Hope the system will work out well when fully inserted into the final game, but at the start of playing Beta 1 my concerns were the following (partly echoing some points above):
with only 5 categories to "choose from" it feels like you don't have much of a choice, or rather that you are not even choosing when you click a category. It just doesn't feel like a strategic choice when you don't know the outcome and it's all so general. Also, will it be possible to really plan ahead, to know how to get a particular high-level tech and work towards that from early game (or will you just have to remember where it might pop up eventually, after playing repeatedly)?
In Galciv2 I LOVED the introduction of special colonization techs, they were very expensive so you had to really make a hard choice early on if to go for that or not. Will this thinking be possible in E or will we miss the overview and be too dependent on RNG?
Recruting NPCs producing knowledge: very good! Hope they are heroes too.
- What would be really cool is if you can find tomes with unique techs, e.g. through quests. I think golems have been mentioned (hope so)
The colour for unique techs should rather be gold than grey!