Sons of Anarchy Slots
Australian casino game manufacturer Aristocrat Leisure released the Sons of Anarchy video slot machine in April of 2015 to great fanfare, adding yet another hit television series to its growing stable of media entertainment themed titles.
When Sons of Anarchy debuted on the FX Network in 2008, the gritty drama centered around the leader of a California motorcycle gang quickly attracted a loyal following. Created by Kurt Sutter, the show weaved together the personal life of protagonist Jackson "Jax" Teller (Charlie Hunnam), and the misadventures of his biker gang SAMCRO (Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club, Redwood Original), to form a tense, visceral narrative. With drug deals, shootouts, and runs from the law providing the backdrop, Sons of Anarchy explored the typically secretive world of American motorcycle gangs in startling accuracy.
About the Show
Sons of Anarchy boasted a talented ensemble cast during its seven-season run, including Katey Sagal as Jax's mother Gemma Teller Morrow, Ron Perelman as former SAMCRO President Clarence "Clay" Morrow, and Kim Coates as Sergeant-at-Arms Alexander "Tig" Trager.
During the show's third season average weekly viewership reached 4.9 million, making Sons of Anarchy the highest-rated show in FX history, topping acclaimed dramas like Rescue Me, The Shield, and Nip/Tuck. Both the fourth and fifth season premieres still stand today as the two highest-rated episodes ever aired by FX.
Background to the Game
Following the success of Aristocrat's other slot machine based on a hit TV drama, The Walking Dead, producers for Sons of Anarchy approached Aristocrat's development team to discuss the possibility of adapting their show in similar fashion. Aristocrat's revolutionary The Walking Dead video slot had captivated casino goers throughout 2014, and head honchos for Sons of Anarchy believed their own show could create similar buzz.
According to said Dallas Orchard, vice president of gaming operations for Aristocrat, the decision to take on another TV title came naturally:
"They not only wanted us to come up with a slot machine based on their show, they wanted the same team that produced 'The Walking Dead' game to work on their slot machine. At Aristocrat, we have been very aggressive and deliberate in seeking out and securing popular, high-profile licensed titles for our customers and their players, and 'Sons of Anarchy' fits perfectly within that strategy.
Our designers have been working closely with the FX team at 'Sons of Anarchy' and the creative result is a game that perfectly captures the essence of the show and combines that with Aristocrat's proven math."
The links between Sons of Anarchy's design and that of The Walking Dead are clear from the moment players first see the machine. Housed in Aristocrat's cutting edge 31.5-inch Verve HD cabinet display, the game features high-resolution video clips straight from the show, crystal clear audio, familiar songs from the show's soundtrack, and seamless graphic animations. Completing the sensory immersion, Sons of Anarchy also utilizes Aristocrat's famous iChair technology, which rocks, tilts, and moves the players seat along with the in-game action.
While the show features an expansive ensemble cast, and several main characters meet untimely demises during the seven-season run, five key figures form the foundation of the Sons of Anarchy slot experience: Jax, Gemma, and Clay, along with Opie Winston (Ryan Douglas Hurst), and Tara Knowles (Maggie Siff).
Upon the game's release, the Sons of Anarchy slot was named by the 15th Annual Goldman Sachs Slot Survey as the Most Anticipated Game of 2015, as well as one of the Top 10 performing titles of the year.
The title screen for the game is simple yet striking, as Jax stands on a deserted highway along with his bike. His back is facing the player, showing off his jacket and SAMCRO patches, while the sky is replaced by a waving American flag. Above the words "Sons of Anarchy" you'll also see a number representing the game's largest progressive jackpot total (more on this below).
Like Aristocrat's other premier games, Sons of Anarchy machines will typically be found in clusters, or banks of multiple machines. Above these banks you'll find the skull symbol, the "SOA," and other signifiers that fans of the show will immediately recognize.
During the actual game, the background screen is simply a recreation of the title screen. The reels and on-screen action are set against the highway's black pavement, while Jax stands near his steed on the vertically oriented main game screen.
