Golden Tsar: Overview
The word 'Tsar' usually refers to one of two things. The first, more modern usage is as the leader of some governmental department or project, say, the 'energy tsar'. The second is the historical definition used in conjunction with Eastern European monarchs, particularly in pre-revolution Russia. The word is derived from the Latin 'Caesar' and conjures up staggering levels of affluence and power. It is this opulent world that Red Tiger has recreated for their slot Golden Tsar.
Red Tiger often inject elements of wealth into their games in the forms of jewels, gold, or esoteric items. Rarely is it as fitting as in Golden Tsar, located in one of the great houses, a ballroom perhaps, or the entrance to one. While the setting oozes privilege, credit to Red Tiger for not going completely over the top which could be tempting to do with this theme. Golden Tsar has a touch of elegance to it, and the accompanying soundtrack creates quite a neat scene to spin in. You can imagine wandering away from the ballroom for some quiet time near a snow dappled window that looks out over the Neva to read a few pages of Gogol.
Golden Tsar is playable in any device from mobile to desktop, providing stake options of 10 p/c to £/€40 per spin. As is often the case with Red Tiger, the stats produced by the game's math model aren't exactly revolution inspiring. The default RTP is a bit below average on 95.77%, while the medium/high volatility has been slightly mismatched with a modest potential. On a more positive note, Golden Tsar's features fired off more frequently than some other Red Tiger slots have done recently. Of course, that could be beginners luck. But still, when the main bonus is triggered, it is quite a doozy and can be well worth the wait.
Whether players will have the patience to do so is an interesting question. What doesn't help is the convoluted setup made up of 6 reels, 4 rows and 30 fixed paylines. As always when we see a setup like this, the question arises - why design such a large game area, yet restrict it to so few paylines? In any case, to score a winning combination, you'll need at least two or three of a kind on a payline, starting from the leftmost reel. Three for the low pays, two at least for the highs.
Red Tiger has been clever with the low pays, so instead of the usual 10, J, Q, K, A, we get the Cyrillic counterparts. A nice touch and adds something new to the reels while playing. As well as the lows, the paytable's premium symbols are four members of a ruling family. Here we find a prince, a princess, the tsarina, and a crowned tsar worth from 7.2 to 25 times the stake. Just like royals keeping the blue bloodline pure, there is no wild symbol in Golden Tsar – combinations can only be made of the same identical symbols.
Golden Tsar: Features
Golden Tsar's features all involve pay anywhere expanding symbols which aren't exactly a new development, but an enjoyable one all the same. This feature occurs during the base game and the bonus game.
Just above the reels are 4 meters corresponding to each of the 4 premium symbols. Whenever a premium win occurs, the respective progress meter is partially filled as part of the Royal Expand feature. When a meter is completely filled, the respective family member symbol becomes a 1x4 Super Symbol. Super Symbols pay from any position on all win lines – they do not need to be adjacent to each other. First, any regular win lines are paid, then the special symbol expands, paying out the newly formed win lines. If there is more than one full meter at the same time, the symbols expand one after the other. In the base game, this effect lasts for one spin; then the meters are reset.
The second feature is Tsar Spins which are triggered by 3 or more Golden Egg scatter symbols landing anywhere on the reels. Players get 3 Tsar Spins for every Golden Egg in view, up to 18 at the most. Before Tsar Spins start, the progress meter of one of the symbols is randomly filled for the full duration of the bonus. It is possible to keep filling other symbols' meters during Tsar Spins too, meaning you can have all 4 actively expanding for the full duration. Also, whenever a meter is filled, 5 more spins are added to the remaining amount total.
Golden Tsar: Verdict
Fans of Ra style expanding symbols might well enjoy Golden Tsar. It's always refreshing to see it used away from Ancient Egypt in a trend which seems to be increasing. For a hugely volatile goth version see Nolimit City’s Book of Shadows, for example. Sure, Golden Tsar feels like a typical Red Tiger release in many ways with the below average RTP, sound effects, and reel set up, but there are several elements to Golden Tsar that make it worthy of consideration.
The key reason is the features, and having Royal Expands in the base game keeps interest levels up. However, you don't always want it to trigger then. It's better to have several meters on the cusp of being filled, then landing Tsar Spins. When you have more than one expanding symbol in action, Golden Tsar can be a real blast. You get your money's worth from the feature too since multiple expanding symbols takes time to do their thing one after the other.
The first batch of Tsar Spin awarded during testing resulted in three expanding symbols in play and a result of around 500x. Not a bad start, though when you dig into Golden Tsar's potential, don't expect to find a massive treasure trove. At full whack, the game's max win of 1,936 times the stake doesn't quite dazzle like a Fabergé egg.
To sum up, Golden Tsar isn't exactly ground-breaking, elements of its gameplay are old fashioned, but the features are fun, and the bonus game can be a nice long thrill ride when several special symbols are in play.
If you can look past the relatively low potential and old fashioned reel format you’ll find in Golden Tsar an interesting twist on Ra style expanding symbols in a brand new setting.