My wife (Clarissa) and I took out Condottiere last night for the 1st time in a while. We had found previously that, as a 2-player game, 2 things happened:
* whoever took an early lead (in terms of the # of cities won) got an insurmountable advantage with the 2 bonus cards per city, and
* with just the 2 of us, many battles devolved into both of us just emptying our hands each battle or discarding all remaining mercenray cards after a battle
We went with the 1-bonus card per city variant, and, having finally had a chance recently to play with 4 players, decided to make more of an effort to play a little more strategically.
Clarissa skunked me in the 1st battle, dropping a bishop card on my 2 10s, but with 2 scarecrows, I was able to recover them for another battle.
When Clarissa chose Torino for the 2nd battle, I suspected her of having a bad hand (she spent a heroine in the 1st battle), but I let her take it (she spent 2 6s without any scarecrows) to save my forces for a more meaningful city.
The 3rd battle was in Venezia, which I won with my 10s
The 2nd round opened with a long battle, won by me 22-16- but Clarissa pulled back a 10 with her scarecrow.
But I had a lucky draw to start the round, with 2 Surrender cards. With a 5-2 advantage in Bologna, I played a Surrender card early to give myself 3 contiguous cities. In Urbino, the same strategy worked as well.
Kevin gets Venezia, Ferrara, Bolgona and Urbino to win, Clarissa had Torino.
We enjoyed this as a 2-player game much more than the previous times we had tried (and we really want to enjoy this game more- the board and the cards are beautiful). We both hope to find some other people in this area (we live in Queens, NY, near LaGuardia airport) so that we can play with more players.
You don't seem to have obeyed all the rules:
1) you can't discard cards after a battle if you have any mercenary cards in your hand
2) when a bishop is played, the battle is over, and there is no opportunity to play scarecrows