The problem here with spells you have access to is not randomess vs choice.
The problem is everyone with same spell levels gets the same spells! And it's way too easy to get them by leveling or acquiring champions.
All the suggestions above are attempts to solve this in different ways.
To be clear all Earth apprentices get the same set of spells (quests not withstanding, and these are a small proportion of the game). You also get spells by researching some tech, but again totally bland.. everyone gets the same , a few faction differences not withstanding.
The problem here is that if everyone gets all the spells in their spell level, variety and diversity is down to a minimum.
Say like everyone wants in this thread, SD adds dozens of summons per spell level. Sure you get more choices of summons but it doesn't differentiate you from other players or even yourself playing a second time for replyabaility value cos you get the same summons (assuming you had the same spell skills)!
SD always worried about faction differentiation and wanting every player to play different - increase variety of play etc but for some reason they dont seem to care about magic.
Just coming up with the 5 elements and sticking then into 4 levels isn't sufficient variety.
Why? Because regardless of what you chose for your sovereign.. it doesn't matter, you can easily get champions who will give you access to the other elements and levels.
And very soon you have access to the same spells again.
One way to consider diversity in magic is this. How many games do you take before you have access to every single spell in the game?
Notice that this is *not just* a function of the number of spells you have in the game. You could have a 1,000 spells, but divided into just say 2 skills and if you could only pick 1 skill per game, you would have access to all spells in 2 games. Or you could have 100 spells divided into 20 skills, and if you could only pick 1 skill per game, you would take 20 games to exhaust it.
I submit with FE, while there is more variety than the example above, it's still relatively low because you could always get champions to supplement.
There are 5 elements x 4 levels = 20 spell skills and assume each level gives you the same number of spells. (I am keeping the analysis simple by ignoring spells with multiple requirements or the few that need paths)
Say you get on average 3-5 champions (including the sovereign as a champion) a game. Say even if you specialize just 2 champions (including sovereign) as magic users, Chances are you will probably pick magic skills whenever possible when leveling , you can easily get Level 4 in at least 1 element and level 2s/3s in the other.
But let's assume you got unlucky and managed just 1xlevel 4 in 2 champions.
That means in *one* game alone you get 8/20 = 40% of spells available to use! And if you like me go crazy on magic using champions it's a lot higher.
Compare this to MOM. Even if you went crazy and did the 11 book strategy, that's just one out of 5 paths = 20%. And that's extremely costly strategy, since 11 book strategy (or 10) is just one possible strategy which you dont do every game as you need the picks to select other traits like warlord , channeler etc. It would take ages before you saw every spell due to the fact that 1) Your initial choices set your spells in stone which you couldn't change further by levelling (though trading was possible) or gaining champions (a few could cast some spells) , unless you did five 11 book strategies in a row.
And if you didn't do 10/11 book strategies, it would take ages to see all the spells due to randomness. 3 Nature, didn't mean you definitely got access to the same 30% of the nature spells, while in FE, getting Level 3 in Fire, did definitely mean you saw all the spells up to that level.
In FE, you could pick Fire apprentice, and Earth Apprentice, and still use picks for other things.. and still be fairly certain of leveling to reach 100% of all Fire or Earth spells . Heck I think you could pick zero spell skills and still pick up champions that eventually "mastered" everything in a element or by luck your sovereign got it by leveling .
Very lengthy but basically it's too easy to get all the spells.
This is boring! Solutions to make things more varied includes
1) "Pre-selected randomess" - Master of Magic style - You select spellbooks in advance eg 3 nature spellbooks & what spells you had access were fixed at that point. But randomess lies in the fact that even if you picked 3 spellbooks in Nature you couldn't be sure what you would eventually get, but you did get some choice in the order you researched them. (The Actual MOM system gives you some guaranteed options also)
2) "Post-selected randomness" - You level up, and you get offered a small selection of spells to learn. Similar to leveling up now where you select traits. Randomness is built-in , in that it may offer you 3 spells out of 5 possible, but you do get to pick the ones you want with some degree of control
3) Pre-selected/post selected no randomness - Same as 1) or 2), except there is no randomness, you select whatever spells you want, but pre-selected would mean the choices are set in stone pre-game, post-selected would be as you leveled.
4) Make the initial picks of spell skills more important by preventing champions from having too many magic skills or if they have it.. be limited somehow that they could cast lesser ones - eg only soverigns can cast strategic spells.