Once upon a time any review of an Aristocrat slot's reel symbols would begin with the ubiquitous card ranks, but increasingly, the company is transitioning away from standardized design schemes. That means each and every one of the reel symbols in this game represent some aspect of the show and its mythology.
The five primary reel symbols in Sons of Anarchy are portraits of five crucial characters: Jax, Gemma, Clay, Tara, and Opie. Each of these symbols is known as a "Big Symbol," which means they will always occupy two spaces at a time on a reel. Big Symbols – which are also known as stacked symbols to slot fans – can also randomly stretch to cover three spaces on a reel, giving them a much higher chance of generating winning combinations.
Other reel symbols to watch for in Sons of Anarchy include the blue and silver pin, the yellow TM Automotive logo, the SAMBEL three-leaf clover, the judge's gavel, the SO-NS gold knuckle rings, the Redwood Original American flag, the red "A" anarchy mark, and the Grim Reaper.
Both the red "A" anarchy mark symbol and the Grim Reaper bonus symbol are Big Symbols, so they'll occupy either two or three reel spaces at one time. The red "A" anarchy mark symbol also acts a wild symbol, so it will match any other symbol in a cluster to form winning combinations.
Gameplay Features and Mechanics
Aristocrat made its name within the slot machine manufacturing industry by churning out dozens of reliable, if not all that innovative, machines featuring the standard five reel, 20-payline structure. But following in the footsteps of the hit The Walking Dead machine, the company updated the Sons of Anarchy gameplay with a new reel scheme.
The base game begins with an arrangement of six reels holding five symbol spaces each. A total of 30 reel symbols are in play during each base game spin.
Another break from the norm concerns the concept of paylines, which Aristocrat has abandoned in favor of a much more entertaining model. Similar to the company's "Reel Power" payout system – which replaces paylines with a predetermined number of winning combinations that can be made anywhere on the screen – the Sons of Anarchy slot is based on the "Cluster Power" pay scheme.
In a Cluster Power game, matching symbols can appear anywhere on three reels (not just on certain paylines connecting adjacent reels) in groups, or clusters, to create winning combinations. Unlike payline winners, which must be formed beginning with the left-most reel, Cluster Power winners can be created by a group of the same symbols appearing on the second, third, and fourth reels, for example.
As a 5x6 Cluster Power game, Sons of Anarchy offers a staggering total of 15,625 possible winning combinations. However, because of the increased likelihood that any individual spin will produce a winner, base game payouts are generally quite low, simply sustaining players' bankrolls while they shoot free spins, bonus games, and multipliers.
The minimum coin denomination for Sons of Anarchy is $0.01, making a penny slot in the minds of most players, but the minimum cost per spin stands at $0.60. Of course, players can always elect to increase their cost to cover incrementally, betting 120, 180, 240, or the maximum of 300 credits per spin.
While most players utilizing a limited bankroll will opt for the minimum of $0.60 per spin, upping the ante to $3.00 per spin entitles players to a chance at the game's massive $500,000 main progressive jackpot. Whenever possible, given bankroll constraints, players should be employing a max-bet strategy on Sons of Anarchy, simply due to the sheer enormity of the largest progressive jackpot.
Just ask Donald Stanley of Portland, Oregon. An avid Sons of Anarchy fan, Stanley played the game based on his favorite show, parlaying just $25 and a few max-bet spins into a life-changing $934,185 progressive jackpot score at the Spirit Mountain Casino in September of 2015.
