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Thursday, June 20, 2024 — Houston, TX

FastWarp hosts Owlcon, brings tabletop games to campus

Hai-Van Hoang / Thresher

By Hugo Gerbich-Pais     2/27/24 10:45pm

Board games, card games and even some live-action role playing pervaded campus Feb. 23-35 during the 41st annual Owlcon. The convention is hosted by FastWarp, Rice's student-run board and card game club.

Owlcon provides a space for tabletop-game enjoyers of all kinds to gather and play — from experienced professionals who are developing new games to beginners, according to Chloe Liebenthal, a former FastWarp club president who graduated last semester. 

“Owlcon is a whole weekend where the Grand Hall and a bunch of other spaces across campus are all full of people playing all sorts of games … There’s board games, there’s card games, there’s mini-figure type games, war games, tabletop gaming, such as Dungeons and Dragons and there’s even live action role playing,” Liebenthal said. There were also numerous exhibitors at Owlcon selling games, merchandise and crafts. 

While Owlcon is a comparatively small convention compared to the likes of Comicpalooza, it has developed a reputation as an intimate and rewarding event, Jason Yarnell, the Owlcon special guests coordinator, said. 

“We’ve built up a reputation for the convention,” Yarnell said. “Anytime someone hears about [table game convention] in Houston, the first thing that pops into their heads [is us], so our success has spread beyond Houston.” 

The organizing team not only has to organize the games, attendees and vendors, but also bring in special guests who are leaders in the table-top game industry. This year’s guests included Thurston Hillman and Adam Daigle, both directors at role-playing game publishing company Paizo Inc., and writer-artist Jeremy Corff who has done work for Immersion Studios, Enworld and Wayfinder, among others.

“It’s a planning process that lasts months and months. It’s very involved and it takes a lot of hard work. There’s usually a lot of people who attend our [convention], so as you can imagine, there’s just a lot that goes into making sure everything goes smoothly,” Liebenthal said.

While FastWarp members lead the planning and organizing process, they rely heavily on support from community members, many of whom have been going to Owlcon for many years. 

Club treasurer Tolu Asupoto said she discovered a strong community at FastWarp. 

“I personally didn’t really know how to play niche or specific games. But all of FastWarp have been very welcoming towards beginners. It’s easy to just get involved and learn everything really quickly,” Asupoto, a Brown College junior, said. “Just in general, board games and card games, they’re just so fun … they build such a tight knit community.”

Ian Mauzy ’14, the Owlcon gaming coordinator, said he first got involved with Owlcon as a sophomore in 2012.

“The next year, I offered to help the gaming coordinator, and then I stuck around for a while and inherited it,” Mauzy said. “It's an opportunity to do things that I don’t get to do much for the rest of the year, with people I also may not get to see very often.”

Asuputo and the organizers of Owlcon 41 said they hope that the event has something for everyone and continues the convention's long history. 

“Rice [alumni who] graduated 10 years ago, 20 years ago, they still come back every year for our [convention],” Asuputo said. “It just speaks to the strength of our [convention] and speaks to the strength of board and card games in general.”

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