Builder's Base Strategy - BH5...stay or upgrade to BH6?
A lot of the forumers are convinced that you simply can NOT max/near-max BH5 without it being a horrible experience. The moment anyone complains about unfair matches, the immediate response is to upgrade to BH6 or accept your fate.
I've said it before and I'll say it again - there is absolutely no reason why you cannot max or near-max BH5 if you choose to do so. The key to being successful, however, is to have decent troops, a decent base design, realistic expectations, and patience.
I currently have four BH5 games running. My newest BH6 games were near-maxed at BH5 (everything but walls and Cannon Carts) and one of my current BH5s (Psyberon) is actually maxing; everything but walls, the Gem Mine, and Cannon Carts are already done. I get plenty of loot each day (just a couple levels below max loot), I'm not losing over and over and over again, and I easily maintain in the sweet spot for BH5 trophy levels.
First Point - Realistic Expectations
BH5 is not BH6. BH6 has more structures, more troops, and it's generally stronger than BH5. When it's fully deployed, a well designed BH6 base with level 4 defenses is tough for BH5 maxed troops to beat. BH6 bases that are maxed/near-maxed are almost impossible for a BH5 to get even a single star against unless the base design is poor (which it often is, BTW).
The superiority ends there, though. If you have a well designed base with mostly level 5 defenses and you're in the right trophy range for your current stage of BH5, the typical BH6 player will almost certainly get no better than one star...maybe a low percentage two star.
The reason is simple - most rushed BH6 players are not very good at attacking and have limited attack strategies available to them. The common rusher will upgrade one or two attacks at best and spends very little time attacking (they don't need to - they're not really upgrading things beyond the minimum requirements). These players tend to live between 1200-2400 trophies with the stronger among them being at the higher end of the trophy range.
The sweet spot trophy range for a BH5 starts around 1800 cups and goes all the way up to 2700 cups or thereabouts. All of my late stage BH5 games hover around 2600 trophies; even Psyberon, who just dropped 300 trophies testing a new base design I was working on, is still at 2400 and will be back at 2600 in a few days. My brand spankin' new BH5 games are cruising 2200 trophies after just a couple weeks with nothing but daily loot attacks.
If you understand this and set your expectations accordingly, you'll see how easily BH5 can compete in its own rankings.
Second Point - Decent Troops, Decent Base Design
This is a game of offense - you can have the best base design and even maxed defensive structures, but if you can't attack or lack the troops for variable attack strategies...you're sunk.
BH5 is the first time in the game where you have some real options for attacks. Level 10 Beta Minions and Baby Dragons are just beasts; Sneaky Archers have a LOT of invisibility cloak time to play with; and the Raged Barbarian really comes into his own. Even more important - you get the Battle Machine and, later, his ability at level 5.
Either follow my BH5 Upgrade Guide or make one of your own - get key troops upgraded, work on the right structures in the right order to slow down your opponents. As soon as you have a few things upgraded to BH5 levels - especially some level 10 troops - you'll be just fine and start ascending the trophies.
Part and parcel of this second point - get a decent base design in place. I have a few up in my blog articles and there are lots of videos on YouTube with others. The diamond base is the most common and it still works, although a lot of players have figured out how to beat it quite tidy at the higher trophy levels.
Third Point - Patience
Early BH5 is the pits; you're fighting a bunch of BH6s with BH4 level troops so much that you actually look forward to the occasional BH5. And, of course, when you DO get a BH5, it seems like they're near max and you're still trying to get everything new down on the game grid!
Have heart - this is a short term, temporary crisis. In any tower defense game, be it open multiplayer or player-vs-player, there's a crunch at the beginning of a new level. Don't be surprised when more advanced BH5 or BH6 bases beat you bad. Just dust off and go on to the next. If you hit 3 losses in a row, take an hour or so off; the crop of players will change and you'll likely be better off. Lose 3 more in a row, wait until tomorrow.
I've had days where I'm 3 in and out; other days, it takes me an hour or more to get through my attacks and I drop 100-200 cups. Earlier today I had an attack run on one of my games that was simply surreal - I kept turning out 65% or better two star attacks on BH6 bases, only to have my opponents eek out 3 percentage points more in their own two star. I actually lost an 84% two-star (vs BH6) and a 97% two-star (vs BH5). I was convinced I was in the Twilight Zone. A few hours later...I won on a zero star and a one-star attack, both against BH6s in the 2200 cup range. It just depends on the meta of the day.
A little patience goes a long way - as soon as you have some level 10 attacks ready to roll, it will all turn around. I talk about my own games a lot as they're good examples - ClashManiac, ZedVerteidigung, and NaidCosanta all turned BH5 just a couple weeks ago. All three are hovering around 2300 trophies right now; they started off at 1700-1800 trophies. When did they start moving up? Just as soon as I had a level 10 attack I could use (Mass Beta Minion). The next big jump will come when I start working on the Battle Machine in a couple weeks; right now, they all have a level 1 Battle Machine which is great for tanking but not much use otherwise.
Even the hyper-rushed BH6 crowd isn't getting ahead as fast as they'd like to think. True, they get the new toys more quickly (at level 1) but weak offense, poor attacking skills, and lower level defense don't hold up well against a more seasoned player with troops capable of taking down their defenses. If I get frustrated at early BH5, I can only imagine how these BH6 players I beat up on all day feel about losing to a BH5.