Give us some details about how you are playing. My first guess is you are not taking advantage of buying tech from the AI. I am speaking of my experience with 1.17f of course.
I had no problem with the game up to Diety, which I thought was plumb silly. I only played two starts and just laughed and quit.
The game is quite simple. There is probably some simple flaw in your playing style (unless something changed dramatically in the last patch I am unaware of).