Okay, I'm going to put a hypothetical situation to you. Imagine that on turn 70 of a game you sign a RA. 'Nice', you think to yourself, 'There's a tech coming my way on turn 100.' You're playing a fairly peaceful game and are teching through the top part of the tree. What you really want to do is get off this stinking continent and go out there into the world and find some new trading partners. Yeah, Astronomy, that's what you want. You eye it up, an expensive tech. You set Optics and Compass to research and on the turn Compass finishes you get a notification - 'Choose Research' it says. There are only two options listed. Horseback Riding for 4 turns of research and Astronomy for 29 turns of research. (yes, I know this is quite contrived) Out of the corner of your eye you see the turn count. It's turn 98. HBR is of utterly no use to you. In the situation you're in you wouldn't even care if you never researched it all game. It's Astronomy you want. Are you trying to tell me that it is exploitative to select HBR to research in this situation? Is there a player out there who would actually set Astronomy to research manually because 'that's the tech I want'? Is there a player out there who thinks that it is being exploitative to set HBR to research for two turns and then, after receiving Astronomy, setting Navigation to research? If you concede that this is not exploitative then you have to think harder about what that means. This is purposefully researching (or even part-researching) a tech that you do not want, in order to receive a tech that you do want from a RA. How many people make sure they 'back fill', or in other words, research all the cheap techs when they have some RAs coming up to expire? This is the exact same principle. And it is also this exact same principle, just extended, that is being used when players more carefully manage RAs to really optimize their outcomes. I think the entire RA system is poorly designed and I would be happy to look at ideas for alternatives if someone comes up with some. But we have to play the game as it is. I can't make myself not know that a RA is going to expire in 5 turns.