I keep seeing that surface effects are the decisive factor in fights and that melee doesn't work but I really don't think so. Fire isn't enough to kill anything really. It just deals a little damage. Meanwhile a warrior with a greatsword can one shot a lot with menacing attack + frighten is crazy good.
The spider? I fought it with 2 rogues backstabbing, wizard throwing spells and cleric healing mostly. I did drop it down by burning its web before combat which really helped. The little spiders pretty much all came in the same turn. After they group up you can just AOE and clean it up. Surface effects would've hurt my rogues more than anything, and they deal BIG damage.
I very rarely use surface effects and the game isn't even hard. I still think there's too much of it. It's not very fun to use when it's so common and often all it does is lengthen the fight when you could just take a straight forward approach instead. But if you as a player feel like surface effects rule fights, I think you haven't given other approaches a fair try. Maybe since it's not part of 5e, you guys are forgetting to utilize backstab and high ground? Just get behind or above enemies and hit them. Stronger than surface effects