Goldaur Guardians: Overview
Goldaur Guardians is the second slot to come from Microgaming partner and independent studio Alchemy Gaming, and is radically different from their debut in many ways. Their first one, Wheel of Wishes, had an all or nothing jackpot approach with a massive £2 million top prize. Goldaur Guardians keeps the wins low, while pushing out the fantasy theme, offering Hyperspins, Hero Spins, and Free Spins along the way.
Alchemy has steeped Goldaur Guardians in fairy folklore, centering it on King Oberon and his generals. This merry band makes up the Guardians of the tale, tasked to protect a secret door to treasures lying in the fairy realm. Hopefully, they aren’t good at their job, because it’s this treasure players want to plunder.
The game gets off to an okay start via big, bright graphics. Players find themselves in an enchanted forest, full of elves, pixies, and fairies. It is quite a good looking one if magic is your thing. The 5-reel, 20-payline grid is framed by a twisting elvish design, a sort of LOTR pattern, surrounded by plenty of misty plant life. Flanking the reels is an intriguing reward ladder that comes to life during the features. The symbols are handsomely done, as is the mystical soundtrack, letting those into the theme lose themselves for a moment or two.
Players can experience the magic on any device, by setting bets from 20 p/c to £/€100 per spin. Winners theoretically land every five spins or so, with a precise hit frequency of 21.64%. RTP is also on the healthy side of average on 96.36%, so no complaints there. Potential, on the other hand, won’t impress, and coupled with the high volatility is seriously underperforming.
Hitting a winner in the enchanted forest means landing combinations of three or more of a kind. Players have 20 fixed paylines to do so, helped by 1×2, 1×3, and 3×3 sized premiums. The premiums all have names such as Alaneo, Lila, Diana, and Oberon – their values ranging from 2 to 15 times the stake for 5 of a kind. Making up the rest of the paytable are four low pay glowing fairies in blue, green, red, and gold.
The ornately carved ‘W’ wild lands anywhere, substituting for all symbols except the scatter. Wilds payout in combinations of themselves too, up to 50 times the stake for five of a kind. They are also the key to the game’s biggest payouts, sitting atop the reward meter, let’s take a look.
Goldaur Guardians: Features
Several features complement the base game. Some occur quite frequently such as Hero Spins or Hyperspins; Free Spins are much rarer. The Hyperspins feature, on loan from Microgaming, is available on every base game spin. Once the reels have stopped, players can respin individual reels, one at a time. The cost for doing so depends on which reel, as well as what symbols are in view. For example, if there are scatters on two reels, spinning another reel for the third scatter isn’t cheap, since it may trigger the feature.
Also on any base game spin, a Hero Spin may be awarded. Here, a random high pay symbol or wild stacks the first two reels, while Mega Symbols appear on reels 3-5. Mega Symbols are 3×3 in size, meaning full-screen wins are possible. The meter next to the reels lights up to indicate which symbol is active during Hero Spins.
Finally, landing 3, 4, or 5 scatters awards 5, 7, or 10 free spins respectively. During free spins, the first hero on the meter is activated, stacking the first two reels on each spin. The remaining three reels only land Mega Symbols. When landing a full Retrigger Symbol, the next hero up the meter is activated, and the same number of spins initially triggered is awarded. Free spins can retrigger without limit.
Goldaur Guardians: Verdict
Goldaur Guardians has okay individual aspects which when brought together; don’t add up to a whole lot. On the positive side are the excellent graphics, relaxing sounds, and interesting theme. Frequent Hero Spins means the pace gets frenetic, almost managing to distract you from the game’s weaker parts, for a while.
Goldaur Guardians has been designed to ‘target the high volatility experience that is very sought after in the market‘ – Alchemy’s words here. They may have a point, but the game would have been more desirable and exciting to play had they paired it with equally high potential.
Catch Goldaur Guardians on its very best day where the most you can hope for is 1,000 times the stake. Sure, massive wins aren’t everything, plus the max win is possible off a single spin. Still, it’s a rather disappointing figure. One which could well deter more punters than it draws in. It’s a shame because the rest of the game isn’t too bad. The decent graphics match the mystical music to create a magical environment for fantasy fans to cut loose.
Goldaur Guardians is bearable for a while, but could have been better. The features are fine, the theme should appeal to diehard fairy fanatics, while the volatility suits the more hardened gambler. But it keeps coming back to the potential issue, and no amount of dreamy fairies can overcome that. Hyperspins are the crapshoot they usually are. Like all of these reel hold/respin mechanics they’re good when they work out, an expensive frivolity when you’re banging away on one reel waiting for a third scatter that refuses to show up.
It seems Alchemy is a studio of extremes who shun the middle ground. Where they shot for the stars in Wheel of Wishes with its £2 mil top prize, they’ve shot low with Goldaur Guardians, possibly hitting themselves in the foot in the process.