Wildhound Derby (Play'n GO): Overview
While most forms of gambling are experiencing a period of expansion, greyhound racing is one of the few that is bucking the trend. There are only 8 countries left that legally allow the sport, with the UK holding out as one of the last bastions of the pastime. First introduced there in the 1920s, it proved to be an instant hit. Yet, even in the UK it is decline and has lost favour with the British public. The reason is partly due to a perceived poor treatment of dogs and low animal welfare standards. How rampant or true those claims are is a debate for another day. One way of enjoying a day at the track while not harming man’s best friend comes via Play'n GO’s new slot, Wildhound Derby. As well as providing some of the thrills of racing, we are happy to confirm that no dogs were harmed in the making of this review.
Wildhound Derby is a video slot that is played over 5 reels, 4 rows, and 30 fixed paylines. Visually, it is recognisably a Play'n GO slot with an ever so slightly retro look to its symbols and reels. The action is set, where else, at the dog track, and the grid is bordered by floodlights and crowds of busy sports betters. Online players start proceedings by choosing an appropriate stake for their bankroll. Options come as low as 10 p/c per spin and go as £/€100. As you’d expect, the aim of the base game is to land three or more similar symbols to trigger a payout.
Wildhound Derby comes with some good potential but can be tough going. Play'n GO has given it a volatility rating of 10 out of 10, or, ‘VERY HIGH’ as the game spec puts it. With decent wins on offer, Wildhound Derby can be a rough, yet rewarding, ride. It's not super tight and the math model is fairly balanced in part thanks to the generous default RTP of 96.93%. Be vigilant though, operators have the ability to turn that setting down to 94.65%, or even lower, so make sure you are playing the better version.
Symbols on the paytable are split into low pay and high pay groups. The low pay are gold-trimmed J to A royals, while high pay are form-guides, bet slips, ribbons, and banknotes. That last one, like the trophy wild, is worth a solid 100 times the stake for five of a kind. As well as paying out, the trophy wild can substitute for any of the regular pay symbols.
Wildhound Derby (Play'n GO): Features
The trophy wild is joined by four other wilds which are the dog stars of the game. They have names such as Braveheart, Daring Dex, Beadle’s Teabag, and Oh my Dog. These four pups only land on the fifth reel and can also substitute for any of the regular pay symbols. If all four dogs manage to land at the same time, they trigger the free spins round, and are off to the races.
Before beginning the Dog Race Free Spins feature, players choose which dog they want to back in the race. All dogs start the feature on the fifth reel, and a race indicator is placed next to the first reel on the left. On each free spin, the rows of the indicator spin too and Golden Hares can appear on one or more of the positions. If a Golden Hare does appear, then the dog in that specific row moves one reel to the left.
There is no set amount of free spins. Instead, the round continues until one of the dogs makes it past the first reel. If the winner is not your dog, then any winnings racked up during free spins get paid out, and it is back to the main game. If your dog is the winner, then the action moves to the Winner’s Wheel. The wheel spins and players can score multipliers of x2, x3, x4, x5, or x15 which is applied to winnings from the free spins.
Wildhound Derby (Play'n GO): Verdict
Interestingly, there aren’t many dog racing-themed slots out there for Wildhound Derby to compete with. You’d think that slot developers would be furiously tapping into a readymade gambling market. Perhaps it was too soon after the animal welfare controversy? Either way, Play'n GO will be betting on punters with a touch of nostalgia reliving some of the track glory days with an online slot. While it doesn’t completely capture the magic of watching your favourite doggie bounding across the finish line first, it isn’t too bad either. A modicum of the live spirit has been preserved, and the makers have incorporated some competitiveness via the Dog Race feature.
Causal punters might have picked the dogs they found were cutest and cuddliest. But at its core dog racing was, and is, all about business. About picking the right racer and collecting winners. On the business side, Wildhound Derby offers solid symbol values that can result in satisfying wins. This can be especially so when the multiplier wheel is brought into play. With a potential of up to 15,000 times the stake, Wildhound Derby is significantly more generous than most Play'n GO titles. The game has a €/£1,500,000 win limit, which is a figure highly unlikely to be reached at the real dog track very often. Though in saying that, with a probability of hitting it on Wildhound Derby one in 100 million spins it’s not going to land here often either.
On the visual side of things, Wildhound Derby is not all that exciting and the base game does have its spells of boredom. Overall, however, it's capable of providing dog racing fans an enjoyable day out due to its solid math model, highly volatile action coupled with great potential. Dog racing is all about simple, primal thrills and so is this game.
The Wildhound Derby video slot gets the atmosphere right, though it isn’t as sharp as it could have been.