Everyone’s heard about the wizard Merlin right? He’s been the talk of the town since the 1100s and has been represented in many an ancient tale and blockbuster movie. Where he isn’t usually present is slots, so I was interested to see what sort of digital makeover Play’n Go’s Rise of Merlin managed to give him in 2019.

As a high volatility slot with a base RTP of 96.58%, players could rightly demand big things. I delved deep into the ins and outs of this slot to find out if the magic is real, or just a cheap trick.

  • The free spins feature can be re-triggered
  • The ‘gamble’ or ‘collect’ feature offered a solid opportunity to double your winnings in the base game
  • The individual symbols carry higher than usual pay-out rates
  • There’s no progressive jackpot
  • The special features are limited and a bit repetitive
  • Hitting the advertised maximum of 5,000 x is highly unlikely at about 1 in 8.7 million spins
TYPE Video Slot
REELS AND PAYLINES 5 reels, 10 paylines
GAME FEATURES Free Spins, Expanding Symbols, Gamble/Collect
RANGE OF BET 0.10 to 100.00
COIN VALUES 0.01, 0.02, 0.03, 0.04, 0.05, 0.10, 0.20, 0.50, 1.00, 2.00
MAXIMUM WIN 96.58% (can be reduced to 94.51%)
PAYOUT 96.58% (can be reduced to 94.51%)


Rise of Merlin 1395 x 195 banner
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Theme and Background

Rise of Merlin symbol - owl Play’n Go’s Rise of Merlin seems more influenced by Harry Potter and Game of Thrones than Arthurian mythology. For starters, the owls across the reels seemed far more likely to bring me my post rather than a prophecy.

Meanwhile, Merlin himself looks like more an aging Antonio Banderas, or even famed Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgård – an unusual design choice, to be sure. Gone are the pointy hat and the flowing beard – this Merlin is stern, Nordic and well-groomed, with an icy glint in his eyes. Understandably, he carries a lot of weight in the game, so I expected to find many special features up his sleeve.

Across the reels are a series of symbols inspired by magic, including by owls, dragons, crystal balls and a set of the standard royals. The backdrop is low-lit in purplish hues with ethereal orbs of light floating about.

I suppose Play’n Go were shooting for an updated magical experience, but their efforts seemed to have stopped after giving Merlin a suave new look. The rest of the symbols are the same tired old representations of wizardry and magic, and the use of the usual A to 10 just feels a little uninspired.


Rise of Merlin – what a title. The special features must be astounding. Well, not really. I’ve encountered slots where describing the features using words alone sometimes felt nigh on impossible. I didn’t have to worry about running into that issue this time around. Let’s kick this off.

Rise of Merlin symbol - crystal ball

The Scatter Wild

When playing this slot, the crystal ball symbol will become your best friend. It represents both the wild and the scatter for the game. Alongside the regular symbols it acts as a wild, helping you to make winning combinations in the base game.

However, if the crystal ball appears a minimum of 3 times during the same spin, then it transforms into a scatter. The means you’ll be able to trigger the game’s only real feature – Free Spins.

Rise of Merlin symbol - dragon

Free Spins

Three or more crystal balls on a winning payline will trigger 8 free spins. Annoyingly, landing more than the minimum three won’t win you any extra points. On the plus side, once you start your free spins you’ll have the opportunity to win further spins, essentially re-triggering the feature.

You can only do this by landing another three or more crystal balls during the active special feature, upon which you’ll be given yet another 8 free spins, so the entire thing is fairly hard work.

Rise of Merlin symbol - Merlin

Expanding Symbols

Triggering Free Spins comes with the additional perk of a symbol being chosen at random. Once chosen this will become an Expanding Symbol, and when it lands it will cover the entire reel, increasing your chances at a winning combination.

For the best results you really want to get Merlin himself, as he’ll pay out the most.

Payouts and Wagering Limits

Rise of Merlin symbol - red dragon Despite the limited special features, Rise of Merlin still comes with a maximum win potential of 5,000 x your bet. So you might be wondering how likely you are to hit on this windfall during regular gameplay.

The highest paying symbols are Merlin of course, the red dragon, the blue dragon, and the owl. A, K, Q, J and 10 are the low paying symbols.

At high volatility you’ve got to be prepared for the fact that you might be playing a while before you hit big, but with a starting bet of 0.10, any player budget is in with a chance. High rollers can go for broke with the maximum bet of 100.

Triggering the Free Spins feature is your best chance of hitting the maximum win, but you can hit as big in the base game by make winning combinations with Merlin or the crystal ball, as each comes in at 5,000 x.

The fire dragon pays out 1,600 x your bet and the ice dragon comes in after at 600 x your bet. This is mirrored by the owl which also pays out 600 x. All these things combined means that even though dry spins are inevitable, there’s still the opportunity for very decent pay outs.

Rise of Merlin - Final Verdict

Rise of Merlin 150 x 150 logo

Final Verdict

Rise of Merlin


If you’ve read my review from top to bottom then you’d be forgiven for thinking that my final verdict is going to be positively cutting. And I’ll be honest, it was far from my favorite slot to date. Overall I found it rather dull, with one main special feature that was way too hard to trigger.

Its saving grace rests on two pillars; the generous payouts when you do eventually hit good, and the opportunity to double your money on small wins in the base game. You’ll be asked to gamble or collect. Choose ‘gamble’ and you’ll have a 50/50 shot at doubling up when you pick black or red from a card stack. This added game of chance brought far more magic to the slot than 2019 Merlin did.


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