Question about "don't ring the townbell"


After playing Aoe2 as a kind in the early 2000s, I am back and I’ve started to play rather much.

I’ve seen a lot of youtubers saying to not ring the townbell. My question is, why is that?

As I see it, when I get attacked and I only start to manually move the villagers in immidate danger to the TC, a few problems arises:

  • They don’t get the procection of arrows that would start to shoot almost immeditely if the town bell was used (since there are farmers just around the TC that are now not garnisoning inside).
  • If the villagers I manually move towards the TC are doing different stuff, say some of them are on farms by the mill and of them may be building something, I have to take my time to individually put them back on their tasks.
  • If the raid persists, I aswell have to manually select the villagers farming just outside of the TC to garnison them inside.

Sure, often if we start moving our villagers towards our TC the opponents backs of their troops. Or the problems I listed here may be worth it if we’ve already boomed, or if we’ve got several TCs.
But I still don’t think the tip to “not ring the townbell” should be so absolute.

Am I missing something?

Best regards

Hey Sasza,

The most crucial problem with the town bell is that it is hiding most of the villagers that should work when the raid is coming. Even on 2k+ it is really rarely seen that your opponent is raiding under your 4 tc’s and tower on woodline and you need to click town bell to “be safe”. Most important thing there is to idle only villagers that it is necessary, not whole eco, when you see 2 knights on your woodline. Then the easiest way to destroy town bell users is to send 2-3 kts to every weak spot of the eco, because their eco would be dead idle then, and it is free win then.

And yeah, on the top level EVERY resources matters, every 100-200 resources, every few more units here and there creates snowball, that creates huge resources diff and more army diff.
So the only situation in which town bell is ok is pretty much not possible to see in game.


The answer is very simple. Ringing the bell is overreacting most of the time. It’s just not effective because all your eco will be idle with 2 or 3 knights. You only garrison the villagers being attacked or that are close to the enemy army.

When you garrison your villagers you are PROTECTING those villagers, you don’t want to waste your time trying to kill the enemy army. (for example having 4 idle villagers is like losing a villager and your enemy will recover its military faster)

You don’t have to do that. Just garrison the villagers in your tc and then click the ‘‘send villagers back to work’’ button next to the ‘‘ungarrison’’ one. That will make your villagers garrisoned in the tc go automaticaly back to their last task.

I know it’s hard to do but it’s the most effective way to do it. Btw only garrison your villagers when you are sure the enemy will attack you and then ungarrison them inmediately.

The town bell becomes more and more useless at a higher elo. If the enemy has troops all over your eco then it’s gg most of the time. That idle time will make you lose even if you save the villagers.

You have to get used to it and use hotkeys, control groups,… to jump faster to each tc.


There will be situations where the use of the town bell is good to be used - such as when your farmers are all in the same general area and the raid is large enough that you want all your town centers to be firing at the enemy units to mop them up sooner so all may get back to work sooner. I suggest that you build your eco in such structured fashion that the town bell is advantageous in function when its use is needed.

Use the hotkey that selects all town centers at once, and, of course, keep in mind that some areas will not be in danger and should be where your attention goes next to send those back to work.

I actually do not think there are any such situations.

Ideally the town bell should straight up NEVER be used. If it does get used it just means the apm needed to protect your villagers correctly was lacking.


Sometimes your focus is on the battle on the other side of the map, and via the minimap and warning you know you’re getting raided - the correct decision is to keep your eyes at the key battle and hit the town bell, and release it once the minimap shows the app clear or minimal force is remaining or you gain a proper moment to divert your attention with minimal danger. Or it’s Advantageous in a sense that it kills the enemy force faster by hitting the bell.

No, that is almost definitely not the correct decision. You just idled your entire economy for what may have been a single scout in your woodline.


You’re not thinking of the more practical scenarios, instead you’re opting for a strawman scout in a woodline. I’m talking about imperial age or sometimes rarely in castle age.

Almost never is a raid such that you should be idling your entire economy for it. If so you are probably straight up losing the game in the next few minutes.

It could be one scout, or five, or ten, whatever. That does not change the point of what I said.


I’m just talking about villagers near the town centers, woodlines way out in the distance are often not affected or quickly returned to work.

I have personal experience where the town bell has been ultimately beneficial for the long term of the game in multiple games.

In Feudal Age I have small walls and towers on the woodline and stone lines. - I don’t often if ever have scouts in my woodline regardless of number in Feudal Age.

And the only ones that could possibly make it in are turk scouts, and that’s if I don’t follow up with a stone wall.

In Feudal Age Town bell isn’t a thing. @CRothlisberger

The whole series needs to replace Town Bell with a revamped UI for making villagers in a player-designated range seek garrison - a UI that realizes the original intention of Town Bell correctly with two decades of hindsight.

It can be as simple as “click to make villagers garrison in a small circle around the mouse cursor”, a button on the global UI; it would be more powerful if the player can adjust the size of the circle. The “back to work” button can also be part of the global UI.

Perhaps we’ll see something like that implemented in the coming console ports.

AoE4 already fixed it with a better solution.

Every villager has a “seek shelter” button. So you can select any number of villagers and hit that and they will all seek shelter in the nearest building. Then the buildings have “return villagers in this building to work”, or “return all villagers in all buildings to work” buttons.

Unit panel commands (the current AOE4 way) and global UI each have their suited use scenarios.

Raids tend to be emergencies, interruptions where the player needs to quickly get villagers to safety while directing military responses. Imagine if the player can do that in a similar way to flaring teammates, by pressing an always available “evacuate” button, “paint” the cursor over the villagers to be evac’d, and get things done without unselecting the units they are currently controlling - that’s what I’m talking about.

I look forward to seeing what console solutions they have developed.

Considering your strategy is super niche, not the meta, (and in my subjective opinion, not that great either), please don’t encourage new players to use the town bell because it might work with what you do, despite almost everyone else saying otherwise. It just creates confusion, and sends conflicting messages.


As said before: using the Town Bell idles the entire economy and does more harm than actually being useful.
It’s already painful with a normal civ but Khmer, whose villagers can garrison in houses, make this even more painful as villagers are scattered even further then.

A practiced player could for example keep you idle forever by let’s say going into your base with some scouts (3-4) and riding clockwise to your TC so that the arrows won’t hit the cavalry as long as a certain distance is kept.

It may seem complicated at first but I’d definitely recommend practicing the garrison feature so that you only garrison the villagers that are in danger.

I wish AoE 2 had this and it doesn’t seem to unlikely to implement as the alpha version of AoK featured a button that sent villagers to the nearest suitable economy building to immediately drop off all their resources.


In addition to all the other stuff people are saying, it sounds like you would benefit from a “Back to Work” hotkey. If you take vils of resources to garrison, without any other steps in between, using back to work once the danger is gone will put them back on their task.

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Yeah, but to my knowledge, there’s no regular garrison button, which I hate. Either that or I just bound my seek shelter key to what is my AoE2 garrison key, and press it habitually.

There is a regular garrison button for all units including villagers.


F is garrison.

G is seek shelter.

Ok, that makes sense. So it’s just my hotkeys and instincts messing me up. Also the fact that I don’t really play AoE4.

What kills me the most switching back and forth between games is A not being attack move in AoE2. And then in Starcraft it is T which is ridiculous ha.