GenCon is just around the corner.  The events list has been released, and I’m more than a little nervous.  For those of you who cry foul at the first mention of “EDH” and “Prize Structure” in the same sentence, stay tuned. 
You’re getting some great ammunition this year.
I’VE GOT SO MUCH TROUBLE ON MY MIND
GenCon was a true mixed bag as far as EDH goes.  As I stated in my article on StarCityGames, there were essentially three types of games happening:

Casual pick-up games
-Commander Pre-Con Sealed events
-The infamous “EDH Constructed Event”
I sampled all three events.  I completely enjoyed the few casual games I engaged in, as they best represented what I believe to be the desired EDH experience – players out to enjoy playing the format and interacting with each other.  The Pre-Con events were equally fun; while they technically were a “for-prize” event, return on investment was reasonably high (as you were getting a pre-con plus any additional prizes for essentially the retail cost of the deck), and the games were remarkably well-grounded and fun.  
And then there was the Constructed fiasco.  You can follow the link above if you haven’t read it yet, but essentially, we’re talking hard combo, collusion, anger and frustration…essentially, the antithesis of what our format stands for.  
It was awful.  And it might just be getting worse.
WHAT’S THE SCENERIO?
There are two event types released so far: A constructed event that closely mirrors the setup from last year, and four-player single round pod events that fire as they fill – also constructed.  (Since the Commander Pre-Cons are now out of print – and since the ‘multiplayer release’ this summer is Planechase 2 – we sadly don’t get to see a return of the sealed pods.)
Let’s look at each:
CONSTRUCTED SEALED PODS
These are four-player, single-elimination pods.  Cost to enter is $10; each player you eliminate rewards you four packs of product.  (It is not clear if there is a choice between current sets)
The immediate problem I see here is the overall return on investment.  Four players will contribute a grand total of $40 in entry fees.  The total payout, however, is a total of twelve packs, or approximately $48 in product at average retail price.  I see three possible outcomes here, listed below in order of reasonable chance of occurrence:
-The rogue Griselbrand Dirty Combo Player™ will be spending $10 to troll these pods to death at an extremely favorable profit-to-cost ratio.
-Two or more players will enter and turn the event into a collusion-fest, working together to take out the unaligned other player(s) and splitting the profit.
-An honest pod of four players looking to have an honest game.
Verdict: Play At Your Own Risk.  These might turn out okay, but I’d expect a high incidence of the first two categories above.  Sign up and play accordingly.
COMMANDER CONSTRUCTED – GENCON CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFIER
This is roughly the same event that I wrote about last year.  There are three rounds of randomly-seated four player pods.  Prizes are based on total standings.
However, there are a few not-so-subtle changes in the prize structure:
-Last year, the first place finisher took down 12 packs of current product, if memory serves. 
-This year, the first place finisher is rewarded with an entire box of current product, a sealed copy of From The Vault: Legends, and a slot in the GenCon Championship that occurs on Sunday.  (From what I gather, The “GenCon Championship” is an invite-only event that brings together thirty-two winners of qualifier events.  The qualifiers appear to be spread evenly across all formats – Legacy, Vintage, Sealed, 2HG, Commander, and so on – over the previous few days.  The prizes for this event include event badges for GenCon 2013, VIP passes, hotel fare, and more.)
So a recap – A box, FTV: Legends, and chance at a full ride for GenCon 2013.
Verdict: Run like hell in the opposite direction.  Take the money you were going to spend on entry fees for this event and head over to the CircleCenter a few blocks from the Convention Center.  Hopefully they’re playing a solid throwback movie.  (It was the original “Conan” last year.)  Buy a ticket, some popcorn, and a soda.  Enjoy the film, safe in the knowledge that you’re actually going to enjoy the next few hours of your life.
Alternately – Enter the event.  Enjoy the next three rounds of Griselbrand vs. Griselbrand vs. Griselbrand vs. Griselbrand mirror matches.  Good luck!
.   .   .   .   .
Hopefully, it’s not quite as bad as I make it out to be.  I’ve got a sliver of faith left in me, and I’m sure I’ll be trying to play in some EDH events over the course of the trip.  However, the more I read up on EDH on the various forums and websites I frequent, the more I see results that are nearly universally miserable for events that try to offer prizes.  We tried to get our own event off the ground this year (I documented some of the fact-finding and initial plans here), only to run into roadblocks with sponsorship and conflicting schedules.  We simply can’t compete with constantly-firing events that cost $10. 
I’m starting to become very jaded through this; I’m not convinced that it can’t be done, but I’m beginning to believe that those of you who are against competitive EDH events may just be right.  Maybe it just doesn’t work.  I hope I’m proven wrong at some point, and I hope I’m somehow involved in doing the proving myself.  Regardless, this may not be the moment I’m looking for.
One thing is sure: the best EDH games I plan to have over the entire event will either be in the airport while waiting for my flights, or casual pick-up games as they pop up. 
Hope to see some of you there-

àDJ