Below is a tentative unlock schedule. This is of course subject to change and does not reflect patch release dates.
Active – PTR set to stage 0. The Sunreavers and Kirin-Tor will besiege the island from offshore.
Feb 8 – PTR set to Stage 1. You’ll be able to conquer a foothold on the island itself.
Feb 12– PTR set to stage 2. With your help, Jaina and Lor’themar will blast the walls and infiltrate the outer city.
Feb 15– PTR set to stage 3. Daring players can infiltrate the mines and blast open the doors to the Thunder Forge.
Feb 19 – PTR set to stage 4. Block further Zandalari reinforcements by overtaking the shipyard.
Feb 22 – PTR set to stage 5. Fight your way to the Thunder King’s front door! Jaina and Lor’themar will have a ... reckoning.
I don't know about you, but I'm getting a bit nervous about 5.2.
The patch is downloading on your Client as I type. Even taking into account the massive 'does not reflect patch release dates' disclaimer the last bit of 5.2 that wasn't available will be by the 22nd, which means March really is looking likely for the next part of our adventure. They really aren't hanging about with any of this stuff...
The next question then becomes: how long will we really be waiting between stages? If this patch will be followed by 5.3 with the speed 5.1 followed 5.0, would we ideally expect each 'stage' to last a week? Two weeks perhaps? Or will this all depend on the rabid nature of the population of any given server to begin with? I don't have a problem with content becoming irrelevant, this is not my concern, I just remember the Isle of Quel'Dailies being an inceasingly unpleasant place to be as the stages progressed and the relevant areas opened up. in fact, if I'm honest, it was probably that entire process that put the grind into Dailies for me. One can only hope that whatever Blizzard have in store for us it will combine the better features of daily questing with a storyline of the type we've seen happen with the Shieldwall Offensive.
This also presents me with the question of how long I have left to sort 5.1 stuff out.
There's a fair bit to consider too from a personal standpoint: I have a Warlock (Green Fire Quest), 1.75 farms, a Blacksmith and an Engineer still with points to be accrued, plus my Monk project. That's quite apart from the pottering on P and Battle Pets. I may have three weeks before 5.2 drops, which frankly isn't much time for anything really, quite apart from what I've scheduled to write here. It's just making me realise just how serious Blizzard are being about keeping content current and updated, which is not bad for a game which apparently is dead in the water right now. As I said on Twitter when that announcement was made public, 9.6 million of ANYTHING'S not bad going, with the possible exception of red balloons.
This is the first time I've sat down in front of a computer today, having been pretty much 'not here' since breakfast, and I'm struck with the realisation that making lists this time will not be enough, and I'm going to ACTUALLY NEED TO DO STUFF SOON...