For those who simply prefer a less volatile game based on smaller bets per spin, Sons of Anarchy also includes three smaller progressive jackpots available to players betting any amount. The name of these progressive jackpots, and the starting seed amount for each, has been listed below:
- Grand – Starts at $500,000
- Only available when betting maximum of $3.00 per spin
- Major – Starts at $500
- Minor – Starts at $50
- Mini – Starts at $10
Sons of Anarchy also features several classic Aristocrat slot gameplay elements, including a wild symbol, multipliers, free spins, and bonus games. A basic list of game specifications for Sons of Anarchy can be found below:
- Wilds: Yes
- Free Spins: Yes
- Multiplier: Yes, between 2x and 10x
- Bonus Game: Yes, several
- Progressive: Yes, the Grand for $500,000, along with Major, Minor, and Mini progressives
- Return to Player: 97.05%
Regrettably, full pay table information for Sons of Anarchy has not been made available, as more than 15,000 possible winning combinations and the Cluster Power setup makes publishing these numbers impractical.
Triggering the Bonus Round
During the Sons of Anarchy base game, the Grim Reaper bonus symbol, which also acts as a Big Symbol like the main character symbols, serves to activate the primary bonus features.
First, by landing three or more of the Grim Reaper bonus symbols anywhere on the reels, you'll be awarded with escalating payouts. For example, three of these symbols on the screen is good for 200 credits when min-betting, and five of them will return a huge payout of 50,000 credits when max-betting.
Even better, landing three or more of the Grim Reaper bonus symbols triggers the game's Wheel Bonus round. During this exciting feature, players are presented with a prize wheel comprised of 12 spaces, each one alternating between red and blue (along with a single gold space).
Landing on the bonus wheel's blue spaces will reward you with a set number of free base game spins, with players eligible to receive 8, 10, 12, 15, 20, and 50 free spins. You'll have two chances to spin the bonus wheel, so with a little luck, you can manage to score 100 free base game spins.
Additionally, after each free base game spin awarded by the bonus wheel, a random multiplier between 2x and 10x will be applied to any winnings. Between the generous number of free spins you can claim, and these random multipliers, every free spin on Sons of Anarchy is a valuable commodity.
Landing on the bonus wheel's red spaces entitles players to one of the game's progressive jackpots. Two red spaces are for the Mini jackpot, two more represent the Minor jackpot, while a single red space signifies the Major jackpot, and the coveted gold space pays out the Grand jackpot. Only players with a max-bet of 300 credits per spin applied when the Wheel Bonus was triggered can land on the Grand jackpot space, otherwise, this space will be guarded by a chain link fence graphic.
Another extremely entertaining and potentially lucrative bonus feature found in Sons of Anarchy concerns the main character Big Symbols. At random points during any spin, these Big Symbols (which normally appear as vertical strips covering multiple spaces on a single reel) can become even bigger, appearing as squares with cover multiple spaces on adjacent reels, or extending vertically to cover an entire reel at once.
Whenever you see a main character Big Symbol show up as a square crossing adjacent reels, or as a vertical strip that covers an entire reel, the game will announce that a NO LIMITS Re-Spin Bonus has been awarded. At that point, you'll receive a free spin, with the Big Symbol now acting as a sticky symbol, remaining in place throughout the duration of the bonus.
The reels will also expand on the screen, creating additional chances to form winning cluster combinations. The reels can become a 7x7 alignment, or grow even bigger, all the up to the rare 10x10 grid, which is capable of generating several large winning clusters simultaneously to award tremendous payouts.
Landing any more of the same character symbols that originally triggered your NO LIMITS Re-Spin Bonus will result in another free spin, while also expanding the reel grid. During the NO LIMITS Re-Spin Bonus, the goal is keep landing the same character symbol that triggered the round, thereby expanding the reel to a 10x10 grid, while filling it with sticky Big Symbols.
Fans of the Sons of Anarchy television series will instantly claim Aristocrat's stunning new machine as their new stomping grounds. And even if you've never watched an episode of the show, a combination of exciting new features like Cluster Power and Big Symbols makes the game a treat for slot players of all stripes. Combined with top-flight visual and audio displays, the iChair sensory movement experience, and a highly prized progressive jackpot payout worth at least $500,000, the Sons of Anarchy slot is a welcome addition to Aristocrat's expanding lineup of media-integrated licensed titles.