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It’s that time of the year again when the residents and visitors to Bavaria put on their dirndl or lederhosen and head down to their local beer house (“bier haus” in German) to enjoy one of the largest celebrations of beer in the world: Oktoberfest.
This festival has been running for more than 100 years and has become one of the biggest tourist attractions in Germany each year.
Now you can enjoy a little of the special atmosphere thanks to the exciting Bier Haus online slot from WMS, a company that has been absorbed into Scientific Games.
Overview: Bier Haus
The Bier Haus slot features the four card suits (diamonds, hearts, spades, and clubs) as the four low symbols, with a number of Oktoberfest-themed symbols as the higher value symbols.
These include acorns, accordions, steins, a rather splendid chateau, a keg of beer, and a bearded chap thoroughly enjoying his ale.
The slot is a 5×4 reel game and there are 40 paylines in play on every spin. Paylines cannot be selected, but you can increase the value of your wager on each payline from $0.01 up to $1.00 per spin, meaning a min/max spin value of $0.40 to $40.
The trio of beers acts as the in-game wild, while the blonde barmaid appears as two different types of bonus: the standard bonus (the server on her own) and the gold bonus (where she carries a beer).
Who will the Bier Haus slot appeal to?
There’s an awful lot of people around the world who enjoy a beer or two. For many, Oktoberfest is something of an alcohol-inspired dream vacation, so this slot will appeal to anybody who enjoys the whole ambiance of beer-drinking and a little German heritage.
Slot fans won’t be disappointed either, as the slot comes with a number of features, including a very enjoyable free spins round, stacked wilds, and bonus symbols across the reels.
The base game has a very nice balance between the smaller payouts and the occasional bigger payout, which keeps your bank balance nicely topped up.
Gameplay: Bier Haus
The gameplay for Bier Haus is actually incredibly simple and easy to follow. The 40 paylines aren’t marked at the side of the reels however, so it can be challenging to see wins some of the time.
That said, you can review the paylines by checking on the info for the game if you’d like to see them before you play.
The first thing you notice about Bier Haus is that the background effect of people chatting and generally enjoying a good time is somewhat generic to online casinos.
This, combined with some rather high-tech music for the spins and wins, does give it an unusual auditory accompaniment. I’m not quite sure it fits. Part of the appeal of Oktoberfest is the ambience of good humor, laughter, and of course, oom-pah music. Without that, the atmosphere is a little weak.
This would be less notable if the slot was outstanding in every way, but it’s not wholly remarkable.
It is a medium variance game that occasionally plays generously, but there are times when you can’t find a decent-sized win for love or money in the base game.
To cap it all off, hitting the free spins round requires you to land five of the bonus or gold bonus symbols across each of the five reels. You’ll seldom even get close, much less trigger it.
The beer wild symbol is a useful feature in the base game, as this can trigger some much-needed wins, especially when you can land it stacked. But once again, all too often you’ll hit a stack of beers on a reel, but the corresponding reels mean that there’s no win.
That gets frustrating as well.
If you can trigger free spins then the best feature of the Bier Haus slot comes into view.
One positive is that if you can land the serving girl symbol (either gold or normal) stacked on the reels, then these symbols count as one toward triggering the bonus.
So if you land two symbols on the third reel for example, along with one each on the first and second, you only need to trigger one more symbol on reel four or five to launch the bonus game. However, you have to land the symbols on the first three reels to have a chance of launching the bonus feature.
During free spins, any gold symbol you land is a sticky wild and will remain in place for the duration of free spins. This can trigger some bigger value wins, especially if you can land three or more of these symbols across the reel on the triggering spin.
Special features: Bier Haus
Super stacked symbols
Symbols are stacked in the Bier Haus slot, but the stacked wilds will interest players the most. These can trigger many of the biggest base game wins and the stacked bonus symbols can help trigger the free spins round.
Triggering the free spins round is not easy, but with the gold bonus serving girl stuck in play for the duration of the free spins round, this allows you the chance of hitting some big value wins.
During the base game, the three beers wild symbol, and in particular stacked wilds, play a key role in allowing the player to recoup some losses and maintain a bankroll.
There is nothing extremely difficult about the Bier Haus slot. It is a very simple 5×4 game and autoplay would make this game even easier to play.
Usually, Bier Haus rewards you with wins every few spins or so. The majority of these wins are generally small, but not too small.
There’s a fair number of wins of one to five times your total bet, which keeps things rolling along, plus the chance of a much larger win too.
Super stacked symbols
That promise comes in the shape of super stacked symbols across the reels, in particular the wild symbols or the bonus symbols. These can activate some of the higher paying features of the game when landed.
The game suffers because of a lack of excitement at times. While part of that is due to presentation (see below), a dearth of additional features in the base game and free spins, such as multipliers, also doesn’t help matters.
Free spins difficulty
The biggest downfall for Bier Haus is that it is just so difficult to hit free spins. You need to land at least five of the serving girl bonus symbols on the reels, but it must be a “winning” payline, in that it has to start on reel one, then onto reel two, reel three, and so on.
You can land four on reel one and one on reel two, but if you don’t hit on reel two, but hit on the other reels with the symbol, you don’t activate the bonus. That circumstance is incredibly exasperating.
Oktoberfest is known for being loud, friendly, gregarious, and often in-your-face. While the graphics are fine here, the soundtrack to the slot is somewhat muted and it feels less like Oktoberfest and more like a librarian seminar.
The mood is sorely lacking.
Graphics and soundtrack 5/5
I’ll give the Bier Haus slot full marks for its graphics, which I think capture the essence of the celebration well.
On the other hand, the sound is woeful, generic, and wholly not in keeping with the theme. Where’s the drunken laughter, oom-pah music, and singing?
Originality and creativity 5/5
The stacked symbols are a congenial touch and the way you activate free spins is different (though not necessarily better), so there are some agreeable creative aspects. But the remainder of the slot is a somewhat generic retooling of other WMS games.
Play value 2/5
Unfortunately, Bier Haus plays expensively at times. You can play for a long, long, long time before you even get close to hitting free spins, and the base game wins are generally small.
That said, the occasional bigger one does pop by on occasion.
Jackpot potential 1/5
The jackpot potential for this slot is very small compared to what you can wager as the top bet in the game. It is certainly not a motivation to play; many other slots have significantly more money on offer for winning spins.
Repeat play 1/5
Unfortunately, Bier Haus is not the slot for me.
The base game is fine, but the fact that the free spins are just too arduous to hit and the rewards for the slot are typically small means that there is little to keep you coming back for more.
Total score 14/25
There was huge potential here for adding some nice design touches: a bit of humor, a better soundtrack, and more rewarding features and bonuses. Unfortunately, it fails to engage the player on all those counts.
This bier haus, I’m afraid, serves a flat, uninspiring product.