The rosy-cheeked little fellows undoubtedly tug at the heartstrings of many gardeners, who like the idea that at the bottom of their garden, there is a family of magical red-faced beings who enjoy pushing wheelbarrows, smoking pipes and fishing in their water features.
This brings us on to Rabcat Gambling's latest offering which is Gnome Wood. An interesting new slot which the name suggests is a mystical woodland area where our shorter-than-average friends go to do whatever gnomes do best.
So how does Gnome Wood shape up as a slot? Is this as magical as the creatures it is based upon or is this one Gnome Wood that really needs chopping down to size? Let's take a closer look and find out.
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As you would expect given the title of this slot, the setting for the slot is a magical glade or woodland which presumably is home to the Gnomes in the title. The setting is decorated with all sorts of gnome friendly items, including the obligatory toadstools.
The music and look of the slot makes this something of a cartoon-styled game that is intending to appeal as a ‘cutesy' style of slot. With clever music and background sounds it does achieve this look quite nicely but whether this has universal appeal to all slot gamers, I'm not so sure.
The reels are presented in a grid format which makes them very clear and there is a Gamble feature which allows you to wager wins in a bid to try and increase their value. All in all, the slot setting reminds me of "The Shire" from the Lord of the Rings series of films and while that's not a bad thing it does make what is on the reels all the more puzzling.
What's on the reels?
Now with a name like Gnome Wood, what would be the first thing you would expect to see on the reels? Gnomes of course, so it is therefore baffling to me why the very thing that the slot is named after doesn't actually appear anywhere on the slot, not on the backdrop nor on the reels.
What you do have instead are some strange rune symbols, which act as the lower value symbols in the game and in this respect they work quite well. They are certainly a better choice than playing card symbols. The higher value symbols include all manner of items you would find in Gnome Wood including a lantern, book of spells, a cauldron, a flower and two very cute and furry creatures which are the higher value symbols and offer you wins of 10x your total stake for 5 across a pay line.
Yet, where are the gnomes? I was wondering if they would put in a cheeky appearance later in the slot when some action is completed or a certain pay line win achieved but no, so although this is the Gnome Wood slot, the focus is definitely more on the "wood" than the "gnome" which seems peculiar to me.
Arguably the main feature of the slot is the Wild symbol, which serves as a Wandering Wild in the game and can also award 2x multiplier bonuses for selected wins. As with all normal Wild symbols, you can use the Wild to substitute for any of the low or high value symbols to create a winning pay line and of course, multiple Wilds landing across the reels gives you a greater chance of a bigger value win.
However in Gnome Wood, all the Wild symbols are Wandering Wilds which means that when they land, they trigger a free re-spin but before that re-spin takes place, the Wild will move one space to the left and re-spin the reels. This continues until the Wild finally moves off the first reel. You can trigger multiplier Wandering Wilds during this feature and it will continue until all Wilds are removed from the reels.
This is a great value feature which really adds a lot of depth to the base game and provides the player with the best chances of winning some decent cumulative amounts in the base game, especially given the standard jackpot size isn't that great.
Free Spins Features
If you can land three or more of the scatter symbols anywhere across the reels then you will trigger the free spins bonus game. Here you get 10 free spins and the Wandering Wild feature is active in this bonus round, with the potential of free re-spins generated to add to the free spins that you already have.
You can also re-trigger more free spins by landing three or more scatters in the bonus round itself and these are added to the free spins that you already have remaining in order to give you a greater chance at a bigger value win.
Other Bonus Features
The only other key bonus feature of the slot is the fact that it has a Gamble option. For any win that you achieve, you can elect to Gamble it when the Gamble button is lit. When you do you are taken to a separate screen and you have the chance to double up your winnings up to a maximum of five times.
You do this by selecting one of two cauldrons. If you select the cauldron that emits a magic light, then the player wins and their prize is doubled in size and they can elect to play again, or collect their winnings. If they lose, then the cauldron will fall over and emit a cloud of smoke, the player loses their winnings and then returns to the base game.
You can gamble small wins in the base game, as well as wins in the Free Spins bonus game if you choose.
Best Feature of the Gnome Wood slot
Without doubt the Wandering Wilds feature is what makes the Gnome Wood slot tick. The fact that you can generate free re-spins with the Wilds remaining on the reels for a predefined number of spins really adds some good value to the slot and you don't need too many wins on this feature to find yourself landing a decent win in the base game or free spins.
The feature does work best however when you trigger multiple Wilds as you can have two or more Wilds active and moving across the reels and this can create the potential for some much bigger wins, especially if you can hit three or more of these symbols at once.
What does the Gnome Wood slot lack?
The answer to this question is simple! What the Gnome Wood lacks is quite simply Gnomes! I'm not sure if the two furry creatures acting as the high value symbols in the game are supposed to be gnomes, but if they are then the design team need to do a little more research into what these creatures are supposed to look like.
Other than that, I would have liked to perhaps see a little more imagination used in the game in terms of features. The Free Spins round isn't that inspiring and with a 250 coin jackpot, it isn't a slot that is going to attract players that want a bigger value win and its medium variance means that smaller stakes players are going to be a little wary too.
I'm not really sure what to make of Gnome Wood. Firstly, I think the name of the slot is somewhat confusing given the lack of gnomes anywhere in it. It is like calling a slot Sweet Shop and then focusing entirely on what a shop has and having no sweeties in the slot at all.
However, that aside, the slot has some great features, particularly the Wandering Wild bonus which can pay handsomely in the base game and bonus free spins round. This feature alone is well worth trying out on the slot if nothing else.
The Free Spins bonus is a bit hit and miss and I'd have liked to have seen a bigger jackpot available to be won, or if the jackpot was to remain the same then I'd like to have seen a lower variance slot to attract more smaller stakes players to play.
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