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Multi Form Balance
Multiform Balance occurs when creators take care to make each multiple form of a Shapeshifter, such as a Henshin Hero, a Swiss Army Hero or a Morph Weapon-type Swiss-Army Weapon, useful in its own way. The easiest way to do this is to make each one suited for a certain tactical situation or to use certain tactics. For example a werewolf doing a Partial Transformation to Wolf Man may not be able to talk, but can still use weapons and has greater strength than a man, but isn't as fast as a wolf.

In essence, it's applying Competitive Balance between each of the character (or weapon)'s forms. In fact, the character types laid out in Competitive Balance or other power balancing tropes can be quite useful in describing the character's forms. To be precise, the "balance" usually only apply to "basic" forms, with Joke Character form is only used when the character doesn't has access to the basic forms. Lightning Bruiser and Super Mode are mostly a Mid-Season Upgrade and superior to basic forms in every aspect, if the balance also apply to these forms, it's usually by making them Deadly Upgrade, Limit Break, Hour of Power or Awesome, but Impractical.

May overlap with Evolution Powerup, especially if new forms are gained/discovered as the plot demands, although Multiform Balance can switch back and forth. When Humongous Mecha use this trope, it's usually done with Mecha Expansion Pack or Transforming Mecha. May also be done with Shed Armor, Gain Speed.

Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 

    Literature 
  • Hyodou Issei in High School D×D gets one later in Volume 9 when he gets access to his new powers named Illegal Trianna, aside from his default Balance Breaker state. His Welsh Sonic Boost Knight is the typical Fragile Speedster, his Welsh Blaster Bishop is the Glass Cannon, Welsh Draconic Rook being the Mighty Glacier, and finally his (incomplete) Cardinal Crimson Queen being the Lightning Bruiser.
  • Animorphs: While each of the kids have their own unique morphs, there are several occasions when they've morphed the same animal (sometimes to exploit the fact that the animal goes into a stupor when being acquired, long enough for them to escape, like the hammerhead shark or the T Rex). The inverse of the trope bites them in the ass when they attack the Yeerk pool all in polar bear morph and nearly die.

    Live Action TV 

    Mythology 

    Tabletop Game 
  • Werewolf: The Forsaken. Each of a Uratha's five forms has its uses and weaknesses.
    • The Hishu (human) form is most likely to pass among mortals and best suited for social dealings.
    • The Dalu (wolf-man) form allows added strength while retaining human form, but still pings Lunacy a little.
    • The Gauru (monster two-legged wolf) form is the strongest, most damaging form, but can only be used for a limited time and is locked in a state of rage that makes any action but attacking something a failure.
    • The Urshul (dire wolf) form is fastest of all and quite strong, but will still ping Lunacy heavily.
    • The Urhan (wolf) form will blend in most easily in nature and could maybe pass for a wolfdog in urban environments.
      • The four bestial forms can also be seen as references to different archetypes of werewolf transformation. Urhan clearly owes its lineage to most forms of actual mythological depictions of the werewolf. Dalu is based on the iconic "wolfman" form of film, first seen in Universal Horror's The Wolf Man (1941). Urshul arguably has some mythological basis, but can most easily be connected to the werewolf as depicted in An American Werewolf in London. Finally, Gauru resembles the now-iconic "manwolf" that has become heavily associated with werewolves in modern culture and which can be arguably traced back to film via The Howling.

