"Cool you get two characters!! Hmmm but what do I want two characters for?"
That's the reaction I've had from all new players including my self. I find this one of the harder character(s) to learn how to play well. So thought I share some hints and tips.
First all I say assumes you are playing advanced rules with character draft, 2 out of 4 hidden missions and random board.
As I see it there are two main strategies for the Polos travel and synergies.
Traveling isn't really a strong strategie in it self in the game, it has to come with doing missions. Though with the right board the Polos are really strong at traveling and building trade posts. Traveling 4 or 6 steps is the best bang per buck but normally the problem of long travels is that you pass on building trade posts as you don't stop. The Polos dividing up the 4 steps means that you will build two trade posts per travel. This is a very good way to get all the trade posts built for the 15 points.
Since traveling is so expensive only play this strategy if the board has lot of money and or/travel actions on it. Spot if there is something on the west half that gives you a steady income so you can spend 12, plus preferably four as second placement cost, per turn. Generally I'd say one die for money, two for travel and two for resources to do missions.
Synergies is a really good way to rack up big points in this game. One of the most obvious is the 3vp town bonus combined with trigger bonus city actions. Usually it's hard to score more then maybe ones on this type of synergies as the chance is high that the travel distance between the two or three locations involved is so long. With the Polos identify the synergy and then move each character to one synergy towns/cities. Travel as described above and you should have the synergy setup in two three turns. Then you can really score big with the Polos. After its set up all dies should go towards maxing it out.
If you don't have a synergy on west half of the board or don't have mone and travel then I would draft another character.
Another thing which works out sometimes nicely when playing the Polos:
Use 1 pawn for income generation ( especially money) and then do the main travel with the other one.This strategy usually won't be feasible for all the other characters (exept Rubruk may be) as backtracking will turn out too costly for them. Acored above 90 with that.Of course depends on the map.
I guess I don't understand the suggestion to use one pawn for income and the other for "main travel". The point of travel is to drop trading posts in cities to accomplish two things.
1. Gain the ability or round bonus from those cities. 2. Score end game points for your secret goal cards.
Once a player has a trading post in a city, he/she never needs to travel back to that city. The round bonuses pay automatically for the rest of the game, and the city action cards are activated by placing a die there - the player's pawn does not need to be in the city to activate it.
When I played Nicolo & Marco, I was able to choose two higher-value goal cards, because I knew I could use the two pawns to travel both the high road and the low road at the same time, thus scoring maximum points for reaching four cities that are farther apart. It also allowed me to start collecting multiple round bonuses earlier, by getting more trading posts on the board quickly. I focused on getting money and camels for travel, and almost never went to the marketplace for goods. I received goods by getting the first-visitor bonuses in cities and the round bonuses from small cities, and used those goods to complete contracts. My end result was 95 points and a fun game.
These traveling brothers can visit a lot of places quickly. They can score well for you if you put that strength to good use.