Now that early admission on Thursday is a thing of the past, crowds may be even bigger. My thought is show up at 10:10am and avoid the crush. I may not get the "only 10 available" stuff, but it should still be able to get most of the shopping done before crowds get heavy.
I like to schedule my volunteer shift if possible for Thurs morning, i get to avoid the nerd herd/mob for dealerhall and it's the most awake i'll be at con to do my best as a GM for the game i work with.
I'm over con exclusives and the too many scalpers who buy the hot thing just to immediate list it for sale. Most anything i want will be available online/at flgs later on and if i miss out shrug as i have a big enough shelf of shame as it is.
Enjoy the spectacle for what it is and yes i would agree it's worth doing once just to feel the choking grasp of nerd humanity.
Also at least in my own experience while we do buy games throughout the year, my wife is much more stingy on what we buy regularly than when we are at Gen Con, even though yes its more money most of the time. It is our vacation each year so we just get whatever we want. Sometimes it comes out the next week, sometimes 3-4 months later. Hard to know exactly. But no complaints from me.
I would expect with early access being gone that all the bugs that get worked out in the early hour will now be part of the normal time...it's very common for vendors' computers to crash during the first few sales, which normally got fixed before 10 but now will affect many more people. Also line management and so forth was all "test run" on the early access people and that won't be happening. I've done early access for several years and I'd estimate about half of my hour each year was spent waiting on technology problems.
For rare or early release items, it really varies from item to item. I've seen 25-40 copies/day, in which case, yes, Sunday is the best answer. I've seen 100 copies total, in which case get there Thursday ASAP. I've seen tons of copies but a huge 2-3 hour line that lasts the entire con until they run out. I've seen games that people went nuts for in the hall that were also on sale with no line in the mall downtown. I've seen games that didn't come out elsewhere for 6 months. Do your research on con early releases to find out how much trouble it's going to be to get. Knowledge is power.
Heck, I've even seen a game that was at Gen Con but never anywhere else. There was a Dune RPG at the WotC booth one of the first years in Indy that never saw a release outside the con. It wasn't exactly flying off the shelves, but if I'd known it was going to be buried I would have snapped it up.
If you aren't in line now, you might as well skip the vendor hall.
On the contrary.
You should definitely get in line RIGHT NOW and wait and fight the crowd so you can have a better chance to get your copy of Nonspecific High Demand Item(tm). Otherwise, you are missing out!
Sorry, Agricola has already been invented and copyrighted...
I didn't do the Thursday Mob. I think it was Saturday morning in 2017 I showed up around 9:30, not too many people lined up in front of the doors, I could easily fit and wander to within 10-15 of the door. Only went to get some prerelease copies of a couple games at a single booth (as they saved a certain amount for each morning, not just to sell out on Thursday)and I was easily there in time.