How Do Wild Symbols Work?

It’s easy to go wild over Wild Symbols. After all, they can make all the difference in turning your spin into a win. If you’re new to slot games, though, you might be wondering how Wilds work.

There are so many different kinds that keeping track of all of them can get confusing. While this is true, they also carry a basic function that is common to them all. In this week’s tutorial we’re covering what Wilds are, how they work and some of the most common types of Wilds.

How Do Wild Symbols Work?

When trying to understand Wilds, a good approach is to think of blank scrabble pieces, or jokers in a deck of cards, as both of these serve adaptable functions depending on the game being played. A Wild symbol can act as a substitute, or fill in for different symbols, in order to create winning combinations.

Because slot games differ so much, it’s easy to understand why there are so many varieties of Wild symbols. Some games have multiple Wild symbols while others only have one, but they all work in the same basic way; replacing symbols, other than Scatters and bonus symbols, to create winning paylines in a spin.

Here are a few of the more popular ones below:

Expanding Wilds

Expanding Wilds are a favourite among casino players, because they’re a prime example of the ‘more is more’ approach. When Wilds expand, they can stretch across the length of a whole reel, and by doing do will turn every symbol on the reel into a Wild symbol in the process. This means that your chances of securing a winning round increases considerably, because there are possible combinations.

Some important things to note about Expanding Wilds is that they’re often not available in base games, so you might need to activate Free Spins or bonus games to be able to access them, but this of course is not true for all slots. Just like standard Wilds, though, Expanding Wilds won’t substitute for Scatter or bonus symbols. Also note that for Wilds to expand, they have to be part of a winning combination in the first place.

For a great example of a game with Expanding Wilds, check out the classic slot Starburst, which is known for its spinning star wheel that expands to fill the whole reel. Expanding Wilds on Starburst can then lead you to get Sticky Wilds, which brings us to our next type of Wild symbol.

Walking Wilds

Walking Wilds are a feature that will see the substitute symbols – the Wilds – work their way across the screen spin after spin, while you sit back and watch your winnings come in. The action kicks in when you land a Wild somewhere on the reels. After paying out any wins, that Wild will shift one position to the left or right and you will get a bonus re-spin, free of charge.

The process will then repeat itself over and over again, with the Wild continuing to travel in the same direction. Once that symbol leaves the display, you’ll get one last free spin, after which you will return to normal play.

Depending on the game, the feature might see these Walking Wilds move left, right, or maybe even in both directions. Also, the bonus round can continue for much longer than you would expect: should more substitutes appear on the screen during this period, you’ll continue to get free spins as those icons also walk across the reels. The result is that this is a feature that is extremely powerful, but somewhat rarer than a standard Wild symbol.

So what games use these walking wilds?

One of our personal favourite is The Invisible Man, which is loosely based on the movie. When you play this, there is a policeman Wild which walks all the way from the left to the right, and there is an Invisible Man Wild who walks from the right to the left. Most of the time they make their way from one side to the other, creating wins along the way, but not meeting.

The fun starts when they do meet. The coming together of the Walking Wilds takes you in to free spin territory, and that’s where even bigger wins are to be found. These Walking Wilds have you walking all the way to big money.

Sticky Wilds

Sticky Wilds are just like the women who call you back the next day – they stick around. In other words, they remain on the reel for multiple rounds.

While this is not the case with every slot game, it’s usually helpful to think of Sticky Wilds as symbols that you can re-trigger over and over, meaning that they will stay on the reels as long as they form winning combinations causing re-spins, as in extra spins that you don’t pay the normal spin wagering for. The moment you lose a round; the Sticky Wilds will disappear. However, with certain slots games you might find a different approach, that Sticky Wilds are programmed to stick for a set number of rounds.

Sticky Wilds are popular because there’s a lot of flexibility in terms of how game developers introduce them in slots games. We particularly like how they’re used in Warlords: Crystals of Power, which comes with an array of bonus games. When you activate the Samurai Free Spins in this game, the Scatter symbol turns into a Sticky Wild!

Rushing Wilds

Similar to Walking Wilds, Rushing Wilds are shifty – but we mean that in the best way possible. The way they work is that when you hit a Wild symbol during a spin, during the next round the same Wild symbol will move to a different position.

The direction it takes depends on the game itself. Like other types of Wilds, Rushing Wilds are often activated during Free Spins, and are great for making the winning streaks last longer.

If you want to experience Rushing Wilds for the first time, the game to play is Wild Toro – which is apt considering how popular it is to rush wildly at Bull Runs.