Carol of the Elves: Slot Overview
The poetically titled Carol of the Elves comes from the creative minds at Yggdrasil Gaming. Except this time they haven't been overly creative since it's a mistletoe version of their smash hit Valley of the Gods. Perhaps since follow-up Valley of the Gods 2 was released, the original's been eclipsed. If it's fading into obscurity like an undiscovered Pharaoh's tomb, Yggdrasil might as well squeeze some extra mileage out of the code. This they've done by wrapping it up in tinsel and giving it a night before Christmas look instead.
The setting is about as far from the hot, dusty lands of Egypt as it could possibly be. The 5x5 grid has been dumped on a living room floor, surrounded by gifts, bells, and other decorations. Visually unremarkable, a rather sweet soundtrack provides much of the charm, so the game is best played unmuted unless the schmaltz gets too much.
Carol of the Elves may be played on any device, by setting the desired stake from 10 p/c to £/€150 per spin, which should be more than enough for most. Players get the same sort of stats in Carol of the Elves as they did in Valley of the Gods, though high rollers get bigger bets, so the max win is higher (580,000€ vs 870,000€). Volatility is also high, which can be tough in a game like this that relies on scoring consecutive wins to get anywhere. RTP is slightly above average on 96.2%, while wins occur at a theoretical rate of roughly 1 in 5 spins (22.8%).
One of the first things about Carol of the Elves which sticks out, other than the somewhat lifeless visuals for an Yggdrasil game, is the slot configuration. At the start of each paid spin, the reels are laid out in a 1-3-5-3-1 pattern. The rest of the positions on the grid are initially covered by blocker tiles. It means there are 45 win ways to start with, rising to 3,125 when all of the positions are available. To win, you need three or more matching symbols, next to each other starting from the first reel.
Symbols pretty much all have a Christmassy flourish to them, starting with candy cane striped 9 to A card royals. These are followed by the high pay bunnies, foxes, polar bears, and reindeer worth 10 to 20 times the stake for five of a kind. No wild symbols are present in Carol of the Elves, but a couple of features are on hand to top up the stocking.
Carol of the Elves: Slot Features
The goal in Carol of the Elves is to build up chains of wins to open up the grid, triggering features as a result. Every time a win lands, a magic star flies from each of the winning symbols, destroying blocker tiles to open up the game board. Also, a respin is awarded. If another win occurs on the respin, the process repeats until no new wins appear. Then, the blocker tiles return for the next new spin. If all of the blocker tiles are removed, then a win multiplier starting at x2 and extra lives are activated.
When wins occur on the full game grid, every 5 blue magic stars collected increases the multiplier by +1, while every 5 red magic stars award an extra life. Extra lives award a respin whenever there is a losing respin to keep the ball rolling. This sequence ends when a non-winning respin occurs, and there are no extra lives left. Then the grid is reset by being covered in blockers for the next paid spin.
Carol of the Elves: Slot Verdict
The say C's get degrees and that halfway effort appears to be in full swing in Carol of the Elves. As well as cloning an old slot, Yggdrasil doesn't seem to have put their usual effort into the visuals, or much of the sound effects. Two things let them off the hook to an extent. One, it's a Christmas slot, so if most players are only going to fire it up for a few days a year when the shops are shut then why pour your heart and soul into it? Two, the sentimental music does well to stir up feelings of the season. It would be perfect in a tear-jerker Xmas movie, one where the kids can only see their missing parent's reflection in tree decorations or something like that. It is well in theme and quite nostalgic.
The gameplay's enjoyable too if you like what Valley of the Gods had to offer. The format requires patience because, despite the reasonable hit rate, it can be easy to get mired in patches of dead/nothing spins. It's also not a slot where you trigger a bonus game and you're in. Respins require a significant amount of momentum to really get them going. If you just can't build up the multiplier and extra lives, Carol of the Elves can be a frustrating experience. Kind of like busting your butt to be a good kid all year, then finding some lame piece of clothing in your stocking on Christmas morning, despite writing Santa a letter to ask him for a new gaming console.
Yet, when Carol of the Elves goes, it goes. It is capable of wins up to 5,800 times the bet after all. The respin recursion that achieved the max win would be epic indeed. Yet, even if you don't manage to crack numbers quite so high, getting decent rolls on is satisfying. Valley of the Gods wasn't popular for nothing, so Carol of the Elves is bound to hit the right note for some.
Yggdrasil spread some Christmas cheer by cloning Valley of the Gods, bringing all the frustrations and triumphs of that slot to one with a festive look.