It seems in all the pro replays videos that I've watched they don't have unit health bars displayed at all times and instead press Alt to see them. Why is that? I find it invaluable information to see at all times and having to press an extra button to see it takes extra mental energy to consciously think of doing it that could have been better spent keeping other things in mind. What disadvantage is there to having them displayed at all times?


6 Answers 6


Actually, I'd say it's the shoutcasters turning off the health bars. You never see replays of the gamer himself because that could cost him performance. Those games are either frapsed live through spectators or they just comment on the replay. So you never actually see the player's settings in a game.

Any pro-gamer worth his salt will tell you that you should have the health bars on at all times.

It makes it much easier to focus targets that are already low and makes it much easier for you to see what unit needs to be pulled back. And even in macro game the health bars still stick perfectly to the units, so you can still see very well (I'd argue that it's easier with bars on than without) what's going on on the battle field.


It can make it hard to see everything because they get in the way of viewing all of the units(more so when there are a lot of them).


In some cases, the bars can get in the way of the action. This varies by the size of the unit. 20 ultralisks/thors/collusi with health bars will look fine. 50 zerglings/marines/zealots with health bars will look a lot more cluttered.


Not really an answer but I find this to be annoying too. In games like Heroes of Newerth, they managed to make the health bars clean and more or less clutter-free. No reason for SC2 not to, but they do anyway.

The stuff posters said about clutter is far more applicable in large-scale RTS games like SC2, though, and it makes this game way harder to micro for.

As far as I'm concerned this is a UI oversight that Blizzard needs to figure out.


Because if you have twenty units, your opponent has twenty units and those two mods clash: how well do you think you can still see the independent health bars? Since they will most likely overlap each other.

Also, most of the time they know which units will get killed, so they don't need the health bars to tell

Example from Ars Technica: I don't find this very useful... And the colors below already show me which unit is dying.

Side-note: It might actually be detrimental for your performance, since it would have to update a whole lot of health bars very very fast, so unless you have a low ping and a fast computer, I'd not use it with large groups

  • Take note that it's not just the health bars are displayed, but the units' and structures' status (i.e., energy capacity, and if you're Protoss, shields). That being said, I find it invaluable for those information to be displayed all the time. It not only frees you up from user-intervention for those to be displayed, but you can also adjust your strategy accordingly, especially while in a very hectic confrontation with the opponent.
    – happy_soil
    Aug 14, 2010 at 18:58
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    See, I don't find that hard to see at all and I don't see any overlapping. I can easily see which units I should try to focus fire and which to try to pull back. Just looking at the health in the selection I can see some are dying, but are they inside? are they outside? I can't see the unit position and health at the same time without the health bars. That said I can see how it'd be hard to see for some people, but holding Alt is so awkward and it takes me a second to parse the information so if I had to press Alt, that 1 second timer would start after I press it instead of right away.
    – Davy8
    Aug 15, 2010 at 0:54
  • @Davy: I agree, it's nice to have them always on so you can at a glance see a building that you might not realize is damaged, or see where geographically in your army the most damage is being taken during a battle.
    – MetaGuru
    Aug 15, 2010 at 18:08
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    -1 for the side note; detailed 3D models and complex AI are fine, but if you want to render a few simple 2D health bars you need low ping (???) and a fast computer? Aug 16, 2010 at 22:50
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    -1 for being plainly wrong. Health bars are a must at the competitive level. Competitive players have them all at all times.. Also there is no overlap whatsoever in Starcraft 2..
    – Tigraine
    Aug 16, 2010 at 23:10

Because it looks cooler to not have the UI in the way. But if you're playing to win, turn them on.

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