creating winning combinations as they go. This means you get free spins with a serious winning advantage attached.
    Examples of slots with walking wilds:
    Jack and the Beanstalk – Netent, Age of the Gods: Medusa and Monsters – Playtech, Narcos – Netent
  • Colossal Wilds are symbols that typically occupy a large section of the reels, replacing either 4 symbols (2x2) or 9 symbols (3x3), they generally appear in the free spins round and will substitute for all other symbols, bar bonus symbols, to give you a massive win.
    Examples of slots with colossal wilds:
    Spiñata Grande - Netent

Wild Symbols make up such a variety and combination that they are often used in many types of games. Games that offer both a high and low variance will feature Wild Symbols that increase a players chance of forming winning combinations.

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Senior Editor Gayle Mitchell

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Gayle Mitchell is the leading female expert on casino gambling and has written extensively, presented seminars and was editor of four gaming newsletters. She is the author of seven books, 12 Ebooks, and five Tips booklets. Online since 1999, Mitchell has owned and operated 4 gaming websites. Her writing and teaching style is targeted at educating novice and passionate casino players.

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