Personally, I sided with the Empire for 3 reasons;
1-Ulfric is the one who murdered the high king. I don't care if it was an fair, honorable duel. he still instigated the whole thing and started the war. he could have simply agreed to join the empire, but no. He would not surrender his pride as a nord, and decided to send so many good people to their deaths instead. So from my perspective, Ulfric is the bad guy here.
2-Even if the stormcloaks won against Tulius's garrison, they were basically declaring war on the entire empire in Tamriel, so I figured fewer lives would be lost if the stormcloaks lost the war.
3-in the mission where you infiltrate the thalmor embassy, there's a document they have on Ulfric that hints that he was on their side, and that they wanted the stormcloaks to win the war. And since the Thalmor are apparently the biggest enemy here, I figure to stop Ulfric.
I went with the Stormcloaks for the following reasons:
1) If you actually read the document, you'd see Ulfric ignored the Thalmor envoy.
2) The dungeon in the Capital City of the empire in Skyrim (forget the name, but the one with the Bard's College) had a torture chamber that was clearly over active, and that beheading when you first arrived was clearly undeserved.
3) The Jarls in every Imperial City were cxnts.
4) The Imperials were clearly inept military, where the Storm Cloaks were actually the only ones capable of fighting the Thalmor.
If its one thing Star Wars taught us, never trust an Empire. Let alone on with Imperials.
Ulfric is a total douche. But the Empire is a conglomerate of Imperial nobels who didn't want to lose their wealth abd power, so they sold out Skyrim. Ulfric's reasons for warring is sound. His personal motives are what damn him.
Ulfric is little more than a power-hungry, genocidal tyrant. He's charismatic and principled, sure but those aren't exactly rare qualities when comparing tyrants.
Let's look at how he runs his own hold. All the dark elves are forced into rundown ghettos, Argonians are beaten within an inch of their life by the guards if they even try to enter Windhelm and crimes against non-Nords are ignored. After all, who cares about them; Skyrim belongs to the Nords after all. And of course there's that awkward little incident when Ulfric took back Markarth and executed every man, woman and child that didn't take up arms against the Forsworn. Who wouldn't want Ulfric Child-Killer as High King? Think of all the potential genocides to be committed and all the ghettos to be erected.
Plus, he's been the Thalmor's pawn all along. It's thanks to him that the Thalmor got the justification to enter Skyrim and brutally enforce their agendas. It's thanks to Ulfric that his and the Empire and both being torn apart improvised while the Thalmor are growing stronger.
Sure, you can say there are some noble goals behind the Stormcloaks and that it's unfair to dismiss them entirely because of their leader but that's the thing: without Ulfric there are no Stormcloaks. If Ulfric were executed at the beginning, the rebellion would have pretty much fallen apart without much fanfare. His will, vision, voice shape and dominate the movement. Anyone who'd criticize King Ulfric would quickly wind up on the chopping block.
So yeah, no, I'm not much inclined to support a Medieval Brownshirt.
I'm doing both right now. I don't know enough about the game to make a real decision though. To be honest, I originally joined up with the side that was going to have me beheaded in the beginning, but only because during the run from the dragon, I just ended up sticking with the second guy I met (for some reason thinking he was the same man I escaped with at first).
Both, but ironically, I was (racewise) an Imperial, PLUS a Stormcloak.
Because: (coming from a book in Skyrim called The Great War) Emperor Titus Mede II could have won the war, but he surrendered to the Thalmor. I believe that Ulfric's cause is just. High King Torygg was challenged by Ulfric, and lost. Now, yes, Ulfric used The Voice against Torygg. But come on! If Torygg couldn't even begin to fight off Ulfric, then he had no claim to the throne. Plus, There are NINE Divines, not Eight! Yeah, Ulfric is power-hungry. But remember, Ulfric (or Galmar) said that the eventual plan is to take the fight to the Elves. And I hate the elves! Except for the Dunmer, they're pretty cool.
I chose the Imperial Legion. First of all, the Stormcloaks are the one's who are trying to take over Skyrim. The Imperials have protected us, and we owe them. Also, Ulfric murdered the High King Torygg, and he is a terrible Jarl. He hates all Argonians and Dark Elves. The Stormcloaks refuse to buy weapons from anyone who isn't a Nord, and it's ridiculous! And poor Carlotta Valentina in Whiterun is getting chased by four of the guards already!
On Tuesday 8/5/14 - 2:55:45 PM Kiowa wrote: I chose the Imperial Legion. First of all, the Stormcloaks are the one's who are trying to take over Skyrim. The Imperials have protected us, and we owe them. Also, Ulfric murdered the High King Torygg, and he is a terrible Jarl. He hates all Argonians and Dark Elves. The Stormcloaks refuse to buy weapons from anyone who isn't a Nord, and it's ridiculous! And poor Carlotta Valentina in Whiterun is getting chased by four of the guards already!
Ah, but you see, Skyrim was already took over by the Empire. So yes, the Stormcloaks were liberating Skyrim. The Imperials haven't protected us, they sold us out! Ulfric didn't 'murder' the High King, he challenged him, and Torygg lost. Ulfric has a reason to hate Argonians, though not the Dunmer. They have a right to have weapon preference, and Carlotta is getting chased by 6 guards, lol.
I played Imperial first because I thought there was a star wars ploy to get you to be a stormcloak and wanted to go against the gameflow to see what happened. Then I played stormcloak (and honestly I think they were at LEAST equally bad - see Griffin's post). Then I played the "both" option last - it was rather unsatisfying, but probably because I'd played the game an insane number of hours and was getting bored with it.
Yeah, I've played both and in terms of sides, they both kinda suck, just in different ways. I prefer the Storm Cloaks overall, but that's more thinking about the overall implications of the world including a renewed conflict with the Thalmor.
I also just want to point out that a lot of people (my self included) pull their expectations from the 21st century into a game set closer to the 13th in terms of development both culturally and technologically. It'd have been nice to see the game point out that that just doesn't work well.