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Starship combat in Rogue Trader works like this:

Actions

During each Strategic Round, each ship receives one Strategic Turn. Like regular combat, each ship can perform Actions during this turn. The Actions a ship performs fall into two categories: Manoeuvre Actions and Shooting Actions. Each ship must make one Manoeuvre Action and may make one Shooting Action during their turn.

[...]

Under normal circumstances, players must perform the ship's Manoeuvre Action before its Shooting Action, and may perform Extended Actions anywhere in this order that they wish

The "Weapons and shooting" section of the rulebook refering to starship combat states:

After completing its Manoeuvre Action, a ship has the option of firing its weapons.

So, can you fire before maneuvering? If so, when or how can you do this?

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Typically, you cannot take the Shooting Action before the Manoeuvre Action. You need a Ship or Ship Component special ability, Psyker or Navigator Power, Talent or Role benefit, or Extended Action that allows you to shoot first and move second in order to do so. As far as I am aware, no published material allows it currently, although I haven't played in a while and could be wrong.

Note that my knowledge is especially weak when it comes to playing Xenos. There might be an Eldar, Ork, Kroot, or other Xeno Component or Talent or Power that allows the technique you're looking for.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ That's really odd. Why would they mention that "typically" you must move first and then shoot, while not saying anything about how you can do that the other way? \$\endgroup\$ – Golokopitenko Feb 9 '15 at 5:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ Probably because they didn't want to rule out future abilities that would allow it. Note that the wording you have there wasn't like that in the first printing of the book; the part about move-then-shoot was added in an errata. Virtually any general game rule can have a word like "Typically" or "Normally" added before it without changing the rules at all: Typically, a Lasgun does X damage (unless loaded with special charge packs); Normally, a character can take two Half Actions or one Full Action per turn (unless they're a Navigator with the Haste power), etc. \$\endgroup\$ – gatherer818 Feb 9 '15 at 5:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for your answer! As for in-game representation, what explanation should I give for the ship to be required to move before shooting? (for immersion purposes) \$\endgroup\$ – Golokopitenko Feb 9 '15 at 6:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ Good question. I would assume that moving first represents the constant motion of the spaceship - that is, you have to move before you shoot because you've actually been moving the whole time, and it would make no sense to let you get two shots off from the same place (t1: move, shoot; t2: shoot, move) when the ship hasn't stopped the whole time you've been fighting. The move action shows how you've been moving since your last turn while reloading the cannons or recharging the las arrays. \$\endgroup\$ – gatherer818 Feb 9 '15 at 6:33

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