Secret of the Stones MAX (NetEnt): Overview
At the time of writing, the new Witcher show is the highest-rated series Netflix has ever created. The mystery, the fantasy, the magic, has struck a nerve with the TV viewing public. In a similar vein comes Secrets of the Stones MAX from NetEnt. Like Witcher, it is set in a fantasy world where magic is the norm and men with long beards and staffs know all sorts of secrets. It is also a re-release of the highly successful original Secret of the Stones slot that NetEnt released in 2013. Like the Victorious remake, it has been given the MAX treatment, which seriously turns up the volatility and rewards. Where Witcher is all about slaying monsters, Secrets of the Stones MAX focuses on the gentle world of the Celtic druids. Well, while druids might have been gentle, Secret of the Stones MAX can be anything but. Time to grab and a wooden staff and get back to nature.
Secret of the Stones MAX has a stuck with more or less the same look as the original. Visually, it’s not a stunner, yet the graphics are clean and clear and have a classic NetEnt quality to them. The setup involves 5 reels, and 3 rows, placed within a sacred rock grove. The two pillars flanking the reels have the 25 paylines on them, which lends a classic feel to the game. Paylines are fixed, though players have full control over bet level (1 – 10), and coin value (0.01 – 0.5). This results in total bets of 25 p/c to £/€125 per spin.
Aside from stake level, the most important choice is to play the game in Classic or MAX mode. This can be changed at any time, so don’t feel like you are stuck with your choice. Classic is the ‘softer’ option with a low/medium variance and a lower potential. MAX is for the harder gamblers who like it rough. This setting uses a math model with much higher volatility and potential 10 times greater. There are differences in the free spins round too which we will get to. RTP is good with 96.72% in Classic and 96.81% in MAX mode.
Symbols on the paytable start with 10 – A royals, carved in stone with little squiggly decorations. Premium symbols are five Celtic style animals - a snake, wolf, bull, owl and deer. The red deer is worth the most at 160 times the stake in MAX or 50x the stake in Classic. There are also five different wilds sprinkled throughout. During the base game, there is just one, a 1x1 tile druid. He can substitute for any of the regular pay symbols. Other wilds turn up during the bonus round.
Secret of the Stones MAX (NetEnt): Features
The difference between MAX and Classic is also apparent when it comes to features. The Yggdrasil tree of life symbol is the scatter which can land anywhere. When three or more land in view they trigger the bonus game and 10 Free Spins. Before free spins begin, the screen is covered with 20 stones. The number of scatters that triggered the feature is the number of picks the player gets (3-5). Each stone can reveal:
- An additional 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or 10 more free spins.
- Deer, bull, or owl symbols turned wild in MAX. Only deer or owl in Classic.
- Increases the x1 multiplier by +1, +2, or +3 in MAX. Adds +1 or +2 in Classic.
- Reels 2 ,3, and/or 4 can turn wild in MAX. Just reels 2 and/or 4 in Classic.
Free spins cannot be retriggered so at the end of the round players return to the main game.
Secret of the Stones MAX (NetEnt): Verdict
Fans of the original will certainly enjoy the revamped Secret of the Stones MAX. As will players looking for high volatile, high rewards slot. Be prepared for tough gaming if the symbols aren’t falling your way though. By that, we mean some pretty boring spins while you wait for the scatter to show up as it's short on features.
Now we all know that developers calculate stats over a lot of spins, like billions. But it didn’t feel like the Classic mode was hugely easier to win with than the MAX. Every gambler has their personal preference, of course. For our money, it is MAX every time. In spite of its legendary status, you can't help but feel that the Classic version comes across as somewhat outdated with its lowish payouts and not so exciting volatility.
The MAX concept is the catalyst that allows Secret of the Stones to remain relevant. When the bonus round does land in MAX mode, you will appreciate the additional benefits, not to mention much more lucrative symbol values all around. The most noticeable difference is in win potential. Classic mode is capable of hitting 2,500 times the stake, while its more volatile sibling can go as high as 25,000 times the stake. That is a significant difference and the key determining factor when it comes to choosing your preferred mode.
NetEnt’s MAX concept does a good job of bringing the iconic Secret of the Stones slot into the modern era with increased volatility and potential.