    Video Game 
  • Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap featured this as its central hook, your hero spent virtually the entire game involuntarily transformed into various animal-like creatures, each featuring unique abilities.
  • The old Electronic Arts game Shadowcaster featured a lead that could form pacts with various creatures to "accept the form of X", each form having its own uses.
  • A Boy and His Blob allows the boy control over his Mons forms with jellybeans.
  • The Legendary Pokemon Deoxys has various forms with differing distributions of stats. Normal Forme is the Jack of All Stats form, Attack Forme is the Glass Cannon form, Defense Forme is the Mighty Glacier form, and Speed Forme is the Fragile Speedster form.
    • A lesser example is Generation V's Darmanitan, whose normal form is a Glass Cannon, but when certain Darmanitans' Hit Points go below half they automatically switch to Zen Mode, which is a Mighty Glacier. This was a poorly-done attempt, though - all the damage is received before the switch, and getting knocked out in one hit is not too unlikely in the glass cannon form. Even if they do survive, the higher defensive stats are not very useful with less than half Hit Points left.
    • Generation VI introduces the Steel/Ghost sword Aegislash. Its Shield Forme is a Stone Wall. As soon as it uses an attack, it turns into the Glass Cannon Sword Forme. Using its Signature Move King's Shield turns it back into Shield Forme.
    • Generation VI introduces Mega Evolutions, more powerful forms of certain Pokémon that can only be accessed in battle. The catch is that it requires using a held item specific to each Pokémon, which means they cannot use any other item. Most of these are worthwhile, though a few (such as Garchomp's) don't give enough to be worth the lack of an item, or simply don't do enough to make a bad Pokémon usable.
  • Kingdom Hearts II has its Valor and Wisdom Forms spiking your physical and magical stats (respectively) at the cost of the other. This is then averted once you pick up Master Form and Final Form, which balance melee attacks and magic (by making both of them highly effective).
  • Mega Man's ability to fuse with Rush in Mega Man 6, creating the Power and Jet Adapters. In Mega Man 7, the abilities of both adapters are compressed into a single, Super adapter.
  • Mega Man X's ability to switch between different armors in some of his games. The armors vary between each game, but Ultimate Armor would be consistent.
  • Mega Man Zero 2, Zero starts out as a Master of None (Normal), but fulfilling certain conditions in a mission unlocks specialized upgrades: Fragile Speedster (Active), Mighty Glacier (Energy and Power), Stone Wall (Defense and Erase), Lightning Bruiser (Rise and X), Glass Cannon (Proto) and finally, Super Mode (Ultimate).
  • Druid shapeshifting in World of Warcraft could be considered this, with forms tailored to each of their four talent specialisations plus a couple of utility forms. The default form (AKA "caster" form) is for the Combat Medic and specialisation adds a temporary Tree Form with even more enhanced healing. Cat form is a Fragile Speedster that deals damage. Bear form is a Stone Wall specialising in getting attention of enemies from more squishy members of the group. Moonkin form (available via talent specialization; caster form suffices before that) is a Glass Cannon Squishy Wizard. While all Druids have access to Bear Form and Cat Form, they don't work very well for non-Feral Druids.
  • Kheldians in City of Heroes are another example, though they don't start out with all the forms. Nova form is a Glass Cannon, Dwarf form is a Stone Wall, and with the basic human form being somewhere in between, and having a much greater choice of attacks, including the ability to deal decent damage at close range. Some players try to specialise in only one form, but by most accounts the best choice is to make use of all three forms, swapping as necessary.
  • The various offensive powers in Prototype are balanced like this. Claws are quite fast and have a slow ranged attack composed of spikes erupting from the ground and impaling the target from below, Hammerfist gives massively devastating splash damage attacks with really slow speed, the Whipfist has awesome range, anti-air attacks and crowd control capabilities in exchange for power and the Blade is similar to the Claws but replaces the latter's impalement attack with a brutally powerful aerial attack that can One-Hit Kill tanks.
  • Breath of Fire IV: When Ryu transforms, whichever form he chooses provides a percentage boost to his stats, resulting in the following arrangements: Master of None (Aura), Jack of All Stats (Wyvern/Weyr), Mighty Glacier (Behemoth/Mammoth), Lightning Bruiser (Myrmidon/Knight), Glass Cannon (Mutant/Punk) and Super Mode (Kaiser). Fou-lu's dragons roughly follow the same percentage boosts as Ryu's; just replace Aura, Wyvern and Kaiser with Astral, Serpent and Tyrant (Fou-lu doesn't have Myrmidon or Mutant, and he has a Behemoth like Ryu), respectively.
  • In Marvel Avengers Alliance, the player character Agent starts as a Master of None (Generalist) and can switch to any of five other classes—Glass Cannon (Blaster), Lightning Bruiser (Scrapper), Mighty Glacier (Bruiser), Jack of All Stats (Tactician), Fragile Speedster (Infiltrator)—by buying and equipping the appropriate uniform. Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors is in play, so each of those classes has an advantage over one class and a disadvantage against a second. The Agent can also remain as a Generalist — neither weak nor strong against any class.
    • Several heroes have alternate costumes, and a change in costume also means a change in class. (ex.: Spider-Man, an Infiltrator by default, can also become either a Scrapper with his Future Foundation outfit, or don the Black Suit, turning into a Bruiser.)

    Webcomics 
  • The Were race in Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures . They have three forms, human, normal and 'primal' (animal), which basically form a Sliding Scale of Magicalness. As humans, they're immune to magic; in their normal form, they're Muggles with some minor bonuses; and as animals, their magical power is increased.
  • In El Goonish Shive, some of Grace's pure forms have positive and negative attributes the other pure forms or combination forms don't. Her full squirrel form is small but doesn't allow her to speak and her omega form is powerful and allows her to fly but it's 3 tails can complicate things.

    Western Animation 
  • Ben 10 subverts this in the first season (and hints of it remain in the newer seasons). The first season started things off with ten aliens, each with different super powers, but as the original series came to a close, Ben had access to even more aliens. But considering Ben is ten years-old and not a tactical hero, he almost always used Fourarms. How well this worked out for him depended on how many times he's transformed that day.

Morphic ResonanceShapeshiftingMy Instincts Are Showing
Mighty GlacierPower at a PriceNecessary Drawback

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