If you've played a lot of Clash of Clans, no doubt you're looking at Boom Beach and thinking "this is the same game I've been playing for months/years!" However, when you compare Boom Beach vs Clash of Clans, there are some significant differences. I've singled out my top 5 favorite changes in Boom Beach that I think make Boom Beach better than Clash of Clans.
# # 5: Boom Beach Has Shorter Build Times
If you tell a Clash of Clans player that Boom Beach has only one builder, the first thing they're likely to think is "Well, that means building and upgrading are going to take FOREVER!" However, that's simply not the case.
First, all the build times are significantly shorter than in Clash of Clans. Currently, the longest building upgrade (HQ level 20) takes two and a half days rather than the weeks it takes to get some of the later upgrades in Clash of Clans. Building a new level 1 building takes mere seconds in most cases. This is nice for when you upgrade your HQ and unlock a new landing craft or defensive tower.
Second, diamonds (the premium currency) are currently best used to speed things up. In Clash of Clans, you generally had to stockpile gems to buy more builders. In Boom Beach, they can be used to bypass the resource requirements for upgrades, and they can also finish buildings immediately. The game is pretty generous about diamonds as well, so you're always going to find more even without having to drop a bunch of cash.
# # 4: Boom Beach Has Better Matchmaking and Single Player
Clash of Clans single player is an exercise in frustration. There's a fixed amount of resources per level, so if you manage to get most of the resources out of a level but lose, why would you ever play it again?
Boom Beach's single player is much more dynamic. The missions are win/lose - win and get resources, lose and get none. The single player missions also respawn over time, so if you just feel like playing against the computer, you can!
There's no shield in Boom Beach, as well. The shield kind of encourages turtling for extended periods, even though the real meat of the game is raiding other bases.
In Boom Beach, enemy players start showing up on your world map once you get past the first few HQ and radar levels. You can scout opponents for no cost. If you don't want to raid another player's base, that's fine. After a day, you'll have the option to skip them. There's no penalty at all for skipping fights you don' think you can win.
The flip side is that if you have a well-defended base, you're unlikely to get attacked. People will look at your base and go "lol, nope!" I've gone days without having anyone attack me, even.
Also unlike Clash of Clans, there's no resources won if you don't win the fight in Boom Beach. Thus, you won't find people raiding for your resources, but then not winning so that they lose trophies. In Clash of Clans, this is kind of a double whammy of "you took my stuff and now I'm going to get matched against harder opponents next time."
# # 3: Boom Beach Has No Walls
Gah, walls. In Clash of Clans, moving walls around and getting them arranged and upgraded just right is a tedious process. Trying to play the game on a phone is an exercise in frustration. Most "pro" Clash of CLans players I know tend to prefer tablets, as moving the tiny objects around is much easier when they're far larger.
While base management is still fun in Boom Beach, there's far less micromanagement. The unit drop zones are very clearly marked and well outside the base area. There's no chance you'll arrange your base "wrong" and allow units to spawn deep inside your defenses.
Base layout is still important - if your headquarters gets destroyed, you lose, full stop. Every building destroyed by attackers weakens your headquarters as well. There are many strategic options during a fight that can swing the tide as well.
In Boom Beach, you've got to plan your base carefully in order to avoid losing major resources due to attacks. It's just that there's not as much careful pixel arrangement in the overall strategy. Boom Beach is more focused on bigger targets and higher-order placement.
# # 2: Boom Beach's Unit Management is Smarter
In Clash of Clans, you've got to manage your Barracks, which produces units for your Army Camps. The Camps have a limit, and each Barracks has a training limit as well. There's training time to worry about, so keeping your camps properly balanced can be painful and time consuming unless you've got a particularly boring unit mix.
In Boom Beach, each landing craft holds an amount of units. They've all got to be the same unit, as well. Replacing defeated units is quick and painless. It's easy to manage your unit mix with this interface.
In Clash of Clans, dropping a unit during an attack consumes it, whether it survives or not. It can be hard to decide how much of your forces to commit to an attack. You have to keep the training cost and the remaining resources in your mind at all times. This can lead to some raids where you could have won if you'd been bold at the start, but the game encourages you to be overly cautious instead.
In Boom Beach, if a unit survives, you can use it again, immediately. You can even retreat from battles you realize you can't win and preserve any units that survive. If you're on a roll against weak opponents or easy single player levels, you don't have to stop and retrain your whole army. You can just play the game!
# # 1: Boom Beach's Gunboat
Probably my favorite thing about Boom Beach is the Gunboat. In Clash of Clans, once you drop a troop you're at that troop's mercy. Its AI will prioritize targets and do whatever it wants until it's dead.
Boom Beach's Gunboat gives you tactical options once the fighting starts. Arguably the most important is the flare - throwing a flare causes all of your troops to move to a new position, or attack a specific target. With flares, you can target the strongest defenses, bypass troublesome areas, or approach from a strategically significant direction. That's not to discount Boom Beach's Gunboat's other features - being able to damage or destroy defenses, heal your troops, and temporarily disable buildings are also useful.
Several people have pointed out that Clash of Clans has spells that do some of what the Gunboat can. However, spells cost Elixir and time to train, while the Gunboat is always available and recharges instantly between fights. The Gunboat's abilities also unlock at much lower levels, which means you're not waiting until you have a level 5 Spell Factory to get the "Freeze" spell - you'll get that ability (EMP) much earlier in Boom Beach.
The Gunboat still manages to provide a level of balance, though. Overusing a particular ability makes it too costly to be effective. Destroying targets gives you more energy to use, so if you go against the harder targets first, you'll have less Gunboat support.
In short, the Gunboat brings interesting choices to raiding. Upgrading and using it effectively can mean the difference between winning and losing a raid.