I’m going to come out of the closet right now and say that I’m a Boom Beach addict. Yes, I killed one addiction (World of Warcraft) for another. Now that I’ve gotten that part out of the way, I wanted to share some strategies that I’ve been learning over the past year or so of playing this game. I’ve made my share of mistakes and when I watch other, newer inexperienced players, I see the same mistakes being made, which is utterly frustrating and unnecessary.
Deciding Early on to Be Defensive (Turtling) or Offensive (or both)
Most players start off splitting between defensive and offensive. However, to really master this game you need to understand the key differences between both because the game style will affect your progression. There is also a hybrid model which probably is the best balanced method for enjoying this type of game and will be covered in brief.
The defensive method in this game is great for those who have little time and can potentially check their status in this game around once per day (like long post-lunch toilet breaks or just before bed). Obviously, when you go defensive, you put more emphasis on upgrading your defensive structures like Sniper Towers. However, being what’s called a defensive turtle means that you will probably rely on your resource generators for doing upgrades.
Now, the part I didn’t quite understand when I started out was the core concept of Victory Points in this game along with your experience points and the match making system. The way the match making system works is complex but the brief explanation is that the amount of Victory Points you have as well as your HQ level determine just whom you will be matched against. Thus, if you have a high amount of Victory Points, you will be matched against higher players. Simple right?
The match making system is very broken algorithmically and is abused by players who understand how it works. The last patch attempted to correct part of this to prevent players with high Victory Points but low HQ levels from being completely mismatched against players with high HQ levels and low Victory Points. Even then, it’s not uncommon to see players who have substantially higher base levels than you to the point where you cannot beat them.
So how does this work with the defensive/turtle player? A bad defensive/turtle player will probably assault too many players and accumulate a large number of Victory Points that will cause them to gradually have a skewed situation. Worse yet, the defensive/turtle player will probably end up going for evenly upgraded defenses and possibly use wrong statue combinations. Because they split themselves too thinly, the bad defensive/turtle player will find the midgame nearly impossible without resorting to buying Diamonds.
Now, if you really want to turtle in this game, you pretty much want to open up only a very small section of the archipelago. There’s a good guide on the Boom Beach forums describing how to play a turtle mode. But the high level idea is to avoid accidentally upgrading your radar too much to avoid actual players from showing up. Then with only a small, safe portion of the map open, you can avoid being detected and thus attacked. Note that if you go this route, your game play probably will be exceptionally uneventful and take forever in gathering the resources you need to see the end game.
On the other hand, being an offensive player is much more fun, rewarding and gets you upgrades far faster. It does require that you play more frequently but you do need to understand a few key strategies.
First, when you go offensive, you focus on rushing your HQ. That means whenever you have the opportunity to upgrade your HQ, you do it. Upgrading your HQ means you gain more access to defensive buildings and other upgrades. You want to forgo evenly upgrading everything and you might even consider not building certain buildings at all given that additional buildings imply potentially free easy GBE (Gunboat Energy) for your opponents.
Next, you only attack what you need, when you need it. I’ve seen some idiotic players who will assault enemy bases with full resources. That is absolutely stupid because you unnecessarily will increase your Victory Points and gain nothing except maybe some intel and Power Stones. Remember that a huge part of the game is managing your Victory Points so that you do not get overwhelmed too quickly. If you beat a player, you gain 2 Victory Points while getting defeated only loses you 1. So only attack if you’re absolutely certain that you want to increase your VP as well as being ready for key upgrades.
In terms of what you want to focus on beyond the HQ for buildings, you will prioritize the Sculptor, Vault, Armory, Gunboat, Landing Craft, Radar and Submarine roughly in that order. You can build resource and defense buildings because those will help give you the necessary experience to get to the next HQ levels. But the offensive player goes for the above buildings. Here’s a breakdown of how those buildings become important to the offensive player:
- Sculptor – Increases the number of statues you can utilize. You will want Masterpieces (MP) of Gunboat Energy (GBE), Resource Reward (RR), Troop Damage (TD) and Troop Health as well as Power Stone Chance (PSC) down the road. GBE becomes one of the most important statues because you can toss down more barrages, artillery, etc., which also means far less troop loss.
