Hunger plays a permanent role in Minecraft, much as in real life. While it’s only possible to starve to death on Hard difficulty, hunger lowers your hit points, leaving you vulnerable, so it’s always important to ensure you have the equivalent of a couple of sandwiches packed before heading deep into a mine or on a long trek.
Hunger is a combination of two values: the one shown in the HUD’s hunger bar, as well as a hidden value called saturation. The latter provides a buffer to the hunger bar, decreasing first. In fact, your hunger bar doesn’t decrease at all until saturation reaches zero. At that point, you see the hunger bar start to jitter, and after a short while it takes its first hit. Saturation cannot exceed the value of the hunger bar, so with a full hunger bar of 20 points, it’s possible to have up to 20 points of saturation. However, a hunger level of 6 points also only provides a maximum of 6 points of saturation, and that makes you vulnerable.
You’ll find some key information about the hunger system here:
- On Easy and Normal Survival modes, there is no need to worry too much about hunger because your character won’t drop dead from it. If you’re close to home and pottering around in your farm or constructing some building extensions, you’re fairly safe, but your health starts to drop. Eat something as soon as you can to fill your hunger bar and start rebuilding your health.
- Sprinting isn’t possible when the hunger bar drops below 6 hunger points, or 3 shanks, as shown in the HUD.
- Keeping a relatively full stomach at 18 hunger points (9 shanks in the HUD) allows health to regenerate at 1 point (half a heart) every 4 seconds.
Health depletes if the hunger bar drops to 0, increasing the risk of dying from one of the many imaginative ways Minecraft has on offer (see Figure 3.6).
FIGURE 3.6 The effects of extreme hunger on Normal difficulty: health depletes to just one point, or half a heart.
- Some limits apply to the amount health can drop according to the difficulty level. On Easy, health cannot deplete from hunger further than 10 points, or half the full quotient. On Normal, it drops to 1 point, which is an extreme level of vulnerability. On Hard difficulty, there are no limits; don’t ignore the hunger bar, or death from starvation could be just moments away. See “Food on the Run” later in this chapter to help avoid this.