And then I had a second kid.

I’ve spent a lot of time on the topic of budgeting your money in gaming, especially when it comes to Magic: the Gathering. Less time has been given to the topic of budgeting your time, though it is a topic I’ve covered in the past.

My time, as of late, has become much less available for use. Infants require near-constant attention while they’re awake and even a level of awareness is advisable while they’re sleeping. Toddlers similarly need engagement during their waking hours and thus my free time ever dwindles.

I’ve been told it gets better. I’m skeptical.

But what about time for gaming? I’ve heard plenty of stories about fathers who ignore their children in favor of spending time gaming with their friends, often at the expense of an exhausted mother or other (usually female) caregiver. That wasn’t going to be me. But I also didn’t want to give up my hobbies entirely, as they are, to an extent, a tool for maintaining my mental health.

So I need to game on a time budget. What does that mean, practically though? What is time? Are we going to dive into an existential discussion of the nature of time? I thought this was a gaming blog.

One of the things I struggled with in my youth was long-term planning. It’s something I’ve worked on extensively in my 30s. When it comes to budgeting money, long-term planning helps drive a lot of my decision-making. So when it comes to budgeting time, it shouldn’t be too different.

Magic: the Gathering is not a game that rewards long-term investment, especially not on Arena. Sure there’s Historic and Historic Brawl and that’s all well and good, but for the most part the Standard rotation means that your cards have an expiration date. Reprints can extend their shelf-life, but outside of the very small number of cards that end up playable in Historic (or Pioneer, Modern, Legacy, Commander, and Vintage for those of you who still play with physical cards) cards don’t last forever.

I wanted to spend time on my hobbies but I wanted that time to be more meaningful. After all, since I have less of it to spend, its value has skyrocketed. Because of this, I decided to step away from Magic: the Gathering. While there’s always new Magic sets to play and cards to collect, I didn’t want to play once every few months and then discover that I needed to craft/purchase/collect a whole bunch of new cards I’d missed out on, just to repeat that cycle over and over again.

Enter two hobbies I spent a lot of time on in my college days: Warhammer 40k (WH40k) and Dungeons & Dragons (D&D).

There’s an important distinction here that’s worth making, which is that Magic: the Gathering is, at its core, a collectible game. The rotation of game piece legality is a feature of the product. There are other card games that are not collectible and while I could have opted for one of them, I felt like revisiting something I was more familiar with.

Since they’re not collectible, WH40k and D&D components have a lot more long-term value. They’re not even that much more expensive than Magic: the Gathering, which means I didn’t have to compromise my financial budget to switch.

Maybe it’s because I have children to tend to, but the prospect of acquiring components to games that could still be useful in five, ten, or twenty years was alluring. And before you say something like “but your Magic cards could still be used,” there’s a big difference.

If I want to teach my daughters Magic when they’re 12 years old, I’ll just buy whatever cards are out at that time. The buy-in cost is basically the same. But if I want to play Dungeons and Dragons or Warhammer with them, starting my collection now puts me in a better place to do so in the future. I have disposable income but not “buy your 12-year-old an entire Warhammer army disposable.”

Similar to Zach Barash’s great articles on knowing which Magic products are for you, my life and priorities have shifted in a way where I need to know which games are right for me, and at this time Magic just isn’t one of them anymore.

What comes next? More writing, that’s for sure. I can’t go too long without jotting my thoughts down so expect some content in the coming weeks and months on my forays (back) into Dungeons and Dragons and Warhammer 40k. We’ll talk about the core D&D books, D&D beyond, the Wild Beyond the Witchlight, virtual gaming, the Adventurer’s League, the latest Warhammer 40k edition, the new Kill Team edition, and who knows what else.

In the meantime, feel free to hit us up on Twitter with more ideas for games with great long-term value that I can add to my library!

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