I have raided as a maintank and as an off-tank. I don’t really mind, as long as the encounter is interesting.
Some people don’t like the term “off-tank” or think it’s out-of-date. Others don’t want to think of themselves as an off-tank because it implies you are of secondary importance.
I like the term, because everyone knows it means “the tank who is not on or is the secondary tank for the big boss”.
- On some ICC fights, there is no off-tank, so it’s meaningless, like Saurfang, Festergut and Valithria.
- On other fights, the off-tanking is a kind of dull like non-heroic Blood Queen
- Some of the ICC raids can be simplified to single-tanking, such as Sindragosa, so the ‘off-tank’ then switches to DPS
- Professor Putricide is a unique fight with the off-tank driving the abomination (fun the first time, I wonder if it gets boring) then into a crucial tank-swap final phase where all tanks are important
- Lastly, the off-tank is crucial on a few fights like the Lich King.
We all hope that in Cataclysm, there will be a more consistent number of required tanks in the raids. I’ve written a lot about this in the past. Let’s wait and see on that point.
Since around AQ-20 at least, the concept of a tank corp has been well established. It’s the idea that there is no dedicated main tank (who gets priority on all tank drops) but instead there’s a small reliable team of tanks who get gear with no bias. The idea is to keep tanking interesting too, so that the dull roles get spread around, and so the skill level of all tanks is high enough to MT a boss if another corp member is away.
I think where ‘off-tank’ can be misused is when a guild assigns a ‘main tank’ moniker to a particular person, who then always gets the prestigious tanking roles whilst the nominated off-tank gets whatever is left over. This is bad guild management except when cleverly used by very high-end guilds (like top 500) who have 95% attendance and want to be sure that everyone knows their role inside-out, for the sake of progression.
The worst example is when a bad GMs also does not appreciate the different strengths of various tank classes, and thus end up using their nominated main tank for fights which he is not ideal, whilst relegating the ideal tank class to other duties. That’s just stupid.