Most of a faction's features first need be unlocked via research before they become available.
Things locked behind research are:
- Edicts and operations which can be activated in cities or in the operations menu
- Actions useable by units
- Traits that passively improve units or weapons
- Additional weapon types for units
- Other effects that permanently become active once researched, like increased city radius
Gathering research points
Most is produced by the main research buildings (Officio Tactica, Librarium, Fink Tank and Forbidden Archive), but some other buildings (the city center and construction buildings) and Ork Weirdboys also produce it. Research producing buildings work best when built on top of cold terrain (arctic and tundra) or adjacent to Ruins of Vaul. An arctic tile next to Ruins of Vaul will provide a +40% production modifier and once the ruins are claimed by your city or a Fortress of Redemption, you will get an additional, city wide +20% boost.
How research works
After you initiated a research project, every turn your production will accumulate. Research points only accumulate when you are actively researching. If you end your turn without a research target selected, the research point production for that turn will be wasted. When you finish researching a technology with a surplus of research points, then that surplus will be spent on the next technology you select. Changing your research project before finishing it will make you lose the research points you had invested in the old one. You need to have at least 2 technologies of a tier researched before you can start researching the next tier. Technologies might have other requirements, but those are mostly just the necessary buildings or units for the technology to make sense.
Technologies have a base cost depending on their tier. The costs listed in this chart are at normal game pace (at very slow they are doubled and at very fast they are halfed):
With every technology you research, the cost of every other technology is increased by about 1.7% of their base cost. The actual percentage depends on the total number of techs in the faction's tech tree. It is 1 divided by the number technologies. So, once you've researched half of a faction's technologies, the costs of all others will be increased by 50%. That means you should generally only research technologies that you know will be useful to you, as others might just end up slowing you down.