Traffic Light: [img]http://www.jedivsith.com/images/YELLOW.png[/img]
Answer? Adapt or die. There are several recorded instances (sorry I don't have sources on hand to cite; I'm relying on memory from a paper I wrote freshman year) of Spartans forming up to fight Athenians or Bereans or what-have-you in their gloried shield-wall formation, and their enemies simply wouldn't touch them because they knew that the close-quarters hand-to-hand game was what the Spartans excelled at. So what did they do? They deployed skirmishers to pick away at the Spartan line with slings and javelins. The Spartans had two options: advance slowly in formation, in which case they would never catch their lightly-armored and fleet-footed opponents, or break formation and charge, which would deprive them of their tank-like protective formation. Quite often the record shows the Spartans taking the first option, failing to adapt their tactics, and simply eventually breaking under a withering hail of missiles.
These hit-and-run tactics were exactly what the Mongols excelled at, and what made them so hard to beat. Their enemies were attempting to kill a cloud of poison gas with a battle-axe.
*That story IS true, by the way: although the numbers for each side vary from account to account, the Greeks were still massively outnumbered and still inflicted absurd casualties on the Persians and held them for a few days.
Liya Tawaza wrote:Mongolians. Definitely.
Here's another ancient culture that hasn't been mentioned: the Phoenicians. Not an empire per se, but they went *everywhere*. They probably circumnavigated the world, a feat that wasn't repeated for millenia.
Shout-out to the Phoenicians, certainly.