Thunder Shields: Slot Overview
Thunder Shields is another addition to developer iSoftBet’s Hold & Win range of slots. For this one, the studio takes to the high seas in a Viking ship, alongside grizzled warriors on the hunt for loot. Fortunately, players don’t need to put priests or townsfolk to the sword for gold. But hit it big while playing and no one said you can’t crack open kegs with axes in a long hall to celebrate.
Right off the bat, Thunder Shields’ load screen provokes a mood. A red-eyed carving adorns a Longship as it powers through the sea, lashed by waves and struck by lightning. You can imagine the terror these things must have caused the local population when they travelled up rivers or along coasts. It’s not like the crew were coming for a sit down chat to catch up on local news. These ships meant one thing - get ready to be slaughtered. The opening image sets the scene and stirs the blood before Thunder Shields begins.
When it does, the in-game imagery is pleasing too. Dominating the view is a big 5x4 grid carrying 40 fixed paylines. Around the edges, a reddish-gold horizon shimmers away, either from a sunset or the burning buildings of a torched settlement. Let’s go for sunset; it’s not so brutal. Bobbing away in the background is a fairly dramatic soundtrack, which doesn’t sound super Viking-y but it’s good enough.
Thunder Shields allows pillaging on any device, by offering bets from 40 p/c to £/€40 per spin. Overall default RTP is right on average at 96%, while the volatility weighs in medium/high. Symbol values aren’t exactly highly lucrative, but the game benefits from a stack of features, orbiting the Hold & Win centrepiece, so there is often some extra or another piling in to break up the base game.
Standard line wins occur when three or more of the same symbol lands over one of the paylines, starting at the first reel. From top to bottom, symbols offer lean values. First is the low pay 10-A card royals, done in a quasi-runic font. Next are four high pay character symbols, worth 1.875x to 6.25x the stake for a line of five of a kind.
Thunder Shields: Slot Features
Mitigating the low-value symbols quite a few features regularly pop up, including two types of respins, and Mystery Spins. The crossed axes tile is the mystery symbol which lands in full or partial stacks and reveals the same matching symbol type when the reels stop spinning. At any time in the main game, the Mystery Spins feature may trigger at random. When it is active, at least three reels land as full Mystery Stacks, revealing the same matching symbol when they transform.
The electrified golden hammer is the wild, replacing any other pay symbol to help form a combination. Also, whenever a wild symbol lands, it triggers a Colossal Respin. The initial respin joins the first two reels to create giant symbols. If a wild lands on a respin, an extra respin is awarded and the giant symbol grows by one reel, up to a maximum of four in width. If a fourth respin is triggered, a multiplier of x2 is awarded. The multiplier continues to grow by one for each consecutive respin triggered by a wild. All symbols, including Cash Shields, count as the number of positions they cover when landing as a giant symbol. This means it is possible to trigger Hold & Win Respins from a Colossal Respin.
Gold circle symbols displaying values from x1 to x250 are Cash Shields. When six or more are anywhere in view they trigger the Hold & Win feature which awards 3 respins. The round starts with the triggering Cash Shields locked in place and whenever a new one lands, respins are reset. When spins run to zero, all values are collected. As well as Cash Shields, special shields can land to increase the winnings:
- x2 multiplier - doubles all cash values.
- Collector – collects all cash values to free up space for more Cash Shields to land.
- Reel Boost – adds an extra reel to the grid. Up to two reels can be added.
- Cash Boost – increases the cash values currently in view.
- Respin Boost – permanently increases the number of respins on the counter by one.
On top of all that there are three possible Thunderstorm Prizes to win during the Hold & Win feature. These are the Mini, Major, and Mega which are worth 10x, 100x and 1,000x the bet respectively. Note, the x2 multiplier can double these values as well. You’ll need three storm shields to land during Hold & Win Respins to unlock Thunderstorm Prizes where one is randomly awarded.
Thunder Shields: Slot Verdict
The features section above might make it seem there’s more going on in Thunder Shields than there is. Sure, the Hold & Win bonus is quite intricate, as far as these types of features go, but the rest of the game generally consists of landing low-value line wins. Maybe part of the reason symbols are low is Colossal Respins create huge symbols which make full screen wins a tangible possibility. Even then, a grid stacked with the highest premium is only worth 250 times the stake.
Having said that, Mystery Symbols do their thing from time to time, and Colossal Respins can be fun when you get some momentum going. They’re even better when multipliers are pulled in, though it is rare to make it so far. Really though, Thunder Shields is a game you play to trigger the Hold & Win bonus. Players into this sort of thing will no doubt enjoy themselves, as Respins here are a bit more complex than usual. It does seem iSoftBet might have been inspired by Money Train 2 it has to be said. But hey, we’re dealing with Vikings here who pretty much took what they wanted, damn the consequences..
For a Hold and Win+ game, Thunder Shields is worthy of a test run. It’s got a good look, a bit of attitude, and a bundle of features to keep you hitting the spin button while waiting for Cash Shields to land.
If you like the Money Train concept, you might like Thunder Shields. If not, steer clear.