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I’m a member of a local zoological society, and one of the big attractions at the zoo is a house dedicated solely to butterflies.
In the building, a wide variety of butterflies are given free roam of the building, and there is an extensive breeding program to ensure the species thrive in this tropical environment.
The reason I bring that up is because the Grand Monarch slot by IGT is themed all around butterflies. This strikingly colored, orange, black and white creature is the wild symbol on the slot, with its favorite flowers as the high symbols.
Overview: Grand Monarch
The first thing to note is that this is an unusual 5×4 reel slot with a selectable number of paylines, where players can elect to play one, five, 10, 20, 30, 40, or 50 paylines per spin.
The minimum bet is $0.50, although that can be increased markedly up to $500 if you want to play for more cash per spin.
There are more playing card low symbols than normal across the reels, with nine to Ace in use. The flower symbols are the higher value symbols on the reels, and there are four colorful blooms on display.
There is also the in-game wild symbol, which is the Grand Monarch butterfly itself, plus the scatter symbol, which is a strikingly colorful caterpillar.
Who will the Grand Monarch slot appeal to?
Grand Monarch is a slightly older slot, but it is one of many based on a nature theme. These slots prove to be very popular.
However, it is relatively rare to find a slot dedicated to one particular fluttery beast, so for novelty value alone the slot will likely appeal to many.
The large number of paylines on a 5×4 reel will appeal to those who enjoy these larger matrix games, which often have some decent rewards available in the free spins game. Seeing as Grand Monarch is more of a medium to higher variance slot, players who enjoy this type of game over more low-paying slots will also find plenty to amuse themselves with here.
Where to play the Grand Monarch slot online in NJ
If after reading this review, you want to give this game a try, you need only fly over to one of the following legal NJ online casino sites:
Gameplay: Grand Monarch
The first thing that is immediately apparent when you play the Grand Monarch slot is its roots within the real-world casino. This game was originally a bricks and mortar casino offering that was ported over to the online environment, and as such, this is a medium to high variance slot that doesn’t offer up its riches particularly easily.
With 50 paylines to cover if you want to have all paylines in operation, it is absolutely vital you play at the right level for your bankroll. If you hit the machine on one of its many colder runs, you can find that bankroll dwindling away to nothing in double-quick time.
That’s not to say you don’t hit any wins on the Grand Monarch slot. You certainly do, but the majority of these wins are generally very small.
Many are just 10 percent of your total stake for the spin, and it doesn’t take a genius to work out that with a high proportion of non-winning spins, plus low wins when you do hit, this is a recipe for a bruised and battered bankroll.
The wild symbols are stacked on the reels, and these can help you land some of the better base game wins. Again, patience is required for this to happen, but if you can land a couple of wild symbols stacks, especially on the first three reels, you could be in line for a fabulous payday.
With the base game payouts tending to be small, you’ll have to head to the free spins round for bigger prizes. Land three or more of the caterpillar scatter symbols to access five free spins.
The good news is that during free spins all your wins come with a 2x multiplier attached as standard. Additional stacked wilds are added to each of the reels, and this can help you land some of the bigger value wins during the bonus round.
You can also re-trigger free spins by landing three more scatters on the reels up to a maximum of 255 free spins, although most of the time you will only land the five free spins and have to make the best of it.
There is potential to land some truly big wins in free spins, and those extra wilds on the reels make a huge difference. It is worth remembering that this is a volatile slot, so even if you hit free spins, big wins are by no means guaranteed.
Special features: Grand Monarch
During the base game, all wild symbols are stacked four high across the reels, and during free spins, the number of wilds in the stack is increased significantly. These are key features when it comes to the bigger wins available on the Grand Monarch slot.
Free spins round
Patience is required – as well as deep pockets – to hit the free spins round, but it is well worth doing.
Even though you only get five free spins, all wins are subject to a 2x multiplier. And with extra wilds on the reels, you stand a much better chance of a sizable win.
Extra wilds in free spins
Just to reiterate, the extra wilds on the reels in free spins are what unlock the bigger wins in this slot. Land several of them across the reels on a single spin, and you may be one of the few celebrating a significant win on this slot.
Free spins round
Even though it can be a nightmare to hit (and prove costly to do so), you can win some big money during the free spins round with all the extra wilds on the reels. So if you are going to persevere with this slot, this is the round to target.
Music and background
With its gentle harp sounds against a verdant, wooded backdrop, the atmosphere created by the music and presentation of the slot is excellent and enhances the butterfly theme.
Without a doubt, the saving grace of the game is the stacked wilds. In the base game, these symbols are usually the ones that will help trigger the bigger wins, and during free spins, they are the catalyst for almost all the big money wins on the slot.
If you want to master Grand Monarch, you need to get lucky with the stacked wilds in all sections of the game.
Difficult slot to play profitably
With its roots in land-based casinos, Grand Monarch may be about lovely, soft butterflies, but they can really bite into your bankroll.
This is a difficult slot on which to make a profit; you’ll be reliant on hitting one of those rare big wins to do so.
Limited free spins
Given how difficult (and expensive) it can be to hit the free spins round, to receive just five spins as the initial number is miserly. Sure, they can be re-triggered, but the chances of this happening once are small, and more than once are very remote.
With just a 2x multiplier in operation too, it leaves you feeling underwhelmed when you eventually hit free spins.
No chance to increase multiplier
With the 2x multiplier in free spins (and no multipliers in play anywhere else in the game), it would have been nice to be able to increase that multiplier in some way, given the paucity of spins received.
Graphics and soundtrack: 3/5
The bright, cheerful graphics and the gentle music are arguably the best aspects of the game. Perhaps they are there to lull you into a false sense of security as the rest of the slot can be brutal.
Originality and creativity: 2/5
I’ll give IGT credit for porting over a brick-and-mortar game nicely into the NJ online casino environment. The music and graphics are pleasant enough, and the stacked wilds save the game. But it isn’t the most original slot.
Play value: 1/5
I’m afraid I can’t give Grand Monarch anything less than a one out of five for play value. The game is just so tight.
You can spend many spins with nothing happening on the reels other than your bank balance dwindling away to tiny amounts in no time at all.
Jackpot potential: 2/5
The surprisingly low jackpot of 1,000 coins for five of the Grand Monarch wilds across a payline is quite small, and although more substantial wins are possible in free spins, you’ll be lucky to hit anywhere near that amount.
It’s not the greatest slot in terms of jackpot size, even if played for a higher coin size.
Repeat play: 2/5
To be honest, although the potential for big wins during free spins is tempting, the sheer cost of the game and the number of times you hit a cold run of spins is entirely off-putting.
Total score: 10/25
I wanted to like the Grand Monarch slot, but unfortunately it is just too unrewarding to play and too expensive when you want to cover all 50 paylines. It does have some nice touches, but this isn’t a slot I’d be rushing back to play any time soon.
Fancy a game with an entomological bent? Be sure to read our review of the Lil’ Lady online slot.