Life Siphon (Kickstarter)

Here’s the story:
“Dragons have taken over the surface, forcing humans underground. During explorations, you and your fellow humans discover a box with an orange glowing eye on the outside. The words DO NOT OPEN are carved on the sides. Of course you open it…ONLY TO BE INSTANTLY CURSED!”

Of course you’re cursed. Why would you open the box you fool? Because if you didn’t open the there would be no game, obviously. Anyhow, it’s no real secret that I’m a fan of Lay Waste Games. It’s been incredibly interesting watching their games evolve of the past few years. Their first game, Dragoon, started as much than just a simple game. As the song goes, You Gotta Have a Gimmick, and Dragoon’s gimmick was the ridiculously high-quality components. Of course with higher quality comes a higher price, so last year they released the “Standard Edition” of Dragoon, with (still high-quality) moulded plastic components.

For Life Siphon, they’ve taken a similar approach. There is a Standard Edition, with a regular cardboard gameboard, and wooden meeple-style components. Then, there’s a Metal Edition, which adds on solid metal components. Doing it this way definitely allows them to make the game more affordable and, therefore, more accessible.

Life Siphon has some interesting gameplay mechanics to it. Players start with 20 Life, and the goal is to reduce the player to your left down to 0 Life while defending yourself from the player to your right. This isn’t the first game I’ve played with that sort of circular attack system, but it’s rare and it makes for an interesting change compared to most other games.

In order to achieve their goal, players need to summon Familiars and use cards. As can be expected, there’s a resource cost to do these things. Players only have one resource, however. Life. To summon a Familiar or use a card, players will spend their own life. A player can not spend their last point of life, they regain a single life each turn, and may also lose or regain life from certain abilities or cards. It’s an interesting way to do things and makes for some difficult choices.

The project has funded and has already started unlocking stretch goals for new Familiars, but the basic three are the Imp (who gains you life), the Dread Knight (who is strong, scary, and has a downside), and the Lich (who can bypass certain defences). There are also at least three more familiars. The first one is a Dragon, which makes all sorts of sense. As I write this, they’ve only shown silhouettes of the others, and another without even that. One looks like a rat (but probably isn’t) and the other appears to be a tentacle of some sort.

[I’m not even deleting that guess. The next stretch goal is NOT a tentacle but rather a Shade. I’m still convinced the next one will be some kind of rat-thing, and it will likely be revealed by the time this goes live. -dc]

What will be interesting will be to see the scale of the metal Familiars. The metal life tracker is a human skull, which I assume will be cast the same size as the ones in Dragoon and Heads Will Roll. From the photos, the 3 main Familiars should be slightly taller, but not by much. The design of Dragon is the same as in Dragoon, so again I assume it will be the same size. That means it should be about 1/3 taller than the others, and that’s actually perfect for a dragon.

Pledge levels are pretty simple. $45 (USD) gets you the Standard Game and the meeple-only versions of any stretch goals. $70 adds on the Metal pack of Familiars and the associated stretch goals. Finally, $90 gets the Exclusive edition which adds on an exclusive box sleeve and BEAUTIFUL fabric board.

I was already excited for this game, having watched some of the design progression, but the more I see the more excited I get.

You can back Life Siphon on Kickstarter until April 17, 2019.

You can find Lay Waste Games online at or on Facebook at