Time to revisit the Panther. I'm going to play it in my next few BATTLETECH games, as my thoughts on it have evolved a bit. I think I have been using it wrong, or at least not to the machine's full potential. 769 battlevalue for a light mech with only two weapons- I'm paying the points for the PPC. The SRM-4 is better vs. a 2 pack, but is kind of at odds with the PPC.
I want to be point blank with the SRM, but then we aren't firing the PPC without penalties for being under the minimum. At least with the heat sinks we can move and fire the PPC each turn- keeping that movement modifier of hexes moved UP to make it harder to hit me, even if it is slow(ish) mech. I've played the Panther as a recon mech- not enough speed to reliably do the job. I've used it as a light mech hunter- the PPC putting out devastating damage vs. a light mech, but light mechs are hard to hit and I only have one shot, and they tend to run away.
Experimented as a sniper-type mech vs. medium much, unit they get pissed off at being sniped and run after you. Now I'm going to pair it with heavy mech as a close in support mech. Naturally the heavy mech has to be one that wants to close and get 2-3 hexes away from the target mech- maybe pair it with a Warhammer or Grasshopper. Use the Panther to flank and get rear armor- where a PPC and SRM can do some excellent damage- especially if they can fire every turn. The Panther as a light support mech?