Free Golden Mane slot
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Golden Mane slot is another in NextGen's what I term 'Golden Series' as we have had Golden Cock and Golden Hen for example, already. At least this time we escape the Oriental theme and instead have a beautiful wild horse on a background of rolling green fields and hills overlaid by gentle music. So will this horse take you for a ride?
The slot only has 10 pay lines over 5 reels which is quite unusual for NextGen's editions so at least this should mean a slightly more volatile game. The symbols are single and Golden Mane Wilds appear on all reels with no multiplier attached. The top paying 5-of-a-kind is the Wild at 150x stake while the best horse icon pays 70x. There are 2 country scene pictures both paying 18x stake and even the lowest card value pays 10x stake. The pays for 2 or 3 symbol wins are low though which gives us a clue to the volatility of Golden Mane slot. One thing NextGen have stuck with is their love of scatters appearing on the middle 3 reels, in this case in the form of horseshoes.
There is a fortunate quirk to the game in that you trigger free games with only 2 of the 3 possible scatters, although unless retriggering this has limited potential. If landing all 3 you get 6 free spins and 2 for landing 2. The enhancement is that for the initial 2 spins firstly the White Horse becomes an extra Wild on the reels, and on the second spin the Black Horse does. This makes the retrigger or initial 3-scatter trigger more important as on the third and fourth free spin the Mountain and Tree symbols become Wilds respectively. So from your fifth spin all picture icons are in fact Wilds, and with 150x stake for 5-of-a-kind as well as the fact it's possible to get more than one line of them certainly adds some potential. The game's pays are heavily skewed towards 4 or 5 reel wins, something to bear in mind.
Golden Mane slot is a gallant attempt at high volatility slotting, but for me it hasn't quite been pulled off. True enough the idea of a 2-scatter trigger means more frequent free games but unless they retrigger they are usually poor and the 6 spins are much harder to land all 3 scatters for. A very good RTP of 96.96% doesn't cut much ice with the way the mechanics work and I'd expect more potential when you do hit the best 5-of-a-kinds in the bonus. I can't see myself riding off into the sunset on this particular horse...