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Roll a Ball

Sometimes, a game comes along that is hard to relate to just about anything else we’ve seen in the world of online gambling. That is the case when it comes to Roll a Ball, a game developed by SkillOnNet. This certainly fits in the category of “specialty games,” but beyond that, how can we begin to describe it?

Perhaps the best analogy is tic-tac-toe. This is a game played on a grid of nine balls, with the goal being to make three in a row as many times as possible. The results are ultimately random, as you won’t be able to influence what colors and patterns come up on the grid. However, players do have the ability to significantly improve their odds through the use of “nudges” – if they’re willing to pay a price for that privilege.

Three in a Row

Roll a Ball begins with the player setting up the terms of their bet. First, you can pick a denomination for each of your “coins” – in the version we played, that meant anywhere from €0.10 to €1. You may then set a bet of anywhere between one and 10 coins per spin. That will set a base bet, but this can also be changed by choosing to take anywhere from 1 to 3 nudges. We’ll explain how these work a bit later on, but for now, know that your initial bet will increase for each one you take. The impact of taking each nudge on the cost of your spin are as follows:

  • 1: 2x
  • 2: 4x
  • 3: 6x

At this point, you’ll be able to see what your total bet is. If you’re satisfied, you can press the spin button. There is also an “auto roll” option that will allow you to quickly play through anywhere between 50 and 500 games in rapid succession.

Once you’ve begun, you’ll see nine balls fall into place on a tic-tac-toe like grid. These balls can be white, black, or orange; they can also be half-and-half, sharing any two of these colors. The goal is to get lucky and make lines of the same color. Lines can be completed either horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. Make a perfect match where all nine balls are of the same color, and you’ll have made the maximum of eight complete lines.

In order to win a prize, you’ll need to make matches. You may make small wins by completing lines of half-and-half balls, though these do not accumulate into larger prizes. All other matches only count if they are of a single color, and all of those matches must be of the same color. In other words, if you have one match of black and one line of white, you’ll still only get credit for one completed line. The half-and-half lines, however, can be added as a small bonus to any other wins.

The more identical lines that you make, the more you stand to win. Your wins are based on the cost of your base bet, not including the added charge you’ve taken on for the nudges you’ve purchased. Based on that initial, lower price, the prizes available are as follows:

  • Half-and-Half Lines: 1x Each (May Be Added to Other Prizes)
  • 1 Line: 1x
  • 2 Lines: 4x
  • 3 Lines: 15x
  • 4 Lines: 40x
  • 5 Lines: 100x
  • 6 Lines: 300x
  • 8 Lines: 800x

Be aware that on all prizes for multiple lines, these numbers are reported slightly differently in game. It’s a bit confusing, but they tell you the prize multiplier per line: in other words, if you make two lines, you get 2x per line, or 4x your bet total. In the end, the total payout will be equal to what we’ve just listed.

Of course, having many of the balls being identical on your initial spin would require a major stroke of luck – and, quite frankly, it won’t happen very often. In fact, it’s pretty frequently true that your initial result will come out with no matching lines.

That’s where the nudges come into play. If you have chosen to take one or more at the start of your spin, then the game will make extra moves for you in order to improve your results to the best of its ability. Each nudge can change the state of one ball, and do so by a “half” color. That means that a solid ball can turn into any half-ball that includes that color; otherwise, a half-ball can turn into a solid ball of either of its colors. More than one nudge can be used on the same ball, so you’ll sometimes see the game use two on the same ball in order to complete one or more lines.

Once these have been completed, you’ll see your winnings added to your account balance. You’re then free to set up your next spin, choosing to change your betting size, coins, or nudges as you see fit.

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Roll a Ball

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Strategy? What Strategy?

This is usually the part where we clue you in on exactly how a game works behind the scenes, what your odds are, and what your best course of action is. Unfortunately, when it comes to Roll a Ball, we’re sorry to say that we’re as clueless as you are.

Unfortunately, SkillOnNet does not appear to have provided any information on the theoretical return to player of this game. And because of the very complex nature of the game, we do not feel capable of calculating – or even estimating – what the house edge is, either. That means we’re all flying blind in this case, and the best we can give you is our thoughts after having play through a couple hundred rounds of this game.

First, it seems extremely difficult to make multiple lines if you attempt to play without nudges. Interestingly, this doesn’t mean there must be a huge house edge: you’ll very often make one line, and on rare occasions, you might make two. Go all the way up to three, on the other hand, and it is very rare that you don’t make at least one or two winnings lines, with occasional larger wins.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you’re making more money: by paying for all those extra nudges, you are increasing the cost of your spins dramatically, and you’ll often only get part of your money back. It might seem prudent to pay for just one nudge, as it only costs you a single bet (instead of the 2x increase for the second and third); however, it seems that the cumulative nature of multiple nudges makes them much more powerful than a single nudge, which only rarely changes the outcome of a spin.

On that note, we’re guessing that either playing no nudges or two is likely the optimal strategy. Two nudges is enough to usually guarantee at least one extra line win, and sometimes two or more; paying for the third one probably only has marginal benefits that aren’t worth the extra 2 bets. On the other hand, you can also play it safe and take zero, just hoping to get lucky without all the extra costs.

An Unusual and Fascinating Game

While there may be a dearth of information about this game, we have to admit that we had a fun time playing and learning about Roll a Ball. It’s just a bit weird, and definitely different than anything else we’ve tested recently – and that’s a big plus in an online gambling world where one game often feels exactly like the next. There isn’t much player interaction, but at least for a little while, it remains entertaining.

That said, it’s hard to imagine that many serious gamblers will want to play this game. For one thing, as we’ve noted, they would be swimming into unknown waters: we have no information on the house edge or player return in this game. And given that it is an oddball specialty title, it probably has a significant advantage for the casino.

But for more casual gamers, this may well be a fun distraction to try out. At the very least, we’re confident you haven’t played anything like this before – and you’ll never know if you enjoy it unless you try it at least once.

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