Viking Hoard: Overview
Ah, that perennial slots theme the Vikings are back, this time from SG Digital studio Core Gaming. Viking Hoard is the first title from this developer to grace our desk, so some background information is in order. Launched in 2007, and based in Birmingham UK, they are part of the larger Sky Betting & Gaming Group. Core Gaming might not be a household name but they have partnered with some of the biggest companies in the business such as SG Digital, Blueprint, and Aristocrat. They are obviously into slots, but also dabble in table and instant win games. Holding licenses from both UKGC and Alderney GCC is a good sign, so let’s see what they’ve got.
Other Core games you might have bumped into in the past include the odd Balthazar’s Emporium, Reels of Fire, and Pharaoh’s Wild. They’ve done the Egyptian themed slot, so now was the time to take on another obligatory theme, Vikings. Viking Hoard has something of an unusual look to it. Core has taken the middle path between a full blown cartoon look, and the otherworldly mythological look. The result is a peaceful, photorealistic background of a Scandinavian valley in the middle of summer. Very pleasant. The reel setup is a little different too, with 6 reels and 4 rows. Wins can be formed on any row as long as symbols are adjacent to each other which gives it 4,096 win ways.
Players get the ball rolling by picking wagers from 10 p/c to £/€10 per spin. Up to 100 auto-spins can be set along with limits to losses and wins. The game has a high volatility no arguing that fact as it can be a toughie at times. RTP is respectable on 96.55% so no complaints there. There are 10 regular pay symbols, 6 low and 4 high. The lows are colourful 9 – A royals designed with a sort of Viking pattern. The high pays are an axe, a drinking horn, a ring, and an elder. Three of a kind is needed to make a combo, except the elder who only needs two. He is the most valuable as well at 50 times the stake for six of a kind. Moreover, all symbols can appear fully stacked on the reels. There is also a Celtic circle icon which is the wild and substitutes for any other symbol except the Bonus Symbol.
Viking Hoard: Features
Viking Hoard is quite a simple slot so don't expect a whole lot of extras - cascades and free spins make up the extra features. Viking Hoard uses a cascading win system which means symbols from winning combinations are removed from the reels. New symbols drop into the gaps and multiplier winners are possible from each spin. This mechanic plays a key role during free spins.
Landing 3, 4, or 5 bonus symbols on the reels awards 10, 15, or 20 Free Spins respectively. Cherish these moments, because they don’t come around often. The bonus round begins by a quick trip on the ship which takes players to the free spins arena. This section is called the Voyage of Wealth and actually has quite good potential. What can make it profitable is the progressive multiplier. Each cascade win moves the multiplier up a notch, starting at x1 and capable of reaching x250. As it rises, each multiplier level is applied to the current cascade win before moving up to the next level. During free spins, Bonus Symbols continue to fall and 2, 3, or 4 in view award an additional 5, 10, or 15 free spins.
Viking Hoard: Verdict
The game might be set in a gentle Scandinavian Arcadia in the middle of summer. But the math model that lurks beneath the surface is far less benign. Viking Hoard is a highly volatile slot that possesses solid potential but makes players work hard to unlock it. Overall, Viking Hoard isn’t a bad game, but it is far from being a great one either. It is one of those slots where just about every element that went into making it has been used before in other games. It’s a real mash up. It is also one of those slots that take an ice age for the bonus round to be triggered. What makes waiting hard is that the bonus symbols are lit up on the reels as they spin so you can see every single one that you miss out on. It is equally motivating and annoying at the same time.
Viking Hoard is an all or nothing type game, and what that depends on is the bonus round. Don’t trigger it and a session with Viking Hoard is probably going to be a real borefest. Trigger it though, and every single winning combination raises the multiplier. If you win enough to reach its 250x limit, then you will have racked up a significant stack of coins along the way. Even this aspect of the game has similarities with other slots, namely 300 Shields (along with some elements of Bonanza thrown in). Core has capped the winnings from one game at £250,000, so you’ll need to get the free spins cranking to threaten that figure.
Because of the heavy reliance on the bonus round, Viking Hoard would have benefited from a buy feature button to cut straight to the good bits. If the game does catch on maybe we’ll get a ‘deluxe’ version in the future with this option bolted on.
At the end of the day Viking Hoard is by no means a must-see, and there are better Viking slots out there. The okay graphics and trying gameplay aren’t standouts, and The Voyage of Wealth could live up to its name but can take a ton of spins to finally trigger. Try it if you are a Viking nut or really want a crack at that multiplier. Otherwise, there are better games to spend your hard earned money on.
Viking Hoard offers little in the way of originality, but has potential through a bonus game that can be very tough to trigger.