Tank Ego

I seem to remember a long defunct WoW blog (Why did you have to delete everything, Tam? Why?) once coining the term "tego" as a contraction of "tank ego" to describe a certain attitude of superiority found in tanks that the writer would run into every now and then.

At least in all the MMOs I've played, there seems to be a natural expectation for the tank to assume the leadership role in any given group. It does make sense to a certain extent, when the tank is the one making the pulls and generally setting the pace of the run. However, we tend to go a bit overboard with our expectations of leadership sometimes, which leads to things like tanks fancying themselves very important and their lives meaningful above the rest of the group (having a big tego), or groups feeling restless and uneasy when they feel that a tank isn't taking charge quite forcefully and quickly enough.

In larger (raid) groups, tanks are also subject to an odd sort of dominance struggle among themselves, as only a minority of fights feature two tanking assignments of equal importance, which leads to one being designated as the main tank and the other the off-tank. Healers don't have that: While we might also have assignments like "you take the left group, I take the right", and sometimes one might be easier than the other, they are always considered equally important. And while damage dealers are always incredibly competitive about doing the highest dps, they generally operate on an even playing field, without anyone being given a rank like primary or secondary dps.

I found myself thinking about this during the past week, during which I had some days off and spent some time tanking social runs for my guild on an Imperial alt of mine. Just assuming the role of tank was already enough to greatly change my perception of each run - I'll admit that as a healer I'm quite prone to things like goofing off or being lazy on trash, but as a tank I felt like I constantly had to pay attention to make sure nobody got themselves into trouble, though I'm sure that was at least in part caused by my relative unfamiliarity with the role. I know that our regular tanks do also allow themselves moments of slacking off and being silly sometimes.

I was also told that I wasn't "dominant enough" - which was meant as a joke and did make me laugh, but at the same time it also gave me food for thought. Quite a few times I experienced damage dealers pulling for me, and while it was all good-natured fun among friends, I have to admit that at the same time there was a part of me that started to feel a bit stressed out as the evening wore on. Like I had to fight the group for pulling rights to show that I'm the tank instead of them just letting me do my job. Because if you're the tank and you're not tanking, what are you? Useless, that's what, and that's just no fun.

On Friday night, things took an amusing turn when I ended up co-tanking an operation with another guild member who - while a lot more used to it than me - also isn't a "regular" tank. Usually he's "just" a damage dealer, and a fairly mellow and reliable one at that, or in other words: He didn't have much of a tego either. This led to a sort of comedy of over-politeness where we would stand in front of a boss and be like: "No, you should main tank this one. Really, I just had the last one." "Oh but I really don't mind, you go ahead and take this one too." "No, I insist..." I think the rest of the group was a bit baffled. Another time we both chilled at the back scavenging some droids while everyone else threw themselves into the next trash pull with no tanks whatsoever. We just sighed and shook our heads.

The conclusion all this made me come to is that a certain degree of tank ego is actually useful to have and probably quite important if you want to actually enjoy the role. While too much of it is annoying and can lead to people acting quite tyrannical, trying to hold the group hostage to their whims, not having enough of it can lead to other group members making your life hard and forcing you to fight them nearly as much as the hostile mobs, which then results in stress and a lack of fun for you.


  1. I still miss Righteous Orbs, as a lot of Tam's blog posts remain universal truths about MMOs. And yes, I remember tego quite well.

    But I'd find a tank without tego quite refreshing, if you ask me.

    1. In the run-up to writing this, I went to archive.org and read some of the posts that are preserved there. Sadly it's not many. Remember "asshole chicken", when he got kicked from a group for arguing with someone who refused to run back after a wipe? Universal truths indeed.

      You can get by without displaying tego as long as everyone in the group co-operates perfectly. But as soon as someone pushes against your (the tank's) leadership, you have to push back or essentially give up.

  2. I have to say when im tanking i only get my tego out if THAT ONE person (its always the same one). Jumps in before i do effectively making my job really hard. I only get annoyed about that. I dont mind dying that happens but jumping in before tank bugs the hell outta me. In saying that it is quite infrequent and normally they stop once i get my tego out.

  3. I've had to let go of my tego simply because once you get to high level progression you start to realize that simply having a tank is sufficient, they can be mediocre and you can still clear content, a good tank makes things easier, however.


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