For me, I login and go straight for the islands. I deplete all my Energy as fast as I can completing quests. I do this because most people gift Energy when they share the daily gifts with friends.
I would rather get Armor but hey, a gift is a gift, right? LoL.
After burning my Energy off, I cruise around and attack other ships until I run my Health down to Zero.
At this point, I've made about all the coinage I can (unless you have bought some taverns and such, then you will need to collect your profits). I visit the store and buy whatever gear I need.
I avoid the floating treasure chests that require Gems to open them. For me, they haven't paid off enough to make it worth my Gems.
When it comes to spending your points, I loaded up my Energy so that I could complete more quests quicker. I figured the Attack and Defense would come as I gained more coins to buy them.
When giving gifts to friends, if the first set of gifts suck, click the X button to close the set of gifts and start over. When you click the Gifts button the second time, a different set of gift items should appear. You can keep doing this until you see the gift you want to give.
What's YOUR strategy?