Image: EN24

If you could zoom out far enough, it would look like a small line of ants.

For the past five days, pilots in EVE Online’s Pandemic Horde alliance have been moving their assets and ships across space to settle into a new home. Some have only a few ships, while others have literally hundreds scattered all across Geminate, Horde’s old home region.

Every few hours, pings go out on the alliance’s Discord server, with players offering to serve as overwatch on “move ops,” keeping nonpvp ships safe en route to their new destination in The Kalevala Expanse region of New Eden.

Even outside those official move ops, there’s a constant stream of players flying back and forth. Mostly forth — once pilots reach their new home and drop off a ship, they’ll often self-destruct their pod to return to Geminate and pick up the next one in line.

Sometimes flying solo goes wrong, though.

“Don’t be this guy. If you are moving expensive gear have scouts and intel,” warned Nidia Masters, a director in Horde, linking to a report of someone who had gotten her ship blown up en route, along with what looked like most of her assets.

The move announcement came suddenly, though the move had been planned quietly for a while. Some suspect that the upcoming blackout hurried it along. In any case, the alliance is consolidating its space, moving to a region that’s more compact and easier to protect.

The Discord ping went out, Horde leadership rerouted its Ansiblex Jump Gates to turn a 16-jump route into only three, and beans (as Horde members refer to themselves) sprang into action.

“Moving is never fun when you are a larger indy guy,” says Testament81, who has been with Horde for three years and runs a large Planetary Production (formerly known as Planetary Interaction and commonly abbreviated as PP or PI) brokering operation, to his knowledge the only one like it in EVE.

Roughly 100 billion ISK per month in assets passes through his hands in an effort to “connect even the smallest, newest PI bean to high end buyers.” To put that in perspective, it takes about 2 billion ISK to pay for a month’s subscription to the game, which normally costs about $15 in US dollars.

It’s a full-fledged business, basically, and involves coordinating buying, selling, supplying, stockpiling ... all of which now has to move to a new region of space, not to mention a dozen of his own large ships and assets.

Yes, it’s a pain.

All things considered, though, it’s going smoothly. This is Testament81's fourth move with Pandemic Horde, and the experience improves each time.

“Horde leadership is easily the most involved I’ve worked with. They take advice and seek advice seriously. Each move has been smoother and smoother,” he said. “The team organizing the move made things very painless. Get in fleet and follow instructions.”

The hardest part may well be adjusting the business end of things, but he’s not worried. “The fresh start is not a big deal. But it does cause headaches. Discord PM’s are nonstop, etc. Once moved it should smooth out as TBD items are completed. Clients will determine locations I buy and sell from. Patterns will form and yeah, hopefully the smooth transition will continue.”

Other players have different challenges. Bullzark, a player who has been with Pandemic Horde since early 2015, faces a surprisingly common one: moving literally hundreds of ships.

Bullzark has his own mining fleet, eight accounts that he multiboxes at once. And each of those eight accounts has ships scattered all over Geminate. He has over 350 ships to move to Horde’s new home, and has spent the last five days just consolidating them into one station in Geminate.

“Yeah, consolidating has and will be the worst part of it.” he said. “Trading everything to one character. Running to the stations to unpack safetied assets on alts before they can be traded. Going to the stations to repackage ships and setting up courier contracts, and then burning alts to light cynos.”

If it sounds confusing and like a lot of work, that’s because it is.

“I’m moving about 15 million m3 via Jump Freighters, and if I move all my industry stuff, another 5 million m3. I also have about a dozen cap hulls to move,” he said. His jump freighters can hold 340 thousand m3 each, so it works out to well north of 50 trips back and forth.

“I hate moving. But I think for Horde it’s a better move,” he said. And he agreed that the move has gone well: “I think Horde has done a really good job ensuring that capital backup is in place when these moves happen. It takes a lot of behind the scenes logistics work to pull off a move like that, so credit has to go to the people in charge of making it go smoothly.”

Not all is perfect with their new home, though. In exchange for the safety of a more remote, compact region of space, Horde’s industrialists will have to pay almost double in shipping costs to get materials from the game’s high-security trading hubs.

For the people who usually do that shipping, the move has been business as usual ... on steroids.

Most players in EVE can’t fly a ship large enough to move all their belongings effectively or safely. Karkinos is a corporation servicing Pandemic Horde composed of pilots who use jump freighters to shuttle people’s belongings back and forth.

Besides that, they also operate a buyback program, where Hordelings can contract their excess or leftover belongings, getting back usually 90% of their value in return. In the past five days, Karkinos has bought over 100 billion ISK in assets from Horde members liquidating their stock as they move.

With pilots also wanting their stuff moved en masse, Karkinos pilots have been busy, working overtime the past few days. Karkinos pilot Rheiweth Niminen said, “It’s not that good ISK as you go empty one way most of the time. It’s crazy, but yeah just let it take some time.”

Karkinos partner Cesaro acknowledge the double-edge nature of move ops for his corporation: “Yes it increases business and by default we make more money because of the volume of contracts, but it’s stressful because we want to keep the times low and everyone happy ... it’s a game not a job. But moves quickly turn it into a job.”

For the average line member of Pandemic Horde, a move like this results in many, many questions, but Horde’s leadership has been working hard, with a Discord questions channel and a Q&A on their forums.

Horde pilots are consolidating their assets, contracting to couriers, and moving their entire EVE livelihood across space. It sounds like it should be chaos, but for the most part, it feels more like a well-oiled machine.

And the ants go marching on.