- Vault – You will be constantly attacked once you open yourself up. That’s a guarantee. I believe I read that there’s a 4 hour window where you are visible on other players’ maps. A maxed out Vault is the best way to ensure that your resources are mostly protected. So keep this one upgraded at all times.
- Armory – An upgraded armory means upgrades for troops. You cannot simply stay at level 1 the entire time if you expect to have any success at this game. But upgrading troops and gunboat abilities means you’ll have more victories. So make sure this one is close to being topped off along with your HQ. Once it falls too far behind it becomes really difficult to play catch up, especially with the revamped match making system.
- Gunboat – This “building” is extremely expensive and very tough to upgrade down the line. Each upgrade only provides +2 energy though. So you might think, “So what?” Combining those upgrades with lots of GBE statues means that you can put out more barrages and artillery. For some troops like tanks and scorchers, the pairing of an upgraded Gunboat along with GBE statues is a must have. So keep this one reasonably upgraded.
- Landing Craft – This support structure is not entirely necessary to keep maxed out at each level. However, if you fall too far behind then you’ll be playing catch up down the road, especially once you hit level 20 HQ where you’ll see near max capacity potential with this craft. The real key though in knowing when to upgrade is understanding what troop combinations you’ll play. For instance, T-Med (Tanks + Medics) only require level 12 to be effective for a very long time. But if you go Warrior or Zooka, then you definitely want to continue pushing the upgrades on this craft at a reasonable level.
- Radar – Besides opening the possibility to new bases (NPCs, players and resource bases), you also will have access to more dive locations. Dive locations are great because a lot of the key upgrade boosts can come from these along with Diamonds and Power Stones. Later on, it will be hard to upgrade this building because the cost of opening up parts of the map will conflict with critical upgrades in your armory. But up until the midgame, keeping both upgraded will mean that you won’t get into situations where you wastefully earn gold that you can’t spend.
- Submarine – Simply put a higher level submarine means access to deeper dives for better resources. There’s not a lot of upgrades for this support structure and dive cost also will conflict potentially with key armory and map elements. But just make sure you have enough to grab the key dives that will help you with your resources.
Beyond the building upgrades, the other key upgrades are from your armory. Generally, you will want to keep your barrage, artillery, shock bombs, flares and smoke bombs upgraded (especially the first three). But the thing to determine around the midgame is your offensive strategy. Before going into troop combinations, you need to understand that upgrading every troop type is a horrible waste of resources and time. Early on, it’s not a huge issue because you simply lack access to all the variety of troop types. But once you unlock a good portion of troops, you don’t always want to be upgrading each type. You really need to save your resources and pick a strategy that works for you as the cost of upgrades will just overwhelm you over time.
So where do defensive structures fit into this equation? I’ve read about some players who go strictly offensive and never bother building a single defensive structure. A few structures might be necessary just based on getting the required XP for an HQ upgrade. But even then I find that having no defensive buildings to be ridiculous and frustrating. As much as I’d love to see every player have zero defense buildings just so that I can waltz in and demolish your bases for easy resource pickings, that strategy isn’t really the best in the long term.
A better strategy is to know how to balance your upgrades as well as coming up with a defensive layout that is good for with the structures you do have. Generally speaking, you will certainly want to have a few key buildings up like Rocket Launchers, Boom Cannons, Cannons and Sniper Towers. Flame Throwers, Machine Guns and Mortars have their place but the vast majority of the people I see in the midgame are T-Med players, which means that Boom Cannons, Cannons and Sniper Towers are your best defenses. A lot of people also use Zookas which are vulnerable to Rocket Launchers. So the combination of those four will dissuade easy attacks against you.
