A few tips from an old hand:
1) My iPhone 4 playability tanked when they added planes, so I don't know a whole lot about dealing with them. So my knowledge is pre-that.
2) Grinding plays a big part in getting your cash. Get to a stage that pays well that you can win with very little effort, and do that over and over and over and over and over again. Before the airplane update, it was the last one-on-one duel--shoot a few times right at the beginning before he had a chance to maneuver, and you could sink him pretty quickly. My fully-devloped boat, the Doom Raft
, could sink him in one volley.
The mechanics can't be too far off from that even now. Grind it!
2) The big guns are definitely worth it. The 8x8, $90k guns shoot fewer bullets, but they hit hard enough that it only takes a few shots to cripple an enemy ship. And thankfully, humans suck at maneuvering compared to the AI. I generally kept a layer of 1x1 guns along stern for rapid-fire at those quick-maeneuver boats, but otherwise little guns aren't really worth it. The 400mm lightweight armor will shrug off most anything but the big guns.
3) Put lightweight armor everywhere. Your resistance to shots is frequently based on your average
armor, not your total
toughness. There's no reason to have vanilla hull anywhere, if you can help it.
4) Protect your engines. I kept mine fully encased in armor. Also, for whatever reason, more propellers often equals less power. Not sure why this is the case, but I found it to be pretty consistent. You want a gigantic rudder placed directly behind a single propeller, for best results.
5) Aesthetics are optional. My boat became dramatically more powerful when I learned that a double layer of 2x2x2 400mm lightweight blocks could float as much firepower as I could cram on it.
6) When money is no longer an object, you'll find yourself in the VIP league. Battleship Craft organizes ships into leagues based simply on how much money your boat costs. It keeps full-on battleships from doing battle with fishing trawlers and pea shooters. And when you cross that last line into the VIP, it becomes a whole different nasty kind of world--where the problem is not price, but size limitations. You'll find yourself facing premium weapons frequently--don't worry, the guys spamming rocket launchers are generally noobs. The other guys, with ships suddenly 2 and 3 times your size even though you're maxed out on parts--those guys are generally just nasty.
7) If you want to go ahead and build for the VIP's now, buy big armor blocks instead of little ones--I wished a dozen times over I could have traded in those hundreds of small armor blocks. BC doesn't cap you out on size or tonnage, it caps you based on how many points are on your ship. So a ship maxed out on 2x2x2 blocks will be roughly 8 times the size of a ship maxed out on 1x1x1 blocks. Bear this in mind when planning long-term.
In case you haven't guessed by now, my paradigm was the Floating Fortress. I could hit nearly 50 knots at full health, but mostly my rig was designed to dish and receive absurd amounts of punishment. There were others who did this, and did it far better than I. Here's a few other concepts I saw:
The Hydro-foil--These ships were insanely wide, balanced on several pontoons to reduce the drag. Mounted on the impossibly wide beam was a massive array of torpedo launchers. These boats would dash around evading your long-range fire, then dash in and hit you with a few dozen (no exaggeration here) torpedoes at once. The hydrofoil usually would take damage, but the victim (always me) would be hurt badly enough to make a follow-up shot pretty easily. To beat these guys, I would turn broadside to them and sit at rest. I would then hold my fire until they were at nearly point-blank, sure-hit range--for the big big guns, this is about 5km, just outside torpedo range. I would give them a full broadside volley, and max-accelerate to avoid the torpedos. A few would still get through, but the damage to the hydrofoil from 12 point-blank biggest-gun shots was more than it could handle.
The speedboat--These guys were very difficult for me to put down, maybe because I was using an iPhone. The aiming system is very difficult to use at range, so these guys were excellent at avoiding fire. Then they would come at you and keep at the stern, or wherever your firepower was least-concentrated to whittle you down. But if you can get just a few good hits in on their engine, you'll win the match in pretty short order.
The longboat--Just like it sounds, they're long, narrow boats with usually 10 or so 8x8 guns in a line, with several smaller guns to boot. I eventually transitioned to this type of boat, because you could circle and strafe with maximum firepower. To sink it, concentrate your fire on just one corner of the boat to capitalize on its relatively low balance value.
The mega-fortress--This was why I transitioned to the longboat, since I didn't have the money to make one as big as theirs. Strafe and pound, preferably from long distance. A well-done mega-fortress is very nearly impossible to take down.
The Ram--A speedboat with lots of balance and frontal armor, these guys charge in under your fire and try to run over you. Basically, if you see them charging, just like with the hydrofoil, hold your fire until they're less than 5km or so away.
The wisp--I've only encountered a few of these, thankfully. They max out their ships at like 2km long, and only a few blocks wide. Generally, whatever you're shooting is difficult to hit, and has enouggh support that these guys are very difficult to sink. The plus side of that is, they can't hurt you very much either--they basically win matches by frustrating opponents into quitting. To beat them, I try to ram them at a perpendicular angle to flip them over. Ramming them head-on is ill-advised, as you'll probably be the one to flip and sink. Or at least I was, all three times I tried it.
The sub--The submarine is really a failed class. Difficult to build, really cool to see, impossible to hit with your guns, and they can sink you with their torpedos. Install just one depth charge dispenser on your boat, anywhere you like, and run them down. One hit kills with a depth charge. These guys really don't have a place in the VIP.