The Finer Reels of Life
The Finer Reels of Life pokies games are a product of casino software design company Microgaming. The game is available in both instant play and download formats at casinos that run Microgaming software.
Microgaming is a leading designer in the category known as 243 Ways. Pokies in this category do not use pay lines at all – the simplest explanation is that 243 Ways machines pay out for combinations of symbols moving from left to right on any reel or space on the screen. The release of The Finer Reels of Life is a sign that Web-based casino game designers (and the casinos that host the games) are still interested in alternatives to the traditional reel and payline set-up.
Players interested in trying out this new 243 Ways title from Microgaming may have to do a little research to find it, since not every website running Microgaming software has it in their library as of this writing. Because member casinos can pick and choose the titles they want to host, The Finer Reels of Life may not yet be available at a casino site you’ve joined. As of this writing Microgaming’s library includes some 600 unique titles; counting all available rule variations and different platforms (live dealer, mobile, etc.) the collection swells to a total well over 1,000. Finding a single title (especially a new one) out of such a large collection of games is more difficult than locating a favourite design from a decade ago.
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243 Ways: The Basics
Microgaming is not the only designer producing pokies with zero pay lines; 243 Ways is just one of several alternatives produced in recent years by both land-based and Internet casino game designers. 243 Ways gets its name from the number of potential winning symbol combinations that can appear on every spin. This category of poker machines uses five reels, but instead of paying prizes for combinations on specific pay lines, these games have a larger number of smaller prizes that appear more frequently. With no pay lines to limit the formation of symbol combos, the designer establishes smaller cash prizes for all but the biggest jackpots.
On a 243 Ways game, any group of matching symbols on consecutive reels (but not in a specific line activated by additional bets) leads to a payout. The immediate result (from the player’s perspective) is an increased hit frequency. Designers compensate for this in different ways; the most obvious to gamblers is the pay table and its smaller credit prizes. Anyone familiar with modern poker machines will notice right away that 243 Ways titles have smaller cash prizes for most of their winning combos than other games.
Another way that Microgaming and other designers compensate for the lack of lines on these titles is to program the games to multiply bets by a specific amount. For example, The Finer Reels of Life (and most of Microgaming’s 243 Ways games) accepts a limited number of relatively small wagers. Player’s bets are multiplied by a power of thirty instead of requiring bettors to choose a certain number of pay lines.
Coin Values, Bet Ranges, and Jackpots
It may be easier to understand 243 Ways games as thirty pay line pokies that require a bet be placed on all thirty lines each spin. The required 30x wager multiplier is a large number, especially for a game with coin values as low as a penny. Proper bankroll management is also a reason to think of The Finer Reels of Life as a thirty line game. Players who prefer penny ante games may not realize that this Microgaming title is a bit out of their comfort zone.
Credits (also called coins) are limited to just three values: $0.01, $0.02, and $0.05 apiece. Bettors can wager between one and five coins per round. That sets the minimum bet at $0.30. The game’s max bet is $7.50 per round – that’s five credits bet per spin when their value is set at five cents apiece.
The largest payout outside of bonus play is 7,500 coins, triggered by the appearance of five wild symbols. Payouts are based on the value of each credit before the 30x multiplier – that 7,500 credit payout is worth between $75 (for gamblers betting one penny per credit) up to $3,750 (for five cents per credit wagers).
Gamblers drawn to 243 Ways games aren’t chasing the static jackpots, not even the 7,500 credit payout. These games are all about the free spin bonus rounds, where multipliers can increase the value of a win up to the game’s largest pay off of 1.8 million credits. Players lucky enough to see that symbol combination during the free spins round will pocket between $18,000 for credits worth $0.01 up to $90,000 when the credit value is set at a nickel.
The theme of the game is luxury; there isn’t much of a plot per se but in-depth stories are not why poker machine fans play this variety of Microgaming title. The symbols (buckets of cash, pearl necklaces and other precious gems, luxury cars, etc.) are on the realistic side, rather than cartoonish. Microgaming’s video pokies usually involve plots and characters, so the lack of those elements in The Finer Reels of Life is a little unusual.
Bonus Rounds and Other Features
Bonus rounds are a major part of this title – four rounds of unique bonus games mean multiple chances to win multiplied jackpots, free spins, and other goodies, all of which can be retriggered.
Three or more bonus star symbols on the screen trigger the start of one of four bonus features; players will know they’re in bonus mode when the Finer Features logo appears on the screen. The Coffee and Chocolate bonus game rewards the player with ten free spins and multipliers as high as 5x, and the other three bonus chances also offer free spins (between one and twenty) along with extra wild symbols, multipliers, and instant credit prizes. But don’t expect complex bonus play – all the free spin and credit jackpot games are little more than a short video clip and a pause in game action to count out your winnings.
243 Ways titles are obviously still popular, since Microgaming and other designers are still premiering titles in both brick and mortar and Internet casinos. This latest of the designer’s entries into the 243 Ways category is light on plot, a game for fans of luck-based bonuses who don’t mind wagering at least thirty cents per spin. A high hit frequency is designed to keep bettors at the machine, and The Finer Reels of Life does just that. Penny pokies players should read through the rules and study the pay table before committing to this Microgaming release; the fact that credits can be worth as little as one cent doesn’t mean this is a good fit for poker machine players on a tight budget.