North Guardians Pragmatic Play
One of the interesting things about our brains is that they’re pretty good at spotting patterns that aren’t really there. There is a name for this condition, pareidolia, and examples include seeing animal shapes in clouds or finding faces in bushes. Understanding real patterns is very important in online slots as it can be the difference between winning and not winning. Fortunately, slot patterns such as clusters or win lines are quite easy. However, this time it’s Pragmatic Play’s turn to throw in some shapes in a game called North Guardians, which uses an unusual pattern-based feature to add wild symbols to the main game board.
We say unusual rather than unique because the studio did something similar recently at Eye of Cleopatra that used a concept called random wild patterns. When certain lights on the device are turned on, they indicate where the wild symbol will be placed on the board. The Northern Guard is similar, but has been modified to function in a slightly different way. Here the device is called the Wild Pattern Wheel, and can be activated at any time, although its full power is more likely to be observed in free spins.
North Guardians Themes and Payouts
Pragmatic Play has chosen a Viking theme to drive the action and it’s presented quite well. There’s nothing revolutionary about the audio-visuals, but everything from the carved framed game grille to the glowing brazier to the snowy exterior has a satisfying Viking feel. You won’t find hordes of berserkers piling up in action, but the two characters that appear are charismatic enough to keep the game going.
North Guardians is a highly volatile slot played on a 5×5 aligned grid with 50 fixed paylines. RTP can be truncated and changed depending on carrier settings, so if you’re looking for the best version, it’s the 96.38% version. Interestingly, buying free spins slashes the return value to 96.29%. The basic bet starts at IDR 250 per spin before going up to a maximum of IDR 1250,000 per spin.
Eleven regular paying symbols appear on the reels, all paying from left to right on adjacent reels from the far left. The low value symbols are represented by five secret items, worth 0.48 to 0.8 times the stake, then comes the medium value axe, horseshoe, horn, and coins worth 1.2 to 3.6 times the bet for five of a kind. Lastly, the two premium symbols are female and male Vikings, paying 6-10 times the bet for five of a kind. What Odin looks like is a wild, which lands in any position to replace the regular paying symbols. Landing five wilds on a line triggers a payout of 15x the bet.
North Guardians Slot Features
The Wild Pattern Wheel is the North Guard’s main selling point, so let’s start there. In the base game, the two halves of the so-called ‘marking rectangle’ game appear in the main square below the regular symbols, changing positions with each spin. When both halves land in the same position, the wheel next to the reels spins. It may land at ‘Level Up’, in which case it spins again at the next level, or it may land in a pattern. The pattern on the wheel translates into a wild symbol pattern which is added to the game grid. The higher the level, the better the pattern. There are five levels, and it is possible to fill the scrolls with wilds.
Hitting 3, 4, or 5 scatter symbols grants 5 free spins plus a cash win of 2x, 10x, or 100x the stake each. In the bonus round, the Wild Pattern Wheel is active on every spin. The wheel starts at level 1, and after a Level Up result, the wheel is not reset. Also, when progressing to Level 2, 3, or 4, players get an additional +2 free spins each time. On reaching the fifth level, +1 free spins are awarded.
Buy Free Spins
Where this option presents itself, players can instantly trigger the main feature by pressing the buy bonus button. The cost for this is 100 times the total bet, and as mentioned earlier, doing so slightly lowers the RTP by 0.11%.
Not much time has passed since reviewing Eye of Cleopatra, and we’re under the impression that the two games were probably made around the same time as there hasn’t been any major progress between the two. In comparison, previous games tend to spread hype, whereas Northern Guard feels more focused on the bonus rounds. There’s not much going on in the base game, and it’s easy to zone the regular symbols and glue them to the two halves of the rectangle dancing around the grid. Within the first few hundred spins, the rectangles coalesce twice to start the Wild Pattern Reel, which yields little or no results.