iPhone App Review: Reiner Knizia’s Deck Buster

iPhone App Review: Reiner Knizia’s Deck Buster

March 26th, 2012 by

Deck Buster is a solitaire card game, designed by renowned game designer Reiner Knizia, with similar rules to poker: create “hands” by placing your cards on the board in one of three rows. Completing a poker hand earns you points and bonus cards, with the goal being to keep earning cards so you can keep playing and earning points. The app features two versions of the game, Deck Buster 32 and Deck Buster Wild. Each has slightly different decks of cards, rules, and scoring opportunities.

How It Works

Deck Buster 32 features only the top 8 cards from each suit (so sevens and higher), with no wild cards. Deck Buster Wild includes all 52 cards from a standard deck, with the twos being wild. The goal of each game is the same: play them on the board and try to make poker hands, with higher hands scoring more points and granting you more cards to play with. You earn bonus cards the first time you complete each hand, but you can reset the granting of bonus cards if you manage to complete every scoring hand (each game has slightly different hands available for scoring).

The rows scroll off the bottom of the screen to reveal empty rows at the top, which means that strategically you are usually better off working on the bottom row first so that it clears and gives you more space to work with. You do however get bonus points for clearing all three rows at the same time, so you can strategically save the bottom row for last and try to maximize your score.

The game ends when you run of cards.

Pros and Cons

The game and the app are almost perfect: the rules and strategy are simple to grasp, but yield hours of gameplay that can be started or stopped at any moment. Each game takes only minutes (depending on your level of skill and the shuffling of the cards), and the strategic choices you must make in placing the cards give the simple rules a certain depth.

The only drawback in the game is a feature of the rules themselves: the game will always score the highest available hand in each row. This burned me a couple of times when, for instance, I had already scored a royal flush but was trying to instead score a straight (so I could earn the first-time bonus cards). It would be nice if the rules allowed you to score a lower hand if you would prefer for strategic considerations (in my case favoring cards over points).


Reiner Knizia, and Aidem Media, have created a simple and elegant card game that features simple rules but endless gameplay possibilities. It’s only $0.99 and is a Universal app for iPads and iPhones.

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