I'm prefer Smuggler ships over Imperial ones
My 1st and only Imperial ship bring me 10 Shaman shards which I'm not needed at all at that point
Looking at screenshots posted by other players I can see - 20+ shards from it rather very lucky, and 25+ exceptional case.
While lucky Smuggler ship can bring you 10 shards and 2-3 shards are common.
So in long run - spending diamonds for Smuggler ships bring you twice-more shards than Imperial ones, also just psychology - better to see good rewards every 2-3 days than once per 2-3 weeks
Only advantage of Imperial ships from my point of view - much better chance to get Legendary/Mythical items.
Smuggler ship I got recently:
Getting exceptional ones with 10 shards kinda once per 30-40. Typical are 2-3 shards total of 2 types, 5-6 shards - very lucky.
Don't care much about gold now, but 50k here means another 100-150 diamonds I can get by playing "Merchant Ship Lottery"
Just figure out how to paste screenshot directly onto post. Got this Smuggler Ship last month.
Managed to promote TSG from 2* to 3*. It's the ONLY 10 shards Smuggler Ship I got in 1.5 years of warlording.