I just read over on the WotC Forums, and responded, that it is unfair that people who run D&D Encounters get free stuff. Examples are; the actual adventures themselves and stuff like The Village of Homlet (which I never got a copy of) or the new version of The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan.
When reminded of the fact that we volunteer to run encounters every week and this is a thank you (note we do not have a copy of this yet) the poster pretty much says he does not want to sit down and play the game with a bunch of kids he does not know. Plus he needs to drive an hour to get to the closest store, and he has a pretty established group of players already so why should he go. Encounters is a way to get new players to the table anyway, not something for established players.
I had a discussion about this with the store owner and manager where I work and run D&D at. Players who actually do more to hurt the hobby more than help it. It is not just D&D but extends to other game genres such as say Magic the Gathering. I have seen MTG players walk out of FNM because there was no players of suitable challenge to them left in that store. My opinion, we do not want you. Ever hear about having fun?
Same thing goes for D&D Encounters. If you think it is for new players and just kids, you are wrong. In my store we regularly have between 20-30 players each week, old and new players, regulars and some who show up every now and then when their free time permits. We have players from established campaigns looking for something different than the norm, to people who dislike campaigns and really like the one encounter a night aspect of the game without devoting a big amount of time per session.
If you want to sit at home and run your game that is perfectly fine as well, I was content to do this for a long time as well, but I never went around saying WotC was being unfair for thinking about the game stores where the new blood is found. Face it, without game stores there would be no more game companies. WotC has made a successful Organized Play program that is attracting new players to stores that participate, these stores then get higher status in the WPN and can qualify to get the books a bit early or even at all with the Mordenkainen's Magnificent Emporium.
I chose to run encounters not because of the free stuff, woohoo I get some Fortune Cards, I get some initiative trackers or status cards for ongoing damage. Yes I also get the adventures but I would probably never run them as is for my regular group, besides they play in encounters. Getting The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan is a perk, one that I work hard to get, one that I put a lot of effort into to make sure the players keep coming back to the store week in and week out.
We had 15 kids tell us last week they would not be coming back because of school starting up. Guess What? They all showed up this week, they made a stink and the parents chose to carpool them each week since they are all school friends. 24 players tonight, we are building a community, we are building the next generation of gamers.
I just gave the newest DM a free DM screen she is 12 years old. She has 4 players who play in encounters. That is what it is about, the free stuff that is icing on the cake. It is all about the experience and knowing you are making future gamers.
I just had to say that. I would not have been able to sleep until I got it out of my system.