Which Entrances do they open immediately at 10AM? The Map shows arrows at F, H, I, J, K but do all of these open right away?
yes and no. All open at 10 but there seem to be a delay 30 seconds or less to a minute to allow the rush from the doors at speaker area.
H, I, J are the main doors that open right at 10 and that's the area the speaker is in.
I can't answer about side doors, hopefully someone else can shortly!
The main doors open at 10. The side doors are delayed. I think it is a 5 minute delay but I am not certain.
Which door do you think will be the most crowded? J is in front of Paizo. I is in front of FFG, and H is in front of Cool Stuff.
They are all pretty crowded:
Do you suppose that many people are going after something that might sell out? Or are they just there to be part of the crowd? I've always wondered that. Personally, I want to be nowhere near there at that time.
I'm curious what the small quantity items are - because I feel like I'm reasonable in tune, but I've rarely had anything worth hunting like that. I think one year there was a new addition of Pathfinder or something. Inside the hall, the lines at Fantasy Flight can often be ridiculous, but it looks like just regular purchases. I guess I'm a little more line averse than most. I'd hate to waste previous Convention time on that when you can just have stuff shipped to your house - and for less money most of the time.
Vendors will often have "door-busters", special deals on items, or freebie promos given away with purchases for the first X people. There are also some limited-edition stuff that might sell out. For most items, no you don't have to fight the crush, you can buy them later, or at your FLGS (if you can, please patronize them instead of Amazon).
Yeah, people talk about "door busters" as a concept, but always with few to no actual specific examples that would remotely explain the need to be there the first minute. You can get the free 6-sided die that there is a coupon for every year.
Note: Few is often several hundred copies of things, if not several thousand.
Catalyst Game Labs has Battletech box sets (200 of each or so) and burn though them in the first few minutes (the line formed in the first 4 min, then took 45min to process)
Paizo gets crazy as they often have a couple thousand special products.... which go in <30min.
The side doors last year were Exit only. Only vendors could get in those. So look at entrances H,I,J and you can get thru a parwall from the gaming Hall A, B, C.
Basically they check for badges at those doors so keep it visible.
Whichever year it was when Netrunner came out is the first time it occurred to me that some people might actually be lining up to go and quickly grab something door-buster-style, rather than just, you know, "it has been ~361 days since I last experienced this" as the reason for lining up, which was always my and my friends' reasoning.
I barely ever even buy anything in the Exhibit Hall my first pass-through; you gotta take it all in and truly contemplate your irresponsible spending!
(though perhaps part of that is a greater percentage of resellers back when I first attended; the percentage of booths selling other people's merchandise, perhaps other than collectible card resellers, seems much lower than in the 1990s)
Pretty much the entire hallway along the exhibit hall is packed with people so whether they are there to rush to a particular booth to grab an item perceived to be in short supply or just cannot control their urge to get in there, its always packed. The biggest problem is that there are always people who walk a few feet inside the doors and stop to gawk at the room. This is not only aggravating the the people behind them, but its also asking for injury as the rush is likely to push you our of their way.
I'm not sure if Fantasy Flight has a major new release this year, but Paizo is unveiling Pathfinder 2nd Edition. That is sure to create a massive rush on their booth. Two years ago when they released the Starfinder RPG, the lines to check out were more than an hour and despite bringing more copies of the book than any book they had ever printed before, it sold out in roughly six hours. With a history like that, it will just further encourage an early rush on the booth.
Some limited things in recent-ish memory: Two years ago there was a supplement for the Cryptozoic DC deck-builder that was selling out about 10 minutes after the doors opened, which wasn't really available in stores for a month or so later. I remember when 4e Talisman hit there was a limit of 40 a day for sale. FFG very often has things that sell out Thursday that may not officially release until November or even January. I remember zooming to a line at Catalyst a few years back to pick up something that was limited to 25/day, but I can't now remember what that was.
The key to x/day items is to wait until Sunday, when the truly obsessed people have already gotten it, and the crowds are a bit less. Of course, before the hall opens, it's tough to know if some item will be x/day or instead x/ever.
I would suggest doing Gen Con pickup through the Paizo website for Pathfinder 2e, because they hold it for you, but the deadline has passed for this year.
When I did a Starfinder event in 2017, Paizo was also selling some books (and maybe other items) in the Sagamore Ballroom where they hold their events. There were no lines there.
No clue if they'll be doing that this year.
I don't know if this is true any more but limited quantities of games used to be eaten up before the doors even opened with VIG's and other Vendors using the time before the doors opened to get the hard to get games.
I don't bother with lines anymore, if I can't get it at Gencon I'll wait till it comes out retail (this is a massive lie btw :P)