Off-tanks are a lot like the unsung heroes in our raids aren’t they?
The main tank is the hero, for sure, hanging onto the biggest, scariest mob while the rest of the raid does their thing and where’s the off-tank in this whole thing?
He’s up there if you actually take the time to look for him. He’s up there standing right next to the main tank, not really taking much of the hits, largely feeling pretty useless unless the main tank happens to bite the bullet and then he’s got his five minutes in the sun to shine.
That’s the way that it used to be.
The role that the off-tank used to have in our raids were largely very small ones. The off-tank is the one that grabbed a lesser add or two when the fight started and then their job was done inside thirty seconds, leaving nothing for them to do until the boss died.
This mentality, while it was no longer true, has been held as truth by popular perception.
Try thinking back to Naxxramas, Ulduar and ToC. How many fights can you remember had the off-tank play a minor role in the fight and then do absolutely nothing for the majority of the fight? There were a lot of them and it completely cemented the concept that the off-tank was exactly that, the OFF-tank. As in, the tank that you turn to when your Main Tank (notice the capitals?) is out of commission or busy.
It also becomes apparent once you really stop to consider the matter that this lamentable situation that I’ve outlined for you as to the inferiority of the off-tank simply doesn’t apply anymore. A lot of the fights in ICC require the two tanks to taunt off of each other or even fulfill roles that are as important or more than simply hanging onto the boss.
A fight like Rotface comes to mind where the main tank just has to stand in one spot pretty much and hold threat while the “off-tank” has to kite around a big, dangerous, potentially raid wiping mob and where one slip up on his part will kill the attempt.
To be sure, there are a decent number of fights where the role of the off-tank is as small as it used to be. Something like Marrowgar or Lady Deathwhisper where the only job that the off-tank has it to stand next to the main tank for the duration of the fight.
It’s all really just a matter of perspective. While there are occasions where the off-tank fills a smaller role than the main tank, it’s balanced well with occasions in ICC where the they share roles, where they share the same hits from the boss, where they both hold potential raid wipes in the reach of their keyboards and share the responsibility of not dropping the ball.
We’ve come a long way from the days where the off-tank was the worse of the two so if you’re stuck in the off-tank’s role now, bear the title with pride and know that you’re just as important as the main…even if nobody in your raid chooses to acknowledge that salient fact.