Now, leaving all structures completely un-upgraded almost is as bad as not having a structure at all. For example, let’s say you have a level 1 machine gun that you built and leave on the front line. My tank will smash it without question and I’ll make cheap GBE that can shock more of your defensive buildings down. For myself, I prefer upgrading the low level buildings in between major upgrades. So let’s say that I want to upgrade my landing craft to 17. The resource amount can be daunting. It could take me 3-5+ days of resource gathering from boosted RR statues, Doctor T bases, NPC base clears, resource gathering and some PVP. In this situation, if I have a lower level building that I can upgrade that won’t kill the bank, I’ll do it. I don’t have exact numbers but essentially the cost of the minor upgrade should not exceed more than 10% of what my major upgrade might be.
Also, I think it’s important to keep upgrades going all the time. If you do want a major upgrade but cannot afford it, then do a minor one. Just make sure that the timing does not conflict with when you estimate you’ll be ready for the major upgrade as well as having enough resources.
Now, that we’ve gone over base management, the next key topic to discuss is troop combinations. I’ve seen it, you’ve seen, you probably have done. I know I have. Everyone at some point has gotten overly excited about unlocking a new troop and decides to put it on their landing craft just to believing new troop == more kills/wins.
Like many games, just having a new troop does not mean you should automatically use it. It also does not mean you get more health or do more damage. Each troop has a strength and weakness as well as a synergy with certain troops and a dissonance as well. It’s important to read up on how troops operate as well as what buildings are strong/weak against your troops. That said, there are a few popular combinations that I will enumerate here.
- RZM (Riflemen – Zookas – Medics) – Obviously, this troop combination type can only be unlocked once you get medics. But the idea here is that Riflemen serve as meat shields for your zookas who do the damage. Medics heal your Riflemen. Your main weakness will be against high level lasers, rocket launchers, flamethrowers and machine guns. But the sheer number will beat out high level bases that have boom cannons, cannons and shock launchers, which generally are the bane to tank combinations. From what I’ve read, this is a popular combination at high levels because of the cheap and quick ability to rebuild your troops. But obviously, you will need high level landing craft to pull this off.
- Hookas (Heavies – Zookas) – One of the best early combinations that will take you until the mid game. Heavies absorb damage from most defenses, allowing the vulnerable Zookas to do most of the damage. Your primary weakness is Rocket Launchers in terms of what you should target since these can wipe out your Zookas if left alone. Also, you may find your Zookas a bit hard to control at times. The key is to make sure you don’t flare too close to buildings like machine guns and flame throwers since your zookas can outrange them.
- HMZ (Heavies – Medics – Zookas) – A good combination once you unlock medics and the 7th landing craft. You can put your medics on the 7th craft to heal up your heavies while your zookas dish out the punishment. I used this combo right up until I leveled up my tanks to around level 5.
- Smokey Warriors – This combination requires that you unlock the smoke bomb. The idea is that you flare to the HQ while using Smoke Bombs to protect your warriors en route to the HQ. Then with enough GBE, you can shock flame throwers and other buildings near warriors while they go to work against the HQ. At any rate, this is one the best combos in the game hands down and can take down most HQs.
- T-Med (Tanks – Medics) – A great mid game combination. Also, great against Doctor T. This combination works as Tanks generally have high health and do a fair amount of burst damage. Medics keep them up and you can have a large number of victories where you will not lose any troops. Unfortunately, pre-level 9-10, tanks are weak while medics have moderate health. To make this combination work, you need lots of GBE, troop health statues and a significant investment in upgrading your tanks. But this is a very strong and durable troop. Your main weakness is against Boom Cannons, Shock Launchers, Boom Mines, Cannons and high level Sniper Towers. Also, the long training time can make it frustrating between raids.
- Grank-Meds (Grenadiers – Tanks – Medics) – My personal favorite. This combination synergizes really well as grenadiers are great at taking out mines, cannons and other buildings with their long range while Tanks provide good defense and more accurate burst damage against single targets (especially the HQ). Medics play an important role in keeping both sides up, especially Grenadiers who are faster than tanks with moderate health. Again, your main weakness is against Boom Cannons, Shock Launchers and Sniper Towers. Sniper Towers are particularly deadly against Grenadiers as the Grenadiers cannot outrange the Snipers Towers and will be 2 shot.
- Scanks (Scorchers – Tanks) – A very GBE intensive combination. Not a great combination for Doctor T from what I’ve been told. But supposedly this combination works great against higher level bases. The Scorchers have the most hit points in the game and do a far amount of DoT damage. Your tanks will clean up the mess that the Scorchers leave while themselves having a fair amount of health. The main vulnerability is from boom cannons which can still put a dent on your scorchers. But with enough troop health statues and boost, it’ll be really tough taking these guys out. Also, it’s said that this combination doesn’t shine until gaining the 3rd tank spot on your landing craft while the scorcher should be leveled to around 5 to really maximize your health.
- GMeds (Grenadiers – Medics) – Grenadiers have a moderate amount of health that a medic can sustain. But it’s their collective range that gives them their real power. However, this combo isn’t as accurate nor as durable as the Grank-Med combo since you’ll have to deal with sniper towers, boom cannons and the Grenadiers’ inaccuracy.
- Scorchers – Zookas (not sure of the buzzword) – Scorchers replace the heavy as the literal tank/damage absorption item while Zookas do clean up. Again, the big weakness for is Rocket Launchers for the zookas and boom cannons for the scorchers. This combo isn’t as GBE intensive as Scanks but the balance is needing to take out the Rocket Launchers before you can land your zookas. So just make sure you have enough GBE.
- Smokey Zookas – A very popular operations combo. Like Smokey Warriors, Smokey Zookas rely on smoke bombing for protection and shock bombing buildings like rocket launchers. This combo probably is the highest damaging combo in the game and you can one shot an HQ. The main thing is to make sure as many zookas survive, your path to the HQ is clear and that you have enough GBE to shock things like rocket launchers.
- RZM + Cryos – RZM’s advantage of sheer numbers, high damage and some level of healing gets complimented by Crowd Control (CC) in the form of the cryos. I’ve seen some nasty take down of bases with this combo.
Victory Point Management
One of the hardest things to perform in this game is Victory Point management. Just because you see a base on your screen does not mean you should destroy it. Assaulting a base while giving you rewards means two things:
- Allowing others to potentially take your rewards if you aren’t immediately targeting an upgrade
- Pushing your Victory Points up for no good reason beyond making your situation more difficult for yourself.
So what is Victory Point management? In essence, there’s a calculator on the Boom Beach wikia site that talks about where your VP level ought to be given your HQ and experience levels. You should use that as a guideline for knowing when to push your VP and when to hold back. Even so, when you’re attempting to go for a key upgrade, you might be forced to push beyond the VP level that will be good for you, making player bases that much more difficult. So knowing when to attack is critical.
A little inside idea to the game’s difficulty is called the VP Wall. The VP Wall occurs once you’ve pushed your VP too far and can no longer defeat other players because you’ve mismanaged your VP. How can you undo all that work you’ve put in then? Most people will beach your HQ and try to get other players to destroy them. Unfortunately, because each defeat only results in a single VP reduction, this process can take a while.
As I mentioned, you have a limited amount of time when your base is visible. You can see how many times you’ve been scouted through the daily report on the man map. Generally, if you have weak defenses and/or high amounts of resources, you become more attractive to assault. One tactic to get people to attack you beyond beaching your HQ is to have enough unnecessary resources to make it worth assaulting you. Obviously, if you’re on the quest to do a major upgrade, you need to limit yourself in being attacked. But if you have low resources and need some reduction, this will help a lot.
Another thing is to focus on NPC bases. Most NPC bases only give a single VP for a win. So assaulting NPC bases generally is considered safe. After a period of time, NPC bases regenerate and you lose back your VP, keeping things even. The thing about focusing exclusively on NPC bases is that you will not get as much resources as you can with regular bases. I tend to clear my map once a day of NPC bases just to have enough resources for minor upgrades and leading towards a major one. Sometimes, I’ll even clear NPC bases to gather enough resources to trick people into attack me as long as I’m not too high.
Resources and Scouting
In addition, just as NPC bases give limited resource rewards, player bases can give really bad rewards. Thus choosing a player base to assault is critical since you don’t want to push yourself too far ahead without getting an upgrade out of it. The way player base rewards work is that the resource reward snap shots the moment you attack or scout. Once it snap shots, the reward neither goes up nor down. The only way to improve upon the reward is by rerolling the base.
You can only reroll a base roughly every day or two. So if you want a better chance of success (unless you’re extremely confident with your abilities), you should reroll when you’re at your lowest VP for that day. The best days to reroll are Doctor T days, late in the day. The idea here is that players will probably assault Doctor T, get their resource reward and possibly have extra or not enough for the upgrade they need. So rerolling late in the day before you start your Doctor T raids and scouting at that time imply you can maximize your rewards and chances of success.
First, what is statue boosting? Statue boosting is when you take your powder from crushing Masterpiece (MP) statues and boosting a single statue for about 3 hours (for offense) or longer (for other). Most people tend to burn their green and blue MPs for powder, especially green statues as they provide little use in truth.
What should you boost? I only boost my MPs and only for Doctor T days. There might be fringe cases such as when I’m close to an upgrade but still need a fair amount of resources. But you will want to conserve your powders for Doctor T, especially RR and PSC. GBE, TD and TH statues are good if you’re intending to do a massive map clear and need the resources. Guardian boosts should only be boosted if you’re feeling vulnerable and really need to min/max what you’re doing. Otherwise, save your powders just for key MPs, especially if you don’t need too much.
Diamonds are a pretty sensitive and controversial topic. Before going into whether you should purchase diamonds, I want to talk about when to use them. For the most part, you will want to hoard your diamonds for as long as you can. Don’t bother in the early stages of the game to use any diamonds for any reason. It’s pretty easy to get the resources you need and spending diamonds to replenish troops early on is a complete waste.
Right around HQ 12-13 is when you’ll start to think about using diamonds. My suggestion is that between HQ 12-15, you only use diamonds for upgrading the HQ. HQ rushes are great and the faster you can get to HQ 20-21 the better. Around HQ 16+ you’ll start to hit the mid game wall. Things like the armory, sculptor, gunboat, landing crafts and troops will start costing ridiculous amounts. And all are necessary on top of the HQ. But around this point you might start seeing your VP skyrocket as you chase down more player bases for these higher costing structures. This is when you’ll want to really push using Diamonds for the big upgrades. For stuff like armory, gunboat and landing craft, I found that 200-400 diamonds are totally worth the upgrade. HQ and Sculptor at 18+ will require some serious investments just because the cost is out of control but absolutely necessary to progress further.
But here you’ll have to ask yourself if the game is worth the financial investment. By this point, you’ve probably invested a few solid months getting to this level. And to really see the higher levels, you’ll have to either spend a significant amount of time managing your VP and suffering through tons of losses or make quick pushes. Everything from this point on just gets exponentially tougher with opponents having high leveled defenses, the costs for upgrades and your ability to balance defense while making some progress forward. Everything is completely doable but again it’s up to you in terms of how fast you want to progress.
My belief is that you should only spend if you feel the game is worth it. And only spend enough for upgrades that make sense. Don’t ever use diamonds for rushing an upgrade. Spend diamonds just for the missing resources like high level landing craft, sculptor or HQ. Your impatience ultimately is your enemy.