With Patch 4.2, World of Warcraft: Cataclysm introduced a new epic quest block that takes you from Mt. Hyjal and into the Firelands. I thought it might be nice to give you a little guide to the proceedings, one that leaves the huge story spoilers out of the equation and just breaks down what you can expect. This guide will be updated as we too go through the quest chains, unlocking the quest hubs and helping in the fight against Ragnaros and his minions. One note: While I am doing my best to keep this spoiler-free, if you have buried your head in the sand regarding anything about Patch 4.2 (Including the name) then you probably want to skip this post until you've at least started the quest chains yourself.
Before we start, in order to do these quests you will need to have completed the vast majority of the Mt. Hyjal questline. Don't worry if you haven't, these quests are not server wide but rather personal to your character. They'll wait until you finish Aessina's Miracle, after which you can begin the new content. You grab the main quest in Orgimmar or Stormwind from the Hero's Call Board, and then head to your local portal hub. There is also a sub quest there sending you to talk to someone of importance. While this quest is adjacent to the Firelands questline, it is incredibly important to the larger storyline of WoW, and I suggest you do that first. When you're done with that, head back here. Go on, I'll wait.
Ready? Good, now let's pop on over to Mt. Hyjal where you meet up with the Hyjal Protectors over at the Sanctuary of Malorne. You know, the one Guardian of Hyjal that didn't actually play much of a role in the Mt. Hyjal core quests. Here Archdruid Hamuul Runetotem has a task for you. Complete it and you will get the first of your Marks of the World Tree, the badges of honor that you use for currency in this section of the game. By the end of this part of the quest line you will have 12, and have dailies available that give you 4 per day.
Next you will be asked to collect 20 Marks of the World Tree so that they can open the portal into the Firelands. It won't take long if you do the dailies consistently. Luckily the dailies themselves don't take a huge amount of time -- maybe 20 minutes in total if you lollygag. One of the dailies in this section will chain, giving you three Marks of the World Tree instead of just one.
Once you have your 20 Marks its time to head through the portal into the Firelands and help Malfurion bring the pain to the elementals. There's lots of story things going on in between, so read everything and enjoy your story progression. Once you get through to the Firelands there are a lot more dailies, but also a lot more Marks will be required of you. Head on over to the vendor to buy a nice 365 item (or two if you're a plate wearer, /grumble), and head out to do your new dailies. The next benchmark is split into two segments of 150. Luckily you receive 14 Marks for your dailies from this point on, so it will only take ten days to hit your first goal, and another ten days to complete the hub entirely. Because I'm doing these quests as we go, (see, it's spoiler free, even for me) I'll update the guide here once I get to that point myself.
For those that like things laid out in nice even charts, here's a breakdown of the Marks of the World Tree and their benchmarks:
|3||4||20 Mark Benchmark Reached|
|3 (after first benchmark)||29|
|4 thru 12||14||First 150 Mark Benchmark Reached|
|13 thru 23||14||Second 150 Mark Benchmark Reached|
As you can see the progression is pretty even, and definitely doable even if you only have a little time to play each day. This sort of lunchtime content is great for those who want to feel like they are making a difference in the larger storyline but can't invest the time and resources it takes to raid. Well, I'm off to the Firelands. I'll check back in with you in a little over a week and see what I can add to this.