JoseM: I've found using BillChin's Dense Build makes emperor a lot more survivable. When 1.17 came out and i lost my ability to tech broker/buy alliances, i considered moving back down to monarch. Its a real life saver.
Also i started building graneries in my core cities earlier. I used to pass them up because i faced too many happiness problems with the faster growing cities. Getting cities to size 6 quickly (2 luxuries/temple/military police) allows you to nearly match the AI in production.
Yeah, i know, building graneries should be a no brainer, but i always used to pass them up for a large portion of the game, thinking it more important to check my growth, and have uninterrupted production. Heck, i didn't need them before 1.17.
A slight change in play can make all the difference.
Using an ICS build on deity also makes it playable, though most consider it an exploit.
You're not going to find many saves to DL, plus coming from behind in your own games brings a sense of accomplishment.