When missioning out of an Orca, I generally wait until I’ve collected enough loot to fill an unrigged Iteron V, and then either move it for sale or take it back to my main home for storage. Each time I do this I move between 10 and 50+ million ISK. I did one of these runs the other day, and then did a 70 odd jump round trip to collect and then sell some 200 Million ISK worth of datacores.

That got me thinking about the art of Hauling in EVE.

I could not make a career out of hauling. I simply find it too boring. Because I have a liking for quiet, out of the way systems, I have however had to do lots of long distance hauling. You can just mindlessly autopilot and hope for the best – and chances are you’ll never have a problem. Or – like a mate of mine, you can get ganked with hundreds of millions worth of cargo in your hold.

You are always at risk of losing a hauler in EVE. There is no industrial fitting which makes you immune to losing a ship. There is no rule on what is a safe amount of ISK to move – an empty hauler or low value cargo can still be lost to a griefer, or a pirate who miscalculates its value.

Generally the biggest risk for haulers in empire is while using autopilot. I only do this when empty or I am moving cargo that is common and inexpensive.

The next level of danger is while undocking from a trade hub station. If I think my cargo might be too tempting of a target, I might move it in two or three parcels to a nearby “quiet” Station, combine it, and then start my journey.

Otherwise I generally find you are safe in Empire if you manually fly your haulers. Having said that, EVE is not a simple game, and there are a myriad of possible caveats –

  • You get hit by lag or suffer a disconnect at the wrong time and place
  • You get distracted and leave yourself sitting in space for too long
  • Flying a Freighter, due to its long align times, is always at risk
  • When someone has scanned that really expensive cargo you are carrying, and is determined to get it
  • When you are unlucky and get caught by someone fishing with a smart bombing battleship
  • You are on a scam courier contract, designed specifically to put you in danger
  • When you make a target of yourself, by being annoying in local, or follow consistent patterns etc

The old rule of never undocking unless you can afford to lose your ship includes the loss of its cargo as well.

There are other interesting aspects to hauling. Perception pays a part in your safety. Gankers generally need to make quick decision when picking targets, and if their cargo scan returns 200 different types of items, they might take a punt that at least some of it is worthwhile. As such, even if a cargo is cheap, if it is made up of lots of different stacks, I don’t autopilot them. I follow the same rule with faction modules. Don’t assume someone quickly scanning your cargo knows you can’t even give away those small faction shield transfer modules.

Even your behaviour can flag you as a target – someone scanning hundreds of people undocking from Jita 4-4 might give you a second look if you immediately activate hardeners on undock, or are bouncing off ships because you hit the microwarp drive to try and clear the area. It pays to be paranoid, but just don’t look like you are.

Speaking of paranoid, if you suddenly get a sense of danger, or notice yourself being targeted as you jump or warp away, feel free to change course or dock up and log off. It is funny how often someone who are ganked mention that they had noticed suspicious behaviour over the preceding couple jumps, but did nothing about it.

So I try to be half smart about what cargo I haul, to what value, and in what ships. I assume I could lose the lot, so fly it accordingly. If I want to move really expensive items, I will usually use an Orca and place it in the corporate hanger, so it can’t be scanned, and (I think) won’t be dropped if someone